We built our childhoods in those pages. We climbed the beanstalk and tasted the porridge. We got lost in Hundred-Acre Woods and floated on nothing but faerie dust and happy thoughts. Here, a hobbit butters bread. There, a mole and a water vole take a trip on a rowboat. When we grew up, we never expected to find homes of storybook character nestled in our own backcountry, yet here they are. This World Book Day, we invite you to meet the storybook homes. With their turrets and follies, islands and eiderdowns, these real-life residences welcome you through their front doors — and down the rabbit hole to a life of fairytale proportions.


Peter Pan

Go to: Maison Blanche in Kent

A whitewashed storybook home with blush pink window frames is seen through an avenue of trees

It might not be Neverland, but this Victorian cottage on the glinting Kent coast sits pretty in a county where myths and legends abound. Between scoffing vinegar-drenched chips on the seafront and taking bracing swims in tidal pools, guests of Maison Blanche will be hard-pressed to overlook the locale’s swashbuckling history. Not only did the infamous Aldington Gang of smugglers roam these shores, but Kent-born pirate Jack Birdy is even thought to be the inspiration behind Disney’s Captain Jack Sparrow. Pack a deck of cards and stir up some rum punch; this 17th century coastal trinket, with blushing sash windows and rainbow-like library walls, is the type of place you won’t want to leave in a hurry.


The Princess and the Pea

Go to: Gulliver's Hall in the Cotswolds

A dramatic, black, carved four-poster bed in a blue room at Gulliver's Hall, one of the storybook homes in Britain

It took twenty mattresses and twenty featherbeds of eiderdown to make a sleep fit for a princess in Hans Christian Andersen’s literary tale. At Gulliver’s Hall, the quest for a good night’s slumber doesn’t require nearly so much effort. You’ll find an early 17th century four poster that’s wrapped in deep teal walls and layered with sapphire and tangerine upholstery. Folk art cushions by Kit Kemp bring 15th century tapestries to the bedscape, while delicate gilt-framed portraits cast gentle gazes over the "steps-up-to" four poster. It’ll take no less than a truly leaning tower of waffles to beckon you to the breakfast table of a morning.


Grimms' Fairy Tales

The blushing pink exterior of fairytale cottage Charlotte's Folly, one of the storybook homes in Britain

Is it Little Red Riding Hood's house? Might Rumpelstiltskin be spinning straw into gold beneath those theatrical chimneys? In fact, swap the gingerbread and candy canes for berry-limewashed walls and sugar-cube corner quoins, and Charlotte’s Folly could just be the home that Hansel and Gretel stumble upon in the woods. A place built for lodging Earls now welcomes those in a fairytale state of mind to the Shropshire countryside, where days are spent on garden swings and in pinstripe rooms, or wandering around the grand estate that it hides on. It’ll be all the better to see you there.


The Jungle Book

An Indian pool surrounded by palms and under golden light, Castle India is one of the storybook homes in Britain

The stories might be set in a forest in Madhya Pradesh, but Castle Trematonia brings all the myth and magic of the Jungle Book into Cornwall. From munching wedges of guava poolside to sipping chai tea spritzers in the ancient Indian temple, the grounds of this Tamar Valley stronghold are every bit the opposite of the bare necessities. All this outside, while the interiors of the main house sing a song of prints and patterns; the colour palette, chilli and turmeric and coriander, pulled from a recipe book. If only Kipling could see it.


Black Beauty

A white chateaux with powder blue shutters peeking above trees, Ariabelle is one of the storybook homes in Britain

An English chateau that’s backed by the rolling hills of the South Downs, Ariabelle is an equestrian playground encased in 40 acres of woodland. With a private stable on the grounds, you can spend all day long in jodhpurs living like a habitué of Anna Sewell’s fictional Birtwick Park. When not cantering about on some version of Ginger and Merrylegs, you’ll lounge feet-up beneath mid-Victorian era cornice mouldings, chatting with your coterie by the fireside. Meanwhile, young fillies and foals take turns on the vintage rocking horse in their whimsical sleeping quarters. Lifelong memories are sure to be made here.


Pride and Prejudice

A miniature castle with sash windows and climbing flowers, Summer Folly is one of the storybook homes in Britain

From Longbourn to Hunsford to Pemberley, the fictional estates frequented by Elizabeth Bennet in Jane Austen’s masterwork bring romance and resplendence in droves. Created by Blenheim Castle’s architect, and tucked away on the grounds of Grimsthorpe Castle in rural Lincolnshire, The Summer Folly is an out-and-out Baroque trinket that even Mr. Darcy himself couldn’t find fault with. Whimsical, patterned, and a true icon of Georgian architecture, this shrunken castle has all the makings of an English staycation with just a touch of the author’s trademark parody. Here you’ll take tea on the patio and stuff picnic hampers with finger sandwiches in the company of buzzards and bobbing flowerheads.


The Secret Garden

The enormous landscaped secret garden with a pond, steps, and creeper-clad stone walls at The Walled Garden, one of the storybook homes in Britain

Perhaps there is a parcel of land more enchanting than this… with a prettier octagonal folly, taller stone walls, and broader circular steps. But, we aren’t holding our breaths. A quintessential English green, but with Italianate alcoves and a corbelled roof trullo that might have been lifted from some Puglian olive grove, The Walled Garden seems to have sprouted from the mind of Frances Hodgson Burnett herself. Here, a rowboat floats on a ringletted pond. There, an arched wooden door leads to who-knows-where. Whether chatting under the shade of a parasol or thumbing a book with toes dipped in the ornate Victorian pool, you’ll want to keep this place your little secret.


Swallows and Amazons

The exterior of a traditional Lake District cottage with large windows and covered in ivy, Winterfell is one of the storybook homes in Britain

Four children go on a summer holiday to a farm in The Lake District, then sail to a little island where life is abuzz with camping and piracy and great, whopping explorations. Where could be a better place to re-enact one of the humblest British travel tales than Winterfell? Down some hairpin lanes lies Windermere, one of the most dazzling lakes in the district; swim, paddle, or sail a dinghy out to Lady Holme Island, a little archipelago that comes complete with trees and shrubs and perhaps a meadow pipit or two. After Victorian-esque days at the water’s edge, racing sticks and sipping tea, it’ll be back home to gather in primaeval fashion around the fire bowl for triumphant tales and marshmallow roasting.


Feeling inspired? Read about the places in Britain that feel like private islands, discover the homes that feel at the ends of the Earth, or browse the full collection of luxury homes in the UK and Ireland.