Historic Sites in England

historic sites in englandReflecting a wealth of myriad influences, the Historic Sites in England are as diverse as this island nation's history.

Indeed, the country we know today as England has witnessed the rise and fall of many cultures, civilisations and empires. From pre-historic peoples to Celtic tribes, Roman conquerors and Anglo-Saxon and Norman invaders, England is a country forged of many influences.

The rise of the English state and its eventual transformation into the United Kingdom has also ensured that many remarkable historic sites remain to remind us of the diverse story of the country.

Today, the historic sites of England range from the most famous and popular tourist destinations - such as Buckingham Palace, Stonehenge and Windor Castle - to lesser-known and often hidden sites well off the standard visitor trails.

In reality, there’s a huge selection of historic sites in England and you can plan some great things to see on your trips by browsing our list. Once you’ve explored the historic sites of England you can use our itinerary planner tool to plan out your trip and then print off a free pocket guidebook and use it when visiting your favourite historical places in England.

Our database of English historic sites is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. Remember, if you know of other historic sites in England, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by visiting our upload page.

Popular UK Destinations: The Cotswolds Historic Sites

Historical sites in England: Regional Index

England: Editor's Picks

Photo by Alun Salt (cc)

1. Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian’s Wall is a magnificent remnant of Roman Britain and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

DID YOU KNOW?

Hadrian’s Wall is a magnificent remnant of Roman Britain and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Built under the rule of Roman Emperor Hadrian between 122 and 130 AD, it took six legions to complete this once 73 mile wall – 80 miles by Roman measurements. At the time of its completion, Hadrian’s Wall would have been between 13 and 15 feet high, made of stone and turf and would have stretched east to west from the River Tyne to the Solway Firth.

The purpose of Hadrian’s Wall was once thought to have been as a fortification to keep out the Scots, but today historians believe it was a way of monitoring movement between the north and south in an attempt to consolidate the Empire.

Large sections of Hadrian’s Wall remain intact in northern England and these are surrounded by various Roman monuments, forts and other ruins. There are several ways to visit all of these sections and sites, notably as part of the National Trail, which is a signposted walk, by bus, by bicycle and via tour groups. The 15 metre section pictured above is known as Planetrees and is quite central along the trail.

Other key sites along the Hadrian's Wall trail include Corbridge Roman Town, Chesters Roman Fort, Arbeia Roman Fort, Birdoswald Roman Fort, Vindolanda, Segedunum Roman Fort and Housesteads Roman Fort.

This site features as one of our Top Ten tourist Attractions in the United Kingdom. To view the all the Hadrian's Wall sites on a map click here.

Photo by Historvius

2. Fountains Abbey

Fountains Abbey was once a thriving monastery until Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries. Its ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire, UK, was founded in 1132 after thirteen monks were exiled from St. Mary’s Abbey.

The archbishop of York, Thurstan, gave these monks new land on which to found their own monastery and, despite the rough nature of the site, their newly built monastery was admitted to the French Cistercian Order within three years.

Fountains Abbey played an important part in the development of the area, offering jobs to the locals and assisting in raising its status. In fact, both Fountains Abbey and the surrounding area thrived as a result and the abbey grew to become an important centre of religion.

Like the rest of the country, Fountains Abbey suffered as a result of economic hardship and the Black Death in the fourteenth century. However, the monks managed to overcome these difficulties and the abbey once again flourishing in the fifteenth century.

It was royal intervention that finally ended the life of Fountains Abbey as, in 1539, it was closed under the orders of King Henry VIII in what became known as the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Today, Fountains Abbey is the largest set of monastic ruins in England and has attained UNESCO World Heritage status.

Visitors can explore these extremely well-preserved remains, including the cloisters and the cellarium. Interestingly, the cellarium of Fountains Abbey is home to several species of bats, but these only come out after dusk.

Fountains Abbey is a National Trust property.

Photo by aurélien (cc)

3. Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle is the oldest occupied castle in the world and the official home of the Queen.

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Windsor Castle is the oldest occupied castle in the world. Covering an area of approximately 13 acres, it contains a wide range of interesting features. These include the State Apartments, Queen Mary’s dolls house and the beautiful St George’s Chapel. It is also the burial place of ten monarchs, including Henry VIII and his beloved wife (the one who gave him a son), Jane Seymour.

The building of Windsor Castle began in the 1070s at the behest of William the Conqueror, with the intent that it was to guard the western approach to London. Since that time, the structure of Windsor Castle has been embellished by many of the monarchs of England and the UK. Notably, in the 1170s, Henry II (the first Plantagenet) rebuilt most of the castle in stone instead of wood, including the round tower and the upper ward, where most monarchs have had their private apartments since the 14th century.

In the mid-fourteenth century, Edward III, who had recently founded the Order of the Garter, built St George’s Hall at Windsor Castle for the use of the knights of this Order. A further addition, St George’s Chapel, was started by Edward IV, but was not finished until the time of Henry VIII. It is here that the ten British monarchs lie buried.

During the English Civil War, Windsor Castle served as a prison and it was to St George’s Chapel that the body of Charles I was brought for burial after his execution. Charles II and George IV (formerly the Prince Regent) made further contributions to the architecture of Windsor Castle in the 1650s and 1820s respectively.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert loved Windsor castle, and Prince Albert died there of typhoid in 1861. Queen Victoria built a mausoleum in the grounds of the castle, Frogmore, where Albert and later Victoria herself were buried.

In the Second World War, Windsor Castle became home to our present Queen, Elizabeth II, and her family, George VI, the (future) Queen Mother and Princess Margaret. It remains a favourite home of Queen Elizabeth, and she spends most of her weekends there. There was a huge fire at the castle in November 1992 which took 15 hours and one and half a million gallons of water to extinguish. It began in the Private Chapel and soon spread to affect approximately one fifth of the area of the castle. It took five years to restore the Castle, and it was finished by the end of 1997.

There are numerous exhibitions and tours at Windsor Castle. In fact, a typical visit can take up to three hours. This site features as one of our Top Ten UK Tourist Attractions.

Photo by Linda Cronin (cc)

4. Stonehenge

Stonehenge is a mysterious collection of vast stone circles dating back to around 3000 BC and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Stonehenge in Wiltshire is a world renowned, magnificent site consisting of standing (and lying) stones, some transported from South Wales.

The construction of Stonehenge took place between 3000 BC and 1600 BC and is considered to be one of the most impressive structures of its time, especially considering each stone weighs around four tonnes and that its founders had little by way of technological advances to assist them in moving the stones over the hundreds of miles that they travelled.

The purpose of Stonehenge has remained a mystery, despite extensive archaeological investigation.

Stonehenge is managed by English Heritage. Anybody wishing to access the stone circle of Stonehenge must arrange this in advance with English Heritage and these visits can only take place outside normal working hours. During normal operating hours, visitors walk around the circle on a set path and are given free audio guides explaining different aspects of Stonehenge.

A brand new visitor centre has now also opened at Stonehenge, designed to transform the visitor experience with a new world-class museum housing permanent and temporary exhibitions, plus a spacious café.

In 2010, archaeologists discovered a second henge next to Stonehenge. Hailed as the most exciting find in half a century, this second henge  was made up of a circle of pits – thought to have once contained timber posts - surrounded by a larger circular ditch.

Stonehenge is a UNESCO World Heritage site and also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions of the United Kingdom.

Photo by girolame (cc)

5. Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace has been the royal residence of British monarchs since the reign of Queen Victoria.

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Buckingham Palace has been the official residence of Britain's monarchs since 1837, at the start of the reign of Queen Victoria.

With its 775 rooms, Buckingham Palace was originally built for the Dukes of Buckingham at the beginning of the eighteenth century.

In 1761, Buckingham Palace, then known as Buckingham House, was acquired by George III who rechristened it “The Queen's Residence" and had it remodeled by Sir William Chambers. When the building passed to George IV, he continued the renovations, and, from 1826 under the remit of architect John Nash, began transforming Buckingham Palace into the building with which we are familiar today. These changes took around 75 years to implement. The first monarch to actually live there was Queen Victoria.

Today, Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of Queen Elizabeth II, although it is also an administrative centre and a place in which the monarch hosts official receptions and events. Buckingham Palace also houses the offices of the Queen's and the Duke of Edinburgh's staff.

In August and September, the nineteen State Rooms and some other sections of Buckingham Palace are open to the general public and to tourists. Here, visitors can see the Royal Collections, which include an incredible array of artwork as well as some of the finest English and French furniture. Audio guides are included in the ticket price and a visit usually lasts around two hours.

One of the major attractions at Buckingham Palace is the ceremony of Changing the Guard. This takes place on a daily basis during the summer at 11:30am on the forecourt of the palace and on alternate days in winter. This ceremony lasts for 45 minutes. This site features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in the United Kingdom.

Photo by amandabhslater (cc)

6. Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard contains three of the Britain’s most famous warships, namely the HMS Victory, HMS Warrior and Mary Rose.

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Portsmouth Historic Dockyard contains three of the Britain’s most famous warships, namely the HMS Victory, HMS Warrior and Mary Rose (although the latter is currently not open to the public, due to reopen in 2012).

Also housing the Royal Navy Museum and still part of an active naval base, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard offers visitors a great insight into the British navy, both its past and present.

HMS Victory
Vice Admiral Lord Nelson’s flagship and the site where this heroic figure died.

HMS Warrior
At one time the British Navy’s most advanced warship, HMS Warrior is sole surviving member of Queen Victoria’s Black Battle Fleet.

The Mary Rose
A sixteenth century warship favoured by King Henry VIII, sunk in 1545 and recovered in 1982. Currently not viewable, but the Mary Rose Museum is still open housing finds from the wreckage.

The Royal Navy Museum
One of the Britain’s foremost maritime museums and the only one to focus on the navy’s ships and serving members. Includes The Trafalgar Experience exhibit and The Nelson Gallery.

Photo by dicktay2000 (cc)

7. Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle in Kent was a twelfth century stronghold which has since served as a royal palace, a prison and as a stately home.

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Leeds Castle was originally constructed as a fortification in 1119 by Robert de Crevecoeur, a lord under William the Conqueror.

In 1278, Leeds Castle took on a different role, as a royal palace to King Edward I, who expanded it, adding further elements such as an impressive barbican.

Leeds Castle passed through numerous royal hands over the coming centuries, hosting a myriad of important guests including Henry VIII, who visited it on several occasions. Henry VIII also extensively renovated the castle for his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.

Eventually falling into private ownership under King Edward VI, Leeds Castle survived the English Civil War in the hands of parliamentarians and later acted as a prison for Dutch and French prisoners of war.

Today, Leeds Castle is a leisure facility, housing an aviary and a maze along with a dog collar museum. Guided tours are available for groups and schools and audio tours are also available.

Photo by Mark Ramsay (cc)

8. Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is an iconic medieval structure and the site of many historic royal events, from coronations and weddings to burials.

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Westminster Abbey is an iconic medieval structure and the site of many historic royal and national events, from coronations and weddings to burials and even deaths. Centrally located in London, Westminster Abbey was first constructed in the eleventh century by King Edward the Confessor, a Saxon king who dedicated this new church to St Peter.

Before the Abbey
In fact, the site on which Westminster Abbey was built was already of religious importance prior to its construction. The earliest record of the site of Westminster Abbey being used for religious purposes dates to the mid 10th century, when St Dunstan arrived at what was then known as Thorny Island to establish a religious house for the Benedictine order. The king built his church near to the existing monastic buildings.

The First Burial, the First Coronation
Westminster Abbey was consecrated in December 1065, a few days before Edward died. Fittingly, the king was the first of a long line of monarchs to be buried there. In 1066, William the Conqueror added to the growing prestige of Westminster Abbey by choosing to be crowned there, becoming King William I on 25th December 1066. From that point onwards, Westminster Abbey would be the site of almost every royal coronation.

By the middle of the 12th century, Edward the Confessor had been canonised and his remains were moved to a magnificent shrine within the Abbey’s sanctuary, where pilgrims would flock to ask for his intercession. They also gave donations to the shrine, making Westminster Abbey rather wealthy. In the 13th century, King Henry III resolved to rebuild Westminster Abbey to make it rival the French Gothic cathedrals of the era. This construction project would eventually form the current incarnation of the Abbey. He also moved the remains of St Edward to an even more magnificent shrine, where he still remains.

Death of Henry IV
One of the most famous events recorded to have taken place in the Abbey was the death of Henry IV in the Jerusalem Chapel in 1413. It had been predicted that he would die in Jerusalem, so, when he collapsed in the Abbey, he knew he was dying when he was taken to the Jerusalem chamber. Shakespeare immortalised the scene with Henry V trying the crown on while his father lay dying.

Tudor Times
The 16th century finds the Tudor monarchs influencing the history of the Abbey: Henry VII started to build the Lady Chapel, Henry VIII dissolved the monastery (but spared the Abbey) and Elizabeth I established the Abbey as the foremost cathedral in England (a position it only held briefly).

Burials
Over 3,000 people are buried at Westminster Abbey. There are 600 tombs and monuments to see, many of them Royal and open to visitors. Some of the most famous royals buried there are Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I and Henry III. The tomb of the Unknown Soldier is in the Abbey and there is a service each Remembrance Sunday. Funeral services for important figures and royalty are also held in the Abbey and over time prominent funerals at the Abbey have included those of Winston Churchill, George VI, Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth I.

Poets’ corner is one of the main attractions at the Abbey, it being the burial site of many prominent non-royal figures. The first poet to be buried here was Geoffrey Chaucer, and many others have joined him in the succeeding centuries.

The Coronation Chair
In addition to the numerous burial sites and architectural features, one of the most impressive sites at Westminster Abbey is the Coronation Chair, produced in 1300-1301 under the orders of King Edward I (Longshanks). Its purpose was to accommodate the Stone of Scone, which the king had brought from Scotland.

To have an informed visit and to see the most interesting parts of Westminster Abbey, take a tour, as just wandering around can be overwhelming.

Along with Westminster Palace and Saint Margaret's Church, Westminster Abbey is a UNESCO world heritage site.

Photo by Linda Cronin (cc)

9. Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace is the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.

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Blenheim Palace was built as a gift to the Duke of Marlborough following his victory over French forces at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. On 30 November 1874, it also became the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, one of Britain’s greatest leaders. Today it is home to the 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough.

Whether you choose to wander Blenheim Palace independently or as part of a guided tour, you can enjoy endless artistic masterpieces such as the Blenheim Tapestry depicting Lord Marlborough accepting the surrender of the French and the stunning ceiling paintings of Louis Laguerre. The 18th century house itself is an architectural marvel in its own right with its Baroque design.

Exhibitions include “The Untold Story”, which explores the lives of the palace’s inhabitants as well as the Churchill exhibition. This latter exhibition is very engaging and insightful, but can be confusing as it skips over certain periods. The grounds are also spectacular with over 2000 acres of parkland and gardens, butterfly house, adventure playground, mazes and even a train!

Blenheim Palace has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987 and features as one of our Top Ten Tourist Attractions in the United Kingdom.

Photo by Chris. P (cc)

10. Arundel Castle

Originally built in the 11th Century, Arundel Castle is the historic home of the Dukes of Norfolk and has been continually occupied and renovated over the centuries. One of many castles amongst the Historic Sites of England.

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Arundel Castle is the historic home of the Dukes of Norfolk and has been occupied by their line for over 850 years. Amongst the dynasties to have inhabited Arundel Castle was the highly influential Howard family whose number included Catherine Howard, wife of Henry VIII.

The first structure on the Arundel Castle site was built in the 11th Century by the Normans after the invasion of William the Conqueror, with the earthworks and first buildings completed by 1070 AD. Work continued during the reign of King Henry II and further renovations were undertaken over the following centuries.

During the English Civil War, Arundel Castle was besieged twice - first by the Royalists who successfully captured the site and then by the Parliamentarians.

A significant restoration project took place in the latter half of the 19th century and this ensured that Arundel remained a property of some note.

Today, Arundel Castle sits amongst 40 acres of eye-catching grounds and gardens and is home to an impressive array of priceless artwork, furniture, sculptures and tapestries. The displays on site include possessions of Mary, Queen of Scots, as well as collections from the Duke of Norfolk.

There are also a number of special events hosted at Arundel Castle throughout the year, details of which can be seen on the official website.

Photo by Simon_Brighton (cc)

11. Temple Church

The Temple Church in London was established by the Knights Templar in the twelfth century.

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The Temple Church in Central London is named after the Knights Templar, who founded it in the twelfth century.

Consecrated on 10 February 1185, probably in the presence of King Henry II, Temple Church became the British headquarters of this famous Christian charitable and military order who played an important role in the Crusades.

This first section of the Temple Church is now known as the Round Church, built in a circular form so as to echo the shape of Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Despite having once been favoured by the monarchy, in the fourteenth century, the Knights Templar were forcibly dissolved in accordance with orders from the Pope and Temple Church became the property of the Knights Hospitaller. The Knights Hospitaller then rented the Temple Church to two legal colleges. These two colleges, now known as the Middle and Inner Temples, have been located there ever since.

Today, Temple Church is a working church and is open to the public. Sadly, much of it was destroyed in a German air raid in World War II, but it has since been restored. One of the highlights of the visit is seeing the unique effigies of ten knights on its floor, each with individual characteristics.

As discussed in the Dan Brown novel, “The Davinci Code”, which sets a very powerful scene at the site, these effigies do not mark the locations of actual tombs.

Photo by rowland_rick (cc)

12. Battle Abbey and Battlefield

Battle Abbey and Battlefield is an iconic site in England, being the location of the Battle of Hastings in 1066. It is one of the most historically important Historic Sites in England.

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Battle Abbey and Battlefield, also known as 'Hastings Battlefield', was the site of the Battle of Hastings in October 1066.

The Battle of Hasting saw William, Duke of Normandy, become William I, King of England after defeating King Harold II, who was killed in the conflict. William I is also known as William the Conqueror.

Originally built by William the Conqueror to commemorate those who died in battle, today Battle Abbey is a museum which explores this victory and the events which led up to it as well as its aftermath.

The museum uses a combination of multimedia and traditional exhibits to guide the visitor through the Battle of Hastings and audio guides are available to direct visitors through the 100 acre battlefield in English, German, French, Spanish, Dutch and Japanese.

England: Site Index

Photo by nikoretro (cc)

10 Downing Street

10 Downing Street is the home of the Prime Minister of the UK and one of many Historic Sites in England which are also political centres.

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10 Downing Street in London has been the residence of every British Prime Minister since 1730, when it was presented to Sir Robert Walpole. Walpole, Britain's first Prime Minister, and architect William Kent converted the three existing buildings of 10 Downing Street into a single large one, known collectively by its now famous address, connected to each other by what is known as Treasury Passage.

Since that time, 10 Downing Street has been the location from which Prime Ministers have run the country and entertained heads of state and governments from around the world. 10 Downing Street's iconic black door hides a warren of offices and state rooms as well as numerous conference rooms, dining rooms, private apartments, kitchens and cellars.

Over the years, 10 Downing Street has undergone renovations and modernisations to bring it into the 21st Century. It is not possible to tour 10 Downing Street, except of course by invitation, although the official website does have a virtual tour. There are also several audio files available on the Downing Street website detailing the building's history and that of its residents.

Photo by xlibber (cc)

A La Ronde

A La Ronde is a sixteen-sided 18th century historic house located in Devon and operated by the National Trust.

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A La Ronde is a unique sixteen-sided 18th century historic house located in Devon and operated by the National Trust.

Built in 1796 for Jane and Mary Parminter its design is supposedly based on the Basilica of San Vitale, a church in Ravenna, Italy. The cousins were widely travelled and the house contains many objects and mementoes from their grand tours.

Today A La Ronde is a popular tourist attraction and includes the unusual ‘shell gallery’ a seaside-themed enclosure covered in as many as 25,000 shells arranged in intricate patterns. Visitors can also enjoy wonderful views across the Exe estuary to the east Devon coastline as well as enjoying the tranquil gardens

Photo by Tim Green (cc)

Abbey House Museum

A living history museum, Abbey House recreates authentic Victorian streets to reflect 19th century life.

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Abbey House Museum in Leeds is a living history museum which takes visitors into the very heart of 19th century life.

Housed in the building which once stood as the gatehouse for the 12th century Kirkstall Abbey, the museum now contains a host of re-created houses and shops designed to reflect 19th century life. Visitors can explore authentic Victorian streets and immerse themselves in the sights, sounds and smells of the 19th century.

Providing a hands-on experience that is particularly family friendly, the Abbey House Museum includes a number of galleries, including one devoted to childhood as well as information about the history of Kirkstall Abbey itself.

Photo by BrianTaylor42 (cc)

Acton Burnell Castle

The picturesque Acton Burnell Castle is a ruined English fortified Manor near Shrewsbury.

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Acton Burnell Castle is a ruined 13th century English fortified manor located south of Shrewsbury, UK. Made up of partially-preserved red sandstone walls, the site is a picturesque shell which makes for a peaceful, atmospheric visit.

Originally built around 1284, Acton Burnell Castle belonged to Robert Burnell, a powerful local landowner and close friend of the English King, Edward I. In fact, Burnell served as Chancellor of England under Edward and was also the Bishop of Bath & Wells.

When constructed, Acton Burnell Castle had walls standing up to 40ft high, with three-storey towers at each corner. It was clearly a well-appointed manor house, as witnessed by the fact that it played host to King Edward I and his retinue on several occasions.

The initial hall, which was attached to Acton Burnell Castle, was even used to host one or two meetings of the English parliament.

Today, Acton Burnell Castle lies in ruins, having been slowly abandoned through the middle ages and finally replaced altogether by the nearby 19th century Acton Burnell Hall.

The site is now operated by English Heritage and is open to the public.

Photo by Magnus Hagdorn (cc)

Aesica Roman Fort

Aesica was one of several Roman Forts build along the line of Hadrian’s Wall. It is thought to have been constructed in the early 2nd century.

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Aesica was one of several Roman Forts build along the line of Hadrian’s Wall. It is thought to have been constructed in the early 2nd century - probably around 128 AD. Today it’s remains sit directly alongside a modern farm complex.

Unlike other forts along Hadrian’s Wall, Aesica is actually located to the south of the Wall, but stands next to foundations that were prepared for the broad wall. The original fort had three main gates with double portals and towers at each corner of the fort.

At some point the western gate was completely blocked up. Today the fort remains reasonably well preserved by the standards of the sites along Hadrian’s Wall, with a number of the external walls still visible along with the outlines of many of the internal buildings.

A Roman bathhouse has also been found a short distance to the south of the fort, around 100 yards away.

Photo by Storye book (cc)

Aldborough Roman Site

Aldborough was originally the capital and stronghold of the Brigantes, who controlled vast swathes of Northern England, before becoming Romanised in the first century AD.

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Aldborough Roman Site contains the remains of the Roman town of Isurium Brigantium as well as an interesting museum looking at the history of the settlement.

Before the Roman occupation, the region in which modern Aldborough stands was ruled by the Celtic Brigantes. The Brigantes were one of the dominant tribes of the Iron Age in Britain, controlling the area which is now Yorkshire and Lancashire. At the time the Aldborough area was a Brigantian settlement called Iseur, however the Romans built their own settlement here and named the town Isurium Brigantium.

After the Roman invasion of Britain the Brigantes were initially compliant with Roman rule; 'Brigantia' became a client state. Indeed it was the Brigantes Queen Cartimunda who handed over a major adversary of Rome, the Catuvellauni chieftain Caratacus.

After Cartimunda divorced her husband, Venutius, in favour of his armour bearer, Venutius rebelled, and the Brigantian territories descended into civil war. Cartimunda was rescued by Roman aid. Soon after, however, the Romans took advantage of the unrest to take control of the region. In AD71, Petilius Cerialis, the Roman governor of Britain, subjugated the local population and established Isurium Brigantium as the headquarters for controlling the regional population.

In the beginning Isurium Brigantium would simply have been a fort, with a civilian population inhabiting the perimeter of the town. During the second century, the military capacity of the town was much reduced, and it established itself as a civilian centre. Approximately 55 acres in area, Isurium Brigantium was surrounded by a significant stone wall, reaching 12 feet in height, and in some parts, having a depth of 9 feet.

However, the town seems to have diminished during the later Empire period, and with the withdrawal of Roman troops from Britain much of the original Roman town suffered.

Today, very little of the original Roman town remains, except for an area which is managed by English Heritage.

The entrance to Aldborough Roman Site is through an area close to the original Roman south gate. Visitors immediately arrive at the Aldborough Roman Museum, which has on display fascinating architectural finds from the town.

Some parts of the southern wall remain intact, as well as the foundations of two defensive towers. Visitors can also follow the path through the gardens to view the highlight of the site, two magnificent mosaics. The mosaics date from the second or third century AD, and were discovered in the nineteenth century, the first by accident when a calf was being buried by an innkeeper. This mosaic has sustained some damage, and depicts a lion resting under a tree. The second remains well preserved, and shows an eight sided star in the centre.

In 2011, scientists using geomagnetic sensors located the remains of the Roman amphitheatre at Aldborough, under Studforth Hill, just outside the village.

Contributed by Chris Reid

Photo by MarchieCTID (cc)

All Hallows by the Tower

One of the oldest churches in London, All Hallows by the Tower contains Roman and Saxon remains as well as other interesting elements.

DID YOU KNOW?

The church of All Hallows by the Tower has a history dating back to Saxon times and ranks among the oldest churches in London.

Originally built around 675AD, the church of All Hallows was actually constructed on top of earlier Roman buildings, elements of which can still be seen today. Over time the church was renovated and reconstructed several times and the current incarnation mostly dates to the late 1940s after serious damage was inflicted during a World War II bombing raid.

The central position of All Hallows by the Tower saw it witness some of the most important moments of the city’s history. Standing alongside the Tower of London, the bodies of many inmates of that infamous prison were brought here shortly after their execution – including Thomas More. Other notable figures connected with the church included Samuel Pepys, who watched the Great Fire of London from the church tower in 1666.

All Hallows by the Tower even has an American connection, with William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, baptised here in 1644 and John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the United States, married here in 1797.

Today visitors can explore the rebuilt church above, along with the 7th century Saxon arch, and then delve into the crypt below ground to see historic remains, including Saxon coffins, stones from a Crusader castle linked to Richard the Lionheart and the mosaic flooring of the 2nd century AD Roman villa.

Within the crypt there is also a small museum examining the history of the church and of London. Largely ignored by the masses, the church of All Hallows by the Tower is one of London’s hidden gems and well worth a visit.

Photo by thetejon (cc)

Alnwick Castle

Ever wanted to head to Hogwarts? Why not visit Alnwick Castle? This historic site in Northumberland is home to the Harry Potter Franchise and is one of the largest castles in England.

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Alnwick Castle in Northumberland is one of the largest castle complexes in England and has been the historic home of the famous Percy family for over 700 years. It has risen to more recent fame due to its role as the location of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movie franchise.

A great medieval castle, akin to Windsor, the foundation of Alnwick was laid sometime after the great Norman invasion of England in 1066. The castle was, however, substantially rebuilt by the Percys in the 14th century and it is the fascinating tale of them, the Duke of Northumberland’s family, which echoe throughout Alnwick’s walls. From political clout and military achievement to failed rebellions and gunpowder-plotter, the Percys have often played a crucial role in English history.

One of the most famous members of the family was the young knight Harry 'Hotspur' Percy, who was immortalised in Shakespeare’s play Henry IV. A statue of Harry Hotspur stands at Alnwick Castle today.

More recently, Alnwick has become even more recognisable as the set for the film adaptations of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series. While it’s not recommended that you travel here via platform 9 and 3/4, a visit to Alnwick is definitely a must for fans of the franchise. Seasonal tours and themed activities - broomstick training and archery to name but a few - mean a day packed full of friendly fun for all the family.

The new attraction, the ‘Lost Cellars’ is sure to excite with top of the notch visual and audio effects to heighten the sensory experience – just be sure not to face the cellars alone!

The gardens are also not to be missed featuring one of the country’s largest tree-houses to keep the children entertained; moreover, many of the attractions can be toured with a guide and the poison garden is a particular highlight.

If that isn’t enough, the castle also boasts an impressive picture collection, chapel and a series of museums that are weaved throughout the interior celebrating the history of both Alnwick Castle and the wider Northumberland area.

Contributed by Rebecca Lewis

Photo by JMarler (cc)

Althorp House and Estate

Althorp is a country house and estate which has been home to the Spencer dynasty for over 500 years. It includes an exhibition on the life and work of Princess Diana and is one of many historic houses among the Historic Sites of England.

DID YOU KNOW?

Althorp house and estate in Northamptonshire is the home of the Spencer family, one of Britain's well-known aristocratic dynasties and family of Princess Diana. The Spencer family has lived at Althorp for over 500 years.

Built in the early 16th Century, Althorp House became the home of the Spencer family in 1508 and was continually modified and expanded as the family developed the estate.

Today visitors to Althorp can wander through the grand house and explore the Spencer family's private apartments as well as seeing the fascinating interiors and art collections on display. There is also a Spencer Family Exhibition detailing their history.

The Althorp estate also includes sizeable gardens, stables and parkland as well as a lake.

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Ambleside Roman Fort

The remains of Ambleside Roman Fort date from the 2nd century and are located on the shores of Lake Windermere.

DID YOU KNOW?

The remains of Ambleside Roman Fort date from the 2nd century and are located on the shores of Lake Windermere.

Built during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian, it served as a supply base to the larger fortifications at Hadrian’s Wall as well as being used to keep order in the local area.

When the Romans first arrived in Britain and conquered the north of England an initial fortification was built here, however it was abandoned soon after. The site was later reoccupied by the Roman military and a more permanent fort was established early in the 2nd century AD.

At its peak the Roman Fort at Ambleside could hold up to 500 men and it remained in use until at least the 4th century AD.

Today Ambleside Roman Fort is open to the public and run by the National Trust. Visitors can view the outline of the fort and its structures, while parts of the gates and sections of the fort walls are exposed, but the most significant surviving structures are the headquarters and granaries.

Photo by Martin Pettitt (cc)

Anglesey Abbey

Anglesey Abbey is a Jacobean-style mansion in Cambridgeshire, built on the site of a medieval priory and now boasting unique cultural collections, impressive gardens and a fully functioning water mill.

DID YOU KNOW?

The historic Anglesey Abbey is a Jacobean-style mansion in Cambridgeshire, which was built on the site of a medieval priory.

It is believed that the site Anglesey Abbey was first used as a monastery around 1100AD and grew to become a thriving monastic settlement throughout the early middle ages. However, like many similar sites across England, Anglesey Priory was dissolved in 1535 during the reign of Henry VIII. Becoming a private house, the site was modified several times over the next 400 years as well as being renamed Anglesey Abbey.

However, it was in the 1930s that Anglesey Abbey really saw a great transition when it came into the possession of Huttleston Broughton, 1st Lord Fairhaven. A widespread program of development saw the creation of magnificent gardens as well as alterations to the house itself, inspired by his love of eighteenth century culture. Upon his death, the house was left to the care of the National Trust.

Today, visitors to Anglesey Abbey can explore both the beautiful gardens and the grand house – including surviving elements of the original Augustinian monastery, such as the chapter house and monk’s parlour. The house itself boasts impressive collections of antique furnishings, sculpture and art as well as a wide collection of historic clocks, one of Lord Fairhaven’s particular passions.

The garden highlights include a fantastic collection of statues and sculptures, a 150 year-old working watermill as well as a host of activities for children, including a spectacular giant tree-house.

Contributed by Victoria Haughton

Photo by Harshil.Shah (cc)

Anne of Cleves House

This historic Tudor house in Lewes was once the property of Anne of Cleves and highlights the history of Tudors England.

DID YOU KNOW?

This historic Tudor house in the English town of Lewes was once the property of Anne of Cleves, fourth wife of Henry VIII. Owned and maintained by the Sussex archaeological society, the house and exhibits within give an excellent insight into Tudor life.

Today Anne of Cleves House has been accurately restored and decorated in the fashion of Tudor England, though some of the oldest parts of the house date back as far as 1400AD and there is plenty of history ready to be explored.

