Wilton House

Top choice in Salisbury

Stately Wilton House provides an insight into the rarefied world of the British aristocracy. One of England's finest stately homes, it's been the house of the earls of Pembroke since 1542, and has been expanded, improved and embellished by successive generations. Highlights are the Single and Double Cube Rooms, designed by the pioneering 17th-century architect Inigo Jones.

Wilton House is 2.5 miles west of Salisbury; bus R3 runs from Salisbury (£2.70, 10 minutes, one to three hourly Monday to Saturday).

The result of centuries of embellishments at Wilton is quite staggering: magnificent period furniture, fresco ceilings and elaborate plasterwork frame paintings by Van Dyck, Rembrandt and Joshua Reynolds. All the architectural eye candy makes the house a favoured film location: The Madness of King George, Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice were all shot here. But Wilton was serving as an artistic haven long before the movies – famous guests include Ben Jonson, Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe and John Donne. Shakespeare's As You Like It was performed here in 1603, shortly after the bard had written it. The fine landscaped grounds were largely laid out by Capability Brown.