Wilton House is a stately home just to the west of Salisbury in Wiltshire. It is open to visitors from Spring until Autumn and also holds regular events and exhibitions. It is popular with visitors and locals alike, thanks to its beautiful grounds and adventure park for kids of all ages.
Wilton House near Salisbury is a large country estate which has been owned by the Earls of Pembroke for over 400 years. From 871 AD there had been a large priory situated on the site until the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII. The lands were given to William Herbert, the first Earl of Pembroke, and his descendants still live there today.
Part of the original house built for the first Earl still remains, but the majority of it was rebuilt after a fire in 1647, and it has been altered a few times since. The house and its grounds are Grade I listed and may be recognisable to many, as Wilton House has often appeared as a filming location for blockbusters including The Madness of King George, Pride and Prejudice, Tomb Raider, Emma and more recently Bridgerton.
VISITING WILTON HOUSE
There are two types of tickets to get into the estate: either house and grounds or grounds only. The grounds are extensive and include a Japanese garden, an adventure playground, entry to the Earl's supercar display and other exhibitions, which vary. Entrance to the house is for a self-guided tour around some of the public rooms, with a guide in each room to answer any questions.
The house is of a rectangular design, based around a central courtyard. All that remains of the original Tudor construction is the central tower of the east façade, to which two Georgian flanks have been added. The house was intended to be much bigger but was never completed to the original plans. Inigo Jones was probably involved in the design of the building and was most certainly involved in the interior of the main state rooms, which include the Single Cube and Double Cube rooms.
Sixty feet long and thirty feet wide, the great room designed by Inigo Jones in 1653 was designed to house the family portrait collection painted by Van Dyke. With white walls embossed with gold fruit and foliage designs and a painted ceiling depicting the story of Perseus, this is an incredible room and quite breath-taking when you step inside.
The controversial James Wyatt was the last famous architect to have input to Wilton House and he removed much of the original style, adding an unlikely Gothic element to the architecture. He did however add the gallery, where you can now see the collection of busts and sculptures collected from classical Europe in the latter 1700s.
All of the main state rooms are included on the house visit, the highlight of which is the magnificent Double Cube room. As well as being a stunning room, it has a more recent historical significance -this was where much of the D-Day planning took place in 1944.
Wilton House was requisitioned in 1940 by Southern Command until 1949. Much of the advance planning for D-Day took place here, primarily in the famous Double Cube room, which became the top secret Operations Room, where Churchill, Eisenhower and Montgomery were regular visitors. (Eisenhower's flag, which was hung at Wilton House while he was in residence, can be found on display in Salisbury Cathedral.)
Wilton House Gardens
The gardens are extensive, although not all are accessible to the public, but you still get a fair bit to wander around.
There are wide open lawns dotted with cedar and other trees, and the River Nadder which winds its way through the lawns.
Crossing the river is a beautiful Palladian bridge which was built in 1737.
It is based on a rejected design for the Rialto Bridge in Venice and was built under the supervision of the 9th Earl of Pembroke. It is a beautiful example of a Palladian Bridge, but sadly not one you can walk on.
The grounds also contain a Japanese Water Garden, woodland, the formal front gardens, a Whispering Seat, a 32 foot Egyptian Column from Rome and the kids adventure play park.
For kids, the house can be just another stately home, but where Wilton really comes into its own for them is with its grounds. The adventure play park is a large one and consists of a smaller, fenced off area for under 5's, and a larger one for older kids. It has huge wooden structures amongst the trees with slides, scramble nets, climbing nets, boat swings, trampolines and more. Families picnic on the immaculate lawn while the children run around and play.
The playground has something for all ages
A visit to Wilton House makes a good day out for parents and kids, where the adults can soak up the magnificent Palladian architecture, stunning interiors, and kids can let off steam charging around in the fresh air.
Events at Wilton House
Regular events are held at the house and in the grounds. Easter Egg hunts, car enthusiast days, charity walks and more all take place here. There are also changing exhibitions which can be really good and are included as part of the Grounds ticket.
VISITING WILTON HOUSE
How to get to Wilton House
Postcode: SP2 0BJ
Public Transport: The R3 and R8 run past Wilton House from Salisbury to Wilton and usually stop outside Wilton House. Find timetable >>
Parking: If you are driving, there is a spacious free car park for visitors at the house.
When is Wilton House open?
May - September, Sundays - Thursdays
11am - 5.30pm
How much does it cost to visit Wilton House?
House and Grounds: Adult £15.50, Child £8.50
Grounds only: Adult £6.50, Child £5
Family tickets and concessions are available
Are there any facilities at Wilton House?
There is a café on site, an ice cream stall, and a gift shop, as well as all of the necessary facilities.
Which is the nearest town to Wilton House?
Salisbury is the nearest town which is good for visitors. See our Salisbury City Guide for details on how to get to Salisbury, locally owned accommodation, restaurants and shops, further places to visit and things to do.