Particular areas to note are those such as the Tudor kitchen, which has been authentically furnished to the very smallest of details, and the gardens, which have not only been laid out in a traditional Tudor fashion, but which also contain a mix of plants and flowers which would have featured in Tudor-era gardens.

The bedroom has also been restored to the way in which it would have appeared during the time that Anne owned the property. Furthermore, within the house there are a number of collections (such as furniture and artefacts), which provide a fascinating perception of Tudor England.

Anne of Cleves House also contains the Museum of Lewes History and the Wealden Iron Gallery, which provide an intriguing insight into local Tudor-era industries.

All in all, this is a must visit for anyone with a keen interest in Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII, or indeed England’s past. Perfect for all the family, or a quiet day out, Anne of Cleves house is bound to keep you entertained.

Contributed by Victoria Haughton

Photo by araqnid (cc)

Apsley House

Apsley House was the home of one of Britain’s most heroic figures, the Duke of Wellington.

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Apsley House was the home of one of Britain’s most heroic figures, Arthur Wellesley better known as the Duke of Wellington. In fact, Wellington lived there following his most famous victory, that over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Named after the Baron Apsley, who originally built it in the 1770s, Apsley House came to be owned by the Wellesley family in 1807. The Wellesleys extended and altered Apsley House, transforming it into the building we see today.

Now managed by the English Heritage, Apsley House has a range of worthwhile things to see, such as its remarkable regency interiors and exhibits relating to the Duke of Wellington. There are many things at Apsley House which belonged to the Duke, including his impressive art collection, much of which once formed part of the Spanish Royal Collection and which includes pieces by several famous artists such as Canova and Velazquez.

Apsley House is often known by the illustrious name of "Number One London".

Photo by Thunderchild7 (cc)

Arbeia Roman Fort

Arbeia Roman Fort was one of the wall forts of Hadrian’s Wall and a military supply base for the other forts. It is one of the ancient Historic Sites in England.

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Arbeia Roman Fort was built in around 160 AD and guarded Hadrian’s Wall and the entrance to the River Tyne. One of many wall forts along the wall, Arbeia Roman Fort also acted as a military supply base.

Today, Arbeia Roman Fort has been partially reconstructed, allowing visitors to really experience how this mighty fortification would once have looked and felt. The museum of Arbeia Roman Fort houses original artefacts found at the site ranging from coins and gemstones to the country’s best preserved ringmail armour suit and several tombstones.

Photo by joncallas (cc)

Arthur’s Stone

Arthur’s Stone is a mysterious burial chamber in Herefordshire and one of many prehistoric Historic Sites in England.

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Arthur’s Stone is a tomb in Herefordshire dating back to the Neolithic era marked by a collection of large stones.

Little is known about this site and there is little to see, but the mystery of Arthur's Stone is one which continues to inspire debate. Arthur's Stone is an English Heritage site.

Photo by lizjones112 (cc)

Ashby Castle

One of the Historic Sites in England to date back to the English Civil War, Ashby Castle was a Royalist stronghold.

DID YOU KNOW?

Ashby Castle or ‘Ashby de la Zouch’ is a twelfth century manor house turned castle, the ruins of which can be seen in Leicestershire. Originally constructed during Norman times, Ashby Castle was the property of the Zouch family until the end of the fourteenth century.

Expanded and renovated, Ashby Castle achieved the transition from a stately home to a castle in the fifteenth century, after which it was the site of several royal visits from the likes of Henry VII and Charles I. Amongst its additions during this time, Ashby Castle gained the imposing 24-metre high Hastings Tower, built by Lord Hastings.

The demise of Ashby Castle occurred following the English Civil War. During the war, the castle had served as a Royalist base, but in 1646 it was taken by the Parliamentarians and subsequently fell into disuse. Ashby Castle would later inspire Sir Walter Scott, who set certain jousting scenes from his nineteenth century novel Ivanhoe at the site.

Visitors to Ashby Castle can immerse themselves in the site’s history, from enjoying entertaining audio tours and exploring its sunken gardens to embarking on tours of its underground passageways.

Photo by ChodHound (cc)

Ashmolean Museum

The Ashmolean Museum is a museum of the University of Oxford specialising in art and archaeology.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Ashmolean Museum is a museum of the University of Oxford specialising in art and archaeology.

From a Predynastic Egyptian hippopotamus shaped pottery to a Neolithic skull and a Minoan clay jar, the Ashmolean Museum has an eclectic antiquities collection as well as an interesting ancient cast gallery. There is also a Heberden coin room as well as exhibits of Eastern and Western art.

Despite its modern appearance - due to extensive renovations - the Ashmolean Museum is also historic in its own right. Having opened in the 17th century, it is the oldest public museum in the UK.

Photo by brianac37 (cc)

Aston Hall

Aston Hall is an imposing Jacobean mansion house in Birmingham, which now operates as a museum.

DID YOU KNOW?

Aston Hall is an imposing Jacobean historic mansion house in Aston, Birmingham, which now operates as a museum.

Built between 1618 and 1635, it was designed by John Thorpe and was an active residence until the late 19th century when it was sold and fell into disuse before being restored and opened to the public in the 20th century. In 1643, during the English Civil War, Aston Hall was severely damaged after an attack by Parliamentary troops - with some of the damage still evident.

Today visitors to Aston Hall can view luxurious interiors from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, including the magnificent Long Gallery. The grand state rooms showcase the history of Aston and the role its former residents played in history - including the English Civil War - as well as the times when the Hall played host to royalty.

Photo by Kurt Thomas Hunt (cc)

Avebury Ring

Avebury Ring is a vast Neolithic stone circle, probably the largest in the world, and is one of the Historic Sites in England which is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Avebury Ring in Wiltshire, England, is a stone monument which encircles the town of Avebury and is believed to have been constructed between 2850 and 2200 BC.

Now comprised of a bank and a ditch with a 1.3 kilometre circumference containing 180 stones making up an inner and outer circle, the Avebury Ring is not only fourteen times larger than Stonehenge, but was almost certainly completed before its famous counterpart.

Many of the stones which once formed part of the Avebury Ring were destroyed or buried during the Middle Ages, but the formation of the site is still visible from the remaining stones.

Visitors to Avebury Ring are free to walk up to the site itself at all times and view the monument’s stones. Together with Stonehenge, Silbury Hill and several other prehistoric sites, Avebury Ring is a UNESCO World Heritage site managed by the National Trust.

Photo by llewellyn_jenkins (cc)

Bamburgh Castle

An imposing historic sites in England, Bamburgh Castle is a grand structure which looms high upon a crag overlooking the coast of Northumberland.

DID YOU KNOW?

Bamburgh Castle is a grand structure which looms high upon a crag overlooking the coast of Northumberland. It looks like everything one would expect of the former home of the kings of Northumbria, even though the castle which currently stands is actually relatively young.

The site upon which Bamburgh Castle is located is initially known to have been occupied by an ancient tribe known as the Votadini in circa 800 BC, however the first mention of Bamburgh Castle itself dates back to around 547 AD. At this time, the Anglo Saxons invaded and captured it. There they set up their capital, Din Guayrdi and built the first stronghold, the site where their kings would reside.

In 993 AD, this incarnation of Bamburgh Castle was destroyed by the Vikings and this was later replaced by a castle built by the Normans. In the twelfth century, King Henry II owned the land, where he built a keep. Remaining sections of this medieval structure can still be seen today, they being the oldest parts of the current Bamburgh Castle. However, most of Henry II’s work was not left to stand for long.

During the Wars of the Roses, Bamburgh Castle was attacked by Edward VI and severely damaged by what was then the latest weaponry. Thereafter, Bamburgh Castle passed hands several times, lying largely derelict. It was only in when it was sold to industrialist Lord Armstrong in 1894 that the Bamburgh Castle we see today began taking shape.

Armstrong restored Bamburgh Castle and it remains in the hands of his family today. It is now open to the public and displays several historical objects.

Photo by antmoose (cc)

Banqueting House

The Banqueting House in Whitehall is famous as the site of the execution of King Charles I and one of the most important historical sites in England in terms of key moments in the history of the country.

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The Banqueting House in Whitehall, near Horseguards Parade, is the only complete building of the Palace of Whitehall to remain standing. The original Palace of Whitehall was acquired from Cardinal Wolsey by Henry VIII and was a royal residence until James I came to the throne in 1603.

The Banqueting House was built for state occasions and, after the installation of grand ceiling panels, the Banqueting House became a reception area for greeting foreign dignitaries.

On 30 January 1649, many spectators gathered to watch the beheading of King Charles I on the balcony of the Banqueting House. A service is held at the Banqueting House every year in January to commemorate this event and visitors can still see the scaffold stage on which the monarch died.

From 1654 until 1658, the Palace of Whitehall was the home of the revolutionary and statesman, Oliver Cromwell. After the restoration of King Charles II to the throne in 1660, the Palace of Whitehall once again became the royal residence and the Banqueting House once again was used for its original purpose.

In 1698, a huge fire burned Whitehall Palace to the ground. Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to convert the Banqueting House into a chapel to replace the one destroyed in the fire.

Visitors can tour Banqueting House and discover its history. An entry ticket includes an audio guide, available in a variety of languages.

Photo by Verity Cridland (cc)

Barley Hall

Barley Hall is a Town House in the middle of York, reflecting the lives of a wealthy family at the end of the 15th Century.

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Barley Hall is a good example of a medieval Town house. Built 1360 for the use of the monks of Nostell priory, near Wakefield, for when they had business in York. It was extended by a wing which was added around 1430.

For centuries, Barley Hall was lost under a series of buildings in the area. Latterly, it was covered by the red bricks of an office block. It was only when the building was about to be demolished that was rescued by the York Archaeological Trust.

It was named after the Trust’s first chairman, Professor Maurice Barley, an expert archaeologist. It was never used for storing barley.

From the middle of the 1460s to the middle of the 1480s, it was occupied by Master William Snawsell who was Lord Mayor of York.The property has been restored to reflect his social position. His family had moved to York from a village called Snowhill in Gloucestershire. Born around 1415, Snawsell’s life is well documented in the archives of York Minster.

Having followed his father in the profession of goldsmith, William bettered himself by an advantageous marriage to Joan Threng, from a noble family with firm connections with the close proximity of her home in Sheriff Hutton, close to the castle of the Neville family, who were one of the most influential families in the country. Sheriff Hutton was also the childhood home of Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Like most of the leading men of York, Snawsell was a supporter of Richard when he was proclaimed King in 1483, and was one of the leading citizens of York who met his death at Bosworth Field in 1485.

However, he went on to serve Henry VII faithfully until he resigned as Alderman in 1492. He had served under Henry VI Edward IV Richard III and Henry VII Barley Hall is slightly off the usual tourist route in York, but it is well documented inside and has good information on each room shown.

Only about 30% of the original wood was able to be salvaged, but careful restoration, using original methods of construction gives a real insight to how the wealthy lived in the last part of the 15th century lived.

Photo by yashima (cc)

Barnard Castle

Barnard Castle contains the ruins of a Norman stronghold which was later owned by Richard III.

DID YOU KNOW?

The charming ruins of Barnard Castle in County Durham sit above the small market town of the same name.

The first stone fortifications were built on the site by the Norman lord Guy de Baliol, who was granted the estate by William Rufus in 1095AD. However, it was under his nephew Barnard de Baliol that the site and town were truly expanded and it was for Barnard that the castle was named.

In 1216 another of their successors, Hugh de Baliol, successfully defended Barnard Castle from enemies of King John, who besieged the fortress.

During the 14th century Barnard Castle passed into the holdings of the Earls of Warwick and subsequently the Nevilles before coming into the possession of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who would later be crowned Richard III.

In 1569 the castle was besieged again – and this time captured – during the uprising against Elizabeth I by the Northern Lords.

By 1626 Barnard Castle has fallen into neglect and the estate was sold to Sir Henry Vane. Sir Henry had also acquired the nearby Raby Castle and chose to strip Barnard Castle of materials to refurbish Raby.

Today Barnard Castle is run by English Heritage and forms a picturesque ruin for visitors to explore. People can stroll around the ruins and still seeing remains including the castle towers and the 14th century Great Hall.

Photo by stevecadman (cc)

Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey was built from the late fifteenth century, destroyed by Henry VIII and restored under Elizabeth I.

DID YOU KNOW?

Bath Abbey is an imposing medieval church built from 1499 on the site of a once vast but ruined Norman cathedral. In fact, the first church to be built on the site of Bath Abbey was an eighth century Anglo-Saxon church torn down by the Normans after 1066 and replaced by the Norman cathedral in 1090.

When the upkeep of the Norman cathedral became too onerous, it fell into disrepair, finally being replaced by Bath Abbey. However, that was not the end of the story.

In 1539, Bath Abbey was ruined under King Henry VIII during the monarch’s dissolution of the monasteries. Restoration of Bath Abbey took place under Queen Elizabeth I, with further works undertaken in the 1860s.

Today, visitors can climb the 212 steps of Bath Abbey’s tower, stand behind its clock face and enjoy fantastic views of the city. Tours are available, lasting approximately 45-50 minutes.

Photo by Matt From London (cc)

Battle of Barnet

One of the most decisive and bloody encounters of the Wars of the Roses, this is one of several battlefields and historic sites in England from that period.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Battle of Barnet took place on the 14th of April 1471 and was one of the most decisive and bloody encounters of the Wars of the Roses.

In 1470 an alliance between Edward IV’s former ally, the Earl of Warwick, and his Lancastrian enemies had forced the Yorkist leader to flee the country. Having been in exile in Holland and Burgundy for six months, he landed back in Yorkshire, proclaiming that he only wished to reclaim his dukedom.

However, he promptly marched south and took London, where his queen showed him his newborn son, also named Edward. He then marched north to Barnet to confront Warwick who was now fighting alongside the Lancastrian Queen Margaret (and had married his second daughter to Margaret’s son, the Lancastrian Prince of Wales).

Warwick, marching south from the midlands, took up position about a mile north of Barnet. Edward, arriving at dusk, took up his position close by. Due to a thick mist, the two armies were not directly opposite each other, and they overlapped.

The earl of Oxford, commanding one wing of the Lancastrian army, won an early victory and his men made it all the way in to the town. He then turned and led his troops back to the battle, where Lancastrian troops, mistaking his emblem for that of Edward, engaged him in battle. With cries of ‘treason, treason’, Oxford fled the field, taking his troops with him. It was the decisive moment and the fear and confusion saw the Lancastrian forces disintegrate. Both Warwick and his brother lost their lives at Barnet, a huge blow to the Lancastrian cause. Edward was therefore the victor of the battle of Barnet, and thus regained the throne.

There is little left of the battlefield now, but there is a monument on the A1000 road, which gives as good a view as any of the battlefield, which is now agricultural land, with little in the way of public footpaths. Like many of these medieval battlefields, the actual site is disputed, and is always under review.

Battle of Mortimer’s Cross

Wars of the Roses batlle, leading to the death of Owen Tudor.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Battle of Mortimer’s Cross was fought in the middle of winter on 2nd February 1461. A Yorkist army, under the command of Edward, Earl of March (later Edward IV) intercepted a Lancastrian army, under the leadership of Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, which was marching from Wales into England.

The battle itself took place close to Mortimer’s Cross possibly between there and Kingsland. Several of the Lancastrian leaders were captured, including Jasper Tudor's father, Owen Tudor . Owen Tudor had married Katherine de Valois, widow of Henry V, and so his sons, Jasper and Edmund, although not of the Lancastrian line, were half brothers to Henry VI.

It is worth noting that, like many Wars of the Roses battle sites,  the exact location of Mortimer’s Cross Battlefield is still a subject of debate. The position highlighted on the map is the location of a monument to the battle.

Battle of Northampton

The Battle of Northampton was a battle in the Wars of the Roses and a major victory for the Yorkists.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Battle of Northampton was part of the Wars of the Roses and took place on the 10th July 1460. It was a major victory for the Yorkists.

Having been defeated at the Battle of Blore Heath, it was not until the end of June 1460 that the Yorkists became strong enough to risk a return from exile.

Being joined by Yorkist supporters, the Earls of Warwick and Salisbury - along with Edward, Earl of March (the future Edward IV) - had gathered enough support to attack London. Here they succeeded in capturing the city, except for the Tower of London, which remained in the hands of the Lancastrians.

Leaving the Earl of Salisbury and a small band of troops to defend their gains in London, Warwick set off to confront Henry VI before he had time to rally his forces. Henry, meantime, had been in Coventry and decided to move his troops to Northampton to forestall the Yorkists in their march north. Having ensconced himself near Northampton close to Delapre Abbey, Henry settled in to await the Earl of Warwick. The battle took place on 10th July.

The battle itself was a short affair, despite the presence of large forces on both sides. Victory went to the Earl of Warwick and the Yorkists, after treachery within the Lancastrian ranks. At this juncture, the Duke of York felt it was safe to return from Ireland.

After the victory, the Yorkists forced Henry VI to sign an Act of Succession, which named the Duke of York as his heir, even though he had a son of his own. This, of course, alienated his wife, Queen Margaret, and the two sides were soon under arms once more.

Today it is difficult to see much evidence of the battle, but some areas of Northampton Battlefield are still accessible through the remains of the park at Delapre Abbey. Public footpaths give access to some of the rest of the area.

Photo by gripso_banana_prune (cc)

Battle of Tewkesbury

A definitive battle of the Wars of the Roses, Tewkesbury was a resounding defeat for the Lancastrians, and led to fourteen years of peace from May 1471.

DID YOU KNOW?

A definitive battle of the Wars of the Roses, the Battle of Tewkesbury was a resounding defeat for the Lancastrians, and led to fourteen years of peace from May 1471.

In April 1471 the Lancastrian queen, Margaret, landed with her troops at Weymouth, where they were joined by the Duke of Somerset with reinforcements. They expected that the advance troops, led by the Duke of Warwick, would have made some headway in defeating Edward IV's army. However, Warwick had joined battle with Edward IV at Barnet and had been defeated and killed.

King Edward IV, meanwhile, was in Windsor, and realised that he would have to intercept the Lancastrians before they arrived in Wales. The Lancastrian army detoured to Bristol for supplies, were refused entry to Gloucester by its citizens and so marched north, hoping to cross the river Severn at Tewkesbury.

With King Edward’s army in pursuit, Somerset arrived at Tewkesbury and decided to make a stand. He deployed his troops, numbering about 5,000, in an area of pastureland just south of the Abbey, flanked by two streams. On arrival, Edward chose to deploy his army (about 4,000 men) south of, and parallel with, Somerset’s.

Battle was joined in the morning and lasted several hours, during which the Lancastrians lost 2,000 men and the Yorkists around 500. Among the Lancastrian dead was the Prince of Wales.

With the death of the heir and the imprisonment of both Henry VI (who was later murdered in the Tower of London) and Queen Margaret, the Lancastrian hold on the throne of England seemed lost.

The east side of Tewkesbury Battlefield is now covered by a housing development, but the western part is still agricultural land and is accessible by public footpath. There is a monument to the Battle of Tewkesbury in front of the Abbey, and Edward, prince of Wales is buried here. The remains of George, Duke of Clarence (brother of King Edward) and his wife, Isabelle (daughter of Warwick the Kingmaker) were brought here for burial. The Abbey itself is a wonderful historic building and is well worth a visit.

It is worth noting that, as with many medieval battlefields, there is some controversy about the exact location of the Battle of Tewkesbury and Tewkesbury Battlefield.

There is a Tewkesbury Battlefield trail which allows visitors to walk some of the key sites. Further information on the Battle of Tewkesbury trail can be found at the Tewkesbury tourist information centre.

Photo by hughrocks (cc)

Bayham Old Abbey

Bayham Old Abbey was a medieval monastery dissolved by King Henry VIII.

DID YOU KNOW?

A 13th century monastery of the Catholic Order of Canons Regular of Prémontré, the ruins of Bayham Old Abbey are located on the Kent-Sussex border.

Dissolved in the sixteenth century during Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries, Bayham Old Abbey’s original structure can still be made out from the partial remains of its impressive stone walls and visitors can also see a fourteenth century gatehouse located on site.

Bayham Old Abbey is now managed by English Heritage and is set amidst landscaped gardens.

Photo by wjmarnoch (cc)

Beamish Museum

An open air, living museum, Beamish recreates what life was like in the industrial age of Victorian and Edwardian Britain.

DID YOU KNOW?

The lively open air museum at Beamish brings to life the industrial revolution in northern England and allows for a real hands-on approach to history.

Within the Beamish complex there are multiple areas to explore. The museum tracks how life in the north of England changed during the industrial revolution and focuses on how the region was transformed through each of the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian periods.

One of the most engaging aspects of the museum is the fact that it is a ‘living museum’. This allows visitors to get stuck in and actively involved, with a variety of different aspects to experience. To name but a few, there are chances to wander around reconstructed school buildings, streets and even a drift mine, the opportunity to try some wholesome baked goods from the traditional home farm and even grab a ride on some historical transport - the tram of Beamish offering a full tour of the museum.

There are several seasonal activities available as well, with special events taking place throughout the year. Throughout the rest of the year there are a variety of fairs and exhibits to enjoy, such as the steam fair and electric transport exhibition. Fun for all the family, Beamish makes for a great day out – mixing history with entertainment in a well-fused way.

Contributed by Victoria Haughton

Beamish Museum

A living, open air museum in County Durham with loads to do for the whole family, the Beamish Museum recreates what life was like in the industrial age of Victorian and Edwardian Britain.

DID YOU KNOW?

The lively and fascinating open air museum at Beamish in County Durham brings to life the industrial revolution in northern England and allows for a real hands-on approach to history.

Within the Beamish complex there are lots of areas to explore. The museum tracks how life in the north of England changed during the industrial revolution and focuses on how the region was transformed through each of the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian ages.

One of the most engaging aspects of the museum is that it’s a ’living museum’. This allows visitors to get stuck in and actively involved, including wandering around reconstructed school buildings, streets and even a 1900s colliery, the opportunity to try some wholesome baked goods from the traditional home farm and even grab a ride on stunningly restored original trams.

Discover how families lived before WWI as well as finding out what life was like at home during WWII, see what’s cooking in the pit cottages and even dress up in Edwardian costumes!

There are several seasonal activities available as well, with special events taking place throughout the year. Throughout the rest of the year there are a variety of fairs and exhibits to enjoy, such as the steam fair and electric transport exhibition. Mixing history with plenty of fun, Beamish is a great day out for all the family.

Photo by Dave Hamster (cc)

Beaulieu Abbey

Beaulieu Abbey is an early 13th century historic monastic complex, partially destroyed in the reign of Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The site is home to the National Motor Museum.

DID YOU KNOW?

Nestled in the picturesque New Forest National Park, the ruins of Beaulieu Abbey represent what remains of an early 13th century monastic complex which was partially destroyed in the reign of Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Today, visitors can explore the remains of Beaulieu Abbey along with the medieval Palace House and gardens, which once formed part of the Abbey complex before being bought by Sir Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton and turned into a mansion house. Now home of the Montagu family, who have resided there since 1538, the house features many Victorian additions added during later periods of renovation.

As well as Beaulieu Abbey and Palace House, the site is home to the National Motor Museum which features a range of historic and modern cars and other motoring exhibits.

This article is a stub and is in line for expansion by our editorial team. You can help expand this information by adding comments below.

Photo by dun_deagh (cc)

Bede’s World

An interactive and living history museum, Bede's World tells the story of Anglo-Saxon life in Northumbria and the life of famous Anglo-Saxon writer Bede.

DID YOU KNOW?

Bede's World is an interactive and living history museum in Jarrow, Tyne & Wear, which tells the story of Anglo-Saxon life in Northumbria and the life and times of the famous Anglo-Saxon writer Bede.

The complex contains both a museum and a replica Anglo-Saxon farm, containing buildings constructed in the Anglo-Saxon style and demonstrating what life would have been like in the region in 700AD.

The Bede's World museum explores the life of Bede as well as Anglo-Saxon history and the more general history of the area over 1,300 years. It contains a number of interactive exhibits which provide particular fun for kids.

Photo by Jakub Hlavaty (cc)

Belas Knap Long Barrow

The Belas Knap Long Barrow is a well-preserved example of a Neolithic burial chamber located near Cheltenham.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Belas Knap Long Barrow is a well-preserved example of a Neolithic burial chamber located near Cheltenham.

It was built around 3000 BC and used for burials over a significant period until the chambers were deliberately blocked. Romano-British pottery found inside one of the burial chambers show that it was open in Roman times.

The site was excavated between 1863 and 1865 and the remains of 31 people were found inside. A significant burial site, it is 54 m long, 18 m wide and over 4m high. The remains of the Belas Knap Long Barrow feature a false entrance and side chambers and the site has recently been restored. Today the chamber tombs have been opened up so visitors can see them up close.

Photo by Martin Pettitt (cc)

Belton House

Belton House is a 17th century historic house in Lincolnshire which is now a popular visitor attraction.

DID YOU KNOW?

Belton House is an historic mansion house in Lincolnshire which is now a popular visitor attraction.

Built between 1685 and 1688 the house was the seat of the Brownlow and Cust families for over 300 years before it was gifted to the National Trust who operate the site today. The mansion house boasts a number of fine state rooms and halls and is also surrounded by 36 acres of formal gardens and a larger wooded park.

Photo by Elliott Brown (cc)

Benjamin Franklin House

Benjamin Franklin House in London is the only surviving former residence of Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

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Benjamin Franklin House in London is the only surviving former residence of Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

A terraced Georgian house located close to Trafalgar Square, today the site operates as a museum and examines the time Franklin spent in London as well as his wider life and work.

You can read more about the history of Benjamin Franklin House at the London History Group.

Photo by hartjeff12 (cc)

Berkeley Castle

Berkeley Castle was originally built nearly 1,000 years ago, but since then has undergone a number of changes and has been the site of many interesting – and sometimes bloody – events.

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Berkeley Castle has been a feature of the Gloucestershire countryside since the 11th Century. Built by William FitzOsbern in 1067, it was one of many motte-and-bailey castles constructed by the Normans shortly after the Conquest of 1066. Before long it passed into the hands of the Berkeley family and was rebuilt by them in the 12th Century.

In its long history, the castle has witnessed a number of dramatic events. It was the centre of a controversy during a period of civil war in Britain and Normandy known as The Anarchy, when Roger de Berkeley was dispossessed for failing to ally himself with the House of Plantagenet. It was because of this that the castle passed to Robert Fitzharding in 1152, a wealthy burgess of Bristol and supporter of the Plantagenets who founded a new Berkeley line. His descendants still hold the castle now, making it the oldest castle in Britain to be lived in continually by the same family.

Two centuries later, Berkeley Castle was once again a site of intrigue. Early in 1327, Edward II had been deposed by his wife, Queen Isabella, and sent to the castle for imprisonment. On 21st September, Edward was reportedly murdered. No details are known, but popular stories tell a tale of a red hot poker or suffocation. Visitors can still see the cell where the deed is thought to have occurred and might even hear the echoes of Edward’s cries in the 11m-deep dungeon on the anniversary of the event.

Like many major strongholds in England, Berkeley Castle was also caught up in the English Civil War – the parliamentarians laid siege to the castle in 1645 and eventually captured it from the Royalist defenders.

Berkeley Castle’s sombre past can also been seen in the grand Great Hall. It was here that the last court jester in England, Dickie Pearce, died after falling from the Minstrels' gallery. In the adjoining chapel, visitors can see some of the more pleasant aspects of the castle, including painted wooden vaulted ceilings and an illustrated vellum book of Catholic chants.

A walk around the castle also reveals a number of tapestries and paintings by English and Dutch Masters. And outside, the castle has yet more to offer. Its beautiful Elizabethan gardens are home to Elizabeth I's bowling green and a pine that is thought to have originated from a tree at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, where the attempts of Charles Stuart to challenge Hanoverian power in Britain were halted.

Visitors can hear about the history of the castle in full on an hour-long tour that is included in the admission price, and may be treated to special events on bank holidays and during the school holidays. There is also a butterfly house within the grounds, entry to which is included in the ticket price.

Contributed by Siobhan Coskeran

Photo by stephenrwalli (cc)

Berkhamsted Castle

Berkhamsted Castle was a medieval stronghold, the ruins of which lie in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire.

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Berkhamsted Castle was originally a timber castle constructed in the eleventh century by William the Conqueror’s half-brother, Robert of Mortain. This was in the aftermath of William’s success in the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

Located in the strategically important area of Berkhamsted, this motte and bailey castle was a vital stronghold. However, most of the stone remains of Berkhamsted Castle which can be seen today date back to the twelfth century. The timber castle having been destroyed after Robert of Mortain’s son dissented against the king, this later incarnation of Berkhamsted Castle was initiated during the reign of Henry I and expanded over the years to become a large, fortified palace where royalty was often entertained.

The earthworks, walls and ditches of Berkhamsted Castle are now open to the public under the remit of English Heritage.

Photo by Philandthehounds (cc)

Berwick Castle

Berwick Castle was a medieval castle, the ruins of which are located in Berwick-Upon-Tweed, Northumberland.

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Berwick Castle was a medieval castle originally built by King David I of Scotland in the 12th century and rebuilt in the thirteenth century by King Edward I of England.

Located near the border between Scotland and England, Berwick Castle was an important stronghold and changed hands between the two sides several times in the course of history.

Despite being reconstructed in the 17th and 18th centuries, Berwick Castle is now a ruin maintained and managed by English Heritage. Visitors can walk around the site freely and explore the remains at their own pace.

Photo by apdk (cc)

Big Ben

Big Ben is the name often attributed to the iconic clock tower of the Houses of Parliament.

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Big Ben is often thought to be the name of the iconic clock tower of the Houses of Parliament.

In fact, “Big Ben” is the nickname of one of the bells of this clock tower, originally called the Great Bell. It is unclear exactly where the name Big Ben originated, although it is thought that it was probably named after Sir Benjamin Hall, the man in charge of commissioning the structure. Another popular, although less likely, theory is that it was named after Ben Caunt, a champion heavyweight boxer of the mid nineteenth century. 

In any event, most people now think of the whole of the clock tower as Big Ben. The clock tower of Big Ben was begun in 1843 and completed in 1859, while the clock was completed later that year and first sounded its bells on 7 September.

Photo by davehighbury (cc)

Bignor Roman Villa

Bignor Roman Villa is a large Roman villa site on the Bignor estate and contains some of the best preserved Roman mosaics in Britain.

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Bignor Roman Villa is a large Roman villa site on the Bignor estate. Situated in West Sussex, the Bignor Roman Villa complex hosts the remains of a 3rd century ancient Roman home.

The site was developed over two centuries before it was abandoned – probably after the Roman withdrawal from Britain.

Today, Bignor Roman Villa contains some of the best preserved Roman mosaics in Britain, as well as the remains of the villa complex which include several living rooms, a bathhouse and even the underfloor heating systems employed by Roman engineers.

Bignor Roman Villa was discovered in the early 19th century and is enclosed in Georgian buildings which are themselves worthy of note and have recently been restored.

Photo by John Phillips (cc)

Binchester Roman Fort

Binchester Roman Fort contains the remains of one of the largest Roman fortifications in northern Britain.

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Binchester Roman Fort contains the remains of one of the largest Roman fortifications in northern Britain. Founded around 80 AD, the fort could play host to a considerable military force and was an important staging post for the Roman military in the region.

Evidence found at the site show that the fort also held cavalry units, with inscriptions showing that they tended to be very much multicultural in nature, with one such unit coming from central Spain and another from what is now Holland. Binchester Roman Fort remained in use throughout the Roman period and a large civilian settlement grew up around it. Indeed, locals continued to occupy Binchester Roman Fort for several centuries after the Roman forces departed. The modern-day village of Binchester is about 2 miles to the east of the site.

Today the Binchester Roman Fort site is open to visitors, who can explore its remains along with those of a Roman bath house within the complex.

Photo by TyB (cc)

Birdoswald Roman Fort

Birdoswald Roman Fort is one of the best preserved of the wall forts of Hadrian’s Wall.

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Birdoswald Roman Fort is not only one of the most well-preserved of the wall forts of the iconic Hadrian’s Wall, it is also next to some of the best stretches of this 73-mile barrier.

