Exploring the National Trust sites of WiltshirePosted on 18th June 2014
With endless expanses of countryside and a host of towns and cities bustling with history and charm, Wiltshire proves to have an understandable lure for people to wish to escape on a getaway full of peace and tranquillity.
Another string to the county’s bow is the wealth of National Trust sites it offers, meaning visitors can discover everything from magnificent manor houses to archaeological landmarks. Here’s a great guide to making the most of the region’s historical treasures during your cottage holidays in Wiltshire.
A 2,650 acre estate standing at the source of the River Stour near Mere, Stourhead has been under the ownership of the National Trust since 1946 and is often described as a living work of art. This glowing reputation is partly thanks to the stunning landscape garden which is found on its grounds, the centrepiece of which being the magnificent lake which is flanked by temples, grottoes and exotic trees. While this magnificent estate is open to the public every day, those heading to Stourhead on the weekend have the added benefit of being allowed inside King Alfred’s Tower.
Another estate enriched in elegance and grandeur, Mompesson House invites visitors to take a step back and explore a 18th Century manor house. Located in Salisbury, the building was constructed for Sir Thomas Mompesson – MP for the Salisbury constituency – between 1679 and 1701. It has been wonderfully preserved, with the mark of completion still present on the water downpipes from 1701. Its elegance and beauty has even helped it feature in the movies, being used as a feature in the award-winning film Sense and Sensibility.
While Cley Hill may look like just a large mound, it is in fact a site of incredible interest and has been notified as a biological site of Special Specific Interest since 1975. Legend states that the hill was formed by the devil, dropping a big sack of earth which he had planned to use to bury the Somerset town of Devizes. However this 26.6 hectare of chalk grassland was created instead, where now, those who manage to reach its summit can enjoy outstanding views across West Wiltshire and neighbouring Somerset.
Now a World Heritage Site, the stunning village of Avebury attracts thousands of people throughout the year thanks to its world-famous stone circle. It is particularly popular during the summer solstice, as it is considered as an important site for Pagan religions. Thought to have been constructed in 2600BC, it is now operated by the National Trust who use their expertise to keep the site open to the public. For a chance to admire one of the country’s true historical wonders, Avebury is not to be missed.
Finally we have Lacock Abbey, an estate built back in the early 13th Century by Ela, Countess of Salisbury. While it was formerly an abbey, the Dissolution of Monasteries by Henry VIII led to the site being sold and then converted into a stately home. It first came into the hands of the National Trust back in 1944, along with the surrounding village to offer visitors plenty to see and do during their Wiltshire cottage breaks. It is another site which has featured on the big screen, with the cloister walk being one of the areas which were used as part of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
Image Credit: Gordon Robinson (Flickr.com)