Let's head out of Birmingham and into Shakespeare's County, Warwickshire with a look at four National Trust properties that you can visit. Coughton Court, Packwood House, Baddesley Clinton and Charlecote Park. The best time to go is usually in the spring or summer, although early autumn the weather would be fine to go. But you can visit them in any season!

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Coughton Court

It's a Grade I listed building, located between Studley and Alcester in Warwickshire. It is an English Tudor country house. The Coughton estate has been owned by the Throckmorton family since 1409. The gatehouse at Coughton was built as early as 1536. The courtyard was closed on all four sides until 1651, when Parliamentary soldiers burnt the fourth (east) wing during the English Civil War.

The West Front with two wings either side of it. The North Wing is on the left, while The South Wing is to the right. The Gatehouse is made of Limestone ashlar. The wings are timber framed with lath, plaster infill and brick.

Coughton Court - West Front

This view of the courtyard seen with the Formal Garden from the other side of the River Arrow. The entrance is via the bottom of the Gatehouse. You can only go into the South Wing of the house. The North Wing is the private residence of the current members of the family. The East Wing must have survived until a fire in 1688. It was demolished in the 1780s.

Coughton Court - court yard view

You can head up a spiral staircase while on your visit to the house and get wonderful views of the estate from the roof. It is on the top of the Gatehouse. This view towards the Formal Garden, with the North Wing on the left and the South Wing on the right. The missing East Wing (burnt in the 17th century, demolished in the 18th) would have completed the courtyard.

Coughton Court - roof top view

The Dining Room. It was the Great Chamber in Elizabethan times. The principal first-floor reception room where the Throckmortons would have entertained important guests. It appears to have become a Dining Room in the early 19th century.

Coughton Court - Dining Room

The Parlour. A bit like a lounge or living room. The room was off The Saloon Passage. It couldn't be The Yellow Drawing Room  as that room is in The Gatehouse to the left of the staircase.

Coughton Court - Parlour

Packwood House

It's a Grade I listed building, located near Lapworth in Warwickshire. The National Trust has owned it since 1941. It's a timber-framed Tudor manor house. The house was built for  John Fetherston between 1556 and 1560. The  last member of the Fetherston family died in 1876. In 1904 a Birmingham industrialist Alfred Ash purchased the house. It was inherited by Graham Baron Ash in 1925. The great barn of the farm was converted into a Tudor-style hall and was connected to the main house by the addition of a Long Gallery in 1931.

The West Front of Packwood House. There is sundial on this side. There is a drive around the lawn. There used to be an uninterrupted view of the house from this side. The 'Birmingham entrance' is how the owner Graham Baron Ash used to refer to this part of his estate. So when he requested a ride in his white Rolls Royce for business his chauffeur would know which entrance to park in readiness. But there has been a hedge in the way since the National Trust took over. They are hoping to reinstate the old carriageway to it's former glory.

Packwood House - West Front

The South Front seen from the Raised Terrace and Carolean Garden. The house is also known as Mr Ash's House. Baron Ash donated the house to the National Trust in 1941, but continued to live here until 1947, when he moved to Wingfield Castle.

Packwood House - South Front

The main entrance to the house and gardens is via the gate to the left. Seen from Packwood Lane to the right is the Outbuildings. Built in the mid 17th century, they were originally barns. Baron Ash converted them to rooms as part of the house, as if they were always like that (they weren't). Inside during your visit you will go into the Long Gallery and the Great Hall. Both are lined with old tapestries and period furniture. The Great Hall is a Tudor style hall with a sprung floor for dancing.

Packwood House - Outbuildings

The Entrance Hall is the first room you would enter. If you have a large bag, then you can give it to a volunteer who would put it in trunk, and they would give you a token (which you would give back when coming back to collect your bag before going back outside). There is a portrait of King Henry VIII to the right. Above is a balcony / passageway that leads to the Fetherston Room (which has photos from the early 20th century showing Baron Ash's change to the house).

