Holker Hall country house & Summer Garden near Cartmel, Cumbria, England; Shutterstock ID 707297809; full: digital; gl: 65050; netsuite: digital; your: Barbara Di Castro

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Holker Hall

Top choice in Cumbria & the Lakes

Three miles east of Cartmel on the B5278, Holker Hall has been the family seat of the Cavendish family for nigh on four centuries. Though parts of it date from the 16th century, the house was almost entirely rebuilt following a devastating fire in 1871. It's a typically ostentatious Victorian affair, covered with mullioned windows, gables and copper-topped turrets outside and filled with a warren of lavishly over-the-top rooms inside.

Among the highlights are the drawing room, packed with Chippendale furniture and historic oil paintings, and the library, containing an antique microscope belonging to Henry Cavendish (discoverer of nitric acid) and more than 3500 antique books (some of which are fakes, designed to conceal light switches when the house was converted to electric power in 1911). The showstopper is the Long Gallery, notable for its plasterwork ceiling and fine English furniture – look for the 19th-century sphinx-legged table and a wonderful walnut cabinet inlaid with ivory and rosewood.

Outside, Holker's grounds sprawl for more than 10 hectares, encompassing a rose garden, a woodland, ornamental fountains and a 22m-high lime tree.

There's also a food hall that stocks produce from the estate, including two renowned products: venison and salt marsh lamb.

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