5 of Britain’s finest lesser known galleries

The Tate, Victoria and Albert, the Design Museum – it’s a fact that Britain is home to some of the world’s greatest museums and galleries. But whilst cultural heavyweights such as these dominate most visitor itineraries (and rightly so), there are a number of lesser known art and design havens that shouldn’t be overlooked. From castles to farmhouses, ancient Egypt to modern day, here are our top five British galleries for an alternative culture fix.

Pollock House, Glasgow

Sharing the same beautiful parkland setting as Glasgow’s renowned Burrell Collection makes it clear why many would overlook this grand country home. Often hailed as Scotland’s answer to Downton Abbey, most flock here for a taste of 1930s upstairs/downstairs life, but within its stately rooms Pollock House also holds the UK’s finest collection of Spanish art including El Greco’s A Lady in a Fur Wrap, which you’ll find hanging on walls amongst beautiful period furnishings. An Edwardian kitchen also offers some traditional respite in the form of a classic afternoon tea.

Pollock House

Hauser & Wirth, Somerset

A disused 18th century farmhouse in rural Somerset may not be the most likely place to find a cutting-edge gallery from one of the art world’s most powerful players, but when Hauser & Wirth opened their outpost on the edges of Bruton they put this small country town firmly on Britain’s cultural map. Up to five spaces, from the Cow Shed to the Piggery, hold incredible pioneering works of architecture, sculpture and contemporary paintings within Dursdale Farm providing an oasis of art and design for any cultural aficionados enjoying a quiet West Country break.

Hauser & Wirth

William Morris Gallery, London

The once gritty streets of London’s eastern outskirts have become a hot bed of hip cafés and world-class restaurants and this Walthamstow gem makes the ideal art fix for anyone interested in interior design. Just a short stroll from Walthamstow Central station, the Grade II listed house was the home of William Morris, one of Britain’s most influential and beloved designers, and is the only gallery devoted entirely to his work. Here you can learn all about the artist’s life and the legacy behind his iconic hand-printed Victorian patterns which still grace wallpapers, furniture and textiles today.

William Morris Gallery

Highclere Castle, Hampshire

Even if you’re not a Downton Abbey fan it would be hard not to be charmed by the majesty of this striking Victorian castle which serves as the backdrop for the hit TV drama. Considered one of the most beautiful in the country, it boasts a garden sculpted by Capability Brown and the state rooms dazzle with rich antique furnishings, baroque ceilings and 16th and 17th century paintings. It also makes an impressive setting for an intriguing exhibition of antiques and curiosities from the 5th Earl of Carnarvon’s Egyptian travels – in 1922 he discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun together with Howard Carter and the cellars pay homage to his archaeological spirit.

Highclere Castle

Turner Contemporary, Kent

Perched on the edge of Margate’s seafront at the same spot where JMW Turner stayed back in the 19th century, the Turner Contemporary is fast becoming Kent’s art and design hub.  The largest exhibition space in the South East outside of London, the white modern building cuts a bold statement against the brooding sea and sky – the perfect backdrop for the world-class contemporary art that it showcases within. Expect elegant interiors holding thought-provoking exhibitions from artists both known and unknown.

Turner Contemporary

Nicole Harley is Editor at The Epicurean.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Monika says:

    I do travel around UK quite but have never been in any of these places before! This is an interesting list!

  2. Margo Mahood says:

    Polloock House and the Burrell Collection are well worth a visit when you are in Glasgow. Some amazing things to see.

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