At its peak, Birdoswald Roman Fort would have housed up to 1,000 soldiers who were there to guard Hadrian’s Wall. Even after the Romans left Britain, Birdoswald Roman Fort remained inhabited up to the fifth century AD and later, in the sixteenth century, a medieval fortified farmhouse was built there, succeeded by a regular farmhouse.

Today, visitors can enjoy the extensive remains found at Birdoswald Roman Fort, which include much of its defensive structures such as its walls and gateways as well as buildings such as granaries and workshops.

The Birdoswald Roman Fort visitor centre offers a further glimpse into life in Roman Britain, with a model of the Wall as it would once have looked and displays of artifacts found at the site. Uniquely, it is even possible to stay within the walls of Birdoswald Roman Fort as part of a holiday. It is under the remit of English Heritage.

Photo by Charles D P Miller (cc)

Bishop's Waltham Palace

The ruins of the medieval Bishop’s Waltham Palace can be seen in Hampshire.

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Bishop's Waltham Palace is a medieval castle in Hampshire built in the 12th century, although the current picturesque ruins mostly date from the early 14th century works of the Bishop William Wykeham. In its time, Bishop's Waltham Palace acted as a residence for a series of the Bishops of Winchester and their clergy until it was destroyed during the English Civil War.

Today, the ground floor of Bishop's Waltham Palace is the location of the Bishop's Waltham Town Museum and the site is under the remit of English Heritage.

Photo by Draco2008 (cc)

Bletchley Park

Bletchley Park was Station X, the central location of British code cracking operations during World War II.

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Bletchley Park is a country estate fifty miles north of London. Originally the home of the Leon family in the late 19th century, Bletchley Park was then bought by a property developer, but in 1938 its role changed entirely from being a residential house to a vital British intelligence centre.

As Adolph Hitler’s campaign to invade Europe intensified, Bletchley Park was taken over by the government, who deemed it the perfect place to move the Government Code and Cypher School.

Bletchley Park, known by the codename Station X, became the site where the British managed to decipher the machinations of the Enigma, the highly effective code encryption machines used by the Nazis.

Today, visitors can explore the history of Bletchley Park’s role during the war. With a brand new visitor centre, an interactive multimedia guide and an immersive introduction, visitors can have a fun and informative journey.

Blore Heath

Blore Heath was the site of the second battle of what became known as the Wars of the Roses.

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The Battle of Blore Heath took place on 23 September 1459 and formed part of the conflict known as the Wars of the Roses between the Houses of Lancaster and York over the succession to the English throne.

Before the two sides met at Blore Heath, they had reached an agreement under which the Duke of York would succeed Henry VI, but this only created the illusion of peace and the conflict was ignited once again at Blore Heath. The Battle of Blore Heath ended with the Yorkists defeating the Lancastrians.

Today, the battle site at Blore Heath has been enclosed and preserved, but there is little to see except for Audley's Cross, marking the spot where James Touchet, the fifth Baron Audley, was killed.

Photo by Ryan Lea (cc)

Bodiam Castle

Perhaps one of England’s best known moated castles, Bodiam Castle was built in 1385. The castle suffered during the English Civil War and was restored before being bequeathed to the National Trust. It now ranks among the most beautiful castles in the world.

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Perhaps one of Britain’s most picturesque castles, Bodiam Castle was built by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge in 1385 and is now a popular tourist attraction operated by the National Trust.

Originally a manor home, Bodiam was converted into a castle by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, who was granted a licence by Richard II to crenellate the walls and fortify Bodiam. Dalyngrigge fought during the Hundred Years War, and, upon returning to England in 1377, married Elizabeth Wardeux, through whom he came into possession of Bodiam Manor. The castle served a dual purpose, both as a status symbol for Dalyngrigge, and as a defence against a potential, albeit unlikely, French invasion.

The castle itself, of quadrangular design, is characterised by a great moat and courtyard. The living quarters were built into the walls, which surround an open courtyard. The construction of a significant moat was made possible by technological advances which allowed the moat to be filled by springs. This lent the castle a modern edge, as prior to this most moats would have been fed by nearby rivers.

The moat thus served as an almost impregnable defence, and although the castle was never attacked, the moat would have negated the effectiveness of siege warfare. Indeed, apart from when the then Lancastrian owner Sir Thomas Lewknor surrendered to Yorkist forces, Bodiam Castle was never taken by force.

However, Bodiam’s tough defences did not always save the castle from damages. The interior of the castle was almost entirely destroyed by Parliamentary forces during the English Civil War, to avoid the castle being used by the Royalists. During this period the façade was also allowed to fall into ruin, although a succession of owners in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, notably Lord Curzon who purchased the site in 1926, contributed to the restoration of Bodiam Castle to its current state.

Today, visitors are invited to explore this beatiful castle and its surrounding grounds. Families and school children are also welcome, and there are a wide range of events and activities taking place throughout the year. For a full calendar of events check out the National Trust Bodiam Castle events page.

Contributed by Chris Reid

Photo by Philandthehounds (cc)

Bolsover Castle

Bolsover Castle was once the site of a medieval fortress before its replacement with an ornate 17th century manor house modelled on a small castle. Now run by English Heritage.

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Bolsover Castle near Chesterfield in Derbyshire contains the remains of a 17th century English mansion house, modelled on a medieval castle.

The site where Bolsover Castle now stands once contained a small fortification; however this was dismantled in 1612 by the landowner Charles Cavendish, who began a fresh construction on the site. The main development was intended to reflect a small medieval fortress, and became known as the ‘Little Castle’. Though Charles himself did not live to see the completion of this project, it was continued by his son William – said to be something of a playboy at the time – who completed the scheme along with additional buildings and an ornate riding house.

In 1634 Bolsover Castle hosted a visit by Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria and William continued to be a supporter of the King during the English Civil War. However, this support did not bode well for Bolsover Castle, which was captured and partially demolished by the Parliamentarians. William, who fled into exile during the war, returned in around 1660 and undertook repairs to the estate.

After William’s death Bolsover Castle did not take pride of place among the Cavendish estates and his successors failed to maintain much of the site. By the 19th century most of Bolsover Castle had fallen into ruin, though the Little Castle remained, used as a vicarage.

Today, visitors to Bolsover Castle can enjoy a number of interesting sites and activities, including the intricate decorations of the Little Castle and the fascinating riding house. Bolsover Castle also contains a number of audio visual displays and activities for children – in fact, there are a number of special events days at Bolsover, you can view a list on the official site. The castle grounds are also well worth seeing, offering great views of the local area and excellent picnicking opportunities!

Photo by gavinandrewstewart (cc)

Bosworth Field - Actual Site

The Battle of Bosworth Field of 1485 resulted in the death of King Richard III and ascension of Henry VII to the throne.

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The Battle of Bosworth Field was considered by some to be the last battle of the Wars of the Roses, the civil war between the Plantagenet kings of England. The Plantagenets were divided between the supporters of the successors to the Dukes of York (Edward IV, Edward V, and Richard III) and the successors to the Dukes of Lancaster (Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI, and Henry VII), a conflict which raged throughout the latter part of the 15th century.

During the wars, the Crown alternated between the two houses, depending on who had defeated whom at the most recent battle. Both Henry VI and Edward IV lost the crown and were later restored at different times.

The aristocracy was decimated by this constant civil war and at the end, the last heir to the Lancastrians, Henry VII of the House of Tudor and who had a tenuous claim to the throne (through an illegitimate line) defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field on 22 August 1485.

In fact, others consider that the definitive final battle of the Wars of the Roses was not at Bosworth Field, but at the Battle of Stoke in 1487, where Richard’s heir, the Duke of Suffolk was finally defeated.

Until October 2009, it was thought that the Battle of Bosworth Field had taken place at the location of the Bosworth Field Visitor Centre. In fact, the real Bosworth Field – this one - was only confirmed to the public in February 2010, following the excavation of several artefacts at this location, proving that this was the actual site of Richard III’s demise. Amongst them was a silver badge bearing the King’s emblem - a boar.

The Bosworth Field Visitor Centre plans to create a trail to the real site, but at the time of writing, visitors can cross the field along public paths (ask at the visitor centre). There are also plans to open an outdoor visitor centre. 

Photo by gavinandrewstewart (cc)

Bosworth Field Visitor Centre

The Bosworth Field Visitor Centre is a good starting point for exploring the site of this famous clash from Wars of the Roses.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Bosworth Field Visitor Centre contains a wealth of information, including displays and exhibitions, about the battle which is considered by many to have been the final (others say penultimate) battle of the Wars of the Roses – the Battle of Bosworth Field. 

It is worth noting that, until October 2009, the location of Bosworth Field Visitor Centre was thought to have been the site of the Battle of Bosworth Field. The field which was thought to have been the battle site was marked to show the events of the battle. However, in February 2010, historians confirmed that the real site was around a mile away.

The Bosworth Field Visitor Centre plans to create a trail to the real site, but at the time of writing, visitors can only cross it on public paths (ask at the centre).

Photo by John Stolarski (cc)

Boughton House

Boughton House is a French-influenced 17th-century English country house which is now periodically open to visitors.

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Boughton House is a remarkable French-influenced 17th-century English country mansion in Northamptonshire which is now periodically open to visitors.

Though a monastic building existed on the site of Boughton House in the Middle Ages, most of what can be seen today was constructed in the late 1600s by Ralph, 1st Duke of Montagu, who had previously served as English ambassador to France.

The influence of his time in France can be seen in the architecture of the house, which is reminiscent of the styles of great French palaces such as Versailles.

Though still a private charity-run estate, Boughton is open to visitors in Spring and Summer and boasts impressive baroque state rooms as well as grand collections of art, antiques and furniture. Visitors can also enjoy the formal gardens and parkland of the estate.

Photo by skuds (cc)

Brading Roman Villa

Brading Roman Villa was a first to second century Ancient Roman farm on the Isle of Wight.

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Brading Roman Villa was part of an Ancient Roman farm on the Isle of Wight and is now an archaeological site and museum.

Thought to have first been constructed in the mid-first century, it is believed that Brading Roman Villa was developed into a stone structure by the middle of the second century. At this time, it would have benefited from a wealth of food and materials including wild boar, sheep, barley and wheat.

In the third century, Brading Roman Villa was severely damaged by fire and subsequently – but slowly - went into decline, partly due to ongoing barbarian raids.

Today, Brading Roman Villa is housed in a purpose built structure, where visitors can see its ruins, including walls rising up to one metre in height. Some of the highlights at the Brading Roman Villa are its mosaics, the largest of which portrays a mixture of religious, nautical and farming imagery and is located in room twelve.

The site of Brading Roman Villa is also dotted with the remains of the ancient farming buildings, which visitors can tour. One of the buildings contains the stone piles of what was an under floor heating system or “hypocaust”.

Branodunum Fort

Branodunum Fort is a 3rd century Roman fort located on the Norfolk coast.

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Branodunum Fort is a 3rd century Roman fort located on the Norfolk coast. Built in around 225 to 250 AD, Branodunum Fort is in fact one of eleven such constructs, known as Saxon Shore Forts, found on England's southern and eastern coasts.

Like its counterparts, Branodunum Fort was initially built to help control trade around the coastline, but later took on a more military, defensive role, defending from invaders from the North Sea. Branodunum Fort would remain garrisoned for some 150 years, only becoming empty when the Romans left Britain.

The walls of Branodunum Fort remained standing until the 18th century, when they were demolished.

Photo by Mike Bishop (cc)

Bremenium Roman Fort

Bremenium Roman Fort was an important Roman outpost and garrison located beyond the major fortifications of Hadrian’s Wall, near modern-day Rochester in Northumberland.

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Bremenium Roman Fort was an important Roman outpost and garrison which was located beyond the major fortifications of Hadrian’s Wall, near modern-day Rochester in Northumberland.

This heavily fortified garrison site stood for more than 200 years as the most northerly base in the entire Roman Empire. The fortress operated as an outpost fort beyond Hadrian's Wall - a sort of early warning station.

Unlike many forts of its type, Bremenium had thicker walls and included significant artillery emplacements - highlighting the fact this fort existed at the very fringes of Empire, essentially in enemy territory. Consequently, no civilian settlements grew up outside the walls and there seems to have been little or nothing of this nature at Bremenium.

The first incarnation of Bremenium Roman Fort dates to around 80AD and was built by Julius Agricola, Governor of Britain in the late 1st Century. Recent research suggests it was built on top of a previous Iron Age settlement. A larger fort was built during the mid-to-late second century and this in turn was replaced in the third century AD. Its final phase was completed during the reign of Emperor Constantine, sometime in the mid fourth century.

Today the fort is part of the small village of High Rochester and within the ancient walls are a number of small structures including two 16th Century fortified farmhouses.

Though much of the original stonework has been plundered over the years, the remains of the Roman fort of Bremenium can still be seen. The west wall is the best preserved and consists of a 9ft high bank with stone facing, while one of the original gates can also still be seen. However much of the stonework has been plundered over the years for local buildings.

Photo by Dysanovic (cc)

British Museum

The British Museum in London is a world-famous museum of history and culture.

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The British Museum is one of the world’s foremost museums of history and anthropology. Based in London, the British Museum has some of the largest and most revered collections from around the globe ranging from Babylonian stonework and Samurai armour to pottery and glass from the Roman Empire.

The British Museum has several permanent collections, including its world-famous Egyptian collection which includes a large number of Egyptian mummies as well as temporary exhibits. One of the British Museum's most famous residents is the second century BC Rosetta Stone.

The British Museum divides its collections by themes and cultures, each of which is displayed in numbered rooms. One of its most popular exhibits is its collection of Parthenon Sculptures from Ancient Greece, which can be found in room 18. With such a wide collection, it’s difficult to summarise the work of the British Museum or to explore its myriad of galleries. However, the museum does offer a variety of itineraries, including a one hour tour which showcases, amongst other things, the Parthenon Sculptures, the Egyptian mummies, the Rosetta Stone and Assyrian lion hunt reliefs from 668 BC as well as several other famous objects like the Lewis Chess Set and 12th – 14th century Nigerian artwork.

Three hour and children’s’ itineraries are also available on the British Museum’s website and at the museum itself. Alternatively, free audio guides are available or visitors can book a highlights tour in advance for a fee, which take place at 10.30 am, 1.00pm and 3.00pm daily. You can book this online or by calling the museum. This site also features as one of our Top Ten Tourist Attractions in the UK.

Brontë Parsonage Museum

Dedicated to the Bronte sisters and run by one of the oldest literary societies in the world, the Bronte Parsonage Museum in West Yorkshire is the perfect day out for anyone interested in Classical English literature.

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This is the perfect day out for enthusiasts of the remarkably talented Bronte sisters. A museum set inside the house they spent the majority of their lives in, it is fully dedicated to their lives and work.

Full of family memorabilia and original furniture, the museum is a wonderful opportunity to explore the lives of Emily, Anne and Charlotte Brontë. Not only can you explore the sisters’ bedrooms, kitchen and servant’s rooms but there’s also the chance to explore the world’s most comprehensive collection of original Bronte manuscripts, letters, notes, poetry and early editions of their most famous novels - a genuinely stunning collection for fans and academics alike.

Throughout the year there are a number of events that take place at the Museum, such as special performances of adaptations of some of the Brontë sisters’ novels and special exhibitions such as ’At Home With The Brontes’, an evening which explores the lives of the house’s former residents.

The Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth, West Yorkshire is a great literary day out and offers an excellent insight into the lives of Britain’s most celebrated female novelists.

Photo by Andrew Gatt (cc)

Broughton Castle

Situated on the border of Oxfordshire, Broughton Castle is surrounded by a three acre moat, and set amongst the scenic parkland of Broughton park.

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Broughton Castle in Oxfordshire is a medieval fortified manor house surrounded by a three acre moat and set amongst scenic parkland.

In actual fact, Broughton is more a fortified manor house than a castle, and has been the family seat of the Fiennes family (who hold the title Lord and Lady Saye and Sele) since the 14th century. The castle received its name from Sir John de Broughton, who built the castle around 1300AD. It was subsequently sold to Bishop Wykeham of Winchester in 1377 who ranked among Britain’s most powerful figures at the time. One of Wykeham’s descendants married into the Fiennes family, in whose hands the castle still rests today. The castle underwent a significant re-build in the second half of the 16th century, leaving us largely with the structure which can be seen today.

Among the most important historical events to occur at Broughton Castle took place during English Civil War when to the head of household, William Fiennes, was strongly opposed to Charles I. William refused to take the Oath of Allegiance to the King, and Broughton became a key meeting place for those set against him. William raised a regiment to fight during the Civil War, and he and his four sons all fought at the Battle of Edgehill. Following this clash, Broughton Castle fell under siege and was captured. Later in the conflict, William actually opposed the execution of Charles I, and stepped away from public office as a result of the execution, a fact which earned him a pardon from Charles II after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.

Today Broughton Castle is a mixture of beautiful parkland, striking buildings and the three streams which allowed the construction of a large moat.

The house itself is magnificent - the Great Hall has an impressive display of arms and armour from the English Civil War, as well as from the Fiennes family tree. The Oak Room is panelled, as the name suggests, with oak from floor to ceiling, whilst the Queen Ann room commemorates the visit of James I's wife, Queen Ann of Denmark, in 1604. The King's Chamber was used by James I and Edward VII. The oldest section of the castle is the dining room, and passageway. The passageways contain vaulted ceilings, and there is a staircase which leads to the rare 14th century chapel. The garden is also well worth a look, with its curiously designed box hedging.

Contributed by Chris Reid

Photo by JohnFielding (cc)

Burgh Castle Roman Fort

The Roman Fort at Burgh Castle is one of the best preserved Roman sites in Britain. The walls of this impressive fortification remain in remarkably good condition - they survive on three sides and stretch as high as four metres.

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The Roman Fort at Burgh Castle is one of the best preserved Roman sites in Britain. Built between 260 AD and 280 AD, the walls of this impressive fortification remain in remarkably good condition - they survive on three sides and stretch as high as four metres.

Burgh Castle Roman Fort - known as Gariannonum - was originally built as part of the Saxon Shore defences, which were designed to act as a defensive system protecting against seaborne raiders from Denmark and Germany.

The forts acted as naval bases and defended trading centres and local settlements. Other Saxon Shore forts in the area are also located at Brancaster and Caister-on-Sea.

The walls of Burgh Castle Roman Fort were Originally around four metres wide and stood as much as four and a half metres high. They were fortified further by projecting towers or bastions which were used for catapults and ballistae - adding further firepower to the fort’s defences.

After the end of the Roman period, the site continued to be used by the Saxons with evidence of the site being used at one time for a monastery and later as a Norman fortification.

Today the remains of Burgh Castle Roman Fort are truly impressive; both for their state of preservation and for the located, situated as it is on a low cliff above the Waveney estuary. The site is operated by English Heritage and as well as exploring the ruins themselves, the site has a series of interpretation panels exploring the history of Burgh Castle.

Photo by Historvius

Bushey Museum

A small museum dedicated to the local history of the village of Bushey in Hertfordshire, which also contains an art gallery.

DID YOU KNOW?

Bushey Museum in Hertfordshire is dedicated to the history of the local area as well as containing works from notable local artists.

Bushey is a village which grew up on the coaching route from London to the North of England. It is mentioned in the Domesday book, which indicates just how old the village is. It is easy to miss, being squeezed between Stanmore and Watford.

On the ground floor, there is a wide selection of local historical artefacts, maps showing the development of the village, and a temporary exhibition room with exhibitions showing different aspects of local history.

On the first floor is the art gallery. This reflects the school of art set up by Sir Hubert von Herkomer RA in the 19th Century. The pictures on display regularly updated, as the museum cannot display them all at the same time. Also on view are the paintings of Lucy Kemp Welch another notable local artist.

Photo by jonoakley (cc)

Byland Abbey

Byland Abbey was a prominent twelfth century monastery which now lies as a pretty ruin in Yorkshire.

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The ruins of the 12th century Byland Abbey rank among the most picturesque historic sites in England.

As can be expected of an English monastery, Byland Abbey has endured a turbulent history. Book-ended by a difficult beginning and the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII at the end, Byland was nonetheless able to establish itself as a pre-eminent English monastery.

Byland was established as a monastery of the Savigniac order, eventually becoming part of the better known Cistercian order in the mid-twelfth century.

Having spent considerable time seeking an appropriate location – and often in dispute with other monasteries – the monks of the order settled near Oldstead. This was never meant to be permanent, and instead a long process of construction began at Byland. The draining of marshland and construction of a magnificent church at Byland took over 30 years to complete.

In early medieval times, Byland was particularly well known for its sheep rearing and export of wool. The Duke of Norfolk praised the hospitality of the monastery around the time of the dissolution, noting that it exercised greater hospitality than most in the region.

In 1322 Byland Abbey was sacked by Robert the Bruce's army, as the Scots pursued Edward II, who had led an unsuccessful invasion of Scotland. The 14th century saw further decline as a result of the Plague, and relative economic decline.

Despite periods of prosperity, the story did not improve for the oft-troubled abbey during the Tudor period. The Pilgrimage of Grace was a large scale uprising in protest at Henry VIII's suppression of the monasteries. This led to negotiations with the Crown, but a further uprising led to reprisals. The Abbott of Jervaulx (Jervaulx was a 'daughter' house to Byland) was executed for treason, and in 1538 Byland voluntarily surrendered to the Crown, and the monks received a pension in exchange. The abbey was stripped of lead, glass, timber and anything else of value and left as just a shell.

Today, Byland Abbey is a scenic ruin which remains as a fantastic example of Gothic architecture - in fact it was Byland which inspired the creation of the famous York Minster rose window. There is a nice onsite museum, and visitors can gain a fascinating insight into monastic life at the Abbey by inspecting the many archaeological finds.

Contributed by Chris Reid

Photo by brianburk9 (cc)

Cabinet War Rooms

The Cabinet War Rooms are part of the underground bunker complex in London where Winston Churchill and his government operated during World War Two.

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The Cabinet War Rooms are part of the underground bunker complex in London where Winston Churchill and his government operated during World War Two.

In the 1930’s, realising that there was likely to be a war, the government needed to build a bombproof shelter and cabinet war rooms from which to carry on business should there be damage to 10 Downing Street and Whitehall.

Beneath the Treasury building there was already an extensive basement, so this was expanded with a warren of tunnels and topped off with a thick concrete roof to withstand any enemy bombs.

It was from the Cabinet War Rooms that Churchill, his cabinet and some 500 civil servants worked, and sometimes slept, throughout the War.

The Cabinet War Rooms were left untouched from 1945, when they were no longer needed, until the 1980s when they were restored and opened to the public. Not all rooms are open to the public and the complex is believed to have around 200 rooms in total.

Those which are open include the cabinet war room, where Churchill’s war cabinet met, Churchill’s office and his bedroom. This underground office block even included a canteen and a hospital.

Visitors should allow at least 90 minutes to savour the atmosphere of this iconic Second World War site.

Photo by The Integer Club (cc)

Camber Castle

Camber Castle is a vast sixteenth century fortification built by Henry VIII.

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Camber Castle, also known as Winchelsea Castle, was one of a number of forts built by Henry VIII to protect England’s southern coast.

Construction of Camber Castle began in 1539, a year after France and Spain had signed a treaty. At the time, the monarch built these fortifications to defend the country against any subsequent invasions.

A highly symmetrical and vast sandstone construct shielded by a curtain wall, artillery platforms and semi-circular towers, Camber Castle was built in stages and was completed in 1544. However, soon after its completion, the silting of the surrounding landscape compromised the usefulness of Camber Castle and its garrison of almost thirty men was disbanded in 1637.

Today, Camber Castle is an English Heritage site and part of the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. It is managed by the Reserve and East Sussex County Council. Camber Castle is open to the public and guided tours are available. Further information on the castle can be found on the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve website.

Photo by BazzaDaRambler (cc)

Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

A museum that contains a variety of different artefacts from history, ranging from African and Native American art to Roman discoveries and world collections. A wonderful place to visit for those who have an active interest in anthropology and archaeology.

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One of the most diverse museums in the UK, the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is one like no other, housing a variety of exhibitions showcasing history from every corner of the globe.

Recent exhibitions such as ‘Artic Passages’, which showcases the Wordie artic expeditions of 1934 and 1937, and older collections such as the oldest stone tools (discovered by Louis Leakie) are but a few of the highlights available to peruse.

The museum itself stems from the 19th century, when the Cambridge Antiquarian Society began to gather material. Over the years interest in anthropology and archaeology began to increase and as its study became more widespread and archaeology more accessible, items began to be brought back to Cambridge, helping to further expand the collection.

Unsurprisingly, today the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology remains a hub of archaeological and anthropological research. It is now, however, also open fully to the public, as well as of course scholars, students and those with an interest in the history of human kind.

There are a number of fascinating collections to see within the museum, which houses more than 800,000 objects, 100,000 field photographs and 30,000 historical documentary archives. It also boasts a Pacific collection holding over 30,000 artefacts, including some from James Cook’s 18th century voyages.

A particular highlight is the British and World Archaeology section, which holds many pieces of material from famous sites around the world, as well as boasting a large British collection ranging from Roman and Saxon times.

Contributed by Victoria Haughton

Photo by David Merrett (cc)

Canons Ashby House

Canons Ashby House is an Elizabethan manor house in Northamptonshire, now run by the National Trust.

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Canons Ashby House is an Elizabethan manor house located in Northamptonshire, which is now run by the National Trust.

Originally built in the mid-16th century, there were a number of major upgrades to the house over the next 150 years. Today, the structure and architecture of Canons Ashby House remains largely unaltered since the last additions in 1710.

Visitors can explore the grand state rooms, as well as the collections of art, antiques and tapestries as well as exploring the the servants' quarters.

The estate also boasts large formal gardens - a rare survival of 18th-century garden design - as well as extensive parkland.

Photo by thepatrick (cc)

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral has a prominent history dating back to the sixth century AD and was the site of the infamous murder of Thomas Beckett.

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Canterbury Cathedral is one of England’s most famous cathedrals, both because of its prominent history dating back to the sixth century AD and due to the famous murder of Archbishop Thomas Beckett which took place there.

Origins of Canterbury Cathedral
In 597AD, a missionary called St Augustine travelled to Kent from Rome, having been sent by the Pope to convert the Angles to Christianity. Settling in Canterbury, he soon established a seat or “cathedra” there within the Roman Walls. This marked the beginning of Canterbury Cathedral.

The remains of this original incarnation of Canterbury Cathedral lie underneath the current nave of the cathedral.

Norman Times
In Norman times, the community of Canterbury Cathedral became a Benedictine monastery. Canterbury Cathedral itself also underwent a change at this time as, in 1070, it was completely rebuilt following a fire.

Murder of Thomas Beckett
In 1170, Canterbury Cathedral became the site of an infamous crime; the murder and martyrdom of Archbishop Thomas Beckett.

Beckett, who had been made archbishop in 1162 by King Henry II, soon began to clash with the monarch, particularly as to whether his loyalty lay with the King or the Church.

Frustrated at Beckett’s refusal to bow to his will, the King famously said "Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?" Having overheard the King, four of his knights took his outburst quite literally and murdered Beckett at Canterbury Cathedral’s north-east transept. Beckett was later canonized.

Sixteenth Century Onwards
Canterbury Cathedral continued to operate as a monastery until 1540, when Henry VIII disbanded it as part of the dissolution of the monasteries. He also destroyed the shrine to Thomas Beckett, a place of pilgrimage now symbolised by a lone candle.

Over the next few centuries, Canterbury Cathedral was renovated, rebuilt in parts and underwent many changes. Some of these were due to damage, such as that caused to the building during the English Civil War. Some of the oldest parts of the Cathedral –such as its crypt – date back to the twelfth century.

General tours and audio guides available. Canterbury Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Photo by dumbledad (cc)

Castle Acre Priory

Castle Acre Priory was an eleventh century monastery dissolved by King Henry VIII.

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Castle Acre Priory was a monastery founded in 1090 AD by William de Warenne, the Second Earl of Surrey. Inspired by the French monastery of Cluny, de Warenne built Castle Acre Priory in its image. The result was an impressive and ornately decorated medieval monastic structure later accompanied by a twelfth century church.

Castle Acre Priory survived until 1537, when it became one of many monasteries to be dissolved by Henry VIII. Today, the ruins and remains of Castle Acre Priory form one England’s largest monastic sites and, managed by English Heritage, it offers visitors an insight into the history of the order of the Cluniacs.

There are several exhibitions at Castle Acre Priory, including a recreation of the monks’ herb garden and displays of original artefacts. Audio guides are available, making the site easy to navigate and understand. A visit usually last around a couple of hours.

Photo by dumbledad (cc)

Castle Drogo

Castle Drogo is an early 20th century country home constructed in the style of a mediaeval castle. This impressive building is now owned by the National Trust and open to visitors.

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The rather deceptive Castle Drogo in Devon has all the appearance of a medieval castle and yet was actually constructed in the early 20th century. It is said to be the last castle to be built in England.

Built to resemble an imposing medieval fortress, Castle Drogo was in fact built for businessman, retailer and entrepreneur Julius Drewe, who made his fortune at a young age and wished to have his family home built in the style of a medieval castle. Designed by renowned architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, the castle took 20 years to complete.

At the time of writing Castle Drogo is open to the public, but is also undergoing a five year conservation project due to be completed in 2017. Visitors to this National Trust property at its stunning setting above the Teign Gorge can tour the castle’s updated layout and newly displayed historic treasures as well as its expansive grounds and gardens. There’s also a viewing tower which offers a good view of the works taking place (restrictions apply).

Photo by laszlo-photo (cc)

Castle Howard

This impressive stately home nestled in Yorkshire has been the home of the Howard family since its construction in 1699.

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Castle Howard in Yorkshire is a magnificent 17th century stately home nestled among 1,000 acres of landscaped gardens and woodlands which has become a hugely popular visitor attraction.

The imposing architecture of Castle Howard was constructed from 1699 for the 3rd Earl of Carlisle and took over one hundred years to complete. Technically a stately home, not a castle, it is decorated in a baroque style, designed by John Vanbrugh. Despite no architectural experience, Vanbrugh managed to pull off an impressive feat.

Despite the ambitious original designs, looking at the house today it is somewhat uncoordinated. The sheer length of time and the number of Earls that oversaw the building of the house means that it is quite mismatched in design. Later Earls did not adhere to the original plans so the house therefore displays a varied array of architecture.

Sadly, much of the original house is no longer present today. Extensive fire damage in 1940 means that a large amount of the building had to be restored. A long and tireless project of restoration has brought much of the house back to life, but as yet the east wing remains a shell.

The survival of the house today is owed to George Howard. After the Howard family was devastated by losses during the second world war, the estate was expected to be divided and sold. George returned from war wounded and miraculously undertook the task of rebuilding and restoring the house. In 1952 he opened the estate to the public.

The house provides a wealth of art, architecture and history to see and explore. Paintings, tapestries, sculpture and furniture have been collected over the Howard generations. Guides are present all over the house to inform you of its history and tours of the house and garden are available with admission.

The house is not the only attraction of this estate; 1000 acres of woodland walks and lakeside footpaths provide visitors with a chance to see the beautifully landscaped grounds and rich horticulture.

The features of the grounds include the rose and vegetables gardens, the Ray Wood arboretum, fountains, lakes, the mausoleum and the statue collection.

Castle Howard is perfect for a family day out; activities and playgrounds provide amusement for children and the land train provides fun transport around the gardens.

Contributed by Rebecca Carman

Photo by LHOON (cc)

Castle Keep

Castle Keep in Newcastle upon Tyne is one of the city’s most famous attractions and one of the best preserved Norman fortifications in the country.

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Castle Keep in Newcastle upon Tyne is a partially restored Norman fortification and one of the best preserved of its kind in Britain.

Built at a key strategic location, the site of Castle Keep has been occupied for almost 2,000 years with the Romans first fortifying the site in the mid-2nd century AD. Indeed the remains of this Roman fort, Pons Aelius, have been excavated and a few elements are visible close to Castle Keep. Following the fall of the Empire, the site came into use as an Anglo-Saxon Christian burial ground.

After the Norman invasion the site was refortified by Robert Curthose, eldest son of William the Conqueror. This fortification was called the ‘new’ castle upon the Tyne – later lending its name to the city which grew up around it.

