1 The Palladian grandeur of Grade I Listed Lydiard House - www.lydiardpark.org.uk – easily makes it the finest building in the borough of Swindon. It is the centrepiece of Lydiard Park, which is itself excellent. A house is known to have existed on the site as long ago as the Medieval period, its current appearance dates back to remodelling in the 17th and 18th centuries. The superbly-curated house is packed with artistic treasures, furniture and other relics of its long history.

2 The Merchant’s House, only a dozen miles or so from Swindon in the heart of Marlborough, isn’t a stately home in the conventional sense as it was not a dwelling of landed gentry or aristocracy, but this former residence of wealthy silk trader Thomas Bayly is a magnificent and fascinating attraction. It is packed with fixtures and fittings dating from the 17th century. Visit www.themerchantshouse.co.uk for further information.

3 Bowood House, standing in excellent gardens at Derry Hill, was originally part of a much larger house which was reduced and remodelled after World War Two. The conflict had seen the old structure used to house military personnel, and the decision was taken to remove a significant part of it once the conflict was over. Still imposing, it is popular among visitors thanks to its beautiful architecture, interiors and works of art. Its story is fascinating. Visit www.bowood.org Picture: www.dianevosephotography.co.uk

4 Arundells in Salisbury is best known these days for having been the residence of the late Sir Edward Heath, who vied with Harold Wilson for leadership of the country during the turbulent late 1960s and early 1970s. The former church property is much as it was when the veteran politician, who died in 2005, lived there. Its website is www.arundells.org

5 Longleat - www.longleat.co.uk – near Warminster is best known for its proud claim of being home to the country’s best safari park, but the historic Elizabethan mansion, still the residence of the Marquesses of Bath, is an unmissable venue for anybody with an interest in history and the country’s great houses. A substantial portion of the mansion is open to the public, and includes beautiful works of art, a library with 40,000 volumes and a 90-foot saloon with historic tapestries.

6 Kelmscott Manor near Lechlade, owned and run by the Society of Antiquaries, is famously the home of William Morris - not the founder of the Swindon Advertiser but the pioneering designer and member of the Arts and Crafts Movement, a Victorian design school which influenced everything from fabric and furniture design to trends in art and architecture. The house - www.sal.org.uk/kelmscott-manor - has many relics of the period when Morris would hold intense discussions with his fellow visionaries. Friends and associates who visited included leading authors and artists of the period.

7 Wilton House - http://www.wiltonhouse.co.uk/ - is the country seat of the Earls of Pembroke, and is open to the public for much of the year. Its 17th century interiors are decorated with precious artworks including paintings by Rembrandt, van Dyck and Breughel. The house is at the heart of an estate which includes extensive and acclaimed gardens.

8 Chavenage House, Tetbury - www.chavenage.com – is familiar to millions of people thanks to having doubled as the Poldark family home in the hit TV drama. It is open to the public on Thursdays and Sundays – the website has details – and those who take the tour find themselves in a property which first rose long before the Norman Conquest and was extensively remodelled in subsequent centuries.

9 Dyrham Park, near Bath, is owned by the National Trust, and is filled with historic and artistic treasures. It was built on the site of an earlier structure during the years when the 17th century became the 18th, and the trust proclaims on the house’s website - www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/place/dyrham-park - that it boasts one of the country’s finest surviving Baroque interiors.

10 Blenheim Palace, historic home of the Dukes of Marlborough and birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, is one of the nation’s largest and most magnificent stately homes. Building began in 1705. Its website is www.blenheimpalace.com