Our first summer visit was to Basildon Park. The house was built for Francis Sykes in the 1770s, and in the 19th century was owned by the Morrison family. There were various times when the house was abandoned and almost demolished. But it was used as a convalescent hospital in the First World War and a training facility then a prisoner of war camp during the Second World War.
Unfortunately this left the house badly damaged. Newspaper owner Lord Iliffe and his wife bought it, and did amazing work restoring the house and 400 acres of grounds. The National Trust continues their work. It is a survivor against the odds.
Film and TV observers will recognise it. The house was used for both the 2005 and 2016 versions of Pride and Prejudice as well as Grantham House in Downton Abbey. It was being used as a backdrop for some fashion photography when we were there.
Like many grand houses it has views. Built high up above the River Thames, the terrace has a great vista into the Thames Valley and across to the Chiltern Hills beyond. The estate walks let you see those, as well as acres of parkland and woodland.