We’re a nation steeped in history, so it’s hardly surprising some of us have a skeleton in the cupboard.
But how about if your home is so huge, there could be a whole tunnel of intrigue rather just than a concealed cupboard under the stairs?
That’s exactly what Mary Berry intends to divulge in her new four-part BBC series, Mary Berry’s Country House Secrets.
Along with exploring some of the nation’s most beloved stately homes through the prism of what she’s best known for – food – Mary also turns sleuth to unearth secrets that only friends and family usually get to see, or know.
Revealing life both upstairs and downstairs and inspired by what she discovers, Mary will take to the house kitchens to create her own scrumptious dishes.
But before she embarks on her gastronomic journey across the British countryside, here are a few of our favourite estates with an untold story…
1. Highclere Castle aka Downton Abbey, Hampshire
This is where life imitates art. A powerhouse of intrigue and scandal, the Countess of Carnarvon (who ruled Highclere from 1895 to 1923) was married to the ill-fated 5th Earl who according to legend, became a victim of the Curse of Tutankhamun.
The discovery of the tomb and famous wealth by the Egyptologist is said to have led to his untimely death. In fact, he died of septicaemia after nicking a mosquito bite with his cut-throat razor.
2. Goodwood House, Sussex
Along with having its own racecourse and racing circuit, the home of the Earl of March and Kinrara also has State Apartments, experience days out and you can even get married in this grand setting.
His grandfather, the 9th Duke of Richmond hosted the first post-war motor race meeting and the Goodwood Festival of Speed is now one of the most thrilling collection of cars. Petrol heads flock here in their droves, but it’s always a mystery as to how many celebs will show up on the day.
3. Powderham Castle, Devon
Home to the Earl and Countess of Devon, the family tree dates back to AD 1000 and the manor of Powderham is mentioned in the Domesday Book, so one can only imagine what medieval mischief the past holds.
The 6th Earl of Devon was beheaded and so was his younger brother, and the castle is cited as being home to a host of wandering spirits, including The Grey Lady who has been seen floating around the castle’s vast library.
4. Scone Palace, Perthshire, Scotland
Antiques Roadshow fan? Then you’ll already be familiar with the crowning place of Scottish Kings where one of the series was filmed.
But Scone Palace also has more than a love interest. One of its historical treasures is a writing table with a hidden revolving mirror. The former Countess of Mansfield liked to imagine herself as a French Queen penning a note to a secret lover, and then pretending to admire herself in the mirror if the King walked in!
5. Castle Howard, North Yorkshire
The setting for the TV series Brideshead (adapted from Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited), you might not know there are three 18th century monuments in the Castle Howard grounds, not usually open to the public.
One of them is The Mausoleum, and beneath the chapel is a crypt which contains 63 niches for receiving coffins. Sounds ghostly, and it’s still the burial place of the Howard family.
Have you visited any of the above estates? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments below.