What we believe

We're a values-driven association. Our work is based on our fundamental beliefs.

Floors Castle spring daffodils

Places matter

Britain’s historic houses are a magnet for tourists and an essential part of what makes this country special. But they also make a vital contribution to our economy and communities.

Our core beliefs

Wooden owl Middleton

Independent is best

We work to keep our special places in independent and private ownership

The majority of historic houses and gardens open to the public in the UK are owned, cared for, and maintained by independent owners or small family businesses, rather than large national charities or the public sector. Independent owners – who mostly continue to live in the historic houses they care for – are the best custodians of our national heritage of historic houses and gardens.

They maintain a deeply personal connection to the houses and gardens they look after, meaning the visitor experience is often far more homely and characterful than a visit to a more ‘museum-like’ house that hasn’t been a home for a great many years. Independent owners are also innovative and cost-effective custodians of heritage – largely maintaining the historic fabric of these houses and gardens using their own financial resources rather than relying on grants or state subsidy.

Find out more about the benefits of independent and private ownership.

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Umbrellas at garden gate Middleton Hall

Everyone benefits

Our places make a vital contribution to the economy, environment, and society

Our houses and gardens are hubs for whole communities, and always have been. They’re places to work, learn, exercise and relax, to feel better and to feel included, to enjoy peace and quiet or to meet others. There is something for everyone.

Between them, our member houses and gardens welcome over 30 million visits each year, generating £1.1 billion in visitor spend and supporting over 40,000 FTE jobs in all corners of the UK. These special places are often cultural lynchpins for their local communities, bringing together opportunities for access to great art, architecture and craftsmanship with the creative industries, health and wellbeing activities, community groups and access to beauty, nature and open space.

Find out more about how historic houses and gardens benefit their communities and the nation.

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Shane Webber Photography Maze at Combermere Abbey

We're stronger together

We're a non-profit co-operative association run by and for our member houses

We’re a self-help association. By joining forces, our hundreds of independent owners achieve more than any could alone. Our expertise and experiences are shared. Our voices are magnified. And our stories can reach larger audiences.

By far the bulk of heritage in the UK enjoyed by millions of people is in independent hands. But it’s no surprise, given the unity of their brand and the scale of their operations, that politicians and the public often associate historic house attractions just with large national bodies like the National Trust or English Heritage. Historic Houses was created in part to put the collected efforts of independent owners and custodians on a par with the great work of our much-loved national institutions, and ensure equal representation for their needs and achievements.

Find out more about how diverse heritage places work together for the common good,

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Haddon Hall candlelit chapel

Beauty is to be enjoyed by all

Our places are alive like no museum ever could be

Independent historic houses and gardens are fascinating places waiting to welcome guests in a score of ways. They’re not just ancient; they’re always evolving to serve a contemporary purpose. They’re not just buildings; they’re also repositories of amazing artefacts and collections. And they’re not just museums; they’re places to visit, eat, shop, stay, get married, hold an event, or make a movie.

Find out more about why independent historic houses are such fun!

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