One of the best investments I made for our family was a National Trust annual membership.  Whenever the dreaded words “I’m bored, what can I do” are spoken in our house, we bundle into the car and off we go.  Within half an hour’s drive from us here in the Surrey Hills we have at least 6 major house and gardens to visit. And our favourite at the moment is Standen House.Photo of Standen House guide National Trust It’s in Sussex, just on the edge of East Grinstead and straight down the A22, an easy drive from Reigate or anywhere with access to the M25.  It’s setting is stunning- nestled into the hillside and surrounded by farm and woodland, so particularly beautiful in autumn.Photo of Standen House National Trust in the Autumn by Amanda Darling Photography

Of all the houses I’ve visited with the National Trust, this is the one I could live in (!) It has it all- spectacular views, beautiful walks, fabulous vegetable and flower gardens, yet it’s homely and warm.

Let’s start with the countryside- there are plenty of walks. The Hollybush walk takes you from the carpark round to the gardens and is easy for youngstersphoto of Autumn childrens photo shoot Amanda Darling Photography Photo of Standen House National trust from the fieldsit’s fun to follow the boardwalk through the trees, over streams and rootsChildrens photography Standen House Autumn by Amanda Darling PhotographyThere are fallen trees to climb, streams to poke about in and little paths to explore-  look out for the dragon.

Family photo shot Surrey Hills by Amanda Darling PhotographyThere’s plenty to see in the house itself.  Its set up like the family home it once was, and packed full of interesting pieces.  For children who like drawing, one of the rooms is a studio with crayons and paper to keep the children busy and old art supplies and equipment to inspire budding artists.  And for grown ups there’s the whole history and its Arts and Crafts style to enjoy.Photos Inside Standen House National Trust by Amanda Darling PhotographyThe back stairs areas are particularly good and you can learn about the servants, kitchens and their lives in detail.

Back outside, go up behind the house.  There are short walks around the woods and gardens, with lots of little areas to explore.

Photo of the Quarry garden and fernery at Standen House National TrustThe quarry garden is carved down into the rocks with a pond and plenty of ferns

Photo of the Bothy and the interior of the bothy at Standen House National TrustThe bothy further up the path, is my children’s favourite. A tiny hut furnished with wood and tartan.  Climb up the ladder, sit on  the cushioned ledge and try to look through the stained glass.

Photo of meal at Standen House National Trust

We used to take picnics when the children were small, but teenagers are wise to the delights of curry and crumble, so we often have lunch in the barn- it may be why they’re always so eager to go when I suggest a visit!Phot of the little people's room Standen House toys and vintage toysGo and find The Little Room at the back of the house. Climb the steps and you’re in the Beale’s children’s playroom, full of traditional toys and dressing up clothes.

Photo of the orchard and beehives at Standen HouseTake time to go round the gardens-  the vegetable garden is wonderful. And autumn is a perfect time to visit the orchard with its beautiful beehives- little bee activity and plenty of hives.

Photo of boy with pumpkin at Standen House National Trust by Amanda Darling Photograohy There’s always something to do at Standen and something new to see. Special exhibitions, activity sheets and new rooms and exhibits.  This autumn, they’re displaying pumpkins, squashes and gourds they’ve grown in the gardens.  They’re everywhere and very beautiful.

Photo of Pumpkins squashes and gourds at Standen House National Trust

So if you have the chance go to Standen House, you may find it becomes your favourite place too.