The stone structure we see today was built by King Henry II in the late 12th century and was modified further over the next hundred years; in particular a barbican known as the ‘Black Gate’ was added to the in the reign of Henry III. However, by the 14th century the Castle Keep became largely militarily redundant due to the new, wider fortifications built around the town.

Though it was briefly refortified during the English Civil War - and was the last Royalist stronghold in the city – it would never again serve in a military capacity and was used as a prison for some time after. Restoration work during the 19th and 20th centuries returned much of the castle from a ruinous state and it now serves as a popular visitors attraction.

As well as exploring the Castle Keep – including the remains of the former prison chambers – visitors can get a great view of the surrounding area from the top of the fortification.

Photo by David Joyce (cc)

Castle Rising

Castle Rising is a ruined Norman fortification in Norfolk which was once home to Queen Isabella, widow of Edward II and mother of Edward III.

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Castle Rising is a ruined Norman fortification in Norfolk which is now one of the best preserved and castle-keeps in England.

First constructred by the Anglo-Norman lord William d'Aubigny in 1138, it later became the palace of Queen Isabella, widow of Edward II and mother of Edward III.

Surrounded by twenty acres of expansive earthworks, the castle would have been the very symbol of a medieval fortress. Within the castle can also be found the remains of an early Norman Church.

Castle Rising passed to the Howard family in the 16th century and though it remains in their ownership today it is periodically open to the public in partnership with English Heritage.

Photo by Jeriff Cheng (cc)

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Castlerigg Stone Circle is a picturesque Neolithic monument ranking among the earliest of Britain’s stone circles, its scenic hilltop setting providing pretty views of the surrounding area.

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Castlerigg Stone Circle in Cumbria is a Neolithic Stone Age monument which ranks among the earliest of stone circles found in Britain. It is believed Castlerigg Stone Circle was constructed around 3000BC.

In total Castlerigg contains 38 stones within the outer circle, which has a diameter of approximately 30m. Inside the circle are further stones forming an inner rectangle. It has been speculated that the Castlerigg Stone Circle was built for astronomical and religious purposes though other sources surmise it had a trading purpose.

Today the site is run by English Heritage and is open to visitors, its scenic hilltop setting providing pretty views of the surrounding area.

This article is a stub and is in line for expansion by our editorial team. You can help expand this information by adding comments below.

Cawthorn Roman Camps

The Cawthorn Roman Camps are the remains of a late 1st / early 2nd century AD Roman military enclosure situated in the south of the North York Moors.

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The Cawthorn Roman Camps are the remains of a Roman military enclosure situated in the south of the North York Moors.

Today, little remains of the site apart from the earthworks which were constructed at the perimeter of the camps. The Cawthorn Roman Camps probably date from the late 1st and early 2nd centuries AD.

This article about the Cawthorn Roman Camps is a stub and is in line for expansion by our editorial team. You can help expand this information by adding comments below.

Chatsworth House

Chatsworth House is an English country estate that has served as the ancestral home of the Dukes of Devonshire. It was also the one-time prison of Mary Queen of Scots.

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Chatsworth House in Derbyshire is an historic English country estate that has served as the home for the Dukes of Devonshire and their ancestors since the mid-16th century.

The first house to be built on the Chatsworth House site was constructed in 1549 by Sir William Cavendish and his wife Bess. This original estate was notable for its use as a prison for Mary Queen of Scots, who was kept here on several occasions between 1569 and 1584. Little remains of the original structure except the Hunting Tower which still stands on the hill behind Chatsworth House.

It was not until 1686 that the 1st Duke of Devonshire began a major re-building programme at Chatsworth House. He undertook a number of significant upgrades to the property over a number of years, forming the core of what can be seen today.

Further renovations and additions were made to Chatsworth House in the 19th and 20th centuries, notably under the 6th Duke of Devonshire.

Today Chatsworth House is open to the public and is operated by the Chatsworth House Trust. The house boasts a wealth of interesting art, furniture and antiques as well as exceptional architecture. Visitors can explore a number of stunning rooms and displays as well as taking an audio tour. Also a must see at Chatsworth House is the amazing Devonshire Collection, which displays an array of interesting items from the family's collections.

The estate has a wonderful 105-acre garden which is also open to the public and includes a large maze. For children, the estate includes a farmyard and adventure playground.

Currently, Chatsworth House is undergoing a major restoration project.

Photo by Andrew Michaels (cc)

Chedworth Roman Villa

Chedworth Roman Villa is a well-preserved Ancient Roman house in the Cotswolds.

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Chedworth Roman Villa was a luxurious and vast home believed to have been built in around 120 AD, at which time this would have been a typical stately home.

Constructed with a central courtyard, Chedworth Roman Villa is comprised of a series of rooms containing several stunning mosaics, ancient relics and even bathhouses. Visitors to Chedworth Roman Villa can rent audio guides or have a guided tour.

Photo by Andy Hay (cc)

Chester Roman Amphitheatre

Chester Roman Amphitheatre is Britain’s largest known Roman amphitheatre.

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Chester Roman Amphitheatre is Britain’s largest known Roman amphitheatre. Originally part of the Roman settlement of ‘Deva’ which was founded in around 79AD and is now modern day Chester, Chester Roman Amphitheatre would have been able to seat between 8,000 and 12,000 spectators.

Two amphitheatres were actually built on the site of Chester Roman Amphitheatre, both stone-built with wooden seating but each quite different in other respects.

At its peak, Chester Roman Amphitheatre was a place where Rome’s 20th Legion trained and where the people of Deva were entertained. More recent findings have suggested that it was also the site of gruesome shows where gladiators were chained and tortured. The exact activities which would have taken place are unclear and archaeologists are still exploring Chester Roman Amphitheatre.

Sadly, little has remained of this once great structure. Most of its materials were used to construct the Chester City Walls and much of it is buried under the modern landscape. However, the outline of the amphitheatre is clear.

Photo by jeff_leigh (cc)

Chester Roman Gardens

The Chester Roman Gardens are a scenic park complex containing a number of Roman artefacts from the nearby area.

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The Chester Roman Gardens are a small garden and park complex close to Chester Roman Amphitheatre which contains a number of Roman finds and artefacts gathered from various sites in Roman Chester.

Originally built in the early 1950s, the gardens were re-designed in 2001 and now provide a scenic spot to browse the Roman ruins and generally relax.

The Chester Roman Gardens contain a range of remains from local Roman sites, including columns from the Roman gymnasium and carved fascias from the Deva Victrix Roman fortress.

Also contained in the Chester Roman Gardens is a hypocaust - the underground heating system used by the ancient Romans. A number of signs dotted around the gardens give useful explanations to visitors.

Photo by Glen Bowman (cc)

Chesters Roman Fort

Chester’s Roman Fort was part of Hadrian’s Wall and is a now a well-preserved archaeological site.

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Chesters Roman Fort, originally known as Cilurnum, was built as part of Hadrian’s Wall, the famous 73-mile barrier constructed under the remit of the Emperor Hadrian from 122 AD.

The role of the 600 soldiers garrisoned at Chesters Roman Fort was to guard a bridge across the Rover Tyne which carried the wall.

With extensive well-preserved remains that include four main gates, an altar and shrine and several buildings such as a baths complex and the commandant's home, Chesters Roman Fort offers an illuminating glimpse into the lives of the soldiers who lived here. Within the sites visitor centre, there are also displays of artefacts found along Hadrian’s Wall.

Chesters Roman Fort is an English Heritage site.

Photo by James Cridland (cc)

Churchill’s Secret Bunker

Churchill’s Secret Bunker was designed to be used as the nerve centre of the British government during WW2 in the event of Britain being unable to defend itself from air attack.

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Churchill’s Secret Bunker - also known as Paddock - was designed to be used as the nerve centre of the British government during WW2 in the event of Britain being unable to defend itself from air attack.

Far more fortified than it’s Whitehall equivalent, the Paddock Bunker was built in the late 1930s in Neasden, north-west London, and would have been able to survive a direct hit from the Luftwaffe. In reality, the complex was never fully employed as the RAF proved able to negate the worst of the threat from the German air force after victory in the Battle of Britain.

Today, this relatively unknown underground complex is still very much as it would have been at the end of the war. Located 40 ft below ground and comprising over forty rooms on two floors, the Paddock bunker is now in a semi-derelict state but still boasts abandoned and rusted original equipment still in place. Inside can be found the original map room, kitchen, and Churchill’s War Cabinet room - where he held a Cabinet meeting on October 3, 1940.

Abandoned after the war, the site passed to the care of a local housing group after they were granted the rights to develop the area above ground. While closed to the public for much of the year, Churchill’s Secret Bunker is open twice a year for guided tours which are run by the Subterranea Britannica group.

All that remains above ground is a small modern brick enclosure within which a concrete staircase runs down to the complex - indeed passers-by would never imagine what lays beneath their feet.

Photo by gnomonic (cc)

Chysauster Village

Chysauster Ancient Village contains the ruins of an Iron Age settlement in Cornwall, which is operated by English Heritage.

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Chysauster Ancient Village contains the ruins of a late Iron Age and Romano-British settlement in Cornwall, which is operated by English Heritage.

It is believed that Chysauster was inhabited from about 100 BC until the 3rd century AD and was primarily an agricultural settlement. This late Iron Age village is believed to have been in use up until and during the Roman occupation.

Today the site consists of the remains of around ten ancient houses, each around thirty metres in diameter. To the south of Chysauster Village is an underground passage known locally as fogou whose purpose is unknown.

Set on a tall hillside, Chysauster boasts stunning views across the countryside and out to the sea.

Cirencester Amphitheatre

Cirencester Amphitheatre was once a Roman theatre, the remnants of which are located in Gloucestershire.

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Cirencester Amphitheatre is thought to have been built in the second century AD and to have had a capacity of 8,000 spectators. The theatre of the major Roman city of Corinium, today known as Cirencester, Cirencester Amphitheatre would have attracted visitors from around Roman Britain.

Very little is left of Cirencester Amphitheatre, in fact only the earthworks are visible, although they do give an insight into the size of the former theatre. Cirencester Amphitheatre is an English Heritage site.

Photo by HerryLawford (cc)

Clarence House

Clarence House has been the London residence of several members of the British royal family.

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Clarence House has been the London residence of several members of the British royal family and is now the home of the Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall.

Built from 1825 to 1827 next to St James's Palace, the prime location of Clarence House has made it the perfect place for royals to call home. The first member of the monarchy to live there was King William IV.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother moved in in 1953 and resided there for almost fifty years. Meanwhile, a newlywed Queen Elizabeth II also lived at Clarence House with The Duke of Edinburgh for a time in 1947.

In the summer, there are public tours of much of the ground floor of Clarence House, which is not in a dissimilar state to that which it was in under Queen Elizabeth.

 

Photo by fw190a8 (cc)

Clifford’s Tower

Clifford’s Tower is a 13th century castle with a diverse history.

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Clifford's Tower is a stone structure with a long and varied history which sits high atop a mound in York. In fact, Clifford’s Tower has been everything from a royal mint to a prison and only attained its name in the fourteenth century when it was named after Roger de Clifford who was hanged there in 1322.

The current 13th century structure known as Clifford’s Tower is not the first to be built on this site. Originally constructed by William the Conqueror as a castle in 1086, Clifford’s Tower was destroyed by a rebellion early in its life and rebuilt. However, in the 12th century, Clifford’s Tower suffered destruction yet again. This time it followed the accession of Richard I or Richard the Lionheart. At this time, the Jewish community in York, who had been protected during the reign of his father, Henry II, were persecuted in England.

In 1190, the Jews of York took refuge in Clifford’s Tower, trying to escape a mob. Rather than fall into the hands of this mob, most of the inhabitants at Clifford’s Tower committed suicide and burnt the structure down. When the survivors emerged the following day, they were massacred by the mob. This incident is commemorated by a plaque at the foot of Clifford’s Tower.

Managed by English Heritage, visitors to Clifford’s Tower can climb up its steep and winding steps for beautiful views of York.

Photo by Matt Buck (cc)

Clifton Rocks Railway

The Clifton Rocks Railway is a former underground funicular railway linking Clifton to Bristol Harbour, which is now open to the public via pre-arranged tours.

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The Clifton Rocks Railway is a former underground funicular railway linking Clifton to Bristol Harbour, which is now open to the public via pre-arranged tours.

Constructed in the late 19th century inside the cliffs of the Avon Gorge it was built so as to reduce the impact of a railway system on the picturesque local surroundings. It opened to the public on the 11th of March 1893 and operated for 40 years until it finally closed shortly before WW2. During the war it served as a communications post and bomb shelter and was also emergency studio base for the BBC.

Today the Clifton Rocks Railway is operated by a charitable trust which aims to preserve and restore the railway. There are occasional open days and the site is also available to visit via pre-booked tours.

Photo by supermoving (cc)

Cliveden House

A beautiful 19th country house with vast parkland and gardens, Cliveden has often hosted the country’s political elite and was a key location in the infamous Profumo Affair.

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Cliveden House in Berkshire, UK, is a 19th century historic home which operated at the heart of the cultural and political elite of the country. Today the house operates as a luxury hotel while the beautiful gardens and grounds are operated by the National Trust.

The first construction to be built on the site of Cliveden House was a hunting lodge built by the Duke of Buckingham in 1666. This incarnation survived for over a hundred years before fire destroyed the site in 1795. Rebuilt in 1824, the second building saw the same fate as the first, being destroyed in 1849. Two years later a new house was commissioned and this is, for the most part, the Cliveden we see today. In the latter decades of the 18th century further significant changes and modifications were made to Cliveden by both the Duke of Westminster and later by American billionaire Lord Astor.

At the outbreak of the First World War Cliveden hosted a military hospital operated by the Canadian Red Cross and a small Canadian First World War Cemetery can be found near the edge of the estate.

Throughout its existence, Cliveden stood as a favourite destination for the political and cultural elite of the time. Popular with royalty, other notable visitors included President Franklin D Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, George Bernard Shaw and Mahatma Gandhi.

This association with high-society meant Cliveden saw its fair share of notoriety over the years. However, perhaps one of the most famous events to take place at Cliveden was a key part of the infamous Profumo Affair – which saw British Secretary of State for War John Profumo forced to resign due to his affair with model Christine Keeler, who was also intimately linked with a senior naval attaché at the Soviet Embassy. The two met at a Cliveden party in 1961. The ensuing scandal helped to bring down the British Government of the time.

Today Cliveden operates as both a luxury hotel and a National Trust-operated park and gardens. The house itself can be accessed by pre-booked tours and the vast parkland includes a host of beautiful gardens, scenery and even an impressive maze. As such it remains popular with tourists and locals alike, particularly families, and includes a number of activities for children.

Photo by Annie Mole (cc)

Colchester Castle

Colchester Castle is a beautifully preserved Norman stronghold with a rich history dating back to Roman times, having been built on the site of the Temple of Claudius.

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Colchester Castle is a beautifully preserved Norman stronghold with a rich history dating back to Roman times.

Built from 1076 (some say from 1069) and completed in around 1100, Colchester Castle was constructed under the order of King William I for use as a royal fortress.

Colchester Castle would go on to serve several other roles, including being besieged in 1215 by King John and becoming the site of interrogation and jailing of “witches” in 1645 by a self-proclaimed Witchfinder General called Matthew Hopkins. It was also a private home and a library at different times.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Colchester Castle is its keep, which is said to be the largest example of a Norman keep Britain. The grand size of this central tower is a legacy from Roman times as it was built on the foundations of a vast Roman temple known as the Temple of Claudius (said to date back to the 1st century AD). Colchester itself was Roman Britain’s first capital.

The Temple of Claudius has a dramatic story of its own, having been attacked by the forces of Queen Boudica. The people of Colchester then shut themselves inside the temple, only to be killed within two days.

Today, Colchester Castle is a museum open to the public. Guided tours are available and allow access to those who wish to view the foundations and remains of the Temple of Claudius.

Photo by Glen Bowman (cc)

Corbridge Roman Town

Corbridge Roman Town was a thriving Ancient Roman settlement near Hadrian’s Wall and is now an archaeological site.

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Corbridge Roman Town was a thriving Ancient Roman settlement near Hadrian’s Wall, yet it was occupied before this iconic wall was built. In fact, before the Emperor Hadrian built his famous 73-mile barrier, Corbridge was the site of several forts. However, once Hadrian’s Wall was complete, Corbridge began developing into a town.

Today, visitors can explore the roads and remains of Corbridge Roman Town which include some well-preserved granaries, houses, workshops and markets. Corbridge Roman Town is an English Heritage site.

Photo by Robert Brook (cc)

Corfe Castle

Corfe Castle is the stunning ruin of a castle which has been everything from a royal residence to a military stronghold and even a prison.

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Corfe Castle is the stunning ruin of a castle which has been everything from a royal residence to a military stronghold and even a prison.

The current incarnation of Corfe Castle was built by William the Conqueror in around 1066, although even before this, the site was of great historical importance, Indeed, it is said that King Edward the Martyr was murdered here in a plot to position Ethelred "the Unready" as monarch.

Corfe Castle would be expanded and altered over the coming centuries, especially in the 12th to 13th centuries under King John. Not only did this monarch further fortify the castle, he also used it as a prison and even a home. Sold by Elizabeth I in 1572, Corfe Castle became the grand private home, first to Sir Christopher Hatton and which was bought by Sir John Bankes in 1635.

The demise of Corfe Castle and the cause of its current ruined state came with the English Civil War. Having survived one siege in 1643, it would fall to another only three years later, then being demolished by the Parliamentarians.

Today, Corfe Castle is open to the public under the remit of the National Trust.

Photo by Udimu (cc)

Crofton Roman Villa

Crofton Roman Villa in Orpington, London, contains the remains of an ancient house and farm complex originally built in the second century AD and occupied until around 400AD.

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Crofton Roman Villa in Orpington, London, contains the remains of an ancient house and farm complex originally built in the second century AD and occupied until around 400AD.

The villa formed the centre of a farming estate and was altered several times during its 260 years of occupation. Today the site has been partially excavated and visitors can see the remains of ten rooms as well as the original tiled flooring and the hypocaust under-floor heating system.

The site is very child-friendly and also includes displays and information as to the history of the complex and the Romano-British period.

Photo by claire1066 (cc)

Denge Sound Mirrors

The Denge Sound Mirrors are fine examples of early attempt at an early warning system.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Denge Sound Mirrors are fine examples of initial attempts at an early warning system for aircrafts.

From 1916 to the mid 1930’s, Dr William Sansome Tucker developed an early warning system known as the ‘sound mirrors’. These were strange looking concrete buildings, designed to listen for enemy planes arriving from the Continent.

They worked in much the same way as the modern radio telescopes do today. There were three designs, built to explore the technology and perfect the concept. These are all to be seen on the Dungeness peninsular, although there are other examples of the dishes which can be seen in other places in Britain (notably Hartlepool, Seaham, Redcar and Sunderland in the North East, Dover, Romney Marsh and Selsea in the South).

The first version is a 70m curved wall, around 5m high, and the other two are dishes around 5m in diameter. All used the same principal of microphones at the focus of each structure. The intention was to set up a string of sound mirrors to determine the direction as well as the distance of planes approaching.

Although the sound mirrors were obsolete by the start of World War II, the concept behind them had the great merit of developing the infrastructure to enable radar to be used efficiently, as it used the same principles of having a string of listening posts throughout the country. A must see for anyone interested in the development of radar and early warning systems. The sound mirrors at Dungeness are only accessible on guided tours, as they lie on an island in the middle of an old gravel pit.

Photo by Nick Bramhall (cc)

Dewa Roman Experience

Situated on the site of a Roman fort in the historic city of Chester, Dewa Roman Experience allows visitors a hands-on exploration of a Roman legionary base.

DID YOU KNOW?

Built on the former site of an ancient Roman fort, Dewa Roman Experience is a hands-on archaeological site containing the remains of this a Roman legionary base.

The Roman fort site at Chester was a strategic base for the Roman army circa AD 50. Initially the site had been a small fort used to defend Chester’s harbour and crossing point of the river Dee during campaigns against tribes in Wales and to the north and east of Chester. The name ‘Deva’ in Latin means ‘Holy One’, and takes its name from the river.

The Romans based themselves at Chester temporarily in the beginning, as resources were diverted to dealing with the Boudiccan uprisings in AD 60. A permanent military presence was established soon after, however, as the Romans attempted to conquer Britain in its entirety. The Second Legion was later stationed in Chester, circa AD 78, but the legion was withdrawn in AD 87 to help defend the Rhine frontier.

The Romans set great store by fighting conflicts at sea – Chester’s excellent harbour was therefore ideally suited as a base, and was subsequently developed into a major military centre. Its importance was demonstrated when the Romans chose it as the intended point of departure for a planned invasion of Ireland, although the plan never came to fruition.

Circa AD 90 the fort was occupied by the Twentieth Legion, and the legionary depot was rebuilt with stone. The Twentieth Legion was involved in campaigns against the Picts in Scotland whilst stationed in Chester, as well as periodically being involved in refurbishment work until the Romans’ departure from Britain in the 5th Century.

Today, visitors to Dewa Roman Experience may immerse themselves in Roman Chester – the fort was excavated in 1991 and visitors can wander through the streets and explore archaeological remains.

The visit begins with a virtual trip on board a Roman galley. There is a museum on site, and visitors can also take part in a number of historical themed activities, such as trying on Roman armour, firing a catapult and creating a mosaic. Additionally there is a soldier patrol, where visitors may experience life as a soldier, preparing for battle and defending a Roman amphitheatre.

Contributed by Chris Reid

Photo by Historvius

Dover Castle

The medieval Dover Castle is one of Britain’s most significant fortresses and has a fascinating and diverse history.

DID YOU KNOW?

Dover Castle has been a vitally important fortress in English history, leading it to be known as 'the key to England'. Dover Castle’s location is a central aspect of this history.

Perched high on the England’s coastal white cliffs overlooking the shortest crossing between the island and mainland Europe, Dover Castle has been seen as the first line of defence from invasion. In fact, even before the castle was erected, Dover’s cliffs were a popular site for building strongholds over the centuries with evidence dating back to the Iron Age. Two other such sites, an Ancient Roman lighthouse and an Anglo Saxon fort, are still visible nearby.

The first incarnation of Dover Castle was itself built in the eleventh century by William the Conqueror. Fresh from his victory at the 1066 Battle of Hastings, he built a castle of timber and earth. Over the centuries, Dover Castle would be improved, expanded and renovated, but throughout this time and until 1958 it would be continually garrisoned.

It was King Henry II who gave Dover Castle its recognizable form as a stone fortress in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, with further adaptations being made over time to cope with ever changing threats. One of the most interesting parts of Dover Castle is its labyrinth of underground passages.

The Tunnels

Designed by William Twiss and constructed within the cliffs themselves in the eighteenth century, these underground tunnels and barracks were intended to defend Britain from a perceived threat of invasion during the Napoleonic Wars. Despite never being needed for this purpose, the tunnels have proved eminently useful in other endeavours, including as a headquarters in the fight against smuggling and, upon being adapted to become bomb-proof, as secret wartime tunnels during World War Two. Dover Castle’s tunnels continued to play a military role and, in what is known as their finest hour, they formed a base during the Dunkirk evacuations in 1940.

Dover Castle Today

Today, Dover Castle is managed by English Heritage and is open to the public, providing a fascinating insight into the fortress’s history. Visitors can explore the medieval castle and its underground tunnels, viewing numerous exhibitions which immerse them in the lives of Dover Castle’s former inhabitants and tell its fascinating story. Much of this extremely well preserved castle has been restored to its original state or to show what it would have been like at different points in history, offering a truly authentic experience. Fans of ancient history can also view a well-preserved Roman lighthouse. Guided tours are available, some free, some at a charge.

Photo by Historvius

Dover Roman Fort

The remains of the Dover Roman Fort represent all that is left of the ancient Roman fleet base which served the large Roman naval detachment which defended British waters.

DID YOU KNOW?

The remains of the Dover Roman Fort represent all that is left of the ancient Roman fleet base which served the large Roman naval detachment that defended British waters.

Known as the the Classis Britannica, the Roman British fleet was headquartered here the first half of the second century AD and the large fort built to defend it covered more than two acres. The fort was re-built around 130-140 AD before the entire complex was replaced in 270 AD by a newer ‘Saxon Shore’ fort.

Today very little remains of the Classis Britannica Fort but the ruins can be seen in the grounds of the Dover Discovery Centre, located next to Dover Museum.

Photo by brianac37 (cc)

Dudley Castle

Dudley Castle is a ruined Norman motte and bailey castle which is now open to visitors and also hosts the popular Dudley Zoo within its grounds.

DID YOU KNOW?

Dudley Castle is a ruined Norman motte and bailey castle which is now open to visitors and also hosts the popular Dudley Zoo within its grounds.

Originally built in the 11th century it was constructed by Ansculf de Picquigny, one of the followers of William the Conqueror. It was rebuilt over the centuries, particularly in the mid-16th century when under the ownership of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, and a key player in the politics of the time. Dudley was beheaded for his attempt to set Lady Jane Grey on the throne after the death of Edward VI.

Dudley’s son, Robert was a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I and the queen visited Dudley Castle in 1575.

The castle was held by the Royalists during the English Civil War and was besieged by Parliamentarian troops in 1644 and 1646 before it was surrendered on May 13, 1646. As with many Royalist strongholds of the time, the Parliamentarian forces later ordered the castle to be slighted, leaving much of the castle in ruins.

In 1750 a fire raged through the complex, finally gutting the once-magnificent palace. Never rebuilt, Dudley Castle became the picturesque ruin which we see today.

Today the castle forms part of Dudley Zoo and a visitors centre within the grounds contains more about the history of the site.

Photo by Glen Bowman (cc)

Dunstanburgh Castle

Dunstanburgh Castle was a fourteenth century fortress, the striking ruins of which can be found on Northumberland’s coast.

DID YOU KNOW?

Originally built as a symbol of baronial power and status, Dunstanburgh Castle is now a striking ruin on the coast of Northumberland.

It was Earl Thomas of Lancaster who began construction of Dunstanburgh Castle in 1313. At the time, the Earl, who was one of the Lords Ordainers, a group in favour of the establishment of a baronial oligarchy, was in the midst of a fervent dispute with King Edward II.

In a demonstration of his defiance, the Earl built a vast fortress, Dunstanburgh Castle. In fact, the Earl would not live to see the completion of Dunstanburgh Castle. His rebellion failed and, in 1322, he was executed. The castle was later expanded and renovated, with additions such as its imposing gatehouse, built by John of Gaunt.

The demise of Dunstanburgh Castle occurred after the Wars of the Roses. During the wars, the castle fell to the Yorkists twice and subsequently fell into ruin.

Today, Dunstanburgh Castle is managed by English Heritage and is open to the public. Guidebooks are available on site.

Photo by Nick Bramhall (cc)

Durham Castle

Formerly the home of the Bishops of Durham, Durham Castle dates back to the 11th Century.

DID YOU KNOW?

Durham Castle is an eleventh century building and the former home of the Bishops of Durham.

Originally commissioned by William the Conqueror in 1072, Durham Castle was intended to ensure Norman control in the North of England. Once under Church control, each bishop, on his appointment, would put his own stamp on the castle, and duly altered it to reflect his own glory.

However, despite the many changes, Durham Castle retains the layout of a Norman motte and bailey castle. It has a well preserved Norman chapel, dating from 1080, and many other features of interest.

Durham Castle is now a residential college for the University of Durham, but is open to visitors on guided tours.

Photo by Nick Bramhall (cc)

Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral is a vast, mainly 12th Century, Romanesque cathedral built to house the relics of St Cuthbert.

DID YOU KNOW?

Durham Cathedral is a stunning cathedral dominating the town of Durham in Northern England and offering superb views to those willing (and able) to climb up the 300+ steps to the top of the tower.

Inside Durham Cathedral, there is a great deal of interest, including tombs of St Cuthbert and the Venerable Bede. Most of Durham Cathedral was built during the 11th and 12th Centuries, with the towers being added a little later (13th C). The central tower of Durham Cathedral was damaged by fire and was rebuilt in the 15th Century.

There are still monastic buildings including cloisters and a dormitory (now a library). There is also a museum (Treasury Museum) which houses relics of St Cuthbert and a collection of illuminated manuscripts.

Photo by Jim Linwood (cc)

Durnovaria

Durnovaria is the original Roman name for what is now the English town of Dorchester.

DID YOU KNOW?

Durnovaria is the original Roman name for what is now the English town of Dorchester.

Though Dorchester is best known for its Thomas Hardy connections, it remains an interesting town in its own right, having a number of museums dealing with such diverse topics as dinosaurs, Tutenkhamun and military history.

The best Roman ruins in the town are the remains of a Roman townhouse dating from the 1st century CE located on Northernhay behind the Town Hall.

Edgecote Moor Battlefield

Edgecote Moor was the site of a battle in the Wars of the Roses which resulted in a victory for the Lancastrians.

DID YOU KNOW?

Edgecote Moor battlefield is the site of a battle fought during the Wars of the Roses.

Not very well documented, the battle of Edgecote Moor was fought on 26th July 1469, and pitched the Yorkist forces under the Earl of Pembroke, against the Lancastrians, who were under the leadership of 'Robin of Redesdale'. This was almost certainly a pseudonym for one of the Northern lords, who, encouraged by the Earl of Warwick, had stirred a rebellion against the rule of Edward IV.

Pembroke was marching with his forces to join Edward in Nottingham, with the earl of Devon. However, there was a falling out between these two earls and the troops belonging to the Earl of Devon were too far from the battle to play a meaningful role, leaving Pembroke short of men, particularly archers.

The Lancastrian army forced Pembroke into hand to hand combat, and when reinforcements arrived for the rebel troops, Pembroke's men fled. They sustained many casualties during the retreat, and Pembroke was captured and executed the next day. The outcome of this battle enabled Warwick to capture Edward, and thus become the effective ruler of the kingdom.

Edgecote Moor battlefield is north east of Banbury in Northamptonshire. As with many sites of Wars of the Roses battles, the actual site of Edgecote Moor battlefield is still uncertain, although it is clearer than many others. The current accepted location of Edgecote Moor battlefield is easily accessible over rights of way.

Edgehill Battlefield

Edgehill Battlefield was the location of the first major engagement of the English Civil War, which took place on 23rd October 1642 in Warwickshire, England.

DID YOU KNOW?

Edgehill Battlefield was the location of the first major engagement of the English Civil War and thus stands as the location of a crucial turning point in English history.

The battle itself came about after King Charles I and Parliament became locked in an increasingly dangerous political struggle for supremacy. By the summer of 1642 both sides were raising armies and Charles soon started to lead his forces towards London, in the hope of achieving a quick, decisive victory.

A Parliamentary army led by the Earl of Essex was sent to block the King, though both sides seemed to have little intelligence on the whereabouts of the other. Indeed, it was almost by accident that the two forces blundered into each other at Edge Hill in southern Warwickshire and the resulting battle was fought on 23rd October 1642, largely ending in a costly and bloody stalemate.

The clash which took place at Edgehill battlefield remains one of the largest and most significant battles of the English Civil War and was the first time the armies of Parliament and the King formally deployed opposite each other; it irretrievably signalled the start of a long and bloody conflict.

Since the 1940s, for decades the core of this battlefield had been inaccessible to the public, but a recent and major archaeological survey - being the first of its kind in England - has revealed evidence finally establishing the true locations for key actions and where the armies actually took their positions.

These modern insights now confirm that the local footpaths, rights of way, and permissive paths which are available to the public have a much closer relationship with the events of the day.

Visitors to the site can gain an understanding of the battlefield by walking a number of routes around the area, though most of the battlefield itself is either private agricultural land or under Ministry of Defence ownership. This means that much of the area is inaccessible to the public.

A dedicated website illustrates the new deployment positions and available rights of way across the battlefield and gives some useful suggestions for walking routes around the site.

Photo by Banalities (cc)

Eltham Palace

Eltham Palace is a spectacular Art Deco palace built in the 1930’s alongside a 15th century medieval hall.

DID YOU KNOW?

Eltham Palace is a spectacular Art Deco palace built in the 1930's alongside a 15th Century medieval hall.

