• Woburn Abbey (Woburn, Bedfordshire): A Cistercian abbey for 4 centuries, Woburn Abbey has been visited by everyone from Queen Victoria to Marilyn Monroe. You'll see Queen Victoria's bedroom, and the Canaletto Room, with its 21 perspectives of Venice. The grounds, more popular than the house, include the Wild Animal Kingdom, the best zoological collection in England after the London Zoo.
  • Hatfield House (Hertfordshire): Hatfield was the childhood home of Elizabeth I, who was under an oak tree there when she learned she had become queen of England. Hatfield remains one of England's largest and finest country houses, with antiques, tapestries, paintings, and even the red silk stockings Elizabeth I wore.
  • Windsor Castle (Windsor, Berkshire): The largest inhabited stronghold in the world and England's largest castle, Windsor Castle has been a royal abode since William the Conqueror constructed a motte and bailey on the site 4 years after conquering England. Severely damaged by fire in 1992, the castle has been mainly restored. Its major attraction is the great Perpendicular Chapel of St. George's, begun by Edward IV. The chancel is known for its three-tiered stalls, with its misericords (ledges used for support) and ornate carvings.
  • Blenheim Palace (Woodstock, near Oxford, Oxfordshire): England's answer to Versailles, this extravagant baroque palace was the home of the 11th duke of Marlborough and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. The structure was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh, of Castle Howard fame. Sarah, the duchess of Marlborough, battled the architects and builders from the beginning, wanting "a clean sweet house and garden, be it ever so small." That she didn't get -- the structure measures 255m (850 ft.) from end to end. Capability Brown designed the gardens.
  • Knole (near Tunbridge, Kent): Begun in 1456 by the archbishop of Canterbury, Knole is celebrated for its 365 rooms (one for each day of the year), its 52 staircases (for each week of the year), and its seven courts (for each day of the week). Knole, one of England's largest private houses and set in a 404-hectare (1,000-acre) deer park, is a splendid example of Tudor architecture.
  • Penshurst Place (near Tunbridge, Kent): One of England's most outstanding country homes, this mansion was the former residence of Elizabethan poet Sir Philip Sidney (1554-86). In its day, the house attracted literati, including Ben Jonson. The original 1346 hall has seen the subsequent addition of Tudor, Jacobean, and neo-Gothic wings.
  • Hever Castle & Gardens (Edenbridge, Kent): This was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII and mother of Queen Elizabeth I. In 1903, William Waldorf Astor, an American multimillionaire and Anglophile, bought the castle, restored it, and landscaped the grounds. From the outside, it still looks as it did in Tudor times, with a moat and drawbridge protecting the castle.
  • Beaulieu Abbey-Palace House (Beaulieu, in New Forest): Home of the first Lord Montagu, Palace House blends monastic Gothic architecture from the Middle Ages with Victorian trappings. Yet many visitors consider the National Motor Museum, also on the premises and with a collection of more than 250 antique automobiles, more fascinating than the house.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.