Loch Leven Castle
Loch Leven Castle

9 Castles And Historic Homes With Royal Connections You Can Visit

One of the United Kingdom’s most alluring sights is that of the historic house. From the perfectly manicured gardens that surround them to their decadent interiors, and from the legacies of those who once graced their halls to the incredible stories that can be found in even the most minute of details – these dramatic homes are almost synonymous with the great English countryside.

Taking a tour anywhere in the UK means that you’ll probably run into one on your travels, but we have designed a number of our itineraries to intentionally take you to some of our favourites. So, without further ado, here are the historic homes boasting royal heritage that we can introduce you to.

Highgrove House and Gardens

The country home of HRH the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, Highgrove is simply charming and was built between 1796 and 1798. Many improvements have been made to both the property and surrounding gardens, which are tended using wholly organic methods, since the Prince first arrived in 1980 and it is also the location of Home Farm - a haven for wildlife.  

The gardens at Highgrove are truly delightful and seasonal highlights can be admired here between April and October. Here, you'll be able to discover the Victorian-inspired Stumpery, the Sundial Garden and the fantastic Wildflower Meadow, which stretches across four acres. 

Our Highgrove Tour offers you the chance to explore this location while also visiting the secret gardens at Hidcote, Misarden Park and Kiftsgate Court. 

Click here to visit Highgrove with us.

Lullingstone Castle

Frequented by Henry VIII and Queen Anne, this castle in Kent dates back to the time of Domesday and makes for a fascinating place to visit. Impressively, it has been home to the same family since the 15th century and was occupied by the army during World War II. 

This castle is also home to 'The World Garden of Plants', which features a cactus house, the cloud garden and the orchid house. It was designed by modern-day plant hunter Tom Hart Dyke, who came up with the idea during his nine-month kidnap at the hands of the Columbian Guerrillas back in the year 2000. Each year, his collection grows as he adds rare and important botanicals to it. You'll also find a woodland walk and a Moroccan Blue Room here. 

Click here to view this tour here.

Lochleven Castle

This castle will forever be associated with Mary, Queen of Scots. She first visited in 1561 as a guest of its owner, Sir William Douglas. Her last visit, in 1567-8, was as his prisoner. It was here that she was compelled to abdicate her throne in favour of her infant son, James VI. The castle walls held her for less than a year, and in May 1568 she escaped across the loch, never to see her native land again. 

This stunning castle, built in the 1300s, is located in the Perth and Kinross local authority area of Scotland and is accessible by boat.

View this tour by clicking here. 

Balmoral Castle

The Scottish home to the Royal Family, Balmoral Castle is a worthy place to visit for any history lover. It was purchased for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852 and is a category A listed building, which is located in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire. The castle gardens were first opened to members of the public in 1931 and our tour will take you here for a memorable tour.

Queen Mary devised the gardens between 1923 and 1925, and the Duke of Edinburgh extended them to include a large kitchen garden, which is harvested between the months of August and October. 

View this tour by clicking here. 

Glamis Castle

Just north of Dundee, you'll find Glamis Castle - ancestral home of the Earls of Strathmore for more than 600 years and the childhood home of the late Queen Mother. This is a living, breathing monument to Scottish hospitality - a place of enjoyment, reflection and wonder. 

When Elizabeth - the Queen Mother - was four, her grandfather died and her own father inherited Glamis Castle. From then on, her family split their time between St. Paul's Walden Bury, Streatlam Castle in County Durham and Glamis. Here, you can explore over 1000 years of history. 

Click here to find out more about this tour.

Osborne House

Known as Queen Victoria's favourite home, Osborne House on the Isle of Wight is a stunning property with gardens to match. Built between 1845 and 1851 for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as a summer home, Osborne House was designed by Albert himself and was clearly influenced by the style of an Italian Renaissance palazzo.

2019 marks the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria's birth, so a visit here this year will be especially meaningful. She also died here in January 1901 and now it is open to the public for tours. The Swiss Cottage, an impressive chalet built for the royal children, is especially charming. 

Click here to see this itinerary. 

Windsor Castle

A visit to the UK wouldn't be complete without a tour of Windsor Castle. The scene of countless royal occasions over the centuries, most recently the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Windsor was originally built by William the Conqueror in the decade after the Norman Conquest of 1066, as part of a defensive ring of motte and bailey castles around London. The castle survived a tumultuous period during the English Civil War, in which it was used as a military headquarters for Parliamentary forces and a prison for Charles I. After a period of neglect during the 18th century, George III and George IV renovated and rebuilt Charles II's Baroque palace at colossal expense. During much of Victoria’s reign it became the centre for Royal entertainment.

Highlights here include the State Apartments, Queen Mary's Dolls House and St. George's Chapel. 

View this tour's full itinerary here. 

Frogmore House

For almost 20 years, Frogmore was the home of Queen Victoria's mother, The Duchess of Kent. Works by her and her daughter are on display in the house. Queen Victoria often visited Frogmore during her long widowhood and worked on her papers there. You can also see watercolours by her daughters, the Princess Victoria and Louise in the house.

The interests and talents of several generations of the royal family influenced Frogmore's interior as we see it today. Queen Charlotte's passion for botany is reflected in the decoration of the house. She commissioned the renowned 18th-century flower painter Mary Moser to decorate one of the principal rooms so it resembled an arbour open to the skies. The Cross Gallery was painted with garlands by Princess Elizabeth, the daughter of George III and Queen Charlotte.

Click here to view this tour's full itinerary. 

Hillsborough Castle

The Queen's official residence in Northern Ireland, Hillsborough Castle has been undergoing a £16m restoration programme. Recently reopened and located just 20 minutes from Belfast, it is a must-visit for anyone who finds themselves in Ireland. Discover the newly-restored Walled Garden, the previously unseen Lost Garden, and meandering waterways of its grounds. 

It is not strictly speaking a castle but a Georgian country house, built in the 18th century for the Hill family, Marquesses of Downshire, who owned it until 1922. The 6th Marquess sold the mansion to the British government and it became the official residence of the Governor of the newly created province of Northern Ireland and later the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. 

View this tour's full itinerary by clicking here. 

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9 Castles And Historic Homes With Royal Connections You Can Visit was published on 3 May 2019