When you want to break away from the hustle and bustle of city life, make your way to the Cotswolds for a few days of rest, relaxation and exploring in the countryside. The Cotswolds are home to national heritage sites, historic churches, museums and parks. This is the picture-perfect destination for a family outing, and you'll find plenty of natural attractions and venues relatively untouched by commercialism over the years. Plan on visiting some of the historic manors, castles and houses in the Cotswolds to learn about life in an era gone by and to take in magnificent views of the countryside.
Here are some of the historic houses and sites to add to your itinerary:
This beautiful mansion is considered to be a fine example of Victorian and Gothic architecture. It's hidden in a Cotswold valley and has been relatively untouched by time. The mansion has an interesting history because its construction was halted completely in 1873. You can still see some of the open areas that were subsequently left untouched and learn about its builders and masons as you explore the home on a guided tour. The venue is also home to the Butler's Pantry Tea Room, where you can enjoy a traditional English tea.
California's Berkeley University is named after this English castle. The famous pink-stone castle was built in the 12th century and is still lived in by the Berkeley family 24 generations later. The castle has survived many battles and historic events over the centuries and still stands strong as a "fortress home" in the English countryside. Take a tour of the castle and you'll see dozens of Berkeley treasures including Sir Francis Drake's cabin chest, an array of unusual tapestries and Queen Elizabeth I's bedspread. The entire estate encompasses 6,000 acres and is also home to a medieval deer park, tenant farms, a nature preserve and a stretch of the River Severn.
Ghost hunters are sure to enjoy a trip to this historic Elizabethan manor house set in the beautiful countryside. You can book a tour guided by the owner or family members to learn about the home's rich history and hear the legends and stories behind the famous ghost sightings and paranormal activities here. The manor has remained unchanged for 40 years and has become a popular site for weddings and corporate events. Plan on spending the entire day exploring the grounds and gardens for an unforgettable experience.
by Sabah Karimi
Top: The Berkeley family still lives in Berkeley Castle, namesake of the University of Berkeley (Photo: Britain on View/Visit Britain)