Supporting Britain's privately-owned historic houses, castles and gardens
The Historic Houses Association (HHA) represents over 1,640 of the UK's privately and charitably owned historic houses, castles and gardens. These are listed buildings or designated gardens, usually Grade I or II*, and are often outstanding. Many are considered to be iconic symbols of Britain's unique heritage.
Around 500 of these properties open their doors to visitors for days out, special tours, school visits, film locations, weddings and events, or as memorable places to stay. 24 million people a year visit HHA Member properties and there are over 45,000 Friends of the HHA.
Members range from iconic stately homes such as Blenheim Palace, Highclere Castle, Castle Howard, Knebworth House, Longleat and Burghley House, to more intimate houses such as Traquair in Scotland, Treowen in Wales and Belle Isle in Northern Ireland. Most are still private family homes.
The Association was established in 1973 to help owners conserve these wonderful places in the interests of the nation and carries out important lobbying, advisory and marketing work on behalf of Member properties.
To see the portfolio of HHA houses open to the public, click on Properties, or use the search buttons on the Home page.
How we help
- works for the future of our Member properties, the heritage they conserve and the businesses, families and employees they support, by lobbying on their behalf at national, regional and local level. Whenever possible, we work in partnership with other heritage organisations; see Our Policies
- provides technical and specialist advice, support, seminars, networks and information to property owners (Full Members); see Member Services
- provides marketing advice and marketing opportunities via the HHA's communications channels - the HHA website, monthly e-newsletters to Friends and Member properties, social media and the quarterly HHA magazine Historic House
- offers a Friends' Membership for people wishing to support the HHA's aims and enjoy free visits to HHA houses; see Friends' Page
- supports a network of Successor Members
- provides a Corporate Membership scheme for associated businesses to meet and work with owners and the association
- holds an AGM with invited speakers and guests from the heritage sector, together with the largest heritage and conservation trade show in Britain organised by Hall-McCartney
- provides policy makers, the media and others with information about the role and public value of privately-owned heritage; see Our Policies
- supports the work of the Heritage Conservation Trust, to aid restoration of art in historic houses
- supports sector wide campaigns, working with partners such as The National Trust and English Heritage.
- works closely with the the Union of European Historic Houses Associations, in Brussels and Strasbourg
Why properties need our help
There are more privately-owned houses open to the public than those in the care of the National Trust, English Heritage and their equivalents in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland put together. Their owners bear the costs of preserving this important heritage, often at considerable expense. HHA owners spend some £139 million per year to maintain their buildings and contents (HHA Survey 2009) yet only a tiny percentage of the costs of major repairs are funded by public grant.
The stewardship of these properties, together with their contents and their surrounding land, is an essential and enormously valuable contribution to Britain's unique heritage. Many historic houses are key players in their local economies, particularly in rural areas, where other opportunities for employment and business activity are often limited. In addition, these houses provide places where people can go to escape the daily routine of their lives and recharge their physical and spiritual batteries. 1 in 5 HHA properties also offers educational visits, welcoming 400,000 schoolchildren each year (HHA Education Survey 2006).
Around 1000 other HHA Member houses are not regularly open to the public, perhaps because of their small size or remoteness. Nevertheless, many of these open occasionally, for charities, local events or for arranged group visits, such as by the Friends of the HHA. Each has an individual character that enriches the culture of our nation and informs our knowledge of our history and our sense of place. In many ways it is these smaller houses that need our help the most in terms of specialist advice and support. All are part of our heritage, and it is the HHA's job, as their representative body, to advise them, offer technical and other support and to be their voice in the offices of Westminster, Whitehall, Brussels, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast and City or County Hall.
Successive Governments have recognised that private owners remain the most economic and effective guardians of these properties. The owners bring a personal and passionate commitment to keeping the houses going, and have a direct interest in their long term survival and health.
To find out more about HHA policies to support this stewardship, click on Our Policies on the top menu bar.