Medieval Eltham

The medieval part of Eltham Palace is quite stunning for those who are interested in that era. The Great Hall of Eltham Palace is still extant and was originally built for the Yorkist king Edward IV in the 1470s and his grandson, Henry VIII, spent much of his childhood here. It is so atmospheric that you can almost see their ghosts walking its floors. This is the only part of medieval Eltham Palace which still exists.

Art Deco

However, the ‘new build’ at Eltham Palace, dating from the 1930s is a wonderful example of Art Deco. When Stephen and Virginia Courtauld built their 1930s Art Deco mansion beside the Great Hall of medieval Eltham Palace, they created a masterpiece of 20th century design.

When the 20th century building at Eltham Palace was completed in 1936, the red brick exterior of the house was built to mirror the older building without seeming to be out of place. The interior of the new Eltham Palace is a wonderful example of 1930s Art Deco and cutting-edge Swedish design. The dining room is most exotic, with pink leather, bird's-eye maple veneered walls, an aluminium-leaf ceiling, and black-and-silver doors.

The rest of the Eltham Palace is equally stylish, with gold plated bath taps, and central heating in the sleeping quarters (or cage?) of their pet lemur. Equipped with all the latest modern conveniences, the house featured underfloor heating, a centralised vacuum cleaning system and built-in audio. Upstairs is a display devoted to the Courtaulds, including original furniture and family photographs.

Visitors to Eltham Palace can also enjoy a restored original 10-minute Courtauld home movie, giving a glimpse of their family life.

Gardens

Eltham Palace's 19 acres of beautiful gardens reflect both the medieval and 20th-century garden design. These include a rock garden, a moat, a medieval bridge, herbaceous borders, a rose garden and plenty of picnic areas. Always interesting and colourful, garden highlights at Eltham Palace include the Spring bulbs display and the wisteria cascading over the classical pergola in Summer.

Photo by grahamc99 (cc)

Epsom Downs Racecourse

The Epsom Downs Racecourse was the site of one of the most iconic moment in the women’s rights movement.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Epsom Downs Racecourse was the site of one of the most iconic moment in the women’s rights movement. On 4 June 1913, on the day of the Epsom Derby race, militant suffragette Emily Davison jumped out in front of the King’s horse at the Epsom Downs Racecourse and was trampled. She died four days later.

In this dramatic moment, Davison is seen to have given her life for the cause of women’s rights, although there is some dispute on this point.

The incident occurred on the course at Tattenham Corner.

Photo by Charles D P Miller (cc)

Exeter Cathedral

Exeter Cathedral is a large, impressive Gothic cathedral and is one of the most popular sites of the city. The Cathedral Green is also a great place for relaxing in the sunshine.

DID YOU KNOW?

Exeter Cathedral is a large, Gothic-style cathedral which was constructed in the 13th and 14th centuries AD.

The site of Exeter Cathedral itself was home to several earlier incarnations, including a 10th century Anglo-Saxon construction and the subsequent Norman cathedral, which was completed in 1180AD.

Although the main body of the current Exeter Cathedral was completed by the mid-14th century, improvements and renovations continued throughout the middle ages and through to the 19th and 20th centuries.

At times of conflict, Exeter Cathedral has often been subject to damage – occurring during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the English Civil War and there was also bomb damage in 1942 from a German bombing raid.

In the 1970s it was revealed that the site of Exeter Cathedral has a heritage stretching back far further than the existing structures. Archaeologists uncovered the remains of one of the best-preserved Roman bath-houses in Britain. However, the Exeter Roman Baths site was re-covered to ensure preservation until such a time when it can be safely opened to the public.

Visitors to Exeter Cathedral can explore its stunning architecture, sculptures and stained-glass windows. The Cathedral Green is also a popular place for relaxing in the sunshine.

Photo by Matt From London (cc)

Fenton House

Fenton House is a well maintained seventeenth century house in Hampstead in North London.

DID YOU KNOW?

Fenton House in Hampstead in North London was built in the seventeenth century and has since remained almost entirely unchanged. It is unclear who built Fenton House, but it has been continuously occupied over the period of three hundred years.

Today, Fenton House and its gardens are managed by the National Trust and the house includes exhibits of, amongst other things, porcelain and early keyboard instruments.

Finchcocks House and Museum

Finchcocks House and Museum holds over 100 historical keyboard instruments and is housed in an 18th century manor house.

DID YOU KNOW?

Finchcocks House and Museum in Kent is comprised of an historic Georgian manor, estate gardens and musical museum.

The Finchcocks site has been occupied since at least the 13th century, and derives its name from the original owners of the estate. The current house was built in 1725. The estate also boasts fine gardens and grounds with over 13 acres of parkland.

The collections housed by the Finchcocks Musical Museum comprise of over 100 historical keyboard instruments, of which over 40 remain in working order - at certain times visitors are allowed to play a selection of these.

Photo by David Spender (cc)

Fishbourne Roman Palace

Fishbourne Roman Palace hosts the remains of a huge Roman palace built in the 1st century AD. Today it operates as a museum and contains information, artefacts and mosaics.

DID YOU KNOW?

Fishbourne Roman Palace in West Sussex hosts the remains of a huge Roman palace complex which was constructed in the 1st century AD.

Built on the site of a Roman supply compound, Fishbourne Roman Palace was a vast and impressive development which would have been built for the very highest echelons of Romano-British society. It is one of the largest Roman palace complexes to be discovered and is bigger than Buckingham Palace.

Over the next two hundred years Fishbourne Roman Palace was further renovated, including the addition of an array of intricate mosaics, many of which can still be viewed.

In the late third century Fishbourne Roman Palace was struck by fire and there is no evidence that the site was re-built beyond that date. The remains lay lost and forgotten until their discovery in the 1960s.

Today, Fishbourne Roman Palace is run by the charity Sussex Past and is open to tourists and educational groups. Visitors can view audio-visual displays, artefacts and reconstructions of the site as well as viewing the remains of the North Wing, which are protected under a covered enclosure.

There are many extremely well-preserved mosaics in Fishbourne Roman Palace, including the famous Dolphin mosaic.

The site also contains a reconstructed Roman garden, designed and planted according to archaeological and historical evidence, as well as a museum examining Roman horticultural techniques.

Various events and performances are held at Fishbourne Roman Palace throughout the year, with details available on the official website (see links).

Photo by Iain Simpson (cc)

Fotheringhay Castle

Fortheringhay Castle was the birthplace of Richard III and site of execution of Mary Queen of Scots

DID YOU KNOW?

Birthplace of Richard III and site of the trial and execution of Mary Queen of Scots, this Norman motte and bailey castle is now a ruin - in fact very little is left of it today.

Fortheringhay Castle is easily accessable during daylight hours, and should delight those interested in medieval history, the Wars of the Roses and Elizabethan politics

Photo by offwhitehouse (cc)

Framlingham Castle

Framlingham Castle is an impressive 12th century fortified castle in Suffolk.

DID YOU KNOW?

Framlingham Castle in Suffolk was built in the late 12th century by the Earl of Norfolk, Roger Bigod, who was an important member of the court of the Plantagenet kings. With its imposing mural towers and stone walls, Framlingham Castle served as a fortress and a status symbol.

Over the centuries, Framlingham Castle has enjoyed a diverse history, being the centre of power struggles and the home of prominent figures and even royals. In the sixteenth century, Mary Tudor used Framligham Castle as a refuge before she was crowned and, later in same century, it became a prison before a poorhouse was built there which remained until 1839.

Today, the doors of Framlingham Castle are open to the public and, under the remit of English Heritage, visitors can discover its history and those of its former residents. Audio tours are available as are children’s exhibits.

Freud Museum

Based in Hampstead, London in the house Sigmund Freud and his family occupied after escaping from Austria following the Nazi annexation, the Freud Museum provides a fascinating journey through the mind and life of the founder of psychoanalysis.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Freud Museum in Hampstead, London is the former home of Sigmund Freud, one of the 20th century’s most famous psychotherapists. It contains a collection of treasures and antiquities, as well as the perfectly preserved study of Sigmund Freud himself with his psychoanalytic couch being the star attraction.

Preserving both Sigmund’s and his daughter Anna’s psychoanalytic works, the museum contains their personal libraries and resources used by both; the research library in particular is rich with histories, theories and the culture of psychoanalysis.

The house itself is beautifully decorated and contains almost 2,000 pieces of Roman, Greek, Egyptian and Oriental antiquity as well as 18th and 19th century Austrian furniture. Whether you’re interested in the decor or the history of psychology, the Freud Museum provides a wonderfully entertaining afternoon.

There are regular exhibits celebrating varying aspects of the lives of the Freuds, a gift shop for all your psychoanalytical needs, a photo library and educational and research archives.

Visit the Freud Museum in London to delve into the mind of one of the world’s greatest mind-delvers!

Fulham Palace

For 1,300 years Fulham Palace was owned by the Bishops of London and it was used from the 11th century until 1975. Today the medieval and Tudor palace house a museum, gallery and beautiful botanic gardens telling the story of the palace as well as its Neolithic, Iron Age and Roman origins.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Manor of Fulham was bought by Waldhere, Bishop of London in around 700AD and from then until the mid-1970s when Bishop Stopford retired Fulham Palace served as the seat of the Bishop of London, first as a summer home and then as the principal residence.

Called a ‘palace’ since bishops were considered to be ‘princes of the church’, the palace grounds include what was once England’s longest moat at 1,400 metres until it was filled in during the 1920s when upkeep became a burden.

Grade I listed, the original Tudor manor house survives including the Great Hall and over the centuries it was added to with Georgian, Gothic Revival and Victorian architecture including the Chapel (the fourth on the site). Most of the visible buildings date from between the 15th and 20th centuries but during extensive archaeological excavations in 2001-6, evidence of Neolithic, Iron Age and Roman settlements were uncovered.

The 13-acre botanical gardens flourished in the late seventeenth century under Bishop Compton who sent Reverend Bannister to Virginia ostensibly as a missionary but also to send back seeds and cuttings of ‘exotic’ plants. To this end Europe’s first magnolia tree was grown at Fulham Palace and other species debuted including the Cork oak, the Black walnut and numerous varieties of maple, some of which are still present.

Today, visitors can visit the museum which includes Roman artefacts found by the Thames riverbank, grand paintings of past residents and reigning monarchs as well as a plethora of a thousand years’ worth of objects depicting how residents, guests and visitors of Fulham Palace lived, worked and entertained themselves.

Photo by piddy77 (cc)

Furness Abbey

Furness Abbey is a partially ruined 12th century monastery which now operates as a tourist attraction and museum.

DID YOU KNOW?

The imposing remains of the twelfth century Furness Abbey today stand as a testament to the sheer scale of these early medieval English monasteries.

Founded in 1124 by the future King Stephen, the construction of Furness Abbey began three years later and was expanded over the next hundred years. During this period Furness grew to become one of the most important and richest abbeys in the country – indeed it created a number of off-shoot or ‘daughter’ abbeys in the region, including Calder, Byland and Swineshead abbeys.

This period of English history was often turbulent and Furness Abbey’s location near the Scottish border often left it vulnerable to attack. In one such raid in 1322 Robert Bruce entered Furness and plundered and burnt much of the area.

However, as with many monasteries of the time, it was during the reign of Henry VIII that Furness Abbey was to suffer. Henry’s Dissolution of the Monasteries saw Furness closed as a monastery and the monks were forced to leave. Over the next 300 years the abbey passed between the ownership of several different local nobles, but it was largely ignored and abandoned. The lead roof was sold and much of the masonry was plundered, leaving Furness Abbey in a ruinous state.

Today the pretty remains of the abbey are a popular tourist attraction. The ruins include much of the ornately decorated chapter house, the east end and west tower of the church, elements of the infirmary and kitchen and the cloister buildings.

There is also an interesting museum on site which tells the history of the abbey and monks who lived there as well as showcasing many artefacts found at the site.

Photo by John Spooner (cc)

Gainsborough Old Hall

Gainsborough Old Hall is said to be one of England’s largest and best preserved medieval manor houses.

DID YOU KNOW?

Gainsborough Old Hall is a 15th century medieval manor house built by the Burgh family. With its aristocratic owners, Gainsborough Old Hall has played host to many an important guest, ranging from the Mayflower Pilgrims to kings Richard III and Henry VIII.

Over the centuries, Gainsborough Old Hall has been a Masonic lodge as well as a theatre. Today, English Heritage describes Gainsborough Old Hall as "among the biggest and best-preserved medieval manor houses in England".

Indeed, except for its Elizabethan additions, much of Gainsborough Old Hall is in a remarkably similar state to that which it was in when it was constructed. The best example of this is perhaps its kitchen.

Photo by davidboeke (cc)

Glastonbury Abbey

Glastonbury Abbey is one of the most important historic abbeys in Britain and the legendary burial place of King Arthur.

DID YOU KNOW?

Glastonbury Abbey is one of the most important historic abbeys in Britain and the focal point of myth, legend and important historical events.

Although the original stone church of Glastonbury Abbey was constructed by Saxon King Ine of Wessex in around 712AD, the site has a history said to trace back to the 1st century. It is believed that the traditional building of the old church took place in 63AD and that Jesus was brought here by his great uncle, Joseph of Arimathea.

The 8th century stone church underwent significant enlargement in the 10th century under the remit of the Abbot of Glastonbury and future Archbishop of Canterbury, St. Dunstan. It was added to further under the Normans. So much so in fact that the 1086 Doomsday Book listed Glastonbury Abbey as the nation’s wealthiest monastery.

Sadly, much of Glastonbury Abbey was destroyed in a great fire in 1184, eventually being restored and its Great Church being consecrated in 1213. Glastonbury Abbey would continue to thrive for a few more centuries, only to finally be dissolved by King Henry VIII in 1539.

Today, the picturesque ruins of Glastonbury Abbey are a popular tourist site. Many people come to see it for its stunning ruins, others to see the place where legend has it that King Arthur and Guinevere were once buried.

Godolphin House

Godolphin House is a Cornish stately home built by Godolphin family, who were prominent in the reign of Queen Anne.

DID YOU KNOW?

Godolphin House is a Cornish Grade 1 listed stately home with Tudor and Stuart elements.

Originally dating back to the 15th century, with an historic garden now restored to its original layout, the Godolphin House that exists today was largely the work of the Godolphin family in the early 17th century after they had risen to prominence at the court of Queen Anne. The building of the house was actually funded by tin and copper mining activities which were carried out on the estate.

In 1646, Godolphin House played a role in the nation’s history as a shelter for the future King Charles II, when he was fleeing the Scilly Isles.

Although allowed to fall into disrepair, Godolphin House was bought by the Schofield family in the 1920’s, when it was restored and used as a family home. The National Trust, to whom Godolphin now belongs, when restoring the building, have reflected this use, and have not restored it to a particular era, creating a pleasant mixture of the old and the new.

In the gardens, visitors can see some evidence of a castle that preceded Godolphin House, which was built in circa 1300 by Sir Alexander Godolghan.

Photo by pmorgan67 (cc)

Goodrich Castle

Goodrich Castle is a picturesque Norman ruin in Herefordshire that was the site of a bitter siege during the English Civil War.

DID YOU KNOW?

Goodrich Castle in Herefordshire is one of the most picturesque medieval ruins in the UK. Standing at the peak of a scenic woodland hilltop, this Norman fortification has attracted tourists to view its ethereal remains since the 18th century.

The first recorded structure to be built on the Goodrich Castle site was constructed in the late 11th century by an Anglo-Saxon thegn who retained his lands after the Norman Conquest. However, it is believed that the site may have been used as a fortification for far longer.

The original wooden structure was replaced by a stone fort in the mid-12th century and the living quarters and fortifications of Goodrich Castle were extended over the next 100 years.

Goodrich Castle is perhaps best known for the part it played during the English Civil War, when it became the focus of a bitter siege between Royalist and Parliamentarian forces. Occupied by a Royalist garrison at the start of the war, Goodrich Castle was used as a base for attacks on Parliamentarian positions in the local area.

As the war turned however, Parliamentarian forces targeted Goodrich and a siege began in 1646. After building trenches and utilising the famous ‘Roaring Meg’ mortar, the Parliamentarians began to wreak heavy damage upon Goodrich Castle and the defending garrison was forced to surrender.

After the war, although Goodrich Castle was not destroyed, it was intentionally damaged to ensure it could no longer serve as a stronghold.

By the late 18th century, Goodrich Castle was seen as a idyllic ruin and was therefore never fully restored.

Today the Goodrich Castle site is run by English Heritage and visitors can wander through the ruins and even see the infamous ‘Roaring Meg’ mortar, which was moved to the site by Herefordshire Council. An audio tour is available and the views from the castle are a must-see.

The visitor's centre also contains information about the history of Goodrich Castle and artefacts from the site. Various special events are also held at Goodrich throughout the year, check the official website for further information.

Greenhead Roman Army Museum

The Greenhead Roman Army Museum displays a series of artifacts and replicas of Roman military paraphernalia.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Greenhead Roman Army Museum displays a series of artifacts and replicas of Roman military paraphernalia from weaponry and armour to chariots and wagons.

Some of these objects are derived from the collection of Vindolanda, another Roman site which took over the administration of the museum in 1997.

Other displays at the Greenhead Roman Army Museum include an account of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, under whom Hadrian’s Wall was built, and a reconstructed barracks room.

The Greenhead Roman Army Museum is located next to one of the oldest Roman forts in the area. This fort was known as Magna under the Romans and as Carvoran in the post-Roman era. Very little is known about this fort – it is possible that its purpose was to defend an important road junction nearby.

A visit to the Greenhead Roman Army Museum includes a film about the fort which includes a reconstruction of what it may have looked like.

Photo by Maxwell Hamilton (cc)

Ham House

A 17th century mansion, Ham House is an opulent melting pot of British and European Renaissance design.

DID YOU KNOW?

An opulent 17th century mansion, Ham House in London was once a bustling political playground for the courtiers of the Stuart dynasty from the reign of James I to Charles II.

Built by Sir Thomas Vavasour in 1610, Ham House epitomised the great competition for the favour of kings which was rampant during the seventeenth century and was often the battleground for courtiers competing for influence and power. In a time of intrigue and rivalry the material wealth of Ham House, still seen in the impressive collection of original furnishings and textiles, gives visitors a first-hand understanding of just what wonders were at stake for the glitterati of the English court.

The notable grandeur of the house is probably a reflection of its most formidable resident, Elizabeth Duchess of Lauderdale, a woman “restless in her ambition, profuse in her expense and of a most ravenous covetousness.” A cunning royalist, she protected the interests of the house during the Civil War and the republican period, but her secret activities have now cast her character into disrepute.

In fact, many believe the spirit of the Duchess still remains at Ham House today. One story tells that an encounter with the ghost led to the discovery of a selection of hidden papers proving that the ‘evil’ Elizabeth had murdered her first husband. If brave enough, visitors may risk an meeting with the ghost, who is said to still wander the halls of Ham trying to cover up her misdoings; a variety of atmospheric ghost tours are therefore available.

For those who want a more relaxing experience, Ham is an important architectural marvel. A melting pot of British and European design, it is truly a property of the Renaissance. Touching the Thames, the gardens are a particular highlight; home to wondering wildlife, the flower meadows are the toast of spring. Beautiful and tranquil, Ham House truly plays host for the whole family.

Contributed by Rebecca Lewis

Photo by Harshil.Shah (cc)

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace is a medieval palace whch has served as everything from a royal residence to a prison.

DID YOU KNOW?

Hampton Court Palace is a medieval palace once favoured by Henry VIII which has served as everything from a royal residence to a prison.  

The first buildings at what is now Hampton Court Palace belonged to the Knights Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem, a religious order founded in the 11th century. Giles Daubeney, later Lord Chamberlain, leased and then modernised the medieval manor of Hampton Court.

In 1514, Thomas Wolsey, soon to be made cardinal, leased Hampton Court for a period of 99 years. He began rebuilding on a grand scale, converting Hampton Court into a lavish palace.

Wolsey added new private chambers at Hampton Court Palace for his own use, as well as three suites for the new royal family: one each for King Henry VIII, Queen Katherine of Aragon and their daughter Princess Mary. He also built 40 guest lodgings, each with an outer room and an inner room - and all ensuite with a garderobe (lavatory). This makes Hampton Court Palace sound like the Tudor version of a 21st Century luxury hotel!

Upon the fall of Wolsey, Henry VIII took Hampton Court Palace for himself. Henry set about further renovation of Hampton Court Palace, rebuilding and extending the existing palace, at a cost of over £60,000, rather a lot at the time.

Hampton Court Palace was then the site where some major events in Henry’s life took place: the break with Rome, the birth of his heir, Edward (VI), divorce of Anne of Cleves, and the accusation of adultery and subsequent detention of Catherine Howard.

The palace was used as a country retreat by Edward VI and Mary I. Elizabeth I used it as a venue for diplomacy and Hampton Court Palace was also used by James I, but none of them altered the buildings to any great extent.

Today, Hampton Court Palace is a popular tourist attraction, with visitors able to tour Henry VIII's apartments and the Tudor kitchens as well as its famous maze. Hampton Court Palace's official site has some good suggestions for itineraries.

Amongst its many attractions, Hampton Court Palace is home to a set of medieval “tenys playe” or tennis courts. These courts, then often used by a young Henry VIII and now England’s oldest existing “real” courts can still be seen there today. In fact, they are still actively used.

Photo by Stephen Fulljames (cc)

Hastings Castle

Hastings Castle was one of the first Norman castles to be built in England.

DID YOU KNOW?

Hastings Castle was originally built as a timber structure a short time after the Norman invader William the Conqueror landed in England in 1066. This was not far from the site where, shortly afterwards, William decisively defeated King Harold in one of the most significant battles in English history, the Battle of Hastings.

Having emerged victorious and achieved the conquest of England, William was crowned King William I on 25 December of that year. However, it was only in 1070 that the Norman king gave orders to transform Hastings Castle into a fully fledged stone fortified castle, the ruins of which can be seen there today.

Some parts of the structure were added later, notably the Church of St. Mary in the Castle, built by the Count of Eu, to whom William gave Hastings Castle. The Count of Eu would continue to hold Hastings Castle for most of the Norman period.

At one point, Hastings Castle was dismantled on the orders of King John, who feared it being taken by French Prince Dauphin Louis. Although rebuilt and refortified by Henry II in around 1220-5, Hastings Castle would not remain intact for long.

Battered by brutal winds in the thirteenth century, the area of Hastings suffered severe deterioration, with many tracts of land falling into the sea. Hastings Castle was no exception. Great segments of the castle were lost and, with the harbour having been destroyed too, it was abandoned. The only part of Hasting Castle that continued to function was its church, although this was disbanded during Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries.

Today, Hastings Castle is open to the public, who can tour its ruins and enjoy a short presentation on its history.

Photo by andrew_j_w (cc)

Hatfield House

Hatfield House is a Jacobean country house built on the site of what was Queen Elizabeth I’s childhood home.

DID YOU KNOW?

Hatfield House is a Jacobean country house built on the site of what was Hatfield Palace. Built in approximately 1485, Hatfield Palace was bought by Henry VIII and became the home of his children, particularly that of a young Elizabeth I. In the gardens of Hatfield House, one can visit the oak tree where Elizabeth is said to have been informed of her ascension to the throne.

Today, little is left of the original Hatfield Palace, which was torn down in the seventeenth century to make way for a more modern structure - Hatfield House. Built by Robert Cecil, the 1st Earl of Salisbury, and completed in 1612, Hatfield House and has since been owned by the Cecil family.

Today, the stunning Hatfield House estate is open to the public as well as being a popular venue for weddings and events. Visitors can embark on a tour of the house and its stunning gardens.

Photo by Dave602 (cc)

Helmsley Castle

Helmsley Castle was a 12th century castle in York and the site of a dramatic siege during the English Civil War.

DID YOU KNOW?

Helmsley Castle was a large medieval fortress and mansion, the ruins of which are located in the town of Helmsley, Yorkshire. Initially built as a timber construction by the influential baron and military man Walter l’Espec in 1120, it was converted to stone by his nephew, Robert de Roos and further expanded over the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

Today, the remains of Helmsley Castle rise out of Yorkshire’s dramatic landscape, seemingly on a wave of ditches and banks, which would have served to increase its defensive capabilities. In fact, Helmsley Castle managed to endure a massive attack by the Parliamentarians during the English Civil War. The Royalists held Helmsley for a staggering three months, and the castle only fell when their food and supplies ran dry.

Following the Parliamentarian occupation of Helmsley Castle, its new owner, Sir Thomas Fairfax, chose to give it to his daughter and thus the site was spared destruction. The only parts of the castle which were removed were its defensive structures.

Managed by English Heritage, who also renovated it, Helmsley Castle is now open to the public, who can enjoy its grandeur and learn about its history via audio guides and exhibitions. There are several Civil War displays, looking at the castles military history and featuring an original cannonball.

Photo by Anosmia (cc)

Highgate Cemetery

Highgate Cemetery is a famous graveyard in North London where Karl Marx is buried.

DID YOU KNOW?

Highgate Cemetery is a graveyard in London where the famous philosopher and political economist Karl Marx is buried. It is also the burial site of several other prominent people, including several novelists, artists, political activists and professionals. A list of famous internments can be found on Highgate Cemetery’s website.

Guided tours of the East Cemetery, where Marx is interned, take place on the first Saturday of each month starting at 2:15pm and last around an hour.

Photo by simononly (cc)

HMS Belfast

HMS Belfast is a Royal Navy light cruiser ship that played a role in both World War II and the Korean War.

DID YOU KNOW?

HMS Belfast is a Royal Navy light cruiser ship that played a role in both World War II and the Korean War. It is now open to the public in London under the remit of the Imperial War Museum.

Launched in March 1938, HMS Belfast was commissioned by the Royal Navy in 1939, not long before the outbreak of World War II.

World War II
During the war, HMS Belfast took part in the blockade on Germany, patrolling northern waters from the Scapa Flow naval base in Orkney. Having managed to intercept SS Cap Norte - a German liner - in 1939, HMS Belfast was then severely damaged by a mine later that same year.

For almost three years, HMS Belfast would not sail as part of the fleet again, yet during this time, the ship was overhauled and massively upgraded. In fact, when she returned to the action in 1943, HMS Belfast was one of the Navy’s most formidable vessels and certainly its largest. As such, she was designated the flagship of the Tenth Cruiser Squadron, which protected Arctic convoys travelling to the Soviet Union.

Some of the most important successes of HMS Belfast was its contribution to the sinking of the German battle cruiser Scharnhorst during the Battle of the North Cape in December 1943, its assistance in disabling the German’s last heavy surface unit, Tirpitz, in 1944 and its part in ‘Operation 'Neptune', the naval element of the Normandy Landings of D-Day, also in 1944.

End of World War II
At the end of and after the Second World War, HMS Belfast carried out several roles in the Far East, including helping to evacuate prisoners from internment camps and taking part in peace keeping missions.

Korean War And After
HMS Belfast’s next wartime role would occur in the 1950s, during the Korean War, where she was one of the first ships to go into action to support American and South Korean Troops. This gruelling undertaking would end on 27 September 1952, after which HMS Belfast was involved in a few peacetime missions before finally being taken to London in 1971.

Photo by amandabhslater (cc)

HMS Victory

HMS Victory was Vice Admiral Lord Nelson’s flagship during the Battle of Trafalgar and the site where this heroic figure died.

DID YOU KNOW?

HMS Victory is one of the world’s oldest and most famous warships. No other surviving ship has served in the American Revolution, the French Revolutionary War and the Napoleonic Wars. In fact, it was her role as the flagship of British hero Vice Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson during his final battle of the Napoleonic Wars for which HMS Victory is most renowned.

Early Career
Launched in 1765 and commissioned by the Royal Navy in 1778, HMS Victory was a first rate ship of the line. Her first main role was during the American Revolution under Admiral Keppel.

In 1793, HMS Victory formed part of the fleet during the French Revolutionary Wars and under Lord Hood. HMS Victory was also the warship under the remit of Admiral Sir John Jervis in his victory against a Spanish fleet at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent in 1797. However, it was her role in the Napoleon Wars which would define HMS Victory.

Battle of Trafalgar
On 21 October 1805, HMS Victory served under the flag of Vice Admiral Lord Nelson in the Battle of Trafalgar. This naval battle saw Nelson lead the British to victory against the French and Spanish, despite the fact that the British fleet of 27 ships was greatly outnumbered. This decisive victory confirmed the supremacy of the British navy and instilled Nelson as a national hero.

However, this success came at a great cost as Nelson was shot and mortally wounded at the Battle, living just long enough to learn that he had been successful.

HMS Victory Today
Today, HMS Victory is located at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, where this well-preserved warship is now serves as a museum. Guided tours are available. HMS Warrior and the Mary Rose are also housed at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

Photo by Elsie esq. (cc)

HMS Warrior

The HMS Warrior was launched in 1860 and is the sole surviving warship of Queen Victoria’s Black Battle Fleet.

DID YOU KNOW?

The HMS Warrior is the sole surviving warship of Queen Victoria’s Black Battle Fleet. Built over the course of 35 months and launched in 1860, HMS Warrior represented a marked innovation in naval design. She was then unique amongst the world’s armoured warships in having a wrought-iron hull and dual steam and sail power source.

Yet, despite – or indeed because of – her military superiority, HMS Warrior never fired a shot in the course of conflict. Instead, she served as a deterrent, a warning to all enemies of the power of the British navy. Retired in 1864, by which time she was considered obsolete, HMS Warrior was later restored and is now open to the public at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

Today, a visit to HMS Warrior offers the public the chance to immerse themselves in the world of the Victorian sailor and to view firsthand this triumph of nineteenth century engineering.

Photo by MarilynJane (cc)

Hod Hill

Hod Hill is one of the largest Iron Age hillforts in Dorset.

DID YOU KNOW?

Hod Hill is an Iron Age hillfort and one of the largest of its kind in Dorset. With its imposing size and ramparts, Hod Hill would have defended a village.

In 44 AD, it is likely to have been captured by the Romans during their invasion of Britain. The Roman Second Legion, led by the future emperor Vespasian, was sent to subdue the region and captured a number of hill forts in the area.

Evidence of Roman occupation of Hod Hill can be seen at the site in the form of the remains of a Roman fort.

Photo by Gordon M Robertson (cc)

Houses of Parliament

The Houses of Parliament are the home of the UK Parliament.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Houses of Parliament or 'Palace of Westminster' is where both houses of the UK Parliament are located.

Originally part of the great royal palace that had been home to English monarchs for over 500 years, Westminster Palace became the home of parliament in the 16th century after reign of King Henry VIII, when Henry moved the royal family out of the Palace of Westminster following a fire.

The monarch left the Palace of Westminster for the use of Parliament and some government offices. The House of Commons met in the choir stalls of St Stephens Chapel, the Speaker taking the place of the altar, and the government and opposition sitting on opposite sides in the choir stalls. Interestingly, there is still a line in front of the seats, being two sword lengths apart, thus keeping the two sides from killing each other in House...

The great hall of the Houses of Parliament was used for state trials including those of Sir Thomas More, William Wallace and King Charles I.

The original Westminster Palace burned down in 1834, and the building you see today is the result of the subsequent rebuilding by Sir Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin.

The iconic clock tower, housing Big Ben, is probably the most famous part of this building and the complex is a UNESCO World Heritage site. This site also features as one of our Top Ten UK Tourist Attractions.

Photo by phault (cc)

Housesteads Roman Fort

Housesteads Roman Fort is one of the best preserved and most important of the forts along Hadrian’s Wall.

DID YOU KNOW?

Housesteads Roman Fort, originally known as 'Vercovicium', is one of the best preserved and most important of the forts along Hadrian’s Wall.

Built in around 124 AD, Housesteads Roman Fort housed around 1,000 troops and remained in use until the fourth century.

Visitors to Housesteads Roman Fort can see the various stages of architecture of this Roman fortification including the well-preserved remains of its four gates and curtain wall, a hospital, latrines and, of course, a section of Hadrian’s Wall.

Managed by English Heritage, Housesteads Roman Fort also has a museum with a model showing how this imposing site would have looked in its prime.

Photo by Craigy144 (cc)

Hylton Castle

Hylton Castle was the private home of a wealthy family in Medieval England.

