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5 Unmissable Berkshire Heritage Sites

From unique period buildings to crumbling castles, our surrounding area has a wealth of sites to win the hearts of visitors. Whether you have a thirst for British history, or just fancy somewhere beautiful to stretch the legs or enjoy a picnic, Donnington Grove is perfectly situated. Our grounds themselves have a heritage all of their own (read our "Brief History of Donnington Grove"), while we are also just a few miles from the set of Downton Abbey at Highclere Castle. Here are some further suggestions, with hidden gems as well as celebrated landmarks:

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1. Donnington Castle: Right on our doorstep, this ruined fourteenth century castle is one of the county’s most famous and imposing landmarks. Having stood for centuries under different owners, extensive periods of neglect and even eighteen months of bitter siege during the English Civil War, it is a wonder of survival. Visitors and golfers at Donnington Grove enjoy viewing it from a distance, but it is well worth getting closer for a more intimate look. It's also free to visit (More info)

2. Ashdown House: Set near Lambourn, this National Trust property is both beautiful and unusual. A Dutch style property resembling a living doll’s house, its’ story has both romance and a hint of tragedy. Earl William Craven literally decided to build a dwelling “fit for a queen” in 1662. Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia to be exact, but sadly she died before it was finished. The current plight of the property is far happier though- and if you book there are selected tours (More info here

3.Sandham Memorial Chapel: “Britain’s answer to the Sistine Chapel” is one of the most beautiful and profound places the visitor could encounter in England, let alone Berkshire. Containing huge murals by the artist Sir Stanley Spencer, the building tells the story of Britain’s Great War dead in painstaking fashion. It is closed later in the year, although the surrounding area is still a great site for a walk- and you can even follow in the artist’s footsteps by walking around Burghclere village (further info here). 

4. Basildon Park: For anyone who has ever wondered what it might be like to live like a wealthy Lord, or perhaps act in a costume drama, this 18th Century house is simply sublime. Lovingly restored, highlights include fabulous gardens, period furniture and even a 1950’s kitchen. It also runs tours throughout the year, including those times many other properties close (further info here

5. St. Nicholas Church, Newbury: The site of a church since 1086, the fascinating building that stands today is nearer 500 years old and a place of rich historical interest for any Newbury visitor curious about the town’s heritage (further info here). 

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