An unusually shaped castle built on the banks of the River Avon 450 years ago is still a private home that only a few years ago finally started occasionally opening to the public.
This is the rather remarkable Longford Castle, home of the Earl of Radnor, and apart from its unusual exterior, it’s packed full of enough grand master paintings to make most major galleries sigh in envy. It’s also a very odd-looking castle externally, and thanks to the centuries of changes, internally, it is an eclectic mix of Elizabethan, Georgian, and Victorian decoration.
The National Gallery organises tours as part of an art-sharing agreement between the castle and the gallery, and tickets for this year’s open days are now on sale. On the tour, you will get to see the very odd design of Longford Castle and the very impressive art collection that the family owns.
As it’s still a private home, photography inside isn’t allowed and hardly any pictures of the interior exist online (one example at the top of the page here), but I can say it’s pretty grand in there and packed with all the big name artists that you’d expect an old castle to own.
The tour, including a walk around the gardens where photos are allowed as you’re outside, and including the coach pick-up/drop off to get to the castle, lasts around 4 hours.
Tours for 2024 take place in weekly blocks, always in the afternoon, and this year they have more weekends than usual which should make visits easier for some:
- 11th to 16th March (inc Sat)
- 19th to 24th April (inc Sat & Sun)
- 24th to 27th June
- 25th to 30th July (inc Sat & Sun)
- 26th Aug to 1st Sept (inc Sat & Sun)
Direct trains from London Waterloo to Salisbury take around 90 minutes – and the coach to take you to the castle will pick you up from outside Salisbury station at 1:30pm.
You can comfortably spend the morning around the Cathedral and local museums in Salisbury town centre, and the afternoon in the Castle.
Which is precisely what I did in 2022.