30. Chastleton House - "the birthplace of croquet"
A rare Jacobean gem, Chastleton House, near Moreton-in-Marsh, remained almost unchanged for nearly 400 years and is now a fragile time capsule from another age.
Chastleton House was built between 1607 and 1612 for Walter Jones, a prosperous wool merchant, as an impressive statement of wealth and power. The house was built of Cotswold stone round a small courtyard called the Dairy Court.
The gardens have much to interest visitors as well. The middle terraces are the site of two croquet lawns, originally laid out by Walter Whitmore-Jones in the 1860s. His version of the rules of croquet published in The Field in 1865 became definitive, and Chastleton is considered the birthplace of croquet as a competitive sport
Chastleton House was owned by the same increasingly impoverished family until 1991 when it was bought by the National Trust, by which time the interiors and contents had gradually succumbed to the ravages of time.
With no shop or tea room, this fascinating Grade I listed building exudes an informal and timeless atmosphere in a gloriously unspoilt setting. Visitors can truly believe they have stepped back in time.