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Castle Howard, Yorkshire
Castle Howard, Yorkshire

Most people have heard of the National Trust and know about the value of an NT membership. Others will have heard of the English Heritage and their membership card, which allows free entry to hundreds of historic properties around the UK, including stone circles and castles. But if your passion is stately homes, there's another organisation that you need to consider - Historic Houses.

The HHA is an association of 1650 independently owned historic houses (stately homes), parks, and gardens throughout England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Included in the HHA are such national treasures as Althorp, Glamis Castle, and Castle Howard. Beyond these "big names" there are hundreds of wonderful historic manors and lesser known houses such as Great Dixter (East Sussex) and gardens like West Dean, near Chichester.

A Historic Houses membership permits free entry to about 320 participating properties, a quarterly magazine called "Historic House", and special access to exclusive tours. Membership is valid for 12 months from purchase and you can get a discount for paying by direct debit.

Most historic houses have entry fees in the range of 8 - 12 pounds or more per adult, and the amounts can eat into a traveller's budget quickly. Current membership fees for Historic Houses start at GBP 50.00 single membership, GBP 80.00 double membership, and GBP 23.00 for each additional family member at the same address. If you plan to visit more than a few historic houses in Britain, Historic Houses membership will quickly pay for itself.

For full details on the HHA see their web site at: http://www.historichouses.org/, or contact the association at:

Historic Houses
2 Chester Street
London,
W1X 7BB

Membership enquiries should go to:

Historic Houses Membership Department
Heritage House
PO Box 21
Baldock
Hertfordshire SG7 5SH
+44 (0)1462 896688
members@historichouses.org