Walk in famous footsteps

Date Posted: 04/04/2012

Pictured: Rudyard Kipling's home, Batemans in East Sussex. Photo credit: NTPL John Miller

From childhood homes to places where they gained their inspiration, many National Trust houses have connections to famous faces through the ages. From the creative and scientific to the rich and powerful, groups can get closer to the lives of some of those who have made their mark on British history.

The Beatles - The Beatles’ Childhood Homes, Liverpool
GTOs can take a trip down memory lane with a combined minibus tour to Mendips and 20 Forthlin Road, the childhood homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. This is an opportunity to see inside the houses where The Beatles met, composed and rehearsed many of their earliest songs.

Cost: £20 (Member £8.30)
Contact: 0151-427 7231

Agatha Christie - Greenway, Devon
This is an extraordinary glimpse into the private holiday home of the famous and much-loved author Agatha Christie and her family. The atmospheric house is set in the 1950s, and contains many of the family's collections, including archaeology, silver, botanical china and books. The roomy saloon, complete with fireplace and a balcony overlooking the River Dart, is where Christie set the murder of Marlene Tucket in Dead Man’s Folly. For those organising a group trip who would like an in-depth look at the property, a guided tour can be arranged.

Cost: £7.80
Contact: 01803-842382

Sir Winston Churchill - Chartwell, Kent
The family home and place of inspiration for Sir Winston Churchill, Chartwell remains much as it did when he lived there. Pictures, books and personal mementoes evoke the career and wide-ranging interests of the statesman, writer, painter and family man, while the hillside gardens reflect Churchill’s love of the landscape and nature. Groups can take a closer look into the lives of the Churchill family through an informal tour of the principal rooms of the house. The ‘Churchills at Chartwell’ tour highlights interesting contents and gives an insight into the family’s tastes and lifestyle.

Cost: £10.30 (or £5.20 for the garden and exhibition)
Contact: 01732-868381 

Benjamin Disraeli - Hughenden, Buckinghamshire
Amid rolling Chilterns countryside sits the home of Benjamin Disraeli, said to be Queen Victoria’s favourite prime minister. Acquired in the midst of his political career, he turned it, with help from his dedicated wife Mary Anne, into the country house needed to secure his political aspirations. Follow in his footsteps through the atmospheric manor to discover his colourful private life, and why he was such an unlikely prime minister. Group travel organisers can also arrange a tour of the manor, at no extra charge.

Cost: £7.20
Contact: 01494-755573

Sir Francis Drake- Buckland Abbey, Devon
The home of one of Britain’s greatest seafarers, it was from Buckland that Drake planned his assault on the Spanish Armada. The Abbey, now part-museum and part-home, features fascinating memorabilia including the famous Drake’s Drum; which was with him on the epic voyage when he died and is said to beat if England is ever in danger.

Cost: £7.70
Contact: 01822-856000

Thomas Hardy - Hardy’s Country, Dorset
Few authors have such strong associations with the natural and cultural heritage of their local area as Thomas Hardy. His semi-fictional Wessex - inspired by the landscape surrounding Dorchester - was the setting for many of his novels, short stories and poetry. Hardy Country is home to his birthplace; a small cob and thatch cottage built by his father; and a short journey away is Max Gate, the red brick villa designed by Hardy himself.

Contact: 01297-489481

Rudyard Kipling - Bateman’s, East Sussex
“That’s She! The Only She! Make an honest woman of her – quick!” was how Rudyard Kipling and his wife, Carrie, felt the first time they saw Bateman’s. Surrounded by the wooded landscape of the Sussex Weald, this was the writer’s sanctuary, where he was inspired to write Puck of Pook’s Hill. Kipling’s strong associations with the east can be seen within the house in the many Oriental rugs and artefacts. Most of the rooms - including his book lined study - are much as he left them.

Cost: £7.90
Contact: 04135-882302

Sir Isaac Newton - Woolsthorpe Manor, Lincolnshire
Birthplace and family home of the famous scientist, it was here he made many of his most important discoveries about light and gravity here in the plague years of 1666-7. Visiting groups can still see the famous apple tree that inspired his thoughts on gravity from the bedroom window, and explore some of his ideas for themselves in the Science Discovery Centre. GTOs can arrange a special interest tour of Woolsthorpe Manor, and find out about Newton’s early life and his family.

Cost: £5.74 (entry only)
Contact: 01476-862820

Beatrix Potter - Hill Top, Cumbria
Beatrix Potter bought Hill Top with the royalties earned from Peter Rabbit, and the garden has been laid out to reflect Peter’s adventures with Mr McGregor. The characters of Tom Kitten, Samuel Whiskers and Jemima Puddleduck were all created here too. Down the road in Hawkshead is the Beatrix Potter Gallery which has exhibitions of original sketches and watercolours from the celebrated children’s stories on display.

Cost: £4.80
Contact: 01539-436269

William Wordsworth - Wordsworth House and Garden, Cumbria
This Georgian townhouse, in the Cumbrian town of Cockermouth, was the birthplace and childhood home of romantic poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy. Presented as their bustling family home and peopled by costumed servants, it offers a chance for groups to experience what it was like to live in the 1770s. Relax in the new summerhouse on Wordsworth’s famous terrace, walk and listen to his poetry and discover the nature that inspired his work.

Groups interested in a tour can book ‘The Daily Life of the Wordsworths’; where, after an introduction to the house, you’ll be greeted by the Wordsworth’s loyal servants for a special insight into the life of the young William Wordsworth in the 1770s. Costumed staff will give you a talk on Georgian life and a hands-on experience of the working Georgian kitchen, with food to sample.

Cost: £6 (entry only)
Contact: 01900-824805

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