The 11 best places to visit in the North East of England
The North East of England is a treasure trove of Britain's finest historic houses & gardens. Here we look at the best places to visit in the region.
If you love castles and stately homes, a visit to the North East of England ticks all the boxes. From Alnwick Castle – as also seen in the Harry Potter franchise, to Raby Castle, Brancepeth Castle and Chipchase Castle, among others, the North East of England is the perfect day out for lovers of historic houses and gardens. See our top eleven suggestions for places to visit below, or view a map of the houses and gardens in the region here.
Brancepeth Castle, Brancepeth
Brancepeth Castle was the stronghold of the Neville family in medieval times. The Battle of Neville’s Cross, between England and Scotland, was planned in the castle’s Baron’s Hall.
The Nevilles forfeited their estates after the failed Rising of the North, and the Castle went through a number of hands before being bought by the wealthy Russell family in the late 18th-century.
Raby Castle, Darlington
This impressive and complete 14th-century fortress of the powerful Nevills, with nine towers set in 200 acres of landscaped deer park and picturesque walled garden, has been home to Lord & Lady Barnard’s family since 1626.
Victorian restoration by Burn includes the Octagon Drawing Room and extensions of the Barons’ Hall to 132-ft.
Rokeby Park, Barnard Castle
Completed in 1735 by its owner, Sir Thomas Robinson, a leading amateur architect of his day, Rokeby Park represents the heyday of the Palladian-style country house.
A unique collection of 18th century needlework pictures by Anne Morritt (1726 – 1797) are on display as well as a very rare surviving print room. Velásquez’s ‘Toilet of Venus’ hung at Rokeby for almost a century until it was bought by public subscription in 1905 and now hangs in the National Gallery. A copy of the ‘Rokeby Venus’, painted by W.A. Menzies, can be seen in The Saloon at Rokeby.
Ushaw: Historic House, Chapels & Garden, Durham
Situated in acres of immaculate gardens, the buildings feature outstanding examples of Georgian and Victorian Gothic architecture throughout the Main House and Chapels.
Established initially as a Catholic Seminary (known as Ushaw College/ St Cuthbert’s College, Ushaw) founded in 1808 from the former English Catholic College at Douai in France, it was purpose-built in its beautiful setting four miles from the City of Durham.
Explore the Tees Valley
The Gardens of Wynyard Hall are a popular North East visitor destination. The Walled Garden is home to 3,000 David Austin roses and an interesting selection of trees and shrubs.
The Edible Garden houses vegetable plots filled with sumptuous home-grown produce that supplies the cafe and restaurant.
Explore the North East of England sustainably
You don’t have to jump in the car to explore the stunning historic houses and gardens of the North East, and we’re keen for you to explore alternative travel options to help us fight for a more sustainable future. We’ve therefore teamed up with Good Journey to help you find car-free options to explore the UK’s historic estates. Take a look at their website here.
Alnwick Castle, Alnwick
The origins of Alnwick Castle date back to the Norman period. Since 1309 its story has been intertwined with that of the Percy family, a family with a history as illustrious as the Castle’s own.
The exterior medieval castle is one of the finest in Britain – it was restored by Anthony Salvin in the mid-19th century. The interior includes lavish state rooms filled with excellent collection of Italian old masters and sculpture. The Castle is set in a wonderful park landscaped by Capability Brown.
Bamburgh Castle, Bamburgh
With its origins in the Anglo-Saxon period, Bamburgh has dominated its volcanic outcrop and the surrounding countryside for centuries. From its humble wooden palisade to the impressive stone walls of today it strikes an iconic pose on the Northumbrian coastline.
Open all year round it welcomes visitors to enjoy the grounds and staterooms. From the medieval kitchen to grandeur of the Victorian Kings Hall there are fourteen rooms to explore.
Bywell Hall, Stocksfield
Home to the Beaumont family since 1810, the Palladian building sits by the River Tyne at Bywell, Northumberland.
The privately owned 18th-century country house is a Grade II* listed building set in extensive parkland and houses an important collection of furniture and art.
Chillingham Castle, Chillingham
Chillingham Castle is a 13th-century, Grade I listed stronghold in Northumberland, famed for action and battles. With its fine rooms, gardens, lakes, fountains and tea rooms, the castle has an extraordinary ownership bloodline which runs back to the 1200s.
Just twenty minutes from the seaside, this romantic and thriving castle is perfect for short breaks or family days out! Or if you’re looking for a more chilling experience, as one of the most haunted castles in England, our ‘Torture Chamber’ and evening Ghost Tours are sure to entertain.
Chipchase Castle, Hexham
Chipchase Castle is a rugged border castle of the 14th century consisting of a great Pele tower with corner turrets.
The castle was added to later in the 1620s and more comfortable lodgings which were themselves altered in the mid-18th century. In the mid-19th century dining room furniture by Mein of Kelso was installed.
Preston Tower, Chathill
The Preston pele tower, which is owned by GJ Baker Cresswell, was built between 1392 and 1399, when warfare between England and Scotland was endemic.
At the time of Agincourt (1415) it was one of 78 Pele Towers in Northumberland. Its owners included Sir Guiscard Harbottle, who was slain fighting against James IV at the battle of Flodden in 1513, the conflict that brought Mary, Queen of Scots to the Scottish throne.
Events in the North East
Don’t just visit historic houses and gardens. Experience them. There simply is no better place to attend a concert, watch an outdoor film screening, peruse a plant fair, or admire vintage cars than at a historic house or garden. Here, you can view a regularly updated list of the best events you can attend in the North East over the coming weeks and months.
Explore other UK regions
Become a member
Explore the nation’s heritage from just £56 per year.
Hundreds of the most beautiful historic houses, castles, and gardens across Britain offer our members free entry.
Receive a quarterly magazine exploring the architecture, collections, and family histories of our grandest and oldest homes, and get an insight into what it takes to keep them standing today.
Enjoy exclusive booking onto member-only tours of some of the most private great houses in the country, conducted in person by the owner.