Lay your head down at a stately home. Caroline Mills explores six castles and stately homes with campsites in the grounds
If you love the history and the architecture of grand palaces, remarkable castles and extraordinary stately homes, where the story of Britain has unfolded over centuries, you’ll want to make a point of visiting these six locations. Each one doesn’t just have a campsite or caravan park ‘nearby’ – there’s somewhere to make your bed and lie in it on the estate. Eggs, sunny side up, please.
Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Blenheim Palace is the seat of the Dukes of Marlborough and the only non-royal country house in England to hold the title of palace. It was built as a gift from Queen Anne to the first Duke of Marlborough for his victory over the French at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. This is also where Sir Winston Churchill, a descendant of the Duke, was born (unexpectedly) – a permanent exhibition about his life and work is focused around the room in which he was born.
The gardens, the Capability Brown park and wider estate are magnificent – and the Caravan and Motorhome Club’s Bladon Chains site is within the estate walls, close to Bladon Church where Churchill is buried. Club members receive 30% discount on entry to Blenheim.
Capesthorne Hall, Cheshire
Capesthorne Hall has been the home of the Bromley-Davenports since 1726. The Jacobean-style Hall has a collection of fine art, marble sculptures, furniture, tapestries and antiques from Europe, America and the Far East. The caravan park has 50 spacious pitches in a picturesque tranquil setting located in the grounds of this magnificent stately home, with idyllic woodland walks and formal lakeside gardens, making it a wonderful place to relax. The gardens, one of Cheshire’s Gardens of Distinction, feature colourful herbaceous borders filled with a rich array of perennials. Visitors will also see a curious swallow hole, an ice house and family chapel. Butlers Pantry, overlooking the lake, is available for homemade light refreshments.
Castle Howard, North Yorkshire
Eight generations of the Howard family have resided at Castle Howard, one of the largest and most stately of all houses in the north of England. The 18th century house is set in more than 1,000 acres of scenic, landscaped parkland, which regularly plays host to major public events and festivals, most notably in 2019, BBC Countryfile Live.
There’s plenty for families on the estate, from illustrated trails in the house to woodland paths, picnics by the lake and adventure playgrounds including, new this summer, Skelf Island. Lakeside Holiday Park, as its name suggests, overlooks the Great Lake, and is close to the estate village of Coneysthorpe and Castle Howard’s courtyard shops and café. It’s a one-mile walk or cycle ride to the house entrance from the campsite.
Burton Constable Hall, East Yorkshire
Home to the Constable family for more than 700 years, Burton Constable is one of the most fascinating English country houses to survive. Visit the Hall’s many grand rooms crammed with fine and decorative art, furniture and country house paraphernalia, as well as a remarkable eighteenth-century Cabinet of Curiosities full of weird and wonderful objects from around the globe.
Burton Constable brims with fascinating stories of family characters; in 2019 the seasonal exhibition ‘Difficult Women’ shines the spotlight on the generations of women and their varying impacts on, and contributions to the development of the Constable family and the Hall through their fascinating and sometimes surprising stories.
The Hall is surrounded by 330 acres of stunning historic grade II* listed Capability Brown parkland. Open daily throughout the year you can enjoy beautiful walks with sweeping scenic views, or simply relax and enjoy a picnic whilst admiring its atmosphere of calm and gentle peacefulness. Stroll through the mighty oak trees along the Woodland Walk and take the Lakeside Walk to the stunning Capability Brown Bridge and serpentine lake admiring the picturesque view back to the Hall. Or have a go at the ancient sport of archery with the Burton Constable Company of Bowmen.
Burton Constable Holiday Park offers pitches for touring caravans, motorhomes and tents in addition to camping pods, lodges and static caravans for hire. The five star, five AA Pennant site is just a short stroll through the Capability Brown parkland to reach the Hall.
Inveraray Castle, Argyll
The ancestral home of the Dukes of Argyll and seat of Clan Campbell, Inveraray Castle is a striking, must-see attraction on the west coast of Scotland. All turrets and towers, the property stands on the shores of Loch Fyne, surrounded by magnificent colourful gardens brimming with daffodils and bluebells in spring, rhododendrons and azaleas in summer, heathers in autumn.
You’ll find plenty of enjoyable walks, often with majestic views, in the surrounding hills and traditional sports are also available on the 50,000-acre (yes, 50,000!) estate. The Argyll Caravan Park, with touring pitches and glamping pods, sits on the banks of Loch Fyne and has beautiful views of the loch. Though still on the Duke of Argyll’s estate, it is a little further to walk than the other stately homes with campsites mentioned here, with a two-mile walk or cycle ride; but, along the shores of Loch Fyne, it is some route!
Castle Ward, Northern Ireland
For many, parts of Castle Ward will be recognised as one of the major film locations for the TV sensation Game of Thrones. But that’s only the half of it – there is much more to Castle Ward, including the impressive 18th-century mansion (only the farmyard was used as a set). The parkland, on the shores of Strangford Lough, is sublime, with numerous walking trails and there are family activities galore from archery and pirate picnics to summer music concerts in the gardens. Castle Ward is a National Trust property and the organisation also manages Castle Ward Caravan Park, located in a quiet corner of the estate grounds, right on the edge of Strangford Lough. There are 35 pitches for tents, touring caravans and motorhomes.