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Recently celebrating its 125th anniversary, the National Trust started as the idea of three people who wanted to protect the heritage of England, Wales and Northern Ireland for everyone to enjoy. Since then it has expanded to cover 500 historic houses, castles, gardens and monuments, as well as 248,000 hectares of land and 780 miles of coastline. And among them are 23 sites around the Cotswolds for you to visit. This post gives you a rundown of all the National Trust sites in the Cotswolds and nearby, with what to see, where they are, and how to become a member.
National Trust sites in the Cotswolds
Country houses and manors
Chastleton House near Moreton-in-Marsh was built between 1607 and 1612 by a prosperous wool merchant, and owned by the same family until 1991. Over that time it’d hardly changed inside, leaving the house as a time capsule of 400 years of family life. And it’s been left largely that way since, so you can see the faded interiors and the lawn where croquet was invented.
Entry £10 adults/£5 children. Address: Chastleton, near Moreton-in-Marsh, Oxfordshire GL56 0SU
Dyrham Park is one of the best-known National Trust sites in the Cotswolds. This 17th-century stately home north of Bath was built for diplomat William Blathwayt and contains some of the treasures he found on his travels, from Dutch Delftware to fine art. Its lavish interiors also recently featured as a location for the BBC’s adaptation of The Pursuit of Love. The house is surrounded by 270 acres of ancient parkland home to fallow deer as well as more formal gardens.
Entry £8 adults/£4 children. Address: Dyrham, near Bath, South Gloucestershire SN14 8HY
Great Chalfield Manor and Garden
Encircled by a moat, Great Chalfield is a medieval manor house in the Wiltshire countryside. It was built in the 15th century and restored in early 1900s by local businessman Robert Fuller, whose descendants still live there today. The manor has an Arts and Crafts garden with lily ponds, gazebos and topiary, and you can also visit the adjacent Parish Church.
Entry £8 adults/£4 children. Address: Near Melksham, Wiltshire SN12 8NH
Newark Park sits on a cliff, surrounded by unspoilt countryside and looking out across the Cotswolds. This country house started life as a Tudor hunting lodge before being transformed into a grand country house. After falling into disrepair it was painstakingly restored by a Texan architect in the 1970s. The interiors are an eclectic mix of period furniture, curios and modern art, with gardens spread over three levels and 700 acres of grounds.
Entry £8 adults/£4 children. Address: Ozleworth, Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire GL12 7PZ
Snowshill Manor and Garden
Built for eccentric architect, artist, poet and collector Charles Paget Wade, Snowshill Manor and Garden is on the edge of the pretty village of Snowshill. The house dates to the 16th century and was donated to the National Trust by Wade, along with over 22,000 objects he’d collected – from the everyday to the extraordinary – based on his motto ‘Let nothing perish’. As well as viewing its collection the manor is also set among by a terraced Arts and Crafts style garden.
Entry £8 adults/£4 children. Address: Near Broadway, Gloucestershire WR12 7JU
Upton House and Gardens
On the Warwickshire/Oxfordshire border is Upton House and Gardens, the honey-stone country home of Lord and Lady Bearsted in the 1930s. Lady Bearsted commissioned Kitty Lloyd-Jones, one of the first female garden designers, to transform the garden into a colourful display set over a series of terraces. They also redecorated the house, which is on display in period style with collections of porcelain, furniture and a renowned art collection.
Entry £5 adults/£2.50 children. Address: Near Banbury, Warwickshire OX15 6HT
Historic Westwood Manor is a 15th-century stone manor house located just south of Bradford-upon-Avon. It has original Gothic windows, Tudor panelling and Jacobean plasterwork ceilings. Inside there is period furniture and displays of musical instruments and tapestries from the 17th and 18th century, and there’s also a modern topiary garden outside.
Entry £8 adults/£4 children. Address: Westwood, near Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire BA15 2AF
Parks and gardens
The Arts and Crafts-inspired garden at Hidcote was created by American horticulturist Major Lawrence Johnston in the 1910s after his mother bought the manor house. He started the garden from scratch and wanted to create a feeling of ‘outdoor rooms’ with different themes, separated by walls and hedges. It’s planted with rare plants gathered on his travels, mixed with topiary, sculptures, ponds and fountains to create one of the area’s best-loved gardens.
