Historic houses of the south east

Filled with fairytale castles, fields of hops and charming old towns there are very few corners of the UK that are as quintessentially English as the beautiful south east.

This vast area that covers a number of counties including Berkshire, Oxfordshire and West Sussex, is famous for its countryside, national parks and stately homes. We have drawn up a tour of four of the best country manors from the timeless Stansted House, located on the Hampshire-Sussex border, to the nationally vital Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes where codebreakers worked tirelessly to help bring the Second World War to a close.

Stansted Park, West Sussex

Nestled in picturesque parkland you'll find one of the most elegant country houses in the south east - Stansted Park. The Edwardian house shows off magnificent stately rooms with servants' quarters - here you really get a feel for what life was like, both upstairs and downstairs. It also has cracking views, and to the east this period property looks out onto the rolling chalk uplands of the South Downs National Park, while to the south on a clear day visitors can make out the coast.

Goodwood House, West Sussex

Around 20 minutes from Stansted Park is glorious Goodwood House, comprising 12,000 acres of Sussex countryside. The grounds are busy year round with international sporting events that take place at its famous motor racing circuit and racecourse. Goodwood wears its history with pride, with portraits of royal descendants of the original occupiers still hanging on the walls. It is also the seat of the Dukes of Richmond, whose family own some of the greatest stately home art collections in the UK.

Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire

Baron Ferdinand de Rothschildbuilt Waddesdon Manor with all mod cons on farmland towards the end of the 19th Century in the style of a Renaissance period French chateau. It became famous for its Saturday to Monday house parties and attracted the influential figures, particularly from political and cultural circles.

Today the National Trust property still houses a French art collection thought to be one of the finest in the world. Waddesdon is located a two and a half hour drive from Goodwood House.

Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes

For a snapshot of wartime history visit Bletchley Park, which is possibly one of Britain's most illustrious sites and most famous for what went on inside its four walls. As the central site for the UK's Government Code & Cypher School, Bletchley Park was of vital importance to national security during World War Two. It is where the country's best brains of the time spent hours poring over encrypted messages intercepted from the Germans. Together their work is credited with significantly shortening World War Two, in particular after they unravelled the Enigma code. No longer Britain's best kept secret, today Bletchley Park is one of the country's most popular attractions.

We have a number of airport and urban pick-up locations across the south east of England, including one at Stansted Airport. Why not hire a car in advance so you have time to plan your perfect trip.