5 National Trust locations to visit in Wiltshire
22nd September 2022
Finding enjoyable days out and excursions is important, not just for physical health – helping people to stay active – but also for mental wellbeing by providing an incentive to get out of the house and meet others. Wiltshire has plenty of such incentives on hand, including its collection of wonderful National Trust properties. From ancient stone circles and abbeys to gorgeous manor houses and beautiful gardens, it’s all available in Wiltshire.
If you are looking for some fun attractions to visit in Wiltshire, this guide highlights five top National Trust locations to consider, letting you know about what to expect, as well as some helpful accessibility information for those who use stairlifts.
The world’s largest prehistoric stone circle can be found in the Wiltshire village of Avebury and if that’s not reason enough to visit this World Heritage Site, Avebury is also home to a manor house and museum. Part of the same World Heritage Site as Stonehenge, the Avebury stone circle is an outstanding Neolithic and Bronze Age monument and visitors can spend time wandering among these fascinating stones before they head off to discover more of what Avebury has to offer.
People have lived at Avebury Manor from the Tudor times to when the 1930s Archaeologist Alexander Keiller took residence here. Keiller is the man who excavated Avebury, discovering fascinating treasures that can be seen today at the Alexander Keiller Museum. The manor itself allows visitors to experience the lives of those who once lived here, with each room furnished to reflect a different period of history. On your visit, spend time marvelling at the Tudor dining room and Edwardian kitchen and then head outside to admire the delightful gardens.
Holly Worton, an author and podcaster, loves Avebury and has shared the following insight about the stone circle: “Inexpensive hour-long tours of the circle cost £4 per person and are very much worth it. I've done the tours twice, and I learned a lot each time. You'll learn lots of little details about the history of the stone circle. The two little museums are also very worthwhile. You'll learn about what life was like in the time when the stone circle was built. They've also got ancient pottery and other items that have been uncovered over the years at the circle.”
In terms of accessibility, visitors might want to be aware that parts of the stone circle feature steps and uneven ground meaning not all of the site is entirely accessible to those with limited mobility. The manor offers a ramp into the entrance but there are narrow doors and pathways to contend with as well as stairs to the other floors of the house.
You can read more about accessibility at Avebury here.
A 1,072-hectare estate situated at the source of the River Stour, Stourhead is a lovely National Trust property in Wiltshire of the most picturesque variety. This Palladian house, and world-famous landscaped garden, was first opened in the 1740s. It was described back then as a “living work of art” and that remains as true today as it was then. A beautiful lake is perfectly situated at the centre of the grounds, surrounded by classical temples, hidden grottos, and exotic trees. It’s a picture-perfect location for getting a bit of fresh air and after you have finished exploring, head into the house, learn about its history and take in its beautiful Regency library, Chippendale furniture and remarkable paintings.
Gentri Lee, a travel and lifestyle blogger, has visited Stourhead herself and describes what she enjoyed about the location: “The home itself is beautiful, with a library that felt like I had stepped into Beauty and the Beast. But the gardens, that's where this historic property really shines.
“You could spend an entire day exploring the Stourhead Gardens, and still you would feel like there were pieces you missed. The grottos and small houses were some of my favourite parts, but of course, the Temple of Apollo was the biggest highlight of all.”
Disabled parking and disabled toilets are available at Stourhead, though visitors should be aware that some paths through the garden include stony sections with steep descents. There are wheelchair-accessible paths, however, and some all-terrain wheelchairs are available to hire. A stair climber can also be booked to help wheelchair users into the house.
You can read more about accessibility at Stourhead here.
Lacock Abbey, Museum and Village
Used on screen for the likes of Harry Potter and Pride and Prejudice, Lacock Abbey is a beautiful country house with monastic roots, set in the village of the same name. Founded in the 13th century as an Augustinian nunnery, Lacock Abbey is situated within its own woodland grounds, boasting beautiful architecture of varying styles. Visitors can look forward to stepping back in time by exploring the medieval rooms and gorgeous cloister court and looking at the 125 different treasures in its collection. There is also the Fox Talbot Museum to enjoy, which explores the history of photography, the abbey gardens to meander around, a café and the charming village itself with all its lovely quirks.
Larch, from the travel blog, The Silver Nomad, has visited Lacock Abbey and shares: “Any ‘Potterhead’ will love visiting the cloisters and abbey rooms which doubled as Hogwarts School’s cloisters in many of the Harry Potter films.
“The grounds are also extensive and are pleasant to walk around, though if you have a dog with you, they will have to be on a lead as cattle and sheep still graze there. Parts of the grounds are available to walk around without actually paying to enter the abbey itself.”
There is disabled parking available and accessible toilets in the abbey courtyard, assistance dogs are welcome, and there is mobility scooter and wheelchair hire available. Certain areas of the abbey and gardens are off-limits to wheelchairs due to their historic nature but there are alternative routes available.
You can read more about accessibility at Lacock here.
The Courts Garden
Image credit: Nessy-Pic
Sometimes there is nothing more relaxing or enjoyable than spending time walking around a beautiful country garden, and this is exactly what is on offer at The Courts Garden in Wiltshire. This Grade II listed garden has been in the possession of the National Trust since 1943 and gets its name from the 18th-century home it surrounds called The Courts. Depicting the English countryside at its best, The Courts Garden offers visitors great variety, featuring water gardens, organically shaped topiary, and lovely vistas. The arboretum is a delight to explore with its different species of trees and acts as a wonderful spot for a picnic. There is charm in abundance at The Courts Garden and garden lovers will certainly be in their element.
The grounds are mostly accessible though visitors will find some steps and uneven paths. Assistance dogs are welcome at the gardens, and there is a manual wheelchair available to hire. It should be noted that the car park is about 55 yards from the property. There are a couple of Blue Badge parking spots and there is a mobility drop-off point just in front of the entrance gate.
You can read more about accessibility at The Courts Garden here.
Great Chalfield Manor
Image credit: Neosnaps
Great Chalfield Manor is a romantic 15th-century manor house featuring an Arts and Crafts garden near Melksham. Historically described as “one of the most perfect examples of the late medieval English manor house", there are some historic delights to be found. The church near the front of the house dates further back to the 14th century and the font is from the 13th century. Featuring lovely terraces, a lily pond, rose garden, topiary houses, and picturesque views, Great Chalfield Manor - complete with moat and gatehouse - is nestled perfectly in this peaceful countryside setting. The house is managed on behalf of the National Trust by a family of tenants and visitors might recognise the manor from TV shows such as 'The Other Boleyn Girl’, 'Tess of the d'Ubervilles' and 'Wolf Hall'.
Jenny, from the family lifestyle blog, The Gingerbread House, has visited the gardens at Great Chalfield Manor with her family, sharing: “The gardens are a real mixture, with a stream and pond, wild areas and more formal areas. Of special interest were the four ‘tree houses’, groups of four clipped yews that have grown together and been hollowed out inside like a house. My daughter loved running through these and they reminded me of the sculpted yews shaped like a house at Westwood Manor.”
There is designated mobility parking in the main car park, accessible toilets, and a wheelchair available to hire. Some paths are unsuitable for wheelchairs, however, due to their uneven nature. Steps are present at the entrance to the house but there is a moveable ramp available if requested before your visit.
You can read more about accessibility at The Courts Garden via the access tab of the National Trust website.
READ ALSO: 5 National Trust locations to visit in Devon
National Trust properties to visit in Wiltshire
- Lacock Abbey, Museum and Village
- The Courts Garden
- Great Chalfield Manor
As you can see, if you are looking for a lovely day out in Wiltshire, the National Trust provides some fantastic options. Whether you are visiting with a loved one, friends, or even grandchildren, the above suggestions are well worth considering, providing access to history, nature, and beauty amid peaceful environments.
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