Entry £13 adults/£6.50 children. Address: Hidcote Bartrim, near Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire GL55 6LR
Lodge Park and Sherborne Park Estate
Lodge Park is a rare surviving 17th-century grandstand, built by John ‘Crump’ Dutton to entertain his guests while they gambled on deer coursing – a sport where deer were chased by hounds. Later Lodge Park was remodelled into an elegant house before being restored by the National Trust. It’s surrounded by the grounds of Sherborne Park Estate, with three walking routes, a sculpture trail, great bird-watching and wildlife in the nearby water meadows.
Entry £8 adults/£4 children. Address: Aldsworth, near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL54 3DT
Prior Park Landscape Garden
Set in a valley overlooking Bath – and close to the Bath Skyline Walk (see below) – Prior Park Landscape Garden was designed in the 18th century by poet Alexander Pope and garden designer Capability Brown. Its covered Palladian bridge is one of only four of its kind in the world, and there’s also a grotto, Gothic temple, walks, picnic spots and great views of the city.
Entry £5 adults/£2.50 children. Address: Ralph Allen Drive, Bath, Somerset BA2 5AH
Westbury Court Garden
Westbury Court Garden is the UK’s only surviving Dutch-style water garden, located just west of the Cotswolds close to the River Severn. It was laid out between between 1696 and 1705 and incorporates canals, neatly clipped hedges and original fruit and vegetable gardens.
Entry £5 adults/£2.50 children. Address: Westbury-on-Severn, Gloucestershire GL14 1PD
The peaceful, secluded wooded valley of Woodchester Park near Stonehouse surrounds an unfinished Victorian Gothic-style mansion (not run by the National Trust but self-guided house tours are available). The park includes five lakes, acres of woodland, a disused quarry and 19th-century boat house, with three marked walking routes to help you explore.
Free entry. Address: Nympsfield, near Stonehouse, Gloucestershire GL10 3TS
Ashleworth Tithe Barn
This 15th-century barn with a stone tiled roof lies in a beautiful setting by the River Severn. It was built to store food given to the church when the land was owned by Bristol Abbey, then later used by a local farmer for his cattle before being taken over by the National Trust.
Free entry. Address: Ashleworth, Gloucestershire GL19 4JA
Bath Assembly Rooms
Once the heart of fashionable Georgian society, the Bath Assembly Rooms were built in 1771 and said to be ‘the most noble and elegant of any in the kingdom’. They were used for social gatherings, with rooms dedicated to dancing, tea-drinking and playing cards. Today the Assembly Rooms are still used to host events, as well as being home to the Bath Fashion Museum.
Currently closed. Address: Bennett Street, Bath, Somerset BA1 2QH
The village of Bibury was described by William Morris as ‘the most beautiful village in England’ and is set along the banks of the River Coln, surrounded by the tranquil Rack Isle water meadows. At the heart of the village is picture-perfect Arlington Row, a row of stone cottages built around 1380 as a monastic wool store and later converted to weavers’ cottages. They’re now owned by the National Trust and one is available to rent as a holiday cottage.
Free entry. Address: Bibury, Nr Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 5NP
Chedworth Roman Villa
In the midst of rural Cotswold scenery, Chedworth Roman Villa is one of the largest Roman villas in Britain, best known for its elaborate mosaics. It was the home of a wealthy family in the 4th century and included underfloor heating systems, two heated bath houses and a nymphaeum (sanctuary to the water nymphs). As well as the villa ruins there’s also a museum on site displaying artifacts like jewellery, pottery and tools discovered during excavation.
Entry £10 adults/£5 children. Address: Yanworth, near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL54 3LJ
Chipping Campden Market Hall
The 400-year-old market hall stands at the heart of Chipping Campden’s historic town centre. It was built in 1627 by Sir Baptist Hicks to provide market traders with shelter from the elements, and is still used by sellers today. It was almost sold and dismantled to move to America in the 1940s, but local residents raised enough money to buy it and donated it to the National Trust.
Free entry. Address: High Street, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire GL55 6AJ
Lacock Abbey, Fox Talbot Museum and Village
The picturesque village of Lacock is just outside the official Cotswolds boundary in Wiltshire. Its historic buildings make it a favourite location for films and TV series including Harry Potter and Downton Abbey. Lacock Abbey is a former nunnery turned country house with sections dating from the medieval period to the 18th century. There is a also museum of photography dedicated to William Henry Fox Talbot, Lacock resident and inventor of the photographic negative.
