Discover the best autumn exhibitions

Ensure you make the most of autumn this year with the country’s best exhibitions of history, people and special collections.

Buckland Abbey, Devon

Autumn is almost here, but the end of summer doesn’t mean the fun is over. This season, National Trust places across the country will be hosting exhibitions and tours which shed new light on the history, people or special collections cared for by the conservation charity. From art inspired by its collections to modern sound installations, there’s sure to be something to interest everyone.

What’s more, from 7 to 10 September 2017 special National Trust places across the country will once again be throwing open their doors to celebrate Heritage Open Days. This annual festival celebrates the country’s diverse history, architecture and culture offering people the chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences. Entrance to several National Trust places will free for at least one day over the weekend (see website for participating properties and detailed timings).

Here are some of the National Trust’s best exhibitions to see this autumn:

South West

Buckland Abbey, Devon

The Art of Reflection, 1 July  – 4 Feb 2018, 11am – 3.30pm

Explore the spirituality, tranquillity and ephemeral flamboyance of Buckland Abbey reflected in the sumptuous mirrored art of Andrew Logan. Together, the National Trust and Andrew Logan celebrate the spirit of place in a major exhibition of the artist's work, spanning five decades, from the Sixties to the present day.

Price: Free event, normal admission applies

Trelissick, Cornwall

The Money Flows in, 2 July – 29 October, 11am – 5pm

During the 18th century Trelissick was home to the wealthy Daniell family, who made their fortune in the Cornish copper mining industry. Today visitors can experience the lives of mining millionaire Ralph Allen Daniell and his wife Elizabeth via an interactive exhibition. Marvel at the magnificent hooped dress, play with the ‘money-making’ machine or design your own lavish estate using building blocks.

Price: Free event, normal admission applies

Lacock, Wiltshire

Lacock, Wiltshire

Thresholds, 16 September – 29 October, see website for session times.

Using the latest in virtual reality technology, Thresholds restages one of the earliest exhibitions of photography in 1839, when British scientist William Henry Fox Talbot first presented his photographic prints to the public at King Edward's School, Birmingham. Walk freely throughout a digitally reconstructed room, and touch the bespoke vitrines, fixtures and mouldings; even the heat from a coal fire is recreated. A soundscape includes the sound of demonstrations of the Chartist protesters who rioted in 1839 on the streets of Birmingham, and can be glimpsed through the digital windows.

Price: £4 for exhibition, normal admission applies. Booking essential

Arlington Court, Devon

Heritage Open Day, 9 Sept, 11am – 5pm

Arlington Court is an entire family estate, which was held by the Chichester family for over five hundred years.  The house itself, built in 1823 and extended in 1860, has an austere façade; inside the cosy rooms have a homely, family atmosphere. For Heritage Open Day this year there will be a new exhibition focusing on Sir Francis Chichester’s round-the-world voyage, and, the family’s extraordinary collection of model ships.

South East

Mottisfont, Hampshire

Kaffe Fassett’s Colour at Mottisfont, 16 Sept – 14 Jan 2018, 11am – 5pm

Celebrating the dazzling work of world-renowned artist, knitwear and textile designer Kaffe Fassett, this vibrant exhibition showcases a wide range of textiles from a career spanning over 50 years. Mottisfont’s gallery will be transformed with pools of colour, providing the perfect backdrop for over 100 pieces of Kaffe’s distinctive knitwear, tapestry, quilts and more. Each room will be themed around a colour of his choice and set dressed with vibrant pieces chosen specially by Kaffe. The exhibits offer a glimpse of the private man behind the public façade, and include drawings he made as a boy in California. 

Price: Free event, normal admission applies

Bateman’s, East Sussex

Arthur Rackham in Sussex: A 150th Birthday Celebration, 8 Sept – 29 Oct, 11am – 4pm

As illustrator of many children’s books, including Rudyard Kipling’s Puck of Pook’s Hill, Arthur Rackham is widely considered a leader of the Golden Age of Illustration.

To celebrate his 150th birthday, Bateman’s is hosting a new exhibition of his works by the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy, focusing on his illustrations of Kipling’s work. These will be accompanied by modern art and music responses inspired by his legacy, as well as art workshops and competitions, and public talks.