DID YOU KNOW?

Hylton Castle was built first in the eleventh century and then rebuilt in the late fourteenth century as the home of the wealthy Hylton family, a role which it fulfilled until 1746. Today, this gatehouse tower of this stone structure remains as a well-preserved ruin and contains some royal artifacts.

Hylton Castle is managed by Sunderland City Council and is an English Heritage site.

Photo by _dChris (cc)

Imperial War Museum

The Imperial War Museum is a London-based museum dedicated to world conflict.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Imperial War Museum is dedicated to exploring worldwide conflicts throughout history. The exhibitions in the London Imperial War Museum cover, amongst other things, different aspects of the First and Second World Wars including military history, the Holocaust, women’s roles in the conflicts, wartime artwork and the political issues of the time.

The Imperial War Museum is particularly child-friendly, with temporary exhibitions such as a reconstruction of a World War I trench.

Photo by Dave Hamster (cc)

Imperial War Museum Duxford

Duxford Imperial War Museum in Cambridge explores military history on land, by air and by sea.

DID YOU KNOW?

Duxford Imperial War Museum in Cambridge is dedicated to exploring Britain’s military history, particularly as it relates to air and maritime warfare.

Duxford Imperial War Museum is fittingly located at Duxford Airfield, one of the best preserved First World War airfields. Most of the exhibits at the Duxford Imperial War Museum are contained in hangars, with each hangar exploring a different aspect of military history. For example, hangar 1 tells the story of British and Commonwealth aviation history, hangar 2 is a “flying museum” where operating aircraft are held and maintained and hangar 3 holds a maritime collection.

There is also an American Air Museum, exhibiting various battle aircrafts from the US. Duxford Imperial War Museum’s fourth hangar is dedicated to the Battle of Britain, a famous air battle in World War II.

Photo by Historvius

Ironbridge Gorge

Ironbridge Gorge is an icon of the industrial revolution and a World Heritage site.

DID YOU KNOW?

Ironbridge Gorge played a vital role in sparking the industrial revolution in the 18th century and remains a powerful symbol of this period. Spanning an area of some 5.5 square kilometres, it is often cited as the birthplace of industry and has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1986.

Amongst its contributions to the development of industry, Ironbridge Gorge was the place where coke iron was discovered in the blast furnace of Coalbrookdale in 1709. The name Ironbridge Gorge also refers to an important landmark, the World’s first iron bridge, built there in 1779.

Today, visitors to Ironbridge Gorge can really immerse themselves in this fascinating period of history. Not only can they see the bridge itself, but also a variety of other sites including homes, factories, mines, warehouses, foundries and the infrastructure of the 18th century Ironbridge Gorge.

There are ten Ironbridge Gorge museums, each telling a different aspect of the area’s story. From exploring the world of a Victorian town at Blists Hill and the Coalport China Museum to the Jackfield Tile Museum and the Tar tunnel, there’s lots to see.

Photo by mattbuck4950 (cc)

Jervaulx Abbey

The ruins of the 12th Century Cistercian monastery of Jervaulx Abbey, situated in the picturesque Yorkshire Dales.

DID YOU KNOW?

A beautiful spot to explore, the ruins of the 12th century monastery of Jervaulx Abbey are situated in the picturesque Yorkshire Dales.

Founded in 1156, Jervaulx was a Cistercian abbey, spawned from the abbey at Byland, which is situated not far from Jervaulx and would make for an excellent same-day visit. The Cistercian Order of the early 12th century, that built the abbey, was based on the austerity taught by St Benedict and Cisterian monks established monasteries in far-flung areas, where they could dedicate their lives to prayer and meditation.

The Jervaulx site is made up of the remains of the nave, transepts and choir as well as a cloister, kitchen and chapter house. All built in the traditional Cistercian style of smooth pale stone and traditionally simpler design with an emphasis on arches. Originally established at the nearby town of Fors, the monastery was relocated to its current position due to the higher quality of land there and remained there until it was plundered during Henry VIII dissolution of the monasteries.

The last Abbott Jervaulx, Adam Sedbar, made the ill-fated decision to join the Pilgrimage of Grace, a large scale uprising in protest at Henry VIII's suppression of the monasteries. The failure of this enterprise not only led to widespread closure of the monasteries, but also saw Abbott Sedbar executed for treason. It is still possible to see the spot in the Tower of London where he carved his name in his cell wall.

There is no formal charge for visiting the Jervaulx Abbey, but there is a suggested donation of £3 for an adult. The whole site is outside with very little shelter, but would make for an excellent spring or summer visit. With upwards of 50 parking spaces and wheelchair access to the main church, infirmary and cloisters, the site is well equipped for all visitors. There is also a delightful set of tea rooms and very popular Bed & Breakfast in situ as well.

Contributed by Isabelle Moore

Photo by Thomas R. Koll (cc)

Jewel Tower

The Jewel Tower is one of the last remnants of the medieval Westminster Palace.

DID YOU KNOW?

Originally part of the medieval Westminster Palace, the Jewel Tower was built in 1365 to hold the riches of Edward III, earning it the name of the 'King's Privy Wardrobe'. Following a fire in 1834, the Jewel Tower and Westminster Hall were the only buildings of the palace to survive.

Today, the Jewel Tower is open to the public under the remit of English Heritage. Visitors to the Jewel Tower can view its fourteenth century vault, an exhibition about Parliament’s history and view the remains of its medieval moat and quay. A visit usually lasts around half an hour.

Photo by cyesuta (cc)

Jorvik Viking Centre

The Jorvik Viking Centre recreates the Viking city of Jorvik, based on excavations found on this site in York.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Jorvik Viking Centre is an historical visitor attraction in York displaying a reconstruction of a Viking city as it would have looked in approximately 975 AD. In fact, between 1979 and 1981, archaeologists found around 40,000 well-preserved Viking items and the remains of their city on the site on which the Jorvik Viking Centre is based.

This archaeological dig was conducted on the site of a former sweet factory on land intended for use as a shopping centre. It was found that the soil of this land was ideal for preserving materials, even those as delicate as wood and leather. The remains unearthed included timber buildings, wells, tools, human and animal remains and textiles.

Today, many of these items are displayed at Jorvik Viking Centre along with a reconstruction of the city, complete with figures representing the Vikings whose likeness is based on skulls found at the site. From market scenes to those showing the Vikings at home and at work, Jorvik recreates the Viking life as it would have been in what is now York. This site features as one of our Top 10 UK Tourist Attractions.

Photo by Matthew.H (cc)

Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Bunker

The Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Bunker is an enormous, three-storey, Cold War-era subterranean shelter and operations centre in Brentwood, Essex. It was constructed in 1952.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Bunker is an enormous Cold War-era subterranean shelter and former operations centre in Brentwood, Essex.

In 1952, the spectre of the Cold War loomed ever-more menacingly over Britain. With Europe already firmly divided into two hostile and ideologically opposed camps, and with the Korean War raging in East Asia, the nuclear arms race which had begun at the end of the Second World War became increasingly frenetic. In October 1952, Britain, strategically and ideologically aligned with the United States of America, became the third country to test successfully an independently developed nuclear bomb.

It was against this terrifying backdrop that construction work began on the Kelvedon Hatch secret nuclear bunker. The subterranean space, just 25 miles northeast of London, was first used as an RAF ROTOR station. ROTOR, a project initiated by the British Government in the early 1950s, was a complex air defence radar system which sought to repel potential attacks from Soviet bombers. The bunker then briefly became a Regional Seat of Government (RSG), before finally being turned into Essex’s Regional Government Headquarters (RGHQ).

The Kelvedon Hatch bunker was designed to house up to 600 civilian and military personal, including the prime minister and other high-ranking cabinet officials. In the event of a nuclear attack, the centre’s tasks would have consisted of supplying protection to nearby Ministry of Defence workers, coordinating the survival of the local population, and continuing the operations of the government.

The three-storey bunker measures 27,000 square feet and extends 100 metres below ground level. Its walls are made of ten-foot-thick concrete reinforced by tungsten rods. The structure contains roughly 80 tons of genuine Cold War-period equipment: original plotting boards, telecommunications apparatus and 1980s-era computer equipment. It is also replete with its own BBC studio, office space, living quarters, kitchen and medical room. It also contains a canteen, where refreshments are served to modern day visitors.

In 1992, following the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the geostrategic realignment of Europe, Kelvedon Hatch nuclear bunker was decommissioned. The local Parish family, whose land had been requisitioned by the state in the 1950s in order to construct the site, bought the fields back from the Government. It has now been converted into a fascinating, privately owned museum.

Contributed by Maria Thomas

Photo by i_am_markh (cc)

Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth Castle is a former medieval stronghold and royal palace, most famed as the home of Elizabeth’s beloved Robert Dudley.

DID YOU KNOW?

Kenilworth Castle is a former medieval stronghold and royal palace, most famed as the home of Elizabeth’s beloved Robert Dudley.

It was King Henry I's treasurer, Geoffrey de Clinton, who built the vast Norman keep of Kenilworth Castle in the 1120s which can still be seen there today.

Kenilworth earned the status of royal castle over the coming centuries and underwent a series of changes, both under the remit of Henry II and under King John, who put into place greater fortifications from 1210 to 1215, solidifying its role as a stronghold. In fact, so impenetrable was Kenilworth Castle by this point that when it underwent a great 6-month siege by Henry III in 1266, its resident rebels only faltered when they ran out of food.

The transformation of Kenilworth Castle from castle to palace came in 14th century, when the Duke of Lancaster, John of Gaunt, made his mark on the site. Thus, Lancastrian kings and Tudors alike both enjoyed time there.

Yet, it was under Elizabeth I that Kenilworth Castle had its heyday. The property of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester from 1563, Kenilworth was something of a token of love in architecture. Dudley, who is renowned as the Queen’s one true love, made extensive changes to the castle to make it fit for his queen and her entourage, doing everything from refitting and remodelling to adding new buildings, all on a lavish scale.

Kenilworth Castle finally met its decline after the English Civil War. Having been under Parliamentarian rule since August 1642, it was condemned to ruin in 1649, if only to save on the costs of maintaining it. Now a magnificent ruin, Kenilworth Castle is open to the public and also offers beautifully recreated Elizabethan gardens.

Photo by ciao_yvon (cc)

Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace was the childhood home of Queen Victoria and the home of Diana, Princess of Wales, until her death.

DID YOU KNOW?

Originally built for the Earl of Nottingham, Kensington Palace was acquired by King William III in 1689, after he and his wife, Mary II, had taken the throne from her father, James II. They employed Christopher Wren to rebuild and improve it.

Other monarchs enjoyed the atmosphere at Kensington Palace. These included Queen Anne, Mary’s sister, and her husband Prince George of Denmark. Her successor to the British throne, George I, had new state rooms built, and Queen Caroline, wife of George II, had the gardens laid out.

In the time of George III, Kensington Palace ceased to be the monarch’s residence, and it housed some of the more minor Royals. It was here that the Duke and Duchess of Kent (he was the son of George III) made their home and in 1819, their daughter, Victoria was born. She spent her childhood there, and in was at Kensington Palace that she was told that, on the death of her uncle, William IV, she had ascended the throne. Visitors to Kensington Palace can see Queen Victoria's bedroom, the location where she was informed of this.

Kensington Palace was still used as a residence for some of the more minor royals during their stays in London. Prince Albert (later Edward VII) famously dubbed it the ’Aunt Heap’ and, somewhat more cruelly, it was also called the Dowagers’ Dumping Ground.

Most recently, Kensington Palace has been the home of the late Princess Margaret, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Prince and Princess of Kent, and the late Princess Diana.

Photo by Laura Nolte (cc)

Kenwood House

Kenwood House is a picturesque historic stately home in North London.

DID YOU KNOW?

Kenwood House is a picturesque historic stately home in North London run by English Heritage. Initially built in the seventeenth century, Kenwood House subsequently underwent a renovation in the mid-eighteenth century.

Today, Kenwood House is famous for its summer concerts, held in its extensive gardens. It also houses an impressive art collection, including works by Vermeer, Constable and Rembrandt to name a few.

Photo by Laura Nolte (cc)

Kew Palace

Kew Palace is a seventeenth century palace which once served as a royal residence.

DID YOU KNOW?

Kew Palace was built around 1631 by merchant Samuel Fortrey. The 17th century palace is noted for its distinctive decorative brickwork and gables, and it is the oldest surviving building in the Kew botanical gardens.

Kew Palace was the home of various members of the royal family between 1728 and 1898. Queen Caroline, wife of George II leased several parcels of land and buildings in Kew. These included Kew Palace. Frederick, Prince of Wales (son of George II, and father of George III) and his wife, Augusta, lived in Kew Palace. After Frederick's untimely death in 1751 (he was hit on the head by a cricket ball), Augusta remained there. It was first Frederick, and then Augusta, who effectively established the botanic gardens at Kew.

George III bought Kew Palace in 1781 to accommodate his growing family. He had 15 children and Kew Palace became their family home, but his favourite residence, however, was Windsor. When George III became ill, he was sent to Kew Palace for treatment, closely followed by Queen Charlotte and their daughters. Queen Charlotte died at Kew Palace in 1818, and Kew Palace was closed until it was acquired by Kew Gardens in 1896.

Queen Victoria, who had agreed to the sale, stipulated the room in which Queen Charlotte died should remain untouched. The Palace was opened to the public in 1898. It has recently been closed for ten years for restoration, but has now reopened to the public.

The ground and first floor rooms at Kew Palace have been restored to reflect the Georgian era, while the second floor has remained untouched.

Photo by amandabhslater (cc)

King Johns Palace

King Johns Palace is a ruined Norman townhouse built around 1180AD, the remains of which are now open to the public.

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King Johns Palace is a ruined Norman townhouse in Southampton, the remains of which are now open to the public.

First built around 1180AD, the stone-built merchant’s house was later incorporated into the town’s defensive walls and gun ports were built into the structure. Despite this change the house continued to be occupied through the centuries, being used as a private residence, business premises and even a coach house and stables.

The house gained its unusual name from the belief that King John stayed here in the early 13th century. However, this is no longer believed to be accurate though the name persists.

In more recent times however, King Johns Palace suffered and with the loss of the roof the building was left in a semi-ruinous state. Despite this, the main stone structure still survives, along with corridors, chambers and the main walls. It therefore remains as a fine example of a Norman stone structure and nowadays it has become a draw for tourists.

King Johns Palace can be viewed as part of a trip to the Tudor House and Gardens, which borders the property.

Photo by Historvius

Lesnes Abbey

Lesnes Abbey is a ruined Norman abbey located in South East London and now forms part of a scenic park and nature reserve.

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Lesnes Abbey is a ruined medieval abbey located in east London and now forms part of a scenic park and nature reserve.

The Abbey was founded in 1178 by Richard de Luci - a strong ally and supporter of Henry II and Chief Justiciar of England. Though not one of the larger of England’s medieval abbeys, Lesnes nevertheless survived through the early middle ages despite the often turbulent history taking place around it.

However, in 1524 during Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, Lesnes Abbey was forced to close - becoming one of the first victims of the purge against such institutions. Its land passed to the King and was later sold to the monarch’s supporters. Most of the monastic buildings were pulled down soon after the dissolution.

Today, just a few ruins of the original abbey survive, with some additional areas restored to highlight the outline of the structure. Nevertheless the site remains a pretty, idyllic scene located in a modern nature reserve and alongside Lesnes Abbey Woods. It is therefore certainly worth visiting if not for the ruins themselves then for the overall vista on show.

Photo by Lincolnian (Brian) (cc)

Lincoln Cathedral

Lincoln Cathedral is an imposing medieval structure with a history dating back to Norman times.

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Lincoln Cathedral is an imposing medieval structure with a history dating back to Norman times. First consecrated in 1092, around 20 years after Lincoln was designated a seat of a bishopric, Lincoln Cathedral was then the home of medieval Britain’s first Norman Bishop, Remigius.

Since that time, Lincoln Cathedral has been renovated and rebuilt several times, mostly following damage caused to it by disasters. These included a fire in around 1141 and an earthquake in 1185, after each of which Lincoln Cathedral had to be at least partially rebuilt.

In the 1230’s the cathedral’s central tower collapsed, replaced in 1255 and raised to its current height in 1311. The result is that Lincoln Cathedral boasts a wealth of architectural influences. Guided tours of the cathedral are available (see website for times).

Photo by Miguel Mendez (cc)

Liverpool Cathedral

Described by the poet Sir John Betjeman as "one of the great buildings of the world", Britain's largest cathedral adorns Liverpool's landscape.

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Liverpool Cathedral, a blend of modernist and gothic architecture, is a magnificent monument - the largest Cathedral in Britain, and the fifth largest in the world.

The construction of the cathedral actually occurred relatively recently. After Liverpool became a diocese in the 19th Century, it was considered that the construction of a cathedral was necessary given Liverpool's status in the Anglican Church. This was especially the case given that the parish church of St. Peter, which was serving as a pro-cathedral, was too small to be adequate to the task.

After the decision was taken to erect a cathedral more fitting to the city of Liverpool, a competition was run in 1901, adjudicated by two prominent architects, George Bodley and Norman Shaw. Perhaps ironically given that this was to be an Anglican cathedral, the winner came from a Roman Catholic family. Equally notable was that the winner was only twenty-two years of age, and hadn't yet produced any buildings. Despite these factors, it was Giles Gilbert Scott whose design was approved in 1903. Given Scott's inexperience, George Bodley was appointed joint-architect, and the foundation stone was laid by King Edward VII the following year.

Knighted later on in his career, Scott hailed from a famous architecture family. He failed to get on with his joint-architect Bodley, and would have even resigned had it not been for Bodley's sudden death in 1907. Despite his tender years, Scott was certainly not lacking in confidence, and in 1910, he decided he was not satisfied with his original design, and managed to persuade the cathedral committee to accept a completely new design. Scott continued to make refinements up until his death, which sadly occurred before the Cathedral was completed. Scott died in 1960, one year before the Cathedral was handed over to the Dean. Liverpool Cathedral was finally completed in 1978, having suffered numerous interruptions due to the two world wars. In fact, George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen mother both visited the Cathedral during the blitz to offer their encouragement to continue building. Queen Elizabeth was present at the service of thanksgiving to mark the building's completion.

In addition to its size, Liverpool Cathedral boasts a number of other records. The arches are the largest Gothic arches ever built, and the cathedral contains the largest working church organ in the world. It also has the world's heaviest and highest ringing peal of bells. Entrance is free, however the Tower and audio tour tickets are highly recommended. The tower stands at 154m above the river Mersey, and affords a spectacular view over the city. The tower also hosts an embroidery collection, containing a fine collection of Victorian and Edwardian ecclesiastical embroidery.

The beautiful Lady Chapel contains a 15th century statue of the Virgin Mary, and also portrait windows of noble women, including local Liverpool heroes, Kitty Wilkinson (helper of the poor) and Agnes Jones (a nurse). The Great Space hosts a newly built theatre, where guests can learn about the history of the cathedral, and watch an interactive exhibition on the computers. The Great Space is of course breathtaking in its own right. The cathedral also contains one of Scott's most famous creations, the red cast iron box used to make telephone calls.

Contributed by Chris Reid

Photo by portableantiquities (cc)

London Roman Amphitheatre

The London Roman Amphitheatre was built in the first century AD and is the only one of its kind in the city.

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The London Roman Amphitheatre was discovered in 1988 and remains the only known Roman amphitheatre in the city. Believed to have first been built in 74 AD, the London Roman Amphitheatre was probably extensively renovated in the second century, in around 120 AD.

At its peak, the London Roman Amphitheatre would have been able to seat up to 6,000 spectators and would probably have hosted brutal gladiatorial matches. At this time, London - then Londinium - had a population of some 20,000 to 30,000 people.

Today, visitors can see the remains of some of the walls of London Roman Amphitheatre, some original wooden drains and two small chambers which might have functioned as the waiting rooms for the gladiators or even the wild beasts that performed in the arena.

Once a month, the curator of the London Roman Amphitheatre hosts a guided tour of the site. Otherwise, it is part of the Guildhall Art Gallery and entry to the site is included in the gallery ticket.

Photo by pandrcutts (cc)

London Roman Fort

The London Roman Fort was a second century fort which housed Roman Londinium’s soldiers.

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The London Roman Fort was built in around 120 AD - around the same time as Hadrian’s Wall - to house the soldiers of Roman Britain’s most important town of the time, Londinium.

Covering around 12 acres in its heyday, the London Roman Fort would have been a square complex similar in architecture - but around three times the size of - forts such as those of Housesteads and Chester. It was probably home to around 1,000 soldiers.

The pin on the map shows the section of the London Roman Fort found on Noble Street, which would have been its southwest corner. Other parts of the fort are contained underground, notably in an underground car park nearby.

For information, ask the Museum of London, which also hosts tours of this site.

Photo by thetravelguru (cc)

London Roman Wall

The London Roman Wall was built in around the third century AD and parts of it can be seen today.

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The London Roman Wall was built between around 190 and 220 AD and stretched for about three miles from Blackfriars to Tower Hill. This defensive wall protected what was then the important Roman city of Londinium.

Prior to the building of the London Roman Wall, Londinium already had a fort, parts of which were now incorporated into the new wall.

Over the centuries, most of the London Roman Wall has been obscured by medieval additions and other development. However, there are some well-preserved parts which can still be seen today. The map highlights one of the more prominent remaining sections of the London Roman Wall, that at Tower Hill.

The Museum of London has more information on the London Roman Wall.

Photo by DaveOnFlickr (cc)

Ludgershall Castle

Ludgershall Castle was a medieval royal castle and hunting lodge, of which only ruins and earthworks remain.

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Ludgershall Castle was a royal castle and hunting lodge. Today, its ruins and earthworks stand in the modern village of Ludgershall and are believed to date back to the twelfth or thirteenth century. There is also a medieval cross located in the centre of the village.

Photo by shellac (cc)

Ludlow Castle

Ludlow Castle, the finest of medieval ruined castles, set in glorious Shropshire countryside, at the heart of this superb, bustling black

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Ludlow Castle, the finest of medieval ruined castles, set in glorious Shropshire countryside. Initially a Norman stronghold it then turned royal castle, the imposing ruins of which can be seen today.

The castle’s origins can be traced back to the 11th century and to Walter de Lacy, a Norman nobleman who is said to have been given the land by a prominent supporter of William the Conqueror. The exact date on which Ludlow Castle was founded is unclear, but the earliest parts still standing today were the work of de Lacy’s sons, Roger and Hugh.

In the 15th century, Ludlow Castle became property of the Crown, to be abandoned in 1689 and fall into decay. Having been acquired by the Earls of Powis in 1811 and still under their ownership, Ludlow Castle is now open to the public.

Photo by Loz Flowers (cc)

Lullingstone Roman Villa

Lullingstone Roman Villa is a fine example of a 1st Century Roman villa. Built roughly 50 years after the Roman conquest of Britain, it was home to the wealthier elements of Romano-British society.

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Lullingstone Roman Villa is a fine example of a 1st Century Roman villa. Built roughly 50 years after the Roman conquest of Britain, Lullingstone Roman Villa was home to the wealthier elements of Romano-British society.

A villa stood on the site for over 300 years before its eventual destruction and abandonment. Today Lullingstone Roman Villa is operated by English Heritage and boasts a number of impressive mosaics and even evidence of early Christian worship in Britain, with the remains of an ancient Christian chapel.

Other features at Lullingstone Roman Villa include Roman artefacts, video recreations and interactive attractions for children such as Roman board games and costumes.

Photo by oosp (cc)

Lyme Park

Located on the edge of the Peak District, Lyme Park estate is set in 1400 acres of picturesque parkland and centred on the elegant Lyme Hall. The house famously featured as Pemberley in the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice.

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The Lyme Park estate served as the seat of the Legh family for 600 years, and their picturesque and striking family home serves as the focal point of Lyme Park.

Margaret Legh came into possession of the parkland in the 14th century after her father, Sir Thomas Danyers, was rewarded for his exploits during the Battle of Crecy. Sir Thomas served alongside the Black Prince, and gained recognition for rescuing the Black Prince’s standard and taking the Chamberlain of the French king prisoner. However, though a previous house stood on the site, it was not until the 16th century that significant development of the house we see today began to take place and the original seat of the Legh family would have initially been a rather more modest affair.

Sir Piers Legh began the development of Lyme Hall but it was the early 18th century work of the famed Venetian architect, Giacomo Leoni, who transformed the mansion into something akin to what we see it today. Leoni transformed the mansion into a design inspired by a Palladian palace.

Perhaps the most notable aspects of Leoni’s work are the Ionic portico, which is considered the finest example of Palladian architecture still surviving in England today, and the magnificent Italian courtyard. Leoni also added the towers to the ‘curious building’ which formerly served as a viewing area when a hunt was taking place.

Today, Lyme Hall showcases the varied and often notable lives of the Legh family through the 600 years in which they occupied Lyme Park. Sir Peter Legh, for example, served at Agincourt, while his son, also Sir Peter, fought on the Yorkist side during the War of the Roses. Sir Thomas Legh was a notable explorer and Egyptologist in the 19th Century, and the family also included numerous politicians.

Visitors can explore a mansion that has been lavishly decorated, which contains among other things Mortlake tapestries, woodcarvings and an exhibit examining English clocks. There is a beautiful Dutch garden and ‘reflection’ lake, and visitors can walk through vast moorland, which hosts a deer park, and also the ‘curious building on the hill’ which has featured in the BBC film, The Awakening.

Fans of the BBC’s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice will recognise Lyme Park as the location of Mr Darcy’s Pemberley estate, and the lake as the setting for his famous dip.

There is a playscape which will keep children entertained, as well as a programme of summer events for children.

Contributed by Chris Reid

Photo by scrumpyboy (cc)

Lyveden New Bield

Lyveden New Bield is an historic garden perfectly preserved in its original Elizabethan state.

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Lyveden New Bield is an historic garden landscape perfectly preserved in its original Elizabethan state.

It was the Tresham family who purchased Lyveden New Bield in the latter half of the 15th century for use as sheep pastures and Sir Thomas Tresham who later transformed part of it into a magnificent garden with moats, a dramatic lodge house and fruit trees.

In 1605, Sir Thomas died and, with his son’s involvement in the Catholic gunpowder plot, Lyveden New Bield was left forgotten. Yet, under the remit of the National Trust since 1922, this spectacular garden has since been restored to its original glory. Lyveden New Bield is now back to its Elizabethan design - a rarity in the modern gardening world.

Visitors to Lyveden New Bield can enjoy its landscapes, have a picnic on site, explore with an audio guide and enter its lodge.

Photo by treehouse1977 (cc)

Maiden Castle

Maiden Castle is vast, well preserved Iron Age hill fort in Dorchester.

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Maiden Castle is vast, well preserved Iron Age hill fort in Dorchester. Its name is believed to be derived from two Celtic words, ‘Mai’ and ‘Dun’, meaning “Great Hill”. Imposing and incredibly complex, Maiden Castle would certainly have posed a great challenge to anyone wishing to invade it.

Whilst the site was initially occupied during the Neolithic period, the structure of Maiden Castle was only built in the early Iron Age, circa 600 BC. It would have started as a small settlement, but as the society grew so did Maiden Castle. At its peak, the site would have been heavily populated, filled with houses and workshops and, at least according to the English Heritage audio guide, would have been the size of fifty football pitches. Its immense scale was both intimidating to any enemies and a symbol of the power of its inhabitants.

In 43 AD, the Romans invaded Britain and, within a few generations, the inhabitants of Maiden Hill moved to nearby Durnovaria (modern day Dorchester).

The Graveyard
Several fascinating finds have been made at Maiden Castle. For example, the archaeologist Mortimer Wheeler found an Iron Age cemetery. Wheeler originally thought that this was a war graveyard and that those interred there were casualties from when the Romans invaded the site. With little evidence that the Romans ever invaded Maiden Castle, it is now considered more likely that this was a normal cemetery.

The Roman Temple
Nevertheless, the Romans did make a mark on the site of Maiden Castle. In the fourth century AD, they built a temple there, the foundation stone of which are still in place. This was possibly to the cult of Minerva. Today, Maiden Castle is an English Heritage site and is open to the public. You can download a free audio guide from the English Heritage website.

Mapperton House

Home of the Earl and Countess of Sandwich, Mapperton House in Dorset was described by County Life magazine as 'the nation's finest manor house' and the gardens are equally as exquisite.

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Mapperton House and Gardens in the village of Beaminster in Dorset has its roots in the Domesday Book (as Malperetone - ‘farm where maple trees grow’) and since the 11th century it has been owned by just four families – Brett, Morgan, Brodrepp and Compton. It is the current home of the Earl and Countess of Sandwich one of the most beautiful in the country and was described by County Life magazine as ‘the nation’s finest manor house.’

The mansion dates back to the 1660s, is a perfect example of Stuart era architecture and design and as you explore the house you take a journey back through history, with centuries of design, architecture and decorations complimenting each other throughout every room.

The magnificently-kept gardens are rich in history and reflect three distinct time periods. On the top level croquet lawn there is evidence of a 17th century parterre and as you wander around you’ll find 1920’s Italianate grounds and an orangery and topiary added in the 1960s by the current Earl’s father.

There are even events held at Mapperton throughout the year such music recitals, theatrical performances, cream teas, charity plant fairs and Easter egg hunts but please refer to the website for details.

Art lovers are also well catered for with the Sandwich Collection featuring works by Lely, Van de Velde the Younger, Scott, Reynolds and Hogarth. There are several portraits of Edward Montagu, 1st Earl of Sandwich and Charles II’s first General-at-Sea in the 1660s and the ship models and naval paintings date mainly from this period.

The gorgeously British Mapperton House and Gardens are open from March to October and before you ask, yes, the café serves sandwiches…

Photo by sobolevnrm (cc)

Middleham Castle

Middleham Castle was the childhood home of King Richard III.

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Middleham Castle was a medieval castle built in the twelfth century and expanded by the influential Neville family to become a fortress by the middle of the fifteenth century.

Amongst others, Middleham Castle was the home of the most famous of the Neville family, Richard “the Kingmaker” Neville, who was the Earl of Warwick and who played an important role in the Wars of the Roses.

In fact, Warwick's continual ability to re-invent himself during this conflict saw him both tutor Richard, Duke of Gloucester, there between 1465 and 1468 and then imprison Richard’s brother, King Edward IV, in Middleham the very next year.

In 1460, after Warwick's defeat and death, Middleham Castle became the residence of George, Duke of Clarence and his brother, Richard, the sons of the Duke of York. Richard, then the Duke of Gloucester, would later become King Richard III.

Today, the ruins of Middleham Castle, which fell into disuse in the seventeenth century, show only a glimpse of its former lavish grandeur by way of its remaining stone walls.

Managed by English Heritage, Middleham Castle is open to the public and houses exhibits telling the story of this once imposing structure and of its former residents.

Visits usually last around an hour.

Photo by < J > (cc)

Moor Park Mansion

A listed Palladian mansion now used as a golf clubhouse

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Moor Park Mansion in Rickmansworth is a listed grade I Palladian mansion. It is largely the work of Benjamin Styles who owned the mansion in the 18th century, but its roots go back much further.

The original building was a palace, built for the abbots of St Albans. Henry VIII gave this palace, a short distance from the current house, to Cardinal Wolsey. Henry was royally entertained there by the Cardinal during his tenure. It was also the first place to which Henry's first wife, Katherine of Aragon, was exiled to when Henry decided to replace her with Anne Boleyn. This was because the air at The Moor (which was how it was known at the time) was not conducive to living a long life.

In 1670, Moor Park became the property of the Duke of Monmouth, who began to build the house in it's current position. The Duke was the illegitimate son of Charles II, through his liaison with Lucy Walters, while he was in exile after the execution of his father. Although he could not inherit the throne, it did not stop him from rebelling against his uncle James II. Monmouth's widow sold Moor Park to Benjamin Styles in 1720 who re-built the property.

Moor Park Mansion changed hands through several families until Lord Leverhulme, who made his fortune in soap and cleaning products, bought it in 1918. He had the famous golf course built in the grounds and financed this by selling off some of the land for the building of the Moor Park estate, a rather exclusive, gated development.

