Stanway House

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We've just finished a delightful scramble, filming three half-hour episodes of Rick Steves' Europe (West England, Cornwall, and Southeast England) -- which, along with seven other new shows, will debut on public television this fall. Over the next few days, I'll be sharing some photos as I review some of my favorite memories from traveling through much of England.

The Cotswolds are dotted with elegant, Downton Abbey-type mansions. Today, with the high cost of maintenance and heavy taxes, some noble families have opened their homes to the public to help pay the bills. Stanway House, home of the Earl of Wemyss, is one such venerable manor house.

The earl, whose family goes back centuries, welcomes visitors two days a week. Walking through his house offers a unique and surprisingly intimate glimpse into the lifestyles of England's nobility. I've been dropping in on the earl for about 20 years, and the gracious and likably eccentric host agreed to show us around for TV.

Stanway House

The living room at Stanway House

The Earl of Wemyss has rebuilt the old fountain in his backyard. And today -- as one of the highest gravity-fed fountains in the world rockets 300 feet into the sky -- it's a talk of the Cotswolds. For commoners, the lord's sprawling parkland backyard makes for a jolly good day out.

This is Day 85 of my 100 Days in Europe series. As I research my guidebooks and make new TV shows, I'm reporting on my experiences and lessons learned in Vienna, the Alps, the Low Countries, England, and beyond. Find more on my travel blog.

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