Castles, manors, and estates, oh my!

By Southern Living
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Sudeley Castle
Credit: by Marc Guitard/Getty Images

If you’ve ever wanted to peek inside some of Great Britain’s grandest homes, you’re in luck. There’s a new show that’s opening the centuries-old doors and inviting you in. It’s An American Aristocrat’s Guide to Great Estates, a series on the Smithsonian Channel hosted by American-born aristocrat Julie Montagu.

Smithsonian Channel says, “Sprawling estates and magnificent castles dot Britain's landscape, passed down from one aristocratic heir or heiress to the next. But life in a stately home isn't quite the fairy tale it's made out to be. Join Julie Montagu, Viscountess Hinchingbrooke as she ventures through some of the most storied and remarkable estates in Great Britain. From England's Newby Hall and Holdenby House to Scotland's Inveraray and Floors Castles, this is an all-access look at grand residences and the families who keep their histories alive.”

Montagu was born in Illinois and moved to England when she married Luke Montagu, Viscount Hinchingbrooke, whose family home is Mapperton House, a 16th century estate in Dorset. She also appeared on the Bravo television series Ladies of London. Properties Montagu—also known as Viscountess Hinchingbrooke—tours during the new series includes: Floors Castle and Inveraray Castle in Scotland and Eastnor Castle, Newby Hall, Sudeley Castle, Holdenby House, Boughton House, and Doddington Hall in England. You can see a clip from one of the episodes here. It explores Armoury Hall of Inveraray Castle, which has the highest ceiling of any home in Scotland, and explains the symbols on the Duke of Argyll's coat of arms.

The eight-episode series is currently airing on the Smithsonian Channel. You can find more information about the show, see an episode guide, and find out all the ways to watch at smithsonianchannel.com.

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What grand estates would you like to see up close? Are there any architectural marvels in your area?