Price: Free event, normal admission applies

Petworth House, West Sussex

Petworth House, West Sussex

Heritage Open Day, 9 Sept, 11am – 4 pm

The 3rd Earl of Egremont was a passionate art collector and patron of British artist JMW Turner, who spent time at Petworth during the 1820s-30s, working on commissions from the 3rd Earl. Four of his paintings can be seen in the Carved Room. This Heritage Open Day, visitors can take an exclusive tour to see the Old Library, used as a studio by Turner, along with a suite of historic bedrooms that are still occasionally used as guestrooms by Lord and Lady Egremont.

Standen, Sussex

The Standen Collection, 9 September – 15 April 2018, see website for opening dates & times.

As part of the National Trust’s contemporary arts programme Trust New Art, designers Peter Thwaites & Rebecca Aird are creating a collection of modern hand-printed fabrics, wallpapers and ceramics inspired by Standen House & Garden. Imaging how they would respond to a contemporary commission from the house’s original architect Philip Webb, the duo will take inspiration from Standen’s contents and landscape, with help from visitors who have been sharing what inspires them about the Arts & Craft family home.

Price: Free event, normal admission applies

Clandon, Guildford, Surrey

International Design Competition exhibition, Weds – Sun (and bank holidays) 23 August – 29 October, 10am – 5pm, last entry at 4.30

This autumn the National Trust will be hosting a very unique exhibition at Clandon Park. Following the launch of the International Design Competition in March 2017, six world renowned architectural teams from the UK and overseas will be exhibiting their concept designs for the restoration and re-imaging of Clandon Park. The famed Marble Hall will once again be a focus for visitors as the location for the designs, allowing visitors to appreciate the concepts in the context of the building itself. Visitors will be encouraged to share their views about the designs. The winning team will be announced on 28th September 2017.

Price: Normal admission applies


Wightwick Manor and Gardens, Staffordshire

A Better, More Beautiful World, May 2017 – December 2018, see website for opening dates & times.

Wightwick now has a dedicated exhibition space in the old Malthouse (formerly used as a school room and a squash court by the Mander family). The first exhibition will feature art and ceramics from the De Morgan Foundation collection.  William and Evelyn De Morgan were one of the most energetic and creative couples of the late 19th and early 20th century. He worked with William Morris, supplying Morris & Co with iconic red lustre tiles and decorative ceramics. She studied art at the Slade School and developed a vivid technique in the later Pre-Raphaelite style.  This exhibition explores what motivated them as artists, looks at their creative process and showcase how they reacted to the socio-political changes of their era as they strived for a better, more beautiful world.

Price: Free event, normal admission applies

Berrington Hall, Herefordshire

Berrington Hall, Herefordshire

Look! Look! Look!, until December 2019, see website for opening dates & times.

Created as part of the Trust New Art programme, the centrepiece of Berrington’s ‘Look! Look! Look!’ installation is a striking sculptural pavilion created by internationally renowned artists Heather and Ivan Morison.  The 8-metre-tall by 8-metre-wide pink pavilion provides a modern take on the idea of garden buildings or ‘eye-catchers’, as used by iconic Georgian landscape designer Capability Brown. The folded form bears more than a passing resemblance to a pineapple – inspired by eighteenth-century traditions of importing exotic fruit to England. The artwork also marks the start of Berrington’s plans to raise funds to research and restore its walled garden back to its Georgian origins. The pavilion will house a programme of events and activities throughout the summer, including music performances and yoga.

Price: Free event, normal admission applies

Croome, Worcestershire

Plumlines exhibition, daily until 19 November, see website for opening times

The ‘Plumlines’ exhibition is a collection of real life stories expressed through 188 one-hundred word poems, written by people from across Worcestershire. The stories centre around the writers’ female relatives who lived during the First World War, inspired by the American heiress Viscountess Deerhurst, the 9th Earl of Coventry’s daughter-in-law, who helped him see the many ways in which women could provide crucial support to the men at the front line. It was Virginia’s commitment and strength that helped Lord Coventry mobilise Pershore’s first ever Women’s Institute (WI), by encouraging 100 women to meet. The WI’s jam making skills, using the Pershore plum, helped the war effort at home and on the on the battlefields where it was sent to help keep up the calorie intake of the troops.

