Picture dropping in on the family home of Sir Winston Churchill, sitting beneath the famous apple tree at Sir Isaac Newtons manor, or exploring the grand estates familiar from Harry Potter and Sense and Sensibility. The nonprofit National Trust, which preserves historic country homes and gardens across the United Kingdom, will allow you to do just that. Some homes can even be rented overnight, allowing any Anglophile to try the life of landed gentry.
New to the collection is the 17th-century, thatched Shedbush farmhouse in Dorset, which sleeps six and is near miles of breathtaking coastal walks. Also just added: a pair of Compton 19th-century stone farm cottages, each sleeping four, on the Isle of Wight; and Greenway, once the Devon holiday home of Agatha Christie and now accommodating 10 guests (with access to a private garden including a small heated pool and patio).
The trust has also acquired three hotels, earlier conversions of centuries-old country estates: Bodysgallen Hall, near the coast of North Wales; Hartwell House, an hours drive northwest of Heathrow airport in the Buckinghamshire countryside; and Middlethorpe Hall, outside York. Each offers antique furnishings, sophisticated cuisine, restorative spas, and acres of lush gardens. Members of the National Trust or its American arm, the Royal Oak Foundation, receive a 25 percent discount at the three hotels through October 31.
House rentals from $260 for three nights (minimum stay); www.nationaltrustcottages.co.uk. Hotels from $233/night; www.historichousehotels.com. Royal Oak Foundation membership from $55 a year; www.royal-oak.org