Which English country estates provide the best Edwardian garden tours?

England is renowned for its grand homes and stately estates, each one telling a tale of its own. With centuries of history behind them, these estates offer a glimpse into the past, allowing visitors to explore the elegant halls and expansive gardens. These properties stand as a testament to the architectural and horticultural prowess of the Edwardian era. If you're planning a day out or a family visit to London, you might want to explore some of these stunning examples of Edwardian gardens. We've curated a list of some of the great estates which provide the best Edwardian garden tours.

The Regal Charm of Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle is, undoubtedly, one of England's most famous country estates. Situated in the county of Hampshire, this grand house has been home to the Carnarvon family since the 17th century. The Castle is surrounded by 1,000 acres of stunning parkland, with the gardens providing a perfect example of Edwardian garden design.

On arriving at Highclere Castle, you will be met with the sight of well-manicured lawns and formal gardens. These gardens, reflecting the architectural trends of the Edwardian era, showcase a blend of symmetry, balance, and detailed plantings. The Monks' Garden, White Border, and the Secret Garden are some of the most notable features.

During your tour, be sure to explore the wildflower meadow and the woodland garden, which come alive with colour in the spring and summer months. The expansive lawns are punctuated with majestic trees planted over the centuries, serving as a constant reminder of the castle's rich history.

The Artistic Elegance of Hidcote Manor Garden

When you visit the Cotswolds, a trip to Hidcote Manor Garden should be on your itinerary. This country estate, owned by the National Trust, is recognised as one of England's great Arts and Crafts gardens. Designed by the American horticulturist, Major Lawrence Johnston, it is an exquisite example of Edwardian garden design.

Hidcote Manor Garden is characterised by a series of outdoor 'rooms', each boasting a unique theme and character. As you wander through these garden rooms, you will find yourself enthralled by the array of plants, the tumble of roses, and the fragrance of lavender that fills the air.

One of the highlights of a visit to Hidcote is the Red Border, a vibrant mix of dahlias, cannas, and salvias. Don't pass up the opportunity to lose yourself in the maze-like hedges or to sit awhile in the tranquillity of the Bathing Pool Garden.

The Stately Splendour of Blenheim Palace

Steeped in history and home to the Dukes of Marlborough, Blenheim Palace is another must-visit estate in England. The birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, this stately home is situated in Woodstock, Oxfordshire.

The Palace gardens, designed by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown, are a testament to the Edwardian penchant for grandeur and scale. The Water Terraces, the Secret Garden, and the Rose Garden are particularly reminiscent of Edwardian design principles.

A tour of the Blenheim Palace Gardens also offers the chance to take in the breathtaking view of the Great Lake. The parkland surrounding the estate is perfect for a leisurely stroll, where you can appreciate the beauty of the English countryside.

The Tranquil Oasis of Sissinghurst Castle Garden

Nestled in the Weald of Kent, Sissinghurst Castle Garden is an enchanting mix of romance and nostalgia. This garden, created by Vita Sackville-West, a poet, and her husband Harold Nicolson, a diplomat, is regarded as one of the most famous gardens in England.

The garden is divided into distinct, themed areas, such as the White Garden, the Rose Garden, and the Herb Garden. Each of these 'garden rooms' is designed to reach its peak at different times of the year, ensuring that there's always something to see, regardless of when you visit.

Sissinghurst Castle Garden is a perfect example of Edwardian garden design, with its emphasis on structure, formality, and abundance. The garden's layout, combined with the choice of plants and colour schemes, make it a haven for plant lovers and historians alike.

The Enchanting Beauty of Hever Castle

The childhood home of Anne Boleyn, Hever Castle in Kent, is a captivating blend of history and horticulture. This charming estate, dating back to the 13th century, boasts an impressive array of gardens, each designed to tell a story.

The gardens of Hever Castle encapsulate the essence of the Edwardian era, from the Italian Garden, filled with classical statuary and ornamental ponds, to the fragrant Rose Garden. The English Garden, with its colourful borders and winding paths, is a delightful spot to relax and soak up the tranquil atmosphere.

If you're visiting with children, don't miss the Water Maze and the Tudor Garden. A tour of Hever Castle and its gardens is a journey through time, showcasing the best of Edwardian garden design in an enchanting setting.

The Majestic Grandeur of Castle Howard

Castle Howard is undoubtedly one of the grandest stately homes in all of England. Located in York, North Yorkshire, this historic house is a part of the Treasure Houses of England heritage group.

Constructed over a span of 100 years, this Grade I listed building is a marvel of Baroque architecture. The estate, spanning 8,000 acres, includes an extensive variety of gardens that reflect the Edwardian era's opulence and sophistication.

The walled garden is a highlight of the Castle Howard tour, teeming with seasonal blossoms that paint a vibrant palette of colours throughout the year. The delicate balance between the geometric precision of the gardens and the wildness of the Great Lake and the woodland area manifests the quintessential Edwardian style.

The Temple of the Four Winds, inspired by Andrea Palladio's designs, offers a panoramic view of the castle grounds. Allow yourself the luxury of time to appreciate the Atlas Fountain, an emblem of the castle's grandeur.

Castle Howard, much like Highclere Castle, the famous filming location for Downton Abbey, is a perfect example of Edwardian elegance and design aesthetics. Your visit to Castle Howard will undoubtedly be a memorable one, whether you're a historian, a architecture enthusiast, or someone interested in exploring the jewels of England's past.

The Timeless Beauty of Mount Stuart

Set on the picturesque Isle of Bute, Mount Stuart is an intriguing blend of history, art, and technology. This Neo-Gothic mansion, with its marble interiors and stained glass windows, is an architectural wonder. Its gardens, spread over 300 acres, are a testament to the Edwardian love for nature's beauty.

The Wee Garden, The Kitchen Garden, and The Rock Garden are some of the sections you must explore during your tour. The Walled Garden is a riot of colours in spring with its azaleas, camellias, and rhododendrons in full bloom.

As you venture into the woodlands, you will find yourself surrounded by ancient trees and unique wildlife. The experience is akin to stepping inside a painting, with every corner offering a new perspective.

While Mount Stuart may not be as famous as Blenheim Palace or Chatsworth House, it provides a unique insight into Edwardian garden design. The Mount Stuart Trust ensures the property's meticulous maintenance, giving visitors a chance to step back in time and immerse themselves in the Edwardian era's horticultural splendour.


England's country estates capture the essence of the Edwardian era, reflecting its sophistication, elegance, and grandeur. From the regal charm of Highclere Castle to the artistic elegance of Hidcote Manor Garden, the stately splendour of Blenheim Palace to the tranquil oasis of Sissinghurst Castle Garden, and the enchanting beauty of Hever Castle to the majestic grandeur of Castle Howard and the timeless beauty of Mount Stuart; each place offers a unique experience.

These estates, now preserved by organisations like the National Trust, provide not just an opportunity for a day out, but also a chance to delve into the past. So whether you're a history buff, an art lover, or someone interested in horticulture, these tours will undoubtedly provide a fascinating experience.

Remember, each of these magnificent estates tells a story. And the best way to listen is to walk through their gardens, soaking in the nature and history they offer. So, the next time you plan a visit to England, make sure these Edwardian gardens are on your itinerary. After all, these are the best places to visit if you're looking for a beautiful, relaxing, and historically rich experience.