Price: Free event, normal admission applies

Gunby Estate Hall & Gardens, Lincolnshire

Gunby Estate Hall & Gardens, Lincolnshire

Heritage Open Day, 10 Sept, 11am – 5pm

Gunby Hall offers three floors of gorgeous decor and art befitting a William and Mary country home, as well as eight acres of sumptuous gardens. Heritage Open Day visitors can see a new exhibition of paintings and watercolours created by members of Gunby’s Massingberd family, called ‘A Private View’ in the first sitting room and the newly interpreted rooms in the basement, as well as artworks in the Orchard Gallery.

Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire

Heritage Open Day, 8 Sept, 11am – 5pm

It was the formidable 'Bess of Hardwick' who first created Hardwick House in the 1500’s; this year, visitors for Heritage Open Day can take a closer look at the life of Duchess Evelyn, the 'Last Lady of Hardwick'. Her newly-restored bedroom completes the family rooms, while displays give an insight to her life, pioneering conservation work and the dramatic changes she made to the east view landscape, in the East Court Rose Garden.

East of England

Felbrigg, Norfolk

The Makers (Trust New Art), until 29 October, see website for opening dates & times.

In the past, the families who lived at Felbrigg had a tradition of commissioning new work from artists and craftspeople. Continuing this tradition is The Makers exhibition at Felbrigg Hall, featuring work by three contemporary artists. Film maker Florence Kennard, wood carver Alec Stevens and sculptor Alida Sayer have each undertaken a residency at Felbrigg to create new perspectives on the estate’s history. The Makers is part of the National Trust’s Trust New Art programme, in partnership with the Norfolk Contemporary Art Society (NCAS).

Price: Free event, normal admission applies

Flatford, Suffolk

Flatford, Suffolk

Art exhibition in Boat House Gallery, 2 September – 28 October, see website for opening dates and times.

John Constable’s family owned Flatford Mill for nearly 100 years, between 1742 and 1846. The surrounding hamlet provided the inspiration for many of his works, including The Hay Wain. For autumn 2017 the National Trust’s neighbouring Boat House Gallery will host an exhibition of paintings by Louise Balaam: ‘In Constable’s Footsteps’. Louise is a landscape painter whose work is based on an emotional response to the landscape, particularly the quality of light. She has always had a huge admiration for Constable's paintings, and draws on this inspiration for her own work.

Price: Free event, normal admission applies

Sheringham Park, Norfolk

International Garden Photographer of the Year Exhibition, 2 Sept – 29 Oct, Dawn to dusk

Returning to Sheringham Park for the third year, the International Garden Photographer of the Year is the world's premier competition and exhibition specialising in garden, plant, flower and botanical photography. Bigger and better than ever, the exhibition will showcase brand new award-winning images celebrating the world of plants, all set within the tranquillity of Sheringham’s Bower garden.

Price: Free event, normal admission applies


Wordsworth House & Garden, Cumbria

Objects of Celebrity: The Bowder Stone, Saturdays – Thursdays until 29 October, 11am – 4pm

This exhibition offers a glimpse into the mad world of Georgian landowner King Pocky and the early tourists who flocked to the Lake District in search of thrills – plus a rock the size of a house! The Bowder Stone was established as a tourist attraction by the eccentric landowner Joseph Pocklington in 1798. A ladder allowed tourists to stand on top of the boulder, and Pocklington also built a cottage nearby where he installed an old woman whose duty was to ‘lend the place quaint atmosphere’ – a tradition continued throughout the nineteenth century.

Price: Free event, normal admission applies

Little Moreton Hall, Cheshire

Little Moreton Hall, Cheshire

‘The Senses: The Dreamer is Still Asleep’ (Trust New Art), daily until 29 October, 11am – 5pm

Discover a brand new sound and aromatic installation by artist and composer, Scanner. This sensory artwork explores the transcendent time between sleeping and waking, featuring sounds that would once have filled the rooms of Little Moreton Hall.  Visitors can expect a sonic experience of blurry dreamfulness, where voices, music, footsteps and glasses clinking together merge with a musical ambience to create an atmospheric and cinematic experience.

Price: Free event, normal admission applies

Nostell, Yorkshire 

The Clock Stops, Wednesday – Sunday until 29 October, 11am – 5pm

Nostell looks after one of the first longcase clocks made by the famous inventor, John Harrison. To celebrate the 300th birthday of Nostell’s clock, you can visit ‘The Clock Stops’ exhibition to take a closer look at its hand-crafted mechanism and learn more about how we care for this special invention. You'll be able to get up close to the historical treasure and peer inside at the wooden mechanism that's stood the test of time. Unravel the story of its maker, from his humble beginnings to solving the greatest scientific challenge of his age; the longitude problem. You can also join in the conservation conversation about the clock’s future; should we replace worn parts or simply stop it forever to preserve its original state?

