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A rural area of farm land, historic towns, pretty villages and church towers standing out across the flat landscape, the East Midlands is a peaceful, sparsely populated region.

However, its fertile soil clearly appealed to the well-heeled of centuries past. The area has more than its fair share of impressive stately homes, including Hardwick Hall, a masterpiece of Elizabethan architecture, Althorp, the Spencer family home and final resting place of Diana, Princess of Wales, and extravagant Burghley House, built by William Cecil, chief advisor to Elizabeth I.

The county town of Lincoln is home to one of the most impressive and striking cathedrals in the country, the ruins of Lincoln Castle, built by William the Conqueror, and a host of sloping medieval lanes and buildings.

Compact Stamford must be in the running for Britain’s prettiest town. Popular with film crews, the streets lined with classic stone buildings, traditional inns, and historic churches appear unchanged in centuries.

Image © VisitBritain / Tony Pleavin