Moor Park Mansion now belongs to the club members and is their clubhouse. However, it is possible to tour Moor Park Mansion between April and October on Thursdays.

Photo by Historvius

Multangular Tower

The Multangular Tower is a third century AD ten-sided stone tower originally forming part of York’s Roman legionary fortress and now located in the gardens of the York Museum.

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The Multangular Tower is an imposing third century AD ten-sided stone tower originally forming part of York’s Roman legionary fortress and now located in the gardens of the York Museum.

The original Roman walls of York probably included eight defensive towers and were built in the late second or early third centuries AD. The tower has ten sides and is nine metres high. Originally there would have been three floors on the inside and a roof on top.

Today the Multangular Tower still forms part of the York City Walls. The lower half of the tower as it stands today contains the original Roman masonry while the upper half was reconstructed in the medieval period.

Photo by Historvius

Museum of London

The Museum of London explores the history of the UK’s capital city.

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The Museum of London explores the history of UK’s capital city through a series of exhibitions.

The contents of some galleries at the Museum of London are constantly changing, although there are nine permanent collections. These look at the development of the city since prehistoric times, through to Roman London, the medieval period, the Great Fire of London in 1666 and onwards, right up to present day.

Ranging from archaeological finds such as Roman ceramics to historic objects such as Oliver Cromwell’s death mask, the artefacts at the Museum of London offer an interesting and comprehensive insight into the city’s past.

There are also recreations of rooms and streets from different periods plus the chance to see an authentic medieval dungeon.

Photo by Nigels Europe (cc)

Nash’s House and New Place

Nash’s House and New Place represent the place where William Shakespeare spent his final years and where he died.

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Nash’s House and New Place are two sites which are closely connected to famous playwright, William Shakespeare.

Nash’s House is a Tudor-era building which takes its name from property owner and first husband of Shakespeare’s granddaughter, Thomas Nash. Inside, visitors can travel back in time, as the interior has been restored to as it was under his ownership.

Adjacent to Nash’s House are the foundations of New Place, which was the last home of the Bard himself from 1597. It was at New Place that he wrote some of his works, including The Tempest, and it was here that he died in 1616. Visitors to Nash’s House and New Place can see the remaining foundations at the site and even participate in the ongoing archaeological dig there.

Photo by ell brown (cc)

Nelson’s Column

Nelson’s Column is a monument dedicated to Admiral Lord Nelson in London’s Trafalgar Square.

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Nelson’s Column is a tribute to one of the great men in British history: Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, victor of many naval battles, including the Battle of Trafalgar (hence the name of the square).

Despite the fact that this battle was one of the most decisive victories in British naval history, it was also at this famous clash that Admiral Lord Nelson lost his life in 1805. Constructed in the nineteenth century, Nelson’s Column commemorates the death of this iconic figure.

He looks down at the square from the top of his 52m (170 foot) column, decorated at its foot by reliefs of Nelson’s victories and guarded by four lions, designed by Landseer. Admiral Nelson himself is 5m (17 feet) high.

Nelson’s Column is the best known of the statues in Trafalgar Square. One plinth still awaits a permanent tenant, and is currently used for a series of exhibits by British artists.

Trafalgar Square, where Nelson’s Column stands, is well known for a variety of uses: the Christmas tree donated each year by the Norwegians in thanks for their liberation at the end of World War II; political rallies of all descriptions; pigeons (once fed, now evicted); and, of course, New Year’s Eve celebrations.

On a more cultural note, on the north side of the square stands the National Gallery, home to some of the world’s most famous art.

Photo by littlemisspurps (cc)

North Leigh Roman Villa

North Leigh Roman Villa was a first century villa, the remains of which can be seen in Oxfordshire.

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North Leigh Roman Villa was built in the first century in what is now modern day Oxfordshire, UK.

Archaeologists believe that North Leigh Roman Villa was once a substantial building made up of approximately sixty rooms, however all that remains today are its ruins.

The main feature of the site is its preserved brown and red mosaic floor, which is now covered and is almost complete. North Leigh Roman Villa is an English Heritage site.

Photo by andreweland (cc)

Okehampton Castle

Okehampton Castle was once Devon’s largest castle and was listed in the Doomsday Book.

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Listed in the Doomsday Book of 1086, Okehampton Castle was built during Norman times and expanded in the fourteenth century, becoming the stately home of the Earl of Devon, Hugh Courtenay.

Okehampton Castle remained in the ownership of the Courtenay family until 1538, when Henry Courtenay entered into a dispute with Henry VIII and was executed in the Tower of London. Thereafter, Okehampton Castle fell into disuse.

The remains of Okehampton Castle are now open to the public and managed by English Heritage.

Photo by Tograph.co.uk (cc)

Old Gorhambury House

The ruins of a Tudor mansion that was the contemporary cutting-edge, Queen Elizabeth herself visited the property. The house gained repute as home to Sir Nicholas Bacon and later his celebrated son Sir Francis.

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Set in picturesque countryside, Old Gorhambury House is the ruins of a Tudor mansion built from in 1563 to 1568 which gained repute as home to the Lord Keeper Sir Nicholas Bacon and later his celebrated son Sir Francis. It was visited by Queen Elizabeth on a number of occasions.

Today, the site is maintained by the English Heritage Trust and is the perfect accompaniment to a visit to the new Gorhambury mansion; built c1777-84 in the Palladian style. A visit to the nearby water gardens of Sir Francis Bacon completes the magical journey through the estate’s history and a visit to Old Gorhambury House is certainly enough to keep any visitors entertained.

Like many clerical properties in Tudor England, shortly after its construction Old Gorhambury’s future was plunged into uncertainty. With the dissolution of Monastries and Chantries first under the great Tudor King Henry VIII and later pursued more rigorously by his son, the protestant boy king Edward VI, the mansion looked set to fall into disuse.

Fortunately, the site was purchased by a powerful man: Lord Keeper of the Seal, Sir Nicholas Bacon who, with the help of his son, improved the property leaving the beautiful remnants of Tudor architecture, and its focal porch, that make the ruins such an exciting visit even today.

Although the original exterior of the house was modest compared to the palatial homes of the Lord Keeper’s predecessors, Elizabeth’s remarks towards the ‘little house’ in 1572 prompted Sir Nicholas to extend it further; even adding a statue of her father (Henry VIII) to the rear of the property in time for the Queen’s next visit.

Later, when his son Francis’s political fortunes increased with the accession of James I, the many titles he received meant his stature, and in turn the stature of the property he had inherited, increased further.

Eventually, however, Old Gorhambury began to crumble, as did its owners reputation, and Sir Francis faced charges of bribery and corruption and found himself locked away in the notorious Tower of London.

Set in the backdrop of pretty countryside, the ruins make for an interesting and picturesque site which make it an interesting place to visit.

Contributed by Rebecca Lewis

Photo by jonboy mitchell (cc)

Orford Castle

Orford Castle was a 12th century fortified castle built during the reign of King Henry II.

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Orford Castle was originally built in 1165 under the orders of King Henry II. An impressive fortified stone structure surrounded by a curtain wall and several defensive mounds, Orford Castle was intended to protect the kingdom from invasion, both from the coast on which it was located and from within, particularly from internal threats such as that posed by the Anglian Barons including Framlingham’s Hugh Bigod.

Whilst much of Orford Castle has since been destroyed or eroded, the polygonal five-storey tower which remains is extremely well-preserved and offers visitors a great insight into the history of this vital stronghold. Exploring Orford Castle is a fascinating experience, its labyrinth of halls and rooms having remained virtually entirely intact including the well and the chapel.

Orford Castle’s museum displays a series of local and historical artefacts dating back as far as Ancient Roman Britain and encompassing everything from medieval coins to maps and photographs up to the present day.

Photo by Historvius

Penshaw Monument

Sitting throne-like overlooking Herrington County Park in Sunderland, the Penshaw Monument was built in 1844 to honour John George Lambton, the first Earl of Durham and is a half-size replica of the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens.

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Penshaw Monument is a folly that sits atop the 136-metre Penshaw Hill in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear. It was built in 1844 in honour of John George Lambton MP (1792-1840), 1st Earl of Durham and the first Governor of the Province of Canada. For his relentless campaigning for radical reform, he was nicknamed ‘Radical Jack’.

Designed by Newcastle-based father and son architects John and Benjamin Green and built by Thomas Pratt of Sunderland based on the Doric order, the Grade I listed monument is a half-size replica of the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens. Around £6,000 was raised by public subscription but the money ran out before the roof and inside walls could be added.

Looked after by the National Trust since 1939, the monument is 30 metres long, 16 metres wide and 20 metres high and is constructed from local gritstone from quarries owned by the Marquess of Londonderry. The views from the top of Penshaw Hill are exceptional and extend to Durham Cathedral to the north and the North Pennines to the south.

The Penshaw Monument is such a prominent local landmark that it even features on the club badge of Sunderland FC. It’s free and open all year but from Good Friday until the end of September you can climb to the top of the monument for £5 thanks to a spiral staircase hidden inside one of the columns. Bookings are taken through the National Trust website.

Photo by skuds (cc)

Penshurst Place

One of the best examples of a medieval fortified manor house in the UK, Penshurst is a well preserved medieval historic house which has strong royal connections.

DID YOU KNOW?

Penhurst Place in Kent, England, is a medieval fortified manor house which remains one of the best preserved of its kind in the UK.

Originally built in 1341 for Sir John de Pulteney, the Lord Mayor of London, the house has been altered several times through the centuries although the majority of what can still be seen today retains these early medieval and later Tudor-era roots.

As a prominent estate within reach of London, Penshurst Place has been owned by a number of significant figures, including two of Henry IV's sons, the Dukes of Buckingham and Henry VIII who hunted at Penshurst. It also provided a convenient place for Henry to stay as he courted Anne Boleyn, who lived at nearby Hever Castle. Penshurst Place has played host to a number of other royal guests, including Elizabeth I, James I, and the Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

Today, Penshurst Place is still owned by the same family who were granted the property in 1552 – the Sidney family. Open to the public for part of the year, Penshurst Place has an array of fascinating attractions – particularly the medieval State Rooms, including the 14th century Baron’s Hall which is one of the oldest, largest and best preserved medieval halls in the country. Visitors can view an array of a paintings, tapestries, arms & armour and furniture collected by the family over the centuries as well as the vaulted crypt.

Other attractions on offer at Penshurst include a Toy Museum, maize maze and an adventure playground – though some of these have additional entry charges.

Of course the other major draw of Penshurst that draws visitors from far and wide is the magnificent estate which includes eleven acres of walled gardens and 2,500 acres of estate, ancient parkland and woodland.

Photo by Pengannel (cc)

Pevensey Castle

Pevensey Castle is a picturesque ruin of a medieval castle built in the place where William the Conqueror landed in 1066.

DID YOU KNOW?

Pevensey Castle is a Norman castle built upon the fourth century AD Roman fort of Anderida, the substantial remains of which are still visible today. Indeed, the main outer defensive walls of the larger Roman fortification have survived very much intact, forming a wider outer ring within which the main castle now stands. These Roman walls are among the very best Roman remains to have survived in the UK.

Pevensey Castle itself, found within the south-east corner of the Roman walls, mostly dates back to the Norman invasion of 1066. In fact, Pevensey was the site where William the Conqueror landed in Britain on 28 September of that year. There the Normans found the fourth century AD Roman fort, upon which they built the first incarnation of Pevensey Castle in timber. Pevensey Castle was actually the first castle that William built.

Later under the Normans, in the twelfth century, the timber castle was replaced by a stone structure, the beginnings of the Pevensey Castle we see today. With an imposing gatehouse, bailey wall and square keep, Pevensey Castle was a mighty fortification. So much so that, despite several attempts to breach its walls - most notably in a siege carried out Simon de Montfort against the sheltering supporters of King Henry III in 1264 - Pevensey Castle survived the medieval period.

Over the centuries, Pevensey Castle would continue to be reinforced several times, including in the sixteenth century and during the Second World War. Now a picturesque ruin under the remit of English Heritage, Pevensey Castle is open to visitors. Amongst its attractions are the remaining elements of the Roman fort, which includes the majority of the original outer walls and towers, as well as the medieval dungeons.

Photo by HerryLawford (cc)

Plymouth Hoe

Plymouth Hoe has been the starting point of historic journeys by Sir Francis Drake and Captain James Cook as well as many others.

DID YOU KNOW?

Plymouth Hoe, known locally as “The Hoe”, has been the site from which many an historic voyage has begun.

In 1588, Sir Francis Drake was reputedly playing a game of bowls on Plymouth Hoe when the Spanish Armada was sighted off Cornwall heading east. Legend has it that on being told, he replied, "there is time to finish the game and thrash the Spaniards too".

As a scenic piece of land overlooking Plymouth Sound, Plymouth Hoe has seen some of the most famous names from the pages of history sail before it; Pocahontas, Napoleon Bonaparte, Charles Darwin, the surviving crew of the Titanic, Sir Ernest Shackleton, Captain James Cook, the Pilgrim Fathers aboard the Mayflower, Sir Francis Chichester and Lawrence of Arabia (as aircraftsman Shaw was stationed on the shore of the Sound).

Notably, Captain Robert Falcon Scott was born in Plymouth and close to Plymouth Hoe is a memorial to his fatal last attempt on the South Pole.

Other important memorials in Plymouth Hoe include the RAF Memorial, the Naval War Memorial, the National Armada memorial, the Burma Star, the Falklands War memorial and the Drake Statue (the believed site where he played that famous bowls game), amongst many others.

Visitors to Plymouth Hoe can see its reconstructed Smeaton’s Tower lighthouse and the Royal Citadel, a 17th century fort built by Charles II to protect the coastline and keep the locals in line following the English Civil War.

Photo by Tim Green (cc)

Pontefract Castle

Originally a Norman structure, Pontefract castle played an increasingly important role in English Royal history for over 500 years. Today it lies in ruins but has much for visitors to enjoy, including its underground dungeons.

DID YOU KNOW?

Pontefract Castle was a key strategic military stronghold in Northern England which played a crucial role in many of the country’s most bitter conflicts for over five hundred years.

The land that now houses the remains of one of the most notorious castles in England was given to Ilbert de Lacy soon after the Norman Conquest of 1066AD. While not always finding themselves on the right side of the various power struggles of the period, the Lacy family by and large remained in residence at Pontefract, if sometimes as tenants of the King rather than owners.

During their tenure they continued to improve the castle, upgrading the original motte and bailey structure with a more permanent and larger military fortress which the famous king Edward I described as the “key to the north”.

One of the most infamous moments in Pontefract Castle’s history came in 1399, when Henry IV, a Lancastrian, used it to imprison and murder the deposed king Richard II. With the accession of the Lancastrians to the throne, Pontefract quickly began to hold a key position in the north of England, growing in size and importance whilst other castles nearby dwindled. Pontefract remained a Lancastrian stronghold during the Wars of the Roses.

Other notable events said to have taken place here include the surrender of the castle to the ‘Pilgrimage of Grace’ rebels – who rose up against Henry VIII – as well as being a setting for the infamous liaisons between Henry’s fifth queen, Catherine Howard, and Thomas Culpeper.

During the English Civil War it was the last Royalist fortress to surrender and underwent numerous sieges until Parliament, more specifically Oliver Cromwell, ordered its demolition following Charles I’s execution.

Pontefract has a history rife with famous prisoners – Richard II, James I of Scotland and Charles Duke of Orleans were all imprisoned at different times in one of the castle’s many dungeons. When Edward II crushed his opposition, Thomas of Lancaster was executed here, and throughout the Wars of the Roses many rebels were put to death at the site.

Today Pontefract Castle hold but a shadow of its former glory. Parts of the original motte and bailey wall can still be seen, as can remnants of the chapel. Unfortunately nothing remains of the Great Hall except the cellars underneath.

One of the most fascinating aspects for visitors are the so-called ‘Magazine Tours’ which take people underground to view the castle’s notorious cellars and dungeons, as well as the writing and names scratched onto the walls by the unfortunate prisoners.

Recent excavation at the castle has unearthed many English Civil War items, both domestic and military, from helmets and spurs to spoons and combs. They will eventually be house at the Pontefract Museum.

Contributed by Ros Gammie

Photo by scalespeeder (cc)

Portchester Castle

Portchester Castle has been a Roman fort, a Norman keep and even a wartime prison.

DID YOU KNOW?

Portchester Castle in Hampshire offers a fantastic insight into various periods of British history and originally dates back to the Roman era.

Built during Roman times, probably in the third century AD, Portchester Castle is the country’s only example of a Roman fort whose walls still stand complete up to around six metres.

Over the centuries, Portchester Castle has been renovated and rebuilt many times and its use has altered to suit the needs of its owners. In the eleventh century, parts of Portchester Castle were rebuilt into a Norman keep and in the fourteenth century Richard II transformed it into a palace. Like their Roman predecessor, both of these incarnations served a defensive function.

Yet, during the Napoleonic Wars, the role of Portchester Castle changed, as it became a prison for around 7,000 French prisoners of war. This change was due in large part to the reduced importance of Portchester Castle as a defensive structure following the building of the Portsmouth Royal Dockyard by King Henry VII.

Today, Portchester Castle is run by English Heritage who offer audio tours and exhibitions about the site as well as children’s activities.

Photo by Mr ATM (cc)

Porthcuno Telegraph Museum

The Porthcurno Telegraph Museum examines the history of telegraphic development as well as housing Britain’s vital WWII underground communications centre.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Porthcurno Telegraph Museum is a museum dedicated to the history of telegraphic development and is the site of one of the most historically important communications centres in the UK.

In what would become one of the most ground-breaking events in modern communications, the first trans-Atlantic telegraph cables were laid in the 1870s and came ashore in Porthcurno, as it is the westernmost point in Britain. It was a vital in keeping contact with other parts of the world.

The original cables used binary telegraphy and Porthcurno soon became the busiest (and probably the most important) communications station in the world. From its establishment in the 1870s to its closure in 1970, telegraphy underwent huge changes, and as technology evolved, so Porthcurno became redundant in its original purpose.

Cable and Wireless, who by this time owned the business in Porthcurno, made good use of the buildings as a training school for their workers from around the world. The museum was established when the college was moved in 1993.

One of the most spectacular aspects of the museum is the underground WWII tunnels, from where vital communications between Britain and her allies were run. These caves and tunnels have been left more or less as they were throughout WWII.

Overall, Porthcurno Telegraph Museum is a fascinating place to visit, and has a lot of interactive activities for children (and/or adults) as well as exhibitions on the development of modern communications technology, mobile phones and the internet.

You should allow no less than an hour and a half to explore it.

Photo by Darren Shilson (cc)

Restormel Castle

Restormel Castle was a thirteenth century castle in Cornwall, the ruins of which are well preserved.

DID YOU KNOW?

Restormel Castle was a stone castle defended by a moat and located on a large mound overlooking Cornwall. Its historic ruins, which date back to the late 13th and early 14th century and may have been built by King Edmund, are made up of a dramatic circular stone keep. It is thought that an earlier castle, one originally constructed by Norman conquerors in the 11th century, once stood on the site of Restormel Castle and some aspects of this original castle still remain today.

Initially part of the Manor of Bodardle, Restormel would go on to be owned by Edward, The Black Prince, in the 14th century before it later fell into disuse. In 1644, Restormel Castle found a short reprieve from dereliction as a stronghold in the English Civil War. At this time, it was captured by the Royalist, Sir Richard Grenville.

Today, Restormel Castle is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall and is managed by English Heritage.

Photo by chelmsfordblue (cc)

Richard III Museum

The Richard III Museum is a small museum in York's historic Monk Bar, dedicated to the life of this famous English monarch.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Richard III Museum, contained within the medieval gatehouse known as Monk Bar, is a small museum dedicated to the life of this famous English monarch.

As well as examining the life of this controversial king, the Richard III Museum also sets out a mock-trial of Richard III over the charge that he killed his nephews in the Tower of London. The exhibition sets out the evidence and challenges the visitor to decide whether Richard III is guilty or innocent.

Other elements which can be explored within the Richard III Museum are a small medieval prison cell and other exhibits looking at the life of King Richard III.

Monk Bar itself is one of the gatehouses in York’s medieval walls. Built in the mid-fourteenth century, it is the tallest of such constructions. It even contains a rare example of a working portcullis, which was last lowered in 1953. It is believed that the uppermost rooms of Monk Bar were added by Richard III himself in 1484.

Photo by Historvius

Richard III: Leicester’s Search for a King Exhibition

Discover the exciting exhibition at Leicester's medieval Guildhall, detailing the archaeological search for the lost grave of King Richard III...

DID YOU KNOW?

A new exhibition located in Leicester’s Guildhall, ‘Richard III - Leicester's Search for a King’ details the background and details of the discovery of the remains of King Richard III of England, who died at the Battle of Bosworth Field in August 1485.

Covering both the story of Richard himself and that of the archaeological project set up to trace his remains, the exhibition details the techniques used to find and identify his remains – including the DNA technology employed to confirm the discovery was genuine.

The exhibition also includes interactive panels and other multimedia presentations and even a model of King Richard's skull, made from the CT scan of the skeleton.

It should be noted that ‘Richard III - Leicester's Search for a King’ is a temporary exhibition, running until 2014.

Photo by trenchdroid (cc)

Richborough Roman Fort

Richborough Roman Fort in Kent marks the site where the Romans successfully invaded Britain in 43 AD.

DID YOU KNOW?

Richborough Roman Fort, originally called “Rutupiae”, in Kent marks the site where the Romans successfully invaded Britain in 43 AD.

Known by many as the “gateway to Britain” and also Richborough Castle, Richborough Roman Fort is thought to have begun as a military stronghold for the invading Roman soldiers and developed into a civilian town and one of the country’s main ports. One reminder of the leisure facilities of this historic town can be seen around five minutes away in the form of the vague remnants of an amphitheatre.

When visiting Richborough Roman Fort, it is hard to believe that this now very much land-based site was a coastal defensive structure. However, in 2008, archaeologists discovered the location of the original Roman coast.

The impressive stone walls that still stand at Richborough Roman Fort are the remains of a wall fort built by the Romans in the late third century AD to protect against the Saxons. Visitors can also see remaining defensive ditches and the ruin of a first century triumphal arch.

Roman Bath House Museum

In 1930 in the basement of the Mail Coach Inn in St. Sampson’s Square in York, renovators stumbled across the 1,900 year old remains of a Roman ‘caldarium’, or steam bath.

DID YOU KNOW?

In 1930 when the Mail Coach Inn in St. Sampson’s Square in York was undergoing renovations, builders uncovered the 1,900 year-old remains of a Roman ‘caldarium’, or steam bath. The bath house was used by the soldiers of the Legio XI Hispana (Spanish Ninth Legion) who were stationed in Eboracum – modern day York – from 71AD to c.121AD.

The caldarium and the neighbouring plunge pools were excavated and the small museum, now in the basement of the Roman Bath pub displays a snapshot of the life of a Roman legionnaire.

Roman ‘caldaria’ were not just for bathing. They were more like a cross between a leisure centre and a casino where cleaning the body and dirtying the mind were de rigeur. Deals were agreed, games were played for money, exercise was done and the atmosphere was rowdy. Not too far removed from modern day pubs…

Today visitors can see the well-preserved remains of a semi-circular bath, the hypocaust – the underfloor heating system where steam from the furnaces is pushed through, warming up the floor tiles – and the apsidal walls as well as armour and weapons. Some of the tiles appear to show the official seal of the Legio XI Hispana and you can clearly see the imprints in the tiles of nails from the sandals of the soldiers.

Rumours of recent patrons hearing the ghostly sounds of splashing water and the clunk of a spear or shield are largely unfounded but for an up close and personal look at Roman life in York almost 2,000 years ago, visit the Roman Baths pub. You’re assured of a lot more than a pint and a pie!

Photo by Historvius

Roman Baths - Bath

The Roman Baths in Bath is an Ancient Roman thermal spa and one of the best preserved examples of its kind.

DID YOU KNOW?

The world famous Roman Baths complex in Bath, UK, contains an incredible set of thermal spas and an impressive ancient Roman bathing house.

First discovered in the nineteenth century, the Roman Baths are one of the best preserved ancient Roman sites in the UK and form a major tourist attraction.

Among the best known ancient baths in the world, the Romans Baths were initially built as part of the town of Aqua Sulis, which was founded in 44 AD. Vast and lavish, the baths were able to accommodate far more people than just the residents of this town and were intended as a place for people to visit from across the Empire. As with other bath complexes of the time, the Roman Baths at Bath were a focal point for the town, a place to socialise and even a religious site.

It is unsurprising that the Romans chose to build such magnificent baths in this location. The area benefits from hot springs from the Mendip Hills, which arrive at the Roman Baths at a temperature of 46 degrees Celsius and rise due to enormous pressure. In fact, prior to the Romans discovering these springs, the Celts dedicated this phenomenon to the Godess Sulis. The Romans equated Sulis with their own deity, Minerva, and kept the original name, calling the town Aqua Sulis – the waters of Sulis.

Today, the Roman Baths offer an incredibly comprehensive insight into the lives of the ancient Romans in the town and around Britain. The site looks quite small from the outside, but it is actually vast and a visit can last several hours.

One of the first things one sees upon entering the site is a view from the terrace above the Great Bath. Overlooked by nineteenth century statues of various Roman icons, this is the centrepiece of the site and a first glimpse into what lies ahead. Later on in the tour, visitors arrive at the Great Bath, where it is possible to stand right alongside the water. There are even costumed characters on site to create an authentic mood and entertain young children.

The sacred spring is next along the tour. Visible through a floor to ceiling window, visitors can view the original spring of hot water, which was dedicated to Minerva due to its believed healing powers. The spring was also a place of worship and the place where people threw coins, curses, wishes and prayers. Many of these messages can be seen at the Roman Baths and range from the humorous to the sinister.

The Temple and the Temple Courtyard were sacred places at the Baths from the late first century until 391 AD, when the Temple was closed by Emperor Theodosius as Christianity rose to become the Empire’s state religion. Walking through the Temple Courtyard, videos are shown to demonstrate what this once magnificent site would have looked like and how it was used. It is also here that one can see the gilded bronze statue of the head of Minerva.

Amongst the other sites at the Roman Baths, there is a comprehensive museum dedicated to exploring the lives of the ancient Roman citizens of Bath and an ancient drain used as an overflow system. Around the Great Bath itself, visitors can explore the numerous saunas, swimming pools, heated baths and changing facilities at the site.

Audio tours, available in English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Dutch, Japanese and Mandarin and are included in the ticket price or visitors can join one of the hourly guided tours. The audio tour includes sections by the famous author Bill Bryson, and there are also children’s audio guides. You can even download the audio tour in advance from the Roman Baths official website.

Photo by AndyHay (cc)

Roman Ribchester

The remains of Ribchester Roman Fort and the Ribchester Roman Bathhouse can be seen alongside the Ribchester Roman Museum.

DID YOU KNOW?

The modern day village of Ribchester is situated on the site of what was once a large Roman fort and settlement known as Bremetennacum Veteranorum. Today, the remains of Ribchester Roman Fort and the Ribchester Roman Bathhouse can be seen alongside the Ribchester Roman Museum, which showcases the best of the history of the site.

It is believed a first incarnation of Ribchester Roman Fort was built in 72AD as a timber fortification. This Roman fort would have housed a military garrison and would have been used to secure the local area as well as provide a strategic link to other Roman military fortifications in the area. The fortress was built at a crossing over the River Ribble, at a point where the Roman roads from Chester, York, and Carlisle converged. The fort was later rebuilt in stone, probably in the mid-to-late second century AD.

Excavations of Roman Ribchester have revealed ruins of the Ribchester Roman Fort itself, as well as uncovering the remains granaries, timber buildings, a kiln, roman bath house and pottery dating from 69 AD to the 4th century.

Today visitors can see the remains of the fort itself as well as the Ribchester Roman Baths. The interesting Ribchester Roman Museum contains many artefacts from Neolithic to Roman times and beyond as well as showcasing an interactive 3D model of 3rd Century AD Ribchester.

Photo by Mr ATM (cc)

Royal Navy Submarine Museum

Home of the WWII submarine HMS Alliance, the Royal Navy Submarine Museum is a family-orientated, interactive museum detailing the history of British submarine warfare.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Royal Navy Submarine Museum is located a stone’s throw away from the busy historic Portsmouth docks. As home to HMS Alliance and four other submarines including the Royal Navy’s first submarine, Holland I, the museum takes an interactive approach to history; visitors can walk in and around the five submarines, experiencing for themselves what life on one of the vessels would have been like during their deployment.

Five submarines make up the museum’s collection: Holland I, the first submarine commissioned by the Royal Navy in 1901; HMS X24, which saw service during WWII; the German torpedo submarine Biber; and HMS Alliance, commissioned in 1947. Each submarine is paired with a gallery of information pertaining to its history, giving children and adults alike the chance to see the history they are reading about.

Visitors can partake in forty minute guided tours of HMS Alliance given by a submariner who will regale his audience with stories of life below the sea. Or you can wander by yourself as the children explore the newly opened ‘Horrible Science of Submarines’ exhibition.

The museum also contains an extensive collection of historic photographs and artefacts available for visitors to browse, including medals, equipment, art and personal effects of those who lived and served onboard the vessels and ones like them.

Throughout the year the museum hosts a variety of talks, presentations and readings by a variety of guests. Whichever time of year you choose to visit there is bound to be something for all the family.

Contributed by Isabelle Moore

Photo by Historvius

Sandal Castle

Sandal Castle was the site of an important battle in the Wars of the Roses.

DID YOU KNOW?

Sandal Castle is a ruin of an historic castle believed to date back to the twelfth century and which played an important role in the Wars of the Roses.

In the latter half of 1460, Richard of York, who was making a bid for the throne, was at Sandal Castle when he was lured into an ambush by the Lancastrians. This resulted in the Battle of Wakefield.

The result was devastating for the Yorkists. Richard of York, Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury and Edmund, York’s second son were among the many Yorkist casualties. York’s head, complete with a paper crown was sent to the city of York, there to be displayed over one of the gates "so that York could look out over York". His son Edmund’s head was displayed on the same gate. The Battle of Wakefield marked a major victory for the Lancastrians.

The battlefield itself is now covered by a housing estate, but the ruins of Sandal Castle can be seen about a quarter of a mile from the A61 Wakefield to Barnsley road.

Guided tours of Sandal Castle are available from the visitor centre on Wood Street, which also exhibits the finds from several excavations of Sandal. 

Photo by AndrewH324 (cc)

Segedunum Roman Fort

Segedunum Roman Fort was one of the Ancient Roman wall forts of Hadrian’s Wall.

DID YOU KNOW?

Segedunum Roman Fort was one of the ancient Roman wall forts of Hadrian’s Wall, the iconic UNESCO-listed barrier built under the Emperor Hadrian from 122 AD.

There were several wall forts along the 73-mile stretch of Hadrian’s Wall, each garrisoned by Roman soldiers. From around 122 AD, Segedunum Roman Fort held 600 soldiers and was one of the eastern forts along the wall. It would continue to perform this role for a period of around 300 years. After this time, the fate of Segedunum Roman Fort is unknown, except that it was built over in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries only to be uncovered from the 1970s onwards.

The interactive museum at Segedunum Roman Fort displays a myriad of finds excavated at the site of the fort including armour and weaponry. It also houses everyday objects including one very unique object - the only known Roman British stone toilet seat.

Visitors to Segedunum Roman Fort can view the remains of the fort itself as well as its reconstructed Roman baths. Segedunum Roman Fort is also a good place to see a section of Hadrian’s Wall, especially from atop the 35 metre viewing tower.

Photo by Neil T (cc)

Selby Abbey

In existence since 1069, Selby Abbey has been used for worship for over 900 years. In the heart of Yorkshire and often known as the hidden gem of the county, it is not especially well known despite being unmatched in its beauty and archaic stance.

DID YOU KNOW?

Selby Abbey is a beautiful Norman church in the heart of Yorkshire, England, with a history dating back to 1069AD.

The original Selby Abbey was constructed towards the end of the 11th century after a monk, known as Benedict of Auxerre, had a vision whereupon he was called by St. Germain to build a new monastery at ‘Selebiae’.