Price: Free event, normal admission applies

Cherryburn, Northumberland

Thomas Bewick Artist Fellowship exhibition (Trust New Art), 1 September – 30 October, 11am – 5pm

Experience a new exhibition by artist duo Juneau Projects, inspired by Thomas Bewick – artist, wood engraver and naturalist. Juneau Projects will produce a body of new work inspired by the natural environment, Cherryburn’s wildlife, and Bewick’s legacy.

Price: Free event, normal admission applies

Steam Yacht Gondola, Coniston, Cumbria

Steam Yacht Gondola, Coniston, Cumbria

Heritage Open Day, 8 September, 5pm – 6.30pm

A free, 'behind the scenes' tour of Steam Yacht Gondola, a re-built Victorian steam-powered yacht that sails on Coniston Water in the Lake District. Step on board and chat to the engineers who maintain the boat and the helmsmen who sail her. You can take a close up view of 'Sid' the Sea Serpent, who was re-carved from fine English oak and gilded in gold by local craftsmen. This walk on/walk off opportunity will allow visitors to see archive material not usually on public display, and chat to the dedicated crew about the great story of this wonderful historic yacht.

Price: Free


Penrhyn Castle, Gwynedd

Artists in Residence installation, July – November 2017, see website for opening dates and times.

Penrhyn Castle's Artists in Residence project (in collaboration with the Arts Council of Wales) has moved into its third and final year, and it’s bigger and better than ever. 2017’s chosen artists are Zoe Walker and Neil Bromwich, who are known internationally for their large-scale iconic sculptural works, and participatory events and exhibitions that invite audiences to imagine better worlds. Taking Penrhyn Castle as their inspiration they have spent eight months, researching, creating and preparing for an exhibition which was unveiled in July 2017. Visitors will be able to see the final result at Penrhyn until November.

Erddig, Wrexham

40th Anniversary installation: Dereliction to Distinction, continues until March 2018, see website for opening dates and times.

40 years ago, Erddig was in trouble. Years of coal mining had undermined the house and it was sinking. The roof was leaking and the destructive forces of nature were setting in. With no heir or family to help him maintain the 70-room house, Philip Yorke III was living among the crumbling remains as it became too much to manage on his own. The ‘Dereliction to Distinction’ exhibition is an emotional journey of archive images, artefacts and stories of the eccentric squire, and how he came to entrust his home and family’s belongings to the National Trust.

Tudor Merchant’s House, Pembrokeshire

Conservation in Action: Tudor Wall paintings, see website for opening dates & times

The entrance hall of Tudor Merchant’s House in Tenby is decorated with intricate wall paintings, thought to date from the late 18th or early 19th century. The National Trust is now undertaking vital conservation work to stabilise the north wall and protect these special freehand paintings. Visitors are invited to experience this exciting journey of discovery and see the delicate process in action.

Northern Ireland

Giant's Causeway, County Antrim

Giant's Causeway, County Antrim

Free Architectural Interest Tours, 9 September, 12pm & 2pm

Set alongside one of the UK’s most iconic natural landscapes, the award-winning Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre is a work of art in itself. Join one of the National Trust team on a tour to discover some of the building’s key architectural features, from the striking stone columns built from Kilrea basalt, to eco-friendly factors such as the rainwater collection system.

Price: Free event, booking essential. Normal admission will apply, with the exception of those booked on tours.

Carrick-a-Rede, County Antrim

Free Special Interest Tour, 9 September, 10am, 12noon & 2pm

Suspended almost 100ft above the Atlantic Ocean, the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge was first erected by salmon fisherman 350 years ago. Today visitors come from all over the world to test their nerve on the crossing, and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. On this special tour, visitors can join the National Trust Rangers to see inside the old fisherman’s cottage on Carrick-a-Rede Island and hear how the first rope bridge was erected.

Price: Free event, booking essential. Normal admission will apply, with the exception of those booked on tours.

To see what's going on in your area, visit National Trust

Last modified: June 10, 2021

Written by 10:50 am Around The UK