The Best Castles & Stately Homes near Oxford

The historic university city Oxford is the perfect base to visit some of England’s best stately homes. The stately homes around Oxford are filled with history, art and have some of the best gardens in England.

From a former Prime Minister’s home to a lavish house owned by the Rotschild family. The stately homes around Oxford are diverse and perfect day out from Oxford.

Whether you go alone and want to visit the grand Rothschild art collection or if you’re planning a family trip. You can find art, culture, war history, gardens and family activities at these English stately homes.

Blenheim Palace

baroque • churchill family • children activities • film location • UNESCO World Heritage Site

photo: DeFacto

Blenheim is the birthplace of Winston Churchill and the only non-royal, non-episcopal country house in England that holds the title “palace”. The 18th century stately home is built in English Baroque style and it’s one of the largest stately homes in England. And since 1987 it is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For 300 years Blenheim was the family home of the Churchill (and Churchill-Spencer) family. But in the 19th century the estate was saved from ruin when the 9th Duke of Marlborough married American heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt.

Blenheim Palace is often used as film location. From blockbusters like James Bond, Mission Impossible and Harry Potter. But also period dramas like Cinderella, A Little Chaos and The Young Victoria. You can download a guide to these filming locations at Blenheim Palace.

The Blenheim estate can be enjoyed by everyone. Inside the palace you can visit the historic State Rooms, a Churchill Museum and a “Downstairs” Tour. But the grounds have much to offer as well. There are several gardens, a butterfly house and a maze. The estate offers plenty for children as well with fun trails and a miniture train.

The Blenheim Estate is open daily

How to get here from Oxford

The easiest way from Oxford Station is the S3 or S7 bus to Woodstock. From the bus station it’s a 10 minute walk to Blenheim. (note: you get a 30% discount if you arrive at Blenheim by public transport, bicycle or by foot)

Waddesdon Manor

neo-renaissance châteaux • rothschild • art museum children playground • film location

photo: GavinJA

Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild built Waddesdon Manor between 1874 and 1885 to display his collection of arts and to entertain the fashionable world. Notable guests like the future King Edward VII and Queen Victoria visited the house and its extensive art collection.

The house opened to the public in 1959 and shows the Rothschild Collections of paintings, sculpture and decorative arts.

Waddesdon Manor is often used as film location. It was the filming location for Buckingham Palace in The Crown. But also in period dramas such as Rebecca, Downton Abbey (as Haxby Park) and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

The estate offers a woodland playground for children.

How to get here from Oxford

A 30 minute drive from Oxford takes you to Waddesdon Manor. By public transport the journey is considerably longer.

Hughenden Manor

jacobean • royal connection • politics • world war II children acitivities

photo: John Bointon

This 18th century Jacobean country house is the former home of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. He was the favourite Prime Minister of Queen Victoria and she also visited the house.

Disraeli and his wife Mary Anne loved Hughenden and it was the home has a rich history of political drama and royal visits.

The basement at Hughenden Manor was used as a secret intelligance base called “Hillside” during the Second World War. It was here that aerial photogrpahs of Germany were analysed and bombing missions were planned.

Today Hughenden Manor is owned by the National Trust. The house is re-created as Benjaming Disraeli would have known them. On the ground floor you’ll find the library with an extensive book collection. Including his own novels and one written and signed by Queen Victoria. Upstairs you’ll find Disraeli’s study, bedroom and Mary Anne’s boudoir along with the black silk robe worn by Disraeli as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

An exhibition called “The Royal Gifts of Hughenden” shows Israeli’s close relationship with Queen Victoria.

How to get here from Oxford

From Oxford Station you can take the train and bus to Hughenden Manor. The journey takes approx. 1 hour.

West Wycombe Park

palladian & neoclassical

Inspired by travels through Italy, Sir Francis Dashwood (2nd Baronet), wanted to built and Italian-style country house. Because the built of the house took so long, it is now a combination of Palladian and Neoclassical style.

Inside the house is also a lavish combination of styles. From a neoclassical entrance hall you can visit eight room with baroque and rococo architecture styles.

The grounds are designed in a natural landscape style with follies in classical style and temples. The gardens are one of the finest original 18th century garden in England.

The grounds are open April-August and the house is open in June-August.

How to get here from Oxford

From Oxford Station you can take a train and bus to West Wycombe Park. The journey takes approx. 75 minutes

Stonor Park

italianate garden medieval origins • children activities

Home of the Stonor family for 850 years. And it is the one of the oldest family homes still lived in today. The origins of the home go back to Medieval time but you can see many architectural periods from later remodels.

At the house you’ll find a Gothic revival hall, a 17th century library and a long hall leading to the gardens.

The grounds of Stonor have much to offer. If you want to wander then the Italianate garden with Renaissance pond is perfect. A kitchen garden that is especially lovely in Spring and Summer. And The Ladies Walk is filled with cherry blossoms in the spring.

But the grounds offer more. Even older than the house is the Stone Circle. Formed of giant boulders left behind at the end of the last Ice Age.

A wonderful children area called the Tumblestone Hollow is a magical place for the entire family.

The house & gardens are sometimes closed for events, so be sure to check the Stonor website for the opening days.

How to get here from Oxford

From Oxford it takes approx. 40 minutes to reach Stonor Park. The nearest railway station is Henley-on-Thames and taxis are available from the Station.

Rousham House & Garden

gothic • 18th century gardens

photo: Hans Bernhard

The house was built in 1635 but extensively remodeled by William Kent in the 18th century. Therefor it now has a Gothic appereance. The house has been owned by the same family since it was built.

Rousham House & Garden is best known for its gardens. It is one of the earliest gardens in English landscape design and today it is almost identical to how William Kent designed it. Monty Don calles Rousham a masterpiece and one of the best gardens in the world.

The gardens are open daily (no children under 15 are allowed in the gardens without prior permission). The house is open by appointment only.

How to get here from Oxford

There are several public transport options for a visit to Rousham. The journey takes between 30-60 minutes

Buscot Park

neoclassical art collection

photo: Richard Norton & David Allen

The 18th century neoclassical country house was built for politcian Edward Loveden Loveden. It is the family home of Lord Faringdon and it houses the family’s art collection “The Farringdon Collection”.

Surrounding the house you’ll find enchanting landscaped gardens.

The house and grounds can both be visited. Though the house is closed on certains. To see the current opening times you can visit the Buscot Park website.

How to get here from Oxford

The Stagecoach Gold Route 66 bus operates between Oxford and Swindon every 30 minutes Monday to Saturday and hourly on a Sunday, passing through Faringdon.

Claydon House

rococo interiors • florence nightingale • children’s trail

photo: Richard Gillin

Claydon is one of these houses were the outside doesn’t reflect the inside. From the outside Claydon looks rather austere. But on the inside you’re greeted by beautiful rococo interiors.

The Claydon estate has been owned by the Verney family for 400 years. One of the ladies of the house was Parthenope, the sister of nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale. Florence often visited the house and she even had her own suite of rooms. Today you can find a small museum dedicated to Florence Nightingale at Claydon House.

Claydon house was used as a filming location for Far From the Madding Crowd, an addaptation of the Thomas Hardy novel. (you can also visit houses were Thomas Hardy lived. You can find more information in the “Famous Writers’ Houses in England” post).

How to get here from Oxford

By car, the journey from Oxford takes approx. 40 minutes via A34 and A41. The journey by public transport takes longer.

Are you planning to visit one of these stately homes around Oxford? Be sure to share it with #visiteuropeancastles

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