Entry £10 adults/£5 children. Address: Lacock, near Chippenham, Wiltshire SN15 2LG
The Bath Skyline Walk starts in the city centre and takes you up into the hills around Bath, running through meadows, ancient woodlands and secluded valleys with views of the historic city skyline. There are three different circular walks – the full 6-mile Skyline Walk, the 3-mile Walk to the View or the 2-mile Family Discovery Trail – which are also dog-friendly.
Free entry. Address: Southeast of the city of Bath, Bath and NE Somerset
South of Cheltenham, Crickley Hill Country Park is jointly managed with the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. This Site of Special Scientific Interest is a habitat for birds, insects and mammals, with pretty wildflowers growing on its limestone grassland. There are several circular walking routes, with views out across the Severn Vale, as well as the remains of an Iron Age hill fort.
Free entry. Address: Birdlip, Gloucestershire GL4 8JY
Dover’s Hill lies just to the north of Chipping Campden, connected to the town along a 1.5-mile stretch of the Cotswold Way. This natural amphitheatre was the site of the original English Olympic Games which were started by Robert Dover in 1612, and now hosts the annual Cotswold Olimpick Games which features quirky events like tug of war and shin-kicking.
Free entry. Address: Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire
Haresfield Beacon and Standish Wood
This site north of Stroud mixes ancient woodland and open grassland with views towards the Forest of Dean and Brecon Beacons. It’s a habitat for many plants and wildlife, with bluebells filling Standish Wood in spring and kestrels overhead. There are also archaeological features including a long barrow and hill fort, with a 4.8-mile circular walking route taking in the highlights.
Free entry. Address: Near Whiteshill Village, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL6 6PP
Minchinhampton and Rodborough Commons
These two historic commons look out over the Stroud Valley and Severn Estuary. Minchinhampton Common is one of the area’s largest grassland commons, with the remains of prehistoric field systems, burial mounds and defensive earthwork. And Rodborough Common is known for its butterflies and wildlflowers, particularly the purple orchids in May.
Free entry. Address: Near Stroud, Gloucestershire
The World Heritage Site of Avebury lies 25 miles south of Cirencester and is home to the world’s largest prehistoric stone circle, used as a ceremonial site during the Neolithic period. There is also Avebury Manor, which was recently renovated with rooms laid out in five different styles – Tudor, Queen Anne, Georgian, Victorian and 20th century – and is surrounded by gardens. And the Alexander Keiller Museum has displays on Avebury’s history and archaeology.
Free entry to the stones, £5 adults/£2.50 children for the manor, gardens and museum. Address: Near Marlborough, Wiltshire SN8 1RD
Around 24 miles south-west of Bath, Cheddar Gorge in Somerset is Britain’s largest gorge, stretching over three miles long and 400 feet deep. It was formed by melting glaciers in the last Ice Age which cut down through the limestone rocks. The north side of the gorge is owned by the National Trust and there’s a 4-mile walk along the clifftop with views of the Somerset levels and Glastonbury Tor – and look out for the wild goats and Soay sheep who roam the gorge.
Free entry. Address: The Cliffs, Cheddar, Somerset BS27 3QE
Owned by the Coventry family since the 16th century, Croome in Worcestershire has an unexpected and fascinating history. At its heart is the impressive Croome Court, built in the 18th century for the 6th Earl of Coventry among acres of parkland with views over the Malvern Hills. Later Croome was used as a secret airbase during the Second World War, and you can learn more at the RAF Defford Museum as well as exploring the house and grounds.
Entry £10 adults/£5 children. Address: Near High Green, Worcester, Worcestershire WR8 9DW
Charlecote Park is a country house in a deer park, located on the River Avon five miles east of Stratford-upon-Avon. It was originally built in the 16th century by the Lucy family who still own it today, though most of what you see now is Victorian, when owner George Hammond Lucy extended the house and filled it with items collected on his travels through Europe.
Entry £8 adults/£4 children. Address: Wellesbourne, Warwick, Warwickshire CV35 9ER
National Trust membership gets you free entry and free parking at all of their sites across in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, not just the Cotswolds. Annual membership helps support the charity as well as making a great gift. It costs £72 a year for adults over 26, £35 for young people aged 18–25 and £10 for children under 17. There are also joint, family and lifetime memberships available.