Historic Houses – Winter Openings

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Membership of Historic Houses gives free entry to over 300 heritage sites in the UK, including some of the finest stately homes in the country and most impressive gardens. However the majority of these are closed during the winter period from November through to February.

Highcliffe Castle
Highcliffe Castle

The good news for hardy winter travellers is that about 60 sites are fully or partly open during this time. But which ones are they?

I’ve researched region by region which sites are normally open during the winter period and below are the results.

However, before travelling, please check with the Historic Houses website, or better still directly with the website of the property you intend to visit, as opening times can change at short notice and sometimes only the gardens and grounds are open.

Also please check whether you need to book a time slot before visiting.

South West

Winter: Abbotsbury Subtropical Garden
Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens

The gardens/grounds are open at a several sites including Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, Castle Hill Gardens, Cirencester Park Grounds, Lydiard House, Sezincote, and Sudeley Castle.

A couple of castles are also open during much of the winter period: Highcliffe Castle and Lulworth Castle.

London and South East

Several exceptional gardens are open in this region during the winter period, including Blenheim Palace Park & Gardens, Englefield House Gardens, Painshill, Waddesdon Manor Gardens and West Dean Gardens.

A few houses can be visited including Chawton House, Limnerlease and Michelham Priory. For something a bit different, try the Hook Norton Brewery and the Cowper & Newton Museum.

East Midlands

Belvoir Castle and Rose Garden
Belvoir Castle

The house and grounds at Kelham Hall and Holme Pierrepont Hall are open throughout the winter period, as are the gardens at Elsham Hall. The dramatic hill-top Belvoir Castle and the gardens at Renishaw Hall are open some days in November and December.


There are just a couple of sites with winter openings in this region:  Hedingham Castle and its gardens open two days a week and the Manor Gardens, Hemingford Grey open every day.

West Midlands

Not much open in this region other than the impressive Stoneleigh Abbey and its grounds by the River Avon. The gardens at Winterbourne House in Birmingham are also well worth visiting, although the house itself is not open at the moment.


Winter: Burton Constable Hall Front View
Burton Constable Hall

The gardens/grounds are open during the winter period at Burton Agnes Hall, Norton Conyers and Ripley Castle. The houses are also open at Burton Constable Hall and Sewerby Hall (plus the zoo).

North West and Isle of Man

There are plenty of gardens open in the region including Askham Hall Gardens and Morland House Gardens, and Miltown Gardens on the Isle of Man.

Some houses are also open including Bramall Hall, Holker Hall, Lytham Hall and Elizabeth Gaskell’s House in Manchester.

For something a bit different, then the massive ruins of Lowther Castle and its gardens are worth a visit.

North East

Winter: Raby Castle
Raby Castle

Visitors to this region during the winter period are spoiled by having two magnificent castles to visit, Bamburgh Castle and Raby Castle. There are also two fascinating gardens to explore, Wynyard Hall Gardens and Ushaw. Additionally Preston Tower house and gardens are open.


Four gardens are open for some or all of the winter period: Golden Grove, Plas Brondanw Gardens, Gregynog Gardens and Picton Castle Gardens.


The gardens/grounds are open at a few sites including Dumfries House, Gordon Castle Walled Garden, Scone Palace and Abbortsford. For something a bit different, then the spectacular, ruined cliff-top Dunnottar Castle might appeal.

Northern Ireland

Sorry, none of the three sites is open during the winter period.

In Conclusion

Winter: Lulworth Castle
Lulworth Castle

If visiting gardens and grounds, rather than houses, is your forte, then there are plenty of Historic Houses sites still open during the winter period. There are not that many houses open, partly because of the pandemic, but those that are open include some of the finest properties in the country.

If you intend to visit one of these properties, then it is worth thinking about taking out membership of Historic Houses. Your year long membership will of course also cover you for the spring/summer/autumn period when all the sites should be open.

Individual membership is £65 a year, joint membership is £103 a year and child membership (3-16 years) is £30 a year. However if you click on Historic Houses and then enter our unique code STEW05 at ‘Add discount code’, then new members will receive a £5 discount. This also applies if you wish to give annual membership as a gift.

Once again, it is stressed that before travelling you should check directly with the website of the property you intend to visit about their current opening times and whether you need to book in advance.

A similar pattern of reduced winter openings also applies to English Heritage and the National Trust, see: English Heritage and National Trust  – Winter Openings.

POSTED SEPTEMBER 25th, 2023 by STEVE HANSON. The photographs were taken by BARBARA HANSON.