Packwood House - Entrance Hall

The Drawing Room. There is two rooms dedicated to Queen Mary (the wife of George V) as she visited the house in 1927. A chair she sat in the Great Hall is in this room, and a cup she drank tea from is now in a glass case. There is a piano to the right of the room.

Packwood House - Drawing Room

Baddesley Clinton

A Grade I listed building, it is a moated manor house, located 8 miles north-west of Warwick in Warwickshire. The house originated in the 13th century. The manor was purchased in 1438 by John Brome, who passed it to his son, Nicholas Brome. The house ended up in the Ferrers family possession from the 16th century until they sold it to the National Trust in 1980.

The view of the moated manor house from the Forecourt. There is a bridge over the moat that leads to the inner courtyard.

Baddesley Clinton - from the Forecourt

The moat goes all the way around the house. This view is from the Walled Garden. There is coat of arms on all the windows around the house. There used to be a bridge on this side, if you notice the stonework to the bottom of the middle chimney breast. There is a room with a view on the first floor that was built in 1460, which is to the left of where the bridge used to be. It was probably removed when the current bridge was built along with the gatehouse in 1536.

Baddesley Clinton - from the Walled Garden

After crossing the bridge over the moat, you enter the Inner Courtyard. It has a formal garden in the middle. One side of the garden you can see the moat and the path on the other side. Entrance to the house is this way.

Baddesley Clinton - Inner Courtyard

The Great Hall. At this end is a fireplace in the middle of the room, and a pair of doors leading to the drawing room and a small dining room. Tapestry was on the wall to the left.

Baddesley Clinton - Great Hall

The Priest's Bedroom on the first floor. A bit of a small Catholic chapel. During Elizabethan times it was illegal to be Catholic, and houses like this had a priest hole (to hide the priest). You can find the priest hole from the kitchen (steps goes below a trapdoor). It would have been used in the 1590s.

Baddesley Clinton - Priest's Bedroom

Charlecote Park

A Grade I listed building surrounded by it's own deer park, on the banks of the River Avon near Wellesbourne, about 4 miles east of Stratford-upon-Avon and 5.5 miles south of Warwick. It is a grand 16th century country house. The National Trust has administered it since 1946. The Lucy family owned the land from 1247. Charlecote Park was built in 1558 by Sir Thomas Lucy.

As you approach the house from the entrance gate, you see the Gatehouse. Don't be surprised if you see deer crossing from one section of the lawn to the other (over the path), after all this is a deer park! The Gatehouse is a Grade I listed building and was built in 1560. Brick laid to English bond with limestone ashlar dressings. There is exhibition rooms on both sides of the gatehouse, although you can't go to the upper floors. One room had a bit of Lucy family history. The other room at the time of my visit was set up like a Red Cross World War One hospital room (with a bed). People with walking difficulties, can get a golf buggy to take them around the estate.

Charlecote Park - Gatehouse

After passing the Gatehouse, you get your first view of the house. Once known as Charlecote Hall, today it is simply known as just Charlecote Park. A magnificent view, especially on a day with a blue sky (like this one in early September 2018). The house begun construction in 1558. It was expanded in the 19th century. The extensions were built for George and Mary Elizabeth Lucy. The house entrance is straight ahead.

Charlecote Park - The House

This view of the house from the Parterre. A formal garden with colourful flowers. It is next to the River Avon on this side, with fine views of the Deer Park. The area to the right of the house is private.

Charlecote Park - from the Parterre

The Dining Room at Charlecote Park. A long table laid out as it could have been like in the 19th century for the Lucy family. The house is now much more Victorian than Elizabethan, as George Hammond Lucy (who inherited in 1823), recreated the house in his own style (he was High Sheriff of Warwickshire in 1831).

Charlecote Park - Dining Room

The Library. Table and chairs laid out for reading next to the fireplace. There is portraits around the room with Tudor and Stuart King's and Queen's as well as members of the Lucy family. Elizabeth I and Charles I are above the fireplace. Queen Elizabeth I actually once stayed at Charlecote in the room that is now the Drawing Room.

Charlecote Park - The Library

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.