Here at Lazy Susan, we’re big fans of the National Trust. Not just the visitor attractions (although we do love them, hence this article) but also the great work they do in terms of both heritage conservation and tackling climate change.
Take their Plant A Tree campaign, where the aim is to plant and establish 20 million trees by 2030:
"Over 125 years ago we set out to open up the natural world so everyone could explore vibrant green spaces like parks, woodlands and the countryside. Trees breathe life into our world, and it's vital we plan for the future of woodlands so we can tackle climate change, together. You can plant a tree for yourself, as a gift to someone special or in memory of a loved one. Whichever you choose, you'll help nature to thrive so that future generations can enjoy spending time in the shade of these beautiful giants. Donate £5 or more and you'll also receive a digital certificate by email, which you can keep for yourself or send to someone else.”
It’s a great cause and one that we’re fully behind and one that we recently discussed in detail in our why we should all be planting trees in our gardens article.
Many of the Lazy Susan team are members of the National Trust and we would encourage our readers to join too as it not only gives you access to all their great houses, buildings and gardens, but it also helps support all the work they do.
Lazy Susan’s favourite National Trust homes and gardens
To show our love for the National Trust, we thought it would be nice to share some of our favourite days out, so the Lazy Susan team have selected our top 10 from up and down the country.
Our picks are from across the UK, so if there’s one near you that you’ve not visited, then now is a perfect time. Any season is a good time tbh but, for us, there’s just something about this list in the Autumn time:
A personal favourite from my childhood is the beautiful Cragside near the town of Rothbury in Northumberland, England. This Victorian country house was the home of Lord Armstrong, founder of the Armstrong Whitworth armaments company. A pioneer, it is filled with his inventions and gadgets for efficient Victorian modern living. However, the real jewel in Cragside’s crown is the 1000 acres of stunning mountainous landscape, man-made gardens, lakes, waterfalls, and swathes of rhododendron bushes.
2. The Vyne
Close to Lazy Susan HQ, we have The Vyne, a stunning 16th-century country house just outside Sherborne St John, Basingstoke, Hampshire. The property was originally built for Lord Sandys, King Henry VIII's Lord Chamberlain. Today, though much reduced in size, the house retains its Tudor chapel, with stunning stained glass. The house later passed into the hands of the Chute family, who cared for the house and estate for over 300 years. They remodelled it in the mid-17th century with the addition of a classical portico and, our personal favourite, the summerhouse, which we believe was the first of its kind in England.
3. Glendurgan Garden
Glendurgan is a wonderful garden situated above the hamlet of Durgan on the Helford River and near Mawnan Smith, in Cornwall. It was designed and built by Alfred Fox in the 1820s and 1830s, and set in a 30-acre wooded valley and created by Albert Fox. Due to its sheltered position, it has a very mild microclimate and stunning views along the Helford Estuary. Home to a myriad of exotic plants and rare trees and shrubs but for us, the highlight is the wonderful laurel maze (pictured above) which makes for a great day out with the kids or grandkids.
4. Penrhyn Castle
Hopping over the border into Wales and Penrhyn Castle is a country house in Llandygai, Bangor that was constructed in the style of a Norman castle. The estate itself was founded by Ednyfed Fychan in the 15th century and his descendent, Gwilym ap Griffith built a fortified manor house on the site. This is real fantasy castle stuff and it has been used as the setting for things like the TV series Game of Thrones. A 19th-century fantasy castle with industrial and colonial foundations. The dominating stone of Penrhyn Castle hides more than just its internal red-brick construction. The unique façade, opulent red-brick interiors and wonderful fine art collection, and Penrhyn’s fascinating history make it a must-visit in our book.
5. Culzean Castle
Culzean Castle is another castle but this time North of the border overlooking the Firth of Clyde, near Maybole in South Ayrshire. It is the former home of the Marquess of Ailsa, the chief of Clan Kennedy, and is one of the National Trust for Scotland’s many gems. It makes our list as we simply loved exploring the stunning gardens, beaches, woods and trails. The breathtaking cliff-top castle is just the cherry on top. It is a fab day out and there’s something for the whole family in this dramatic wildlife-rich estate.
6. Glencoe Nature Reserve
Staying North of the border and if you’re in Scotland, you simply have to visit the Glencode National Park and Nature Reserve. It is a place of history, wildlife, adventure and myth. A 14,000-acre estate with 60 kilometres of footpaths to explore, trust us, this is some of the best views in the world. With panoramic mountain views and internationally-renowned wildlife, it is quite simply a natural wonder. It also has a fascinating history and is probably best known as the side of the ‘1962 Massacre’. Make sure you spend some quality time at the Visitor Centre where you can learn about the essential conservation work of Glencoe's Ranger team.
7. Morden Hall Park
Morden Hall Park is located on the banks of the Wandle in Morden, south London, but don’t let this urban-sounding setting put you off. This is over 50 acres of stunning parkland and is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle. It is a wonderful green space with trees, waterways and plenty of space to relax. The historic park offers gentle walks along the River Wandle over pretty bridges, and there’s a family-friendly nature trail and a cafe.
8. Hardwick Hall
Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire is an architecturally significant country house from the Elizabethan era. Surrounded by 2,000 acres of grade I listed parkland created by the formidable 'Bess of Hardwick' in the late 16th Century. Since then an army of descendants, farmers, gardeners, builders, decorators, embroiderers and craftsmen of all kinds, have worked tirelessly to make Hardwick the spectacular site it is today. The beautiful Elizabethan embroidery and tapestries on display in the house are a must-see.
9. Hill Top
Hill Top is a 17th-century house in Near Sawrey near Hawkshead, in the Lake District. It is the perfect example of a Lakeland home with irregular stone walls and a slate roof. However, what makes Hill Top truly special is that it was once the house was once home to children's author and illustrator Beatrix Potter who left it to the National Trust in her will. A Grade II listed building, it is now open to the public as a museum to the writer and the home is set up as Beatrix Potter herself would have known it. She purchased Hill Top in 1905 with the royalties from her first few books, which were inspired by childhood holidays. The museum features many of her sketches of the house itself, the garden, the surrounding countryside and the animals she featured in her new books. A magical place only made even more magical by the stunning setting.
10. Buckland Abbey
We were torn between Coleton Fishacre and Buckland Abbey for our final spot. Both are worthy and worth a visit but we said top 10 so Buckland just shaded a team vote due to the tranquil setting of this ancient gem. Buckland Abbey is a Grade I listed a 700-year-old house in Buckland Monachorum, near Yelverton in Devon. Noted for its connection with Sir Richard Grenville the Younger and Sir Francis Drake, when visiting you’re following over 700 years of footsteps; from the Cistercians who built the Abbey and farmed the estate, to seafarers Grenville and Drake. You really feel the history and you must visit if you and your family find yourselves down this neck of the woods.
If you’ve got any photos of your Lazy Susan garden furniture in situ, then we’d also love to see a few snaps for our Do Some Good charity campaign. You can tag us @LazySusanFurniture on Instagram or Facebook or email them to us at [email protected].