The Historic Houses Association (HHA) represents over 1,640 of the UK’s privately and charitably owned historic houses, castles and gardens. These are listed buildings or designated gardens, usually Grade I or II, and are often still lived in by the families who have owned them for many generations. These buildings are considered to be iconic symbols of Britain’s unique heritage.
The houses range from iconic stately homes such as Blenheim Palace, Longleat and Knebworth House to more intimate, often hidden houses such as Traquair in Scotland, Treowen in Wales and Belle Isle in Northern Ireland.
Hundreds of these properties are open to day visitors, by appointment or by hosting special tours, weddings, concerts, festivals and other special events. Overall, HHA properties welcome some 24 million visits each year and support the equivalent of 41,000 jobs. There are 43,000 Friends of the HHA who are able to visit over 300 of these houses, castles and gardens for free during normal opening hours!
The HHA provides a range of advisory services to help the owners with the many challenges that arise when maintaining a historic property. It also represents the views and interests of Member properties at local, national and European level, helping to demonstrate the vast economic and social contributions which privately-owned historic properties make in the UK today.
You may find some of the properties familiar from films and TV! To give just a few examples:
- Highclere Castle in Berkshire is the world-renowned location for the filming of Downton Abbey
- If you’re one of the millions who’ve loved watching the recent remake of Poldark, you can follow in the characters’ footsteps by visiting Chavenage in Gloucestershire
- Bond fans who saw 007 in Rome in SPECTRE may be surprised to learn that the Italian capital was recreated at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire
Many HHA Member properties have exquisite gardens and landscapes, changing with the season and always offering the visitor something fresh and new. This year marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, one of England’s most influential landscape architects. A third of his surviving landscapes are cared for by HHA Members, from world-famous sites such as Blenheim to Brown’s Northumbrian birthplace, Kirkharle. Our microsite www.hhacapabilitybrown.co.uk is the perfect place to explore these.
Every HHA Member property is unique, giving you an insight into much-loved family homes and the people who have lived there. Visiting HHA sites is not a standardised experience – some are open all year round, others for a few months and others open only on selected dates. Our Member properties are not empty museums. They are family homes and used by communities.
As well as the chance to visit 300+ properties free, HHA Friends receive a quarterly magazine and the opportunity to join exclusive tours, often to properties which are not usually open to the public.
Further information on the HHA and on becoming a Friend is available at www.hha.org.uk/friends. You can check out HHA Member properties on the website or on free apps for iPhone, iPad and Android.