Over the next 500 years approximately 35 abbots led Selby Abbey, with constant additions being added to the structure. Over time, the abbey became one of the most renowned churches in England, with regular visits from kings and nobility, who often bestowed ornate gifts upon it.

Unfortunately, as with so many other abbeys, following Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries Selby Abbey found itself on the wrong side of history. Though the church building itself survived, Selby became a shadow of its former self and was left to slowly decay – with large parts of the structure, including the central tower, falling to ruin.

However, the history and legacy of this great building led many to campaign for its restoration, and in the middle of the 19th century the church was repaired and reconstructed. Despite further fire damage in 1906, Selby Abbey was once again sympathetically restored leaving the building we now know, which still clings to its historic Norman roots.

Today, visitors can tour Selby Abbey when it is not in use for services and can explore the rich narrative of this historic church. In addition, the abbey is often used to host concerts and other performances from a host of renowned acts.

It is worth noting that Selby Abbey is stillI an active place of worship and often has weddings and christenings taking place there. Currently a restoration programme is also underway.

Contributed by Victoria Haughton

Photo by access.denied (cc)

Sheffield Manor Lodge

Once a prominent Tudor country estate and one-time prison of Mary Queen of Scots, the remains of Sheffield Manor Lodge include the well-preserved Tudor Turret House.

DID YOU KNOW?

Originally a fine Tudor country estate, the remains of Sheffield Manor Lodge are now an important visitor attraction and give a glimpse into medieval history.

The site upon which the Manor Lodge was built was located within an ancient deer park, and it is likely that a far older hunting lodge stood on the site to serve the administration of the park and to house those who visited the area.

In the early 16th century the Earl of Shrewsbury considerably updated this medieval structure and it became more manor house than hunting lodge. Further renovations were carried out in the 1570s, completing the transformation of the site into an impressive Tudor estate.

Notable figures to have spent time at the Lodge include the infamous Cardinal Wolsey, who resided here for a few days after falling from favour with Henry VIII, and Mary Queen of Scots, who spent 14 of her 19 years of captivity in Sheffield and was brought to the Manor Lodge on several occasions.

By the early 18th century the Manor Lodge had largely been abandoned by its owners and was largely demolished, leaving only a shadow of the site's former grandeur.

Today the most prominent aspect of the Manor Lodge to have survived is the original Tudor Turret House, which can be explored through organised tours. The ruins of a number of other structures from the site can also be viewed and are currently under excavation.

A recent renovation project on the site has seen the development of a Discovery Centre, which takes visitors through the history of the estate, while the surrounding park and gardens are also a popular draw and offer excellent views of the city.

Photo by vintagedept (cc)

Silbury Hill

A Stone Age chalk mound with a mysterious past, Silbury Hill is the largest man-made mound in Europe.

DID YOU KNOW?

Only 1500 meters south of the main Avebury Rings stands Silbury Hill, the largest, and perhaps the most enigmatic, of all megalithic constructions in Europe.

Crisscrossing the surrounding countryside are numerous meandering lines of standing stones and mysterious underground chambers, many positioned according to astronomical alignments.

Believed to date back to between 2400 and 2000BC, Silbury Hill rises 30 metres and has a circular base which measures 160-metres wide. The origins of Silbury Hill remain a mystery to this day, but most archeologists believe it was a ceremonial or religious site.

Photo by Charles D P Miller (cc)

Silchester Roman Town

Silchester Roman Town flourished from the mid-first century AD and was eventually abandoned.

DID YOU KNOW?

Silchester Roman Town is home to the remains of Calleva Atrebatum, a town which flourished under the Romans in the mid-first century AD. Built on the site of what had been an Iron Age trading hub, Calleva Atrebatum itself became a busy town crammed with shops, homes and several public amenities including a forum basilica, temples, public baths and an amphitheatre.

It is unclear as to when and why exactly Silchester Roman Town was abandoned. Estimates place its decline somewhere between 550 and 650 AD, much after the erection of the town walls in the third century and the end of Roman rule in the fifth century. Much has been made of the fact that no medieval settlement took its place.

Today, visitors to Silchester Roman Town can see its remaining ruins, those a mile and half walk of the walls and the amphitheatre. There is an audio guide to download from the English Heritage website. During six weeks of the summer, the main excavation site, run by Reading University, is also open.

Photo by cybaea (cc)

St Albans

St Albans is a wonderful market town and the site of the execution of Britain’s first Christian martyr (209AD).

DID YOU KNOW?

The town of St Albans has something for everyone. Originally a Celtic British settlement known as Verlamion, the town was conquered by the Romans and re-named Verulamium. Despite suffering great destruction during the revolt of Boudicca in 60-61AD, the town was re-built and became a thriving settlement.

St Albans has been witness to many key moments of English history, including part of the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. The city was also the site of two battles in the Wars of the Roses. A short history of the city can be found here.

There are historic Roman remains in St Albans, including those of an impressive Roman theatre. Excavations which took place in the 1930s revealed a wealth of additional evidence from the Roman town including a hypocaust, mosaic flooring and roman walls which can all be seen in Verulamium Park. Many Roman artifacts can be seen in Verulamium Museum. The park also boasts what is said to be one of England’s oldest pubs, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks.

The impressive site of St Albans Cathedral contains the shrine of St Alban - a Roman convert to Christianity who became Britain’s first martyr after he was executed for sheltering a Christian priest. The historic site has seen several incarnations - a Norman building replaced a Saxon monastery and even incorporated some Roman bricks which can still be seen in the building today. Significant restoration work was carried out in the nineteenth century by Gilbert Scott and Lord Grimthorpe.

There are a number of other attractions to see in the city and around the area, including a medieval clock tower and the de Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre and Mosquito Museum. The Museum of St Albans on Hatfield Road tells the story of the medieval and Victorian history of the city and the social history of the area.

Photo by Stuart (cc)

St Bride’s Church

Located in London’s journalistic heartland of Fleet Street, St Bride’s is a restored 17th century church, steeped in history and originally designed by Sir Christopher Wren.

DID YOU KNOW?

Located in London’s journalistic heartland of Fleet Street, St Bride’s is a restored 17th century church, steeped in history and originally designed by Sir Christopher Wren.

A succession of churches has existed on the site for over 1,000 years and the site’s history stretches even further into the past right back to the Roman era. Located in the heart of London, an early medieval incarnation of St Bride’s Church was destroyed during the Great Fire of London in 1666 before Wren’s design was built as a replacement. In more modern times St Bride’s Church was severely damaged during the bombing of London in the Second World War.

Today the restored St Bride’s forms a well-known part of the centre of London and visitors can not only see the church itself but also the underground crypt - including the Roman mosaic pavement - as well as the subterranean Medieval Chapel.

Photo by Peter Trimming (cc)

St Dunstan in the East

The majestic ruins of the ancient church of St Dunstan-in-the-East represent one of London’s best hidden gems and now form the centre point of a pretty public garden.

DID YOU KNOW?

The majestic ruins of the ancient church of St Dunstan-in-the-East represent one of London’s best hidden gems and now form the centre point of a pretty public garden.

First built around 1100AD, the church was severely damaged during the Great Fire of London in 1666 before being largely repaired and rebuilt. This 17th century construction included an impressive steeple designed by the famous architect Sir Christopher Wren.

Rebuilt again due to structural failures in the early 18th century, this scenic church was finally brought to ruin in the 20th century when it was largely destroyed during the Blitz. This time St Dunstan in the East was not reconstructed and instead the ruins form the boundaries of a picturesque public garden in the very heart of London.

An ideal place for a little peaceful relaxation and escape from the hustle and bustle, these hidden and secluded ruins are a real treat to discover.

Photo by Alex S. Bayley (cc)

St James’s Palace

St James’s Palace has been the official residence of the British Sovereign since the reign of King Henry VIII.

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St James’s Palace has been the official residence of the British Sovereign since the reign of King Henry VIII.

In fact, it was under Henry VIII that the redbrick Tudor structure of St James’s Palace was begun in 1531 on the former site of a hospital. It was mostly completed by 1536. Much of this original work remains today, including a gatehouse, parts of the state rooms and the Chapel Royal.

With its status of royal residence, St James’s Palace has played host to many an important event. Amongst these was the death of Henry VIII’s illegitimate son Henry Fitzroy in 1536, the signing of the treaty of the surrender of Calais by Mary Tudor in 1558 and the births and baptisms of numerous future monarchs such as Charles II, James II, Mary II and James Francis Edward Stuart.

Today, St James’s Palace is still a working palace, although it has not served as a de facto royal residence since the reign of Queen Victoria, when this role was taken over by Buckingham Palace. Instead, St James’s Palace houses the offices of several members of the royal family including Princes William and Harry and is used for official functions. As such, it is not open to the public.

Photo by Historvius

St Mary’s Abbey

St Mary’s Abbey is a picturesque ruined Benedictine abbey in York, located in York Museum Gardens.

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St Mary's Abbey is a picturesque ruined Benedictine abbey in York, located in York Museum Gardens.

The abbey was founded in 1088 and the surviving ruins date from a rebuilding programme begun in 1270 and finished by 1294.

One of the largest and richest Benedictine monasteries and one of the largest landholders in Yorkshire, St Mary's Abbey was closed and subsequently substantially destroyed during the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII.

St Mary’s Church Nether Alderley

Beautiful 14th Century Church Open every Sunday afternoon from Easter to September

DID YOU KNOW?

St Mary's Church of Nether Alderley in Cheshire is a picturesque 14th century church. The site is open for guided tours every Sunday from Easter to September.

Photo by garryknight (cc)

St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral is an iconic historic building in central London and the seat of the Diocese of London.

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Carved into London’s skyline, St Paul’s Cathedral is the city’s central church and the seat of the Diocese of London. The current building of St Paul’s Cathedral was built between 1675 and 1710, however the site on which it sits has been home to cathedrals since 604 AD. In fact, the St Paul’s Cathedral seen today is the fourth of its kind.

The first St Paul’s was ransacked by Vikings and rebuilt in 962 and a fire destroyed the second. The third and penultimate incarnation of St Paul’s fared no better and was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666.

St Paul’s fascinating history is inextricably intertwined with that of the nation. It was at St Paul’s Cathedral that the marriage of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer. Many of important events from around the world have been marked at St Paul’s including the end of the First and Second World Wars, royal jubilees and birthdays and commemorations of events such Remembrance Day and 11 September 2001.

Visitors can see the magnificent architecture of St Paul’s Cathedral, originally designed by Sir Christopher Wren as well as the artwork and decorations which have been changed and added to over the centuries.

St Paul’s Cathedral is also a famous burial site. Its crypt houses many world famous icons, including Admiral Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Christopher Wren, whose funerals were hosted at the cathedral. Though not buried at St Paul's, the state funeral of Sir Winston Churchill was also held here.

Guided tours are available in English and last approximately ninety minutes. Audio tours are available in English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Russian, Japanese and Chinese (Mandarin).

Photo by T Wake (cc)

Stourhead

A stately home set in the Wiltshire countryside, Stourhead House and Estate includes a wealth of impressive attractions – from the eighteenth century house to the ornate gardens and grounds with their Romanesque temples. Fun for all the family, this site won’t disappoint.

DID YOU KNOW?

Stourhead is a prominent British stately home set in the Wiltshire countryside which is now run by the National Trust. Stourhead is famous for its impressive 2,650-acre estate and gardens, which attract tens of thousands of visitors every year.

Though much of the house dates back to the early eighteenth century, a devastating fire caused serious damage to the central block of the house in 1902 and therefore what you see today is a mixture of original and restored construction – albeit designed to entirely reflect the original design.

Inside Stourhead House itself much of the decoration and layout reflects the life of Richard Colt Hoare (1758-1838), grandson of the estate’s original owner, Henry Hoare II. Visitors glimpse into the life of a man burdened by grief after the loss of his wife and second child, he was a worldly man and scholar who poured his life and soul into his Wiltshire home - adding impressively to its stature. Highlights of the property include a spectacular library and picture gallery, all set overlooking a striking artificial lake.

Also situated at Stourhead is King Alfred’s Tower a historical attraction in its own right. Named after Alfred the Great, the Anglo-Saxon King of Wessex who raised his standard here while the Battle of Ethundan was won nearby, the tower was built to celebrate the accession of George III to the throne after the end of the Seven Years’ War.

The true gem of Stourhead does not, however, lay hidden in its lavish interior but rather it is outside in the garden where the site truly comes into its own. The gardens, completed over decades, demonstrate the evolving aesthetic attitudes that bore so many great British gardens throughout the latter eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, inviting guests not just to look but to arrive and experience.

The classical gardens, born out of enlightenment inspiration, hark back to the perceived dignity of ancient Rome, evoking images of Vergil’s Aneid at every turn, boasting temples to Apollo and Flora, a Romanesque Pantheon and several grottos. Moreover, historians have often commented on the gardens' biblical implications, suggesting that the ‘pilgrims’ who walk this path see it as a modern day Eden: A paradise given, lost and regained.

Set in these impressive parklands, Stourhead is an excellent example of British architecture, landscape and design. A full day is required to appreciate all that this fantastic National Trust site has to offer, so feel free to bring the family, pooches and picnics as well.

Contributed by Rebecca Lewis

Sutton Hoo

Site of discovery of Anglo-Saxon ship burial.

DID YOU KNOW?

In the 1940s, a complete Anglo-Saxon ship burial was discovered at Sutton Hoo. It is one of the most coherent and significant finds of materials from the Anglo-Saxon period.

This article is a stub and is currently being expanded by our editorial team.

Photo by Alan Stanton (cc)

The Foundling Museum

The Foundling Museum tells the story of the famous orphanage which once stood on the site as well as holding an important art collection of works donated to it.

DID YOU KNOW?

Located within the site of London’s first home for abandoned children, the Foundling Museum tells the story of this institution and explores the history of the children who lived here.

As well as collections, artefacts and photos looking at the stories of the children themselves, the Foundling Museum also contains a startling collection of paintings, sculptures, manuscripts and prints, donated by the many artists who were patrons of the institution.

The museum is known for housing a large collection of Hogarth paintings after the artist became a significant backer of the charity, Hogarth encouraged his fellow artists to also donate, and this led to the foundling hospital becoming England’s first public art gallery. Works that can be found within the collection include those from artists such as Thomas Gainsborough, Joshua Reynolds, Francis Hayman, Joseph Highmore, Thomas Hudson, Allan Ramsay and John Michael Rysbrack.

However, among the most poignant of the collections within the museum is actually that of the foundling tokens. Upon the admission of a child, mothers would pin tokens (often everyday objects, such as buttons) so that their children would be recognised as their own if the mothers ever went to pick them up. While the practice of admitting children with tokens ceased in the late 19th century following a more sophisticated system of admission (such as issuing the mothers with receipts), a large collection of these original tokens can still be viewed.

The museum holds a number of events throughout the year, such as talks on the women that were forced to go to the hospital for help, as well as talks on the items that the museum holds. A perfect way to spend an afternoon.

Contributed by Victoria Haughton

The Geffrye Museum of the Home

The Geffrye Museum in Shoreditch is dedicated to the changing styles of homes and gardens covering four centuries of styles, tastes, furnishings and decorations from 17th century oak panelling to today’s ultra-modern decor.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Geffrye Museum in Shoreditch is a fascinating journey through British homes of the last four centuries and explores how people lived - and live! Showcasing the ways in which homes over the years have been decorated and used, the Geffrye Museum has a number of period rooms that show the changing influences and styles of the people who came before us.

There are also beautiful period gardens to walk through showing changing styles and the evolving needs and practicalities of the British garden, including the walled herb garden.

Visitors to the museum will find 11 period rooms (from around 1700 to the present day) and four period gardens as well as a walled herb garden, all arranged in chronological order. There is also a perfectly restored 18th century alms house (open on selected days throughout the year) which provides a look into the lives of London’s poor in the 17th and 18th centuries. In each room there are artefacts and objects (including photographs of real homes), to aid the authenticity of each display.

The Geffrye Museum is a wonderful day out for the whole family where you’ll find a snapshot of the changing styles of British homes and families over the last 400 years.

Photo by Stazjia (cc)

The Great Fire of London Monument

The Great Fire of London Monument commemorates the major fire of 1666.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Great Fire of London Monument, often known simply as “The Monument” is a Doric column designed by Sir Christopher Wren and built between 1671 and 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire of London. It is crowned with a vase of flames.

The Great Fire of London was a major fire which began on 2 September 1666 and was not extinguished until 5 September of the same year. What started as a blaze in a baker’s house in Pudding Lane soon engulfed much of the city, destroying thousands of buildings, from private homes to public monuments.

The height of the monument is 202 feet, a particularly significant figure which represent the distance between the Great Fire of London Monument and the place where the fire began.

Visitors can climb the 311 steps of the Great Fire of London Monument for views of the city.

Photo by tataquax (cc)

The London Royal Air Force Museum

The London Royal Air Force Museum offers a great overview of the history of aviation in combat as well as housing over 100 aircraft from around the world.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Royal Air Force Museum (RAF Museum) in Hendon in North London has a series of exhibitions dedicated to the history of the RAF and aviation in general.

Housing a fantastic collection of over 100 aircraft, the RAF museum has an impressive selection of planes including some of the most famous to have ever graced the skies.

Also on show at the London Royal Air Force Museum are a series of objects and structures from throughout the history of aviation, such as two World War I hangars, a World War II Battle of Britain exhibition and a timeline of aviation history.

Photo by Elsie esq. (cc)

The Mary Rose

The Mary Rose was King Henry VIII’s favourite warship, sunk in 1545 and recovered in 1982.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Mary Rose was built between 1509 and 1511 and was amongst the largest and most advanced warships of the time, being one of the first to carry heavy guns. King Henry VIII favoured the Mary Rose and she was to serve in a series of conflicts including against the French and the Scottish.

On 19 July 1545, the Mary Rose sank in the Solent during a clash with the French fleet. The King himself witnessed her demise. She would only be discovered again in the 1970’s and recovered in 1982.

After being salvaged, the Mary Rose was held at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. However, her hull has now been removed from public view in preparation for the building of a new museum, due to open in 2012.

In the meantime, the public can still visit the Mary Rose Museum (sans ship) to view exhibits about this historic vessel. Amongst its exhibits are military and civilian objects recovered from the wreck and displays and films about the Mary Rose.

It is worth noting that Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is also home to HMS Victory and HMS Warrior.

Photo by Historvius

The Merchant’s House

The Merchant’s House in Marlborough is a fine example of a 17th century silk merchant’s home.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Merchant’s House in Marlborough was built by Thomas Bayly following the Great Fire of Marlborough in 1653. Thomas Bayly was a prosperous silk merchant and leading citizen of Marlborough and lived in the house with his wife, 9 children and servants.

The House is being restored by a charitable trust and presents a rare opportunity to view a 17th century house, the type many of us may have lived in. Many splendours are being revealed as the conservation progresses including original 300 year old wall paintings currently unknown elsewhere in the UK.

Behind The Merchant’s House is a garden which has been modelled on the formal designs of the late 17th century. All plants have been carefully researched and were grown in the UK before 1700 including a small orchard and herb garden.

Photo by Smudge 9000 (cc)

The Roman Lighthouse

The Roman Lighthouse in Dover is a ruined first century AD Roman tower which is one of the best-preserved of its kind anywhere in the world.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Roman Lighthouse in Dover is a ruined first century AD Roman tower which originally served to guide shipping into the ancient Roman port of Dubris. Today it is one of the best-preserved of its kind anywhere in the world.

The original octagonal structure was 24m tall and consisted of six to eight storeys of which only four remain today. The Roman Lighthouse has also been repaired and reconstructed over the centuries with the uppermost masonry being mostly medieval.

Today the Lighthouse sits directly alongside the late Saxon church of St Mary-in-Castro, which is itself constructed from Roman building materials.

Photo by Bods (cc)

The Sanctuary (Avebury)

The Sanctuary near Avebury houses the remains of a Neolithic monument and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Sanctuary near Avebury in England is a monument believed to date back to around 3000 BC.

The concrete markers which can be seen today at the Sanctuary site were once made up of first timber slabs and then stones. These were destroyed in approximately 1725 AD, their original locations now marked by the concrete posts.

As with Stonehenge, the function of the Sanctuary remains a mystery, although archaeologists believe it was a ceremonial site, probably used for burial rituals. This theory stems from the fact that large quantities of human bones and food remains have been found at the site.

The Sanctuary forms part of the Avebury UNESCO World Heritage site.

Photo by Historvius

The Tower of London

The Tower of London is a famous fortress and prison originally commissioned by the first Norman king, William the Conqueror.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Tower of London, originally known as the White Tower, was commissioned by the first Norman king, William the Conqueror and work on it was underway by the 1070s. It was designed as a fortress-stronghold, a role that remained unchanged right up until the late 19th century.

The Tower of London was also used as a residence for monarchs of England, and it was traditionally used by monarchs in the run up to their coronation. However the Tower is most famous for its use as a prison.

The Tower of London held prisoners for over 850 years - from Ranulf Flambard, Bishop of Durham who was imprisoned for extortion in 1100 and who managed to escape  to infamous East London gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray in 1952 for going AWOL from the army.

Anne’s daughter, Elizabeth I was imprisoned here by her half-sister Mary I. She sat on the steps by the watergate (known now as Traitor’s gate) and wept. She was later forgiven and released.

Only seven people were executed within the Tower’s walls - including Anne Boleyn -  but the list of people who at one time or another were imprisoned in the Tower of London reads like a who’s who of 1,000 years of Britain’s history and includes:

William ‘Braveheart’ Wallace, Scottish knight in 1305
Richard II of England in 1399
James I of Scotland in 1406
Henry VI of England in 1471
Edward V of England & Richard of Shrewsbury – The Princes in the Tower in 1483
Saint Thomas More, Renaissance humanist in 1534
Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII in 1536
Thomas Cromwell, Reformation advocate in 1540
Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury in 1553
Lady Jane Grey, uncrowned Queen of England in 1553
Queen Elizabeth I in 1554
Sir Walter Raleigh, explorer, writer, poet and spy in 1603
Guy Fawkes for his part in the Gunpowder Plot in 1605
Samuel Pepys, diarist in 1679
Sir Robert Walpole, future Prime Minister in 1712
Rudolf Hess, deputy leader of the Nazi party in 1941

Also at the Tower are mysteries, for example, what did happen to the Princes in the Tower? It also supposedly boasts ghosts, notably Arbella Stuart, cousin of James I who was imprisoned and possibly murdered in the Queens’ house in 1615.

There is a great deal to see and do at the Tower: the beefeaters, ravens, site of the menagerie and just walking around it to soak up the history. Allow plenty of time for your visit. This site also features as one of our  Top 10 Tourist Attractions of the United Kingdom.

Photo by Historvius

The Vyne

The Vyne is a 16th century English historic house which once played host to King Henry VIII and contains the original Tudor chapel.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Vyne is a 16th century English historic house in Hampshire which played host to King Henry VIII on a number of occasions.

Built for Henry’s Lord Chamberlain, Lord Sandys, in the early 16th century, The Vyne later became the residence of the Chute family up until the mid-20th century. The house was continually developed and refurbished over the centuries yet still includes elements of the original Tudor architecture.

Today, The Vyne is owned and operated by the National Trust. Visitors to The Vyne can peruse its historic furniture collections, artwork, sculptures and adornments, which reflect the changing styles of the passing centuries. It is also possible to visit the 16th century Tudor chapel, once frequented by Henry VIII, as well as the galleries of the mansion.

As well as its historic house, The Vyne boasts charming gardens which include a lake, woodlands and wetlands and are a draw for visitors in the summer months.

Photo by Simon Pielow (cc)

Thornbury Castle

Thornbury Castle is an original Tudor manor house which once played host to King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.

DID YOU KNOW?

Thornbury Castle in South Gloucestershire is an original Tudor manor house which now operates as a luxury hotel.

Built in the early 16th century by Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, Thornbury Castle soon passed into the possession of the crown after the Duke was executed for treason by King Henry VIII.

In fact, the Thornbury site itself seems to have been something of an unlucky charm for its owners. It is said that the estate was once owned by the Anglo-Saxon thegn Brictric. He fell foul of the machinations of Matilda, wife of William the Conqueror, and eventually died in prison.

After passing into King Henry VIII's estates, Thornbury Castle was then frequented by Tudor royalty on several occasions, including by the King and Anne Boleyn.

Thornbury Castle was returned to the Duke of Buckingham's family in the mid-16th century but later fell into disrepair until its renovation in the 19th century.

Today Thornbury Castle is a luxury hotel which offers guests the opportunity to stay in the very room that was once occupied by Henry VIII. Guests can also explore the scenic grounds of the castle.

Photo by siddhu2020 (cc)

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge is an iconic nineteenth century bridge over the Thames in London.

DID YOU KNOW?

Tower Bridge is an iconic nineteenth century bridge which stands over the Thames in London.

The impetus to build Tower Bridge began gaining momentum in 1876, when it was decided that there was a need for a bridge to the east of London Bridge to accommodate the increasing commercial development in that part of the city. A competition was launched for the design of this new bridge, as a result of which city architect Horace Jones and engineer John Wolfe Barry were chosen to collaborate on the project.

The main concern was that the location of this new bridge meant that it could not be built in a traditional style as it had to allow access to ships to the port of London. Thus, Tower Bridge was designed as a drawbridge so that it would not obstruct the shipping passing up or downstream.  The solution is what you see today, except that the once steam powered mechanisms are now electric.

Tower Bridge was opened in 1894 by the then Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII). The walkways, much used by the population, were closed to the public from 1910 to 1982 as many ‘undesirables' were using it. They were reopened in 1982 and now Tower Bridge offers a wonderful exhibition on its structure and engineering. It can even be hired for private functions.

Photo by William A Dobson (cc)

Towton Battlefield

The largest and bloodiest battle of the Wars of the Roses, where over 28,000 men are thought to have died in a single day.

DID YOU KNOW?

Towton Battlefield near York in northern England is the location of the Battle of Towton, a decisive encounter in the Wars of the Roses. Fought on 29 March 1461, this was the largest and bloodiest battle of the war. Over 28,000 men are thought to have died on a single day. The battle ended in a comprehensive victory for the Yorkists, confirming the young Edward IV's hold on the throne.

An increasingly bitter conflict, the Wars of the Roses had been underway for several years before the Battle of Towton, as the houses of Lancaster and York fought for supremacy. Prior to the battle there had been several fierce clashes, principle among which was the Battle of Wakefield in which the leader of the Yorkist faction, Richard Duke of York, was killed. However, the Yorkist cause continued under Richard’s eldest son Edward, who soon defeated a Lancastrian army at Mortimer’s Cross.

As neither side could vanquish the other, Edward had himself proclaimed king in London before marching north to confront the Lancastrians. The two huge armies met at Towton.

Though the Lancastrians initially held the high ground, the wind was very much against them and withering fire from Yorkist archers forced them to attack. After several hours of bitter fighting in dreadful conditions a second Yorkist force entered the fray and struck the Lancastrian flank. Soon after these reinforcements joined battle the Lancastrian lines buckled and a full scale rout ensued. With no quarter given, thousands of Lancastrian soldiers – peasantry and nobility alike – were cut down, trampled or drowned as they attempted to flee. After securing his victory Edward returned to London for his official coronation at Westminster Abbey.

Today little remains at the site of such carnage, and the battlefield is mostly open farmland. A medieval stone cross – the Towton Cross – stands by the side of the road to mark the site, along with some battlefield information panels which set out the events which took place here.

Photo by amandabhslater (cc)

Tudor House and Garden

The Tudor House and Garden is a restored 15th century Tudor home and one of Southampton’s most important historic buildings.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Tudor House and Garden in Southampton is a restored 15th century historic home which now operates as a museum.

Though previous structures existed on the site, the existing Tudor House and Garden that is seen today traces its roots back to around 1495AD, when Sir John Dawtry, an important local official, had the building constructed from those houses which previously stood here.

Recently restored, today the Tudor House and Garden is now one of Southampton’s most important historic buildings. As well as the house itself visitors can explore the museum within which contains a number of displays and artefacts covering hundreds of years of history and there is also access to King Johns Palace, a 12th century Norman town house..

Photo by steve p2008 (cc)

Tutbury Castle

Tutbury Castle is an imposing medieval site in Staffordshire which had one very famous prisoner, Mary Queen of Scots.

DID YOU KNOW?

Tutbury Castle is an imposing medieval site in Staffordshire which had one very famous prisoner, Mary Queen of Scots.

Whilst its history is said to date back to the 11th century, most of the ruins of Tutbury Castle seen today originate from the 14th and 15th centuries, under the remit of the Lancastrian kings such as Henry IV and Henry VI. In the early 16th century, Tutbury Castle would see some royal glamour in the form of a visit from Henry VIII, but it was at around this time that this fearsome fortress saw a great decline, with records showing it required extensive repairs.

Yet, the historic heyday of Tutbury was soon to come, not as a prized royal residence but rather as a majestic prison where Elizabeth I kept Mary Queen of Scots captive. First arriving at Tutbury Castle on 4 February 1569, Mary would spend much time in her regal jail, a place she disliked both because of its function and due to its rundown state. Mary would be moved several times over the coming years, with her final sojourn there being for almost a year in 1585.

Today, Tutbury Castle is open to the public.

Photo by Brron (cc)

Verulamium

Verulamium was a Roman settlement near modern day St Albans in England.

DID YOU KNOW?

Verulamium was a prominent Roman settlement near modern day St Albans in England. Formerly the tribal capital of the native Catuvellauni tribe, Verulamium was conquered by the Romans during their invasion of the island in 43 AD.

By 50 AD, Verulamium had become a major Roman town, and as such was a prime target during the revolt of Boudica in 61 AD, when the town was burnt to the ground. However, never ones to be perturbed, the Romans crushed the revolt and re-built Verulamium, and it remained a central Roman town for the next four hundred years.

The Roman remains at Verulamium consist of a variety of buildings - a basilica, bathhouse and part of the city walls to be found in Verulamium Park, but the most impressive are the remains of the roman theatre which lie across the road from Verulamium Park.

As well as the site itself, Verulamium Museum stands on St Michael’s St, with displays of Roman everyday life. There are some impressive murals and mosaics and a variety of interactive displays.

Photo by gailf548 (cc)

Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum displays millions of works of art from around the world and spans 3,000 years of history.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Victoria and Albert Museum, better known as the V and A, in London is one of the world’s most prominent museums of design and decorative art.

Housing a vast array of items from around the world and throughout history, including Ancient Chinese art, Indian sculptures and medieval and renaissance masterpieces, the millions of artefacts and works displayed by the Victoria And Albert Museum span a period of over 3,000 years.

Photo by Bert Kaufmann (cc)

Vindolanda

Vindolanda was one of the main Ancient Roman wall forts of Hadrian’s Wall in Britain.

DID YOU KNOW?

Vindolanda was one of the main Ancient Roman wall forts of Hadrian’s Wall, the 73-mile barrier built by the Emperor Hadrian from 122 AD.

However, Vindolanda is thought to have been inhabited by the Romans from 85 AD, following the victory of the Roman Governor Agricola at the Battle of Mons Graupius, well before this iconic wall was built.

Prior to functioning as a wall fort, the initial role played by Vindolanda was that of a fort guarding the supply route known as Stanegate, which ran from east to west.

Today, Vindolanda remains very well preserved and there is much to see. The structures at Vindolanda range from a pre-Hadriatic baths complex to post-Roman mausoleum and church, demonstration of the lengthy period for which the site has been occupied (up to the sixth century AD, well after the Romans had left).

Amongst other sites found at Vindolanda are military offices and barracks dating to the Severan period and numerous sites from the third and fourth centuries including houses, workshops, a Praetorium, a temple and more baths.

In addition to the reconstructions and excavated elements, there are also several replica sites on display, including a great timber and stone model of a section of Hadrian’s Wall and several Roman buildings such as a house and a shop, really bringing the experience to life.

For those wanting to see what else has been found at the excavations, the Vindolanda museum offers an array of artefacts including one of the country’s biggest ancient leather collections. It’s a testament to the high level of preservation of Vindolanda that a delicate material such as leather has survived so well. Writing tablets have also been well preserved and, while many of these particularly rare finds are now at the British Museum, some are always on display at Vindolanda