OUT OF TOWN
ASHMOLEAN MUSEUM OF ART AND ARCHAEOLOGY
Britain’s ﬁrst public museum dates back to 1683, when the politician Elias Ashmole left his collection of antiquities and natural curiosities to the University of Oxford. See archaeological artefacts, pre-Raphaelite paintings, Egyptian mummies and Oliver Cromwell’s death mask. Free admission, charges for special events.
To 7 May: Degas to Picasso. The rise of Modernism in France. Tue-Sun 10am-5pm (and 1 May). Free admission, charges for special exhibitions. Beaumont St, Oxford, OX1 2PH. T: 01865-278000. www.ashmolean.org. Station: Paddington to Oxford. Off map.
See three centuries of treasures in state rooms at this Baroque palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. It’s set in 2,100 acres of ‘Capability’ Brown grounds. 1 May: Spring Jousting Tournament. Fun for all the family. 27-29 May: Blenheim Palace Food Festival. Outdoor food stalls and tastings. Palace daily 10.30am-5.30pm; park daily 9am-6pm; formal gardens daily 10.30am-6pm. Adult £24.90; child £13.90. Woodstock, Oxfordshire, OX20 1PP. T: 0800-849 6500. www.blenheimpalace.com. Station: Paddington to Oxford, then bus S3. Off map.
HAMPTON COURT PALACE
Once home to King Henry VIII, this glorious Tudor palace and maze is set in 60 acres of parkland. Highlights include the maze, the historic real tennis court and the huge grape vine. 26-27 May: Pride at the Palace. Evening tours for over 16s with talks on the palace’s former LGBT inhabitants. Palace, formal gardens and maze daily 10am-6pm. Adult £23; child £11.50. Hampton Court, East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 9AU. T: 0844-482 7777. www.hrp.org.uk. Station: Waterloo to Hampton Court. Off map.
Fairytale 900-year-old castle with a moat, aviary, gardens and parkland. 6-7 May: Motors by the Moat. See a range of classic cars the colour of pick and mix sweets. From 20 May: Chelsea Fringe – Inside Out. The gardeners of Leeds Castle are turning their world ‘inside out’ and reinventing the garden shed with a miniature recreation of the Leeds Castle gardens on the inside, and the tools of their trade on the outside. 27-29 May: Grand Medieval Joust. Grounds & gardens daily 10am-6pm; Castle daily 10.30am-5.30pm. Adult £24.90; child £16.90. Maidstone, Kent, ME17 1PL. T: 01622-765400. www.leeds-castle.com. Station: Victoria to Bearsted. Off map.
OSTERLEY PARK AND HOUSE
Explore this beautiful country home decorated as it would have been in the 1780s, then stroll its gardens or snack in the stable tearoom. House & Garden 11am-5pm. Adult £10.90; child £5.45. Jersey Rd, Isleworth, Middlesex, TW7 4RB. T: 020-8232 5050. www.nationaltrust.org.uk. Station: Osterley/Isleworth. Off map.
PALACE OF HOLYROODHOUSE
The Queen’s official residence in Scotland stands at the end of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, against the spectacular backdrop of Arthur’s Seat. Tour highlights include the state apartments and Mary, Queen of Scots’ chamber. Daily 9.30am-6pm. Adult £12.50; child £7.50. Canongate, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH8 8DX. T: 0303-123 7306. www.royalcollection.org.uk. Station: Edinburgh Waverley, then a 15-minute walk. Off map.
The world’s most famous stone circle and a World Heritage Site, Stonehenge is over 5,000 years old. With obscure Neolithic origins, it is perfectly aligned with the rising sun at the solstice. English Heritage members get exclusive early-morning tours. The visitor centre has an exhibition, shop and café. Daily 9.30am-7pm. Please check for prices. Amesbury, Wiltshire, SP4 7DE. T: 0870333 1181. www.english-heritage.org.uk. Station: Waterloo to Salisbury, then bus or taxi. Off map.
This Palladian mansion set in parkland is home to the Duke of Northumberland. Don’t miss the interiors, Grade I-listed landscape gardens and Great Conservatory. Check for times and prices. Syon Park, Brentford, Middlesex, TW8 8JF. T: 020-8560 0882. www.syonpark.co.uk. Station: Waterloo to Syon Lane. Off map.
Built by William the Conqueror in 1068, this castle is now a family-friendly experience with landscaped gardens designed by ‘Capability’ Brown. Don’t miss Merlin: The Dragon Tower and displays of medieval weaponry, as well as falconry displays. The dungeon, with actors, is a highlight. 2-4, 9-11 & 16-18 May: Tiny Knight Breaks. Sleep in lodges and enjoy a birds of prey show and medieval-inspired breakfast. Suitable for toddlers. From 26 May: Little Warrior Breaks. Stay overnight and take part in a Horrible Histories maze. Suitable for young children. From 27 May: Wars of the Roses Live! Jousting tournament. 10am-4pm (27-31 May to 5pm). Castle adult £19.20, child £16.80; castle & dungeon adult £22.80, child £19.20. Warwick, Warwickshire, CV34 6AH. T: 0871-265 2000. www.warwickcastle.com. Station: Warwick. Off map.
WATTS GALLERY ARTISTS’ VILLAGE
An Arts and Crafts gem in the Surrey Hills, with Victorian paintings and sculptures. Visit The Tea Shop, then wander to the Grade I-listed Chapel. To 31 Aug: Emma Bridgewater: Pomegranates. The ceramics designer displays her work. Tue-Sun 11am-5pm. Adult £9.50 (Tue £4.75); child free. Down Lane, Compton, Surrey, GU3 1DQ. T: 01483-810235. www.wattsgallery.org.uk. Station: Waterloo to Guildford, then bus or taxi. Off map.
The Queen’s weekend home and the world’s oldest inhabited castle. Includes State Apartments with art by Rembrandt, Rubens and Canaletto. Changing the Guard alternate days 11am except Sun. 10-14 May: Royal Windsor Horse Show. Family equestrian event held in the private grounds of Windsor Castle. Daily 9.30am-5.30pm. Adult £20.50; child £12. Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 1NJ. T: 0303-123 7304. www.royalcollection.org.uk. Station: Waterloo to Windsor & Eton Central or Windsor & Eton Riverside. Off map.
WOBURN ABBEY AND GARDENS
Set in a 3,000-acre deer park, this historic house has been home to the earls and dukes of Bedford for nearly 400 years and is currently occupied by the 15th duke and his family. Tour the house to ﬁnd out more about its family history, art and antiques, then stroll around its Repton-inspired gardens. Daily 11am-5pm. Abbey, gardens and deer park adult £16; child £8. Woburn, Bedfordshire, MK17 9WA. T: 01525-290 333. www.woburn abbey.co.uk. Station: St Pancras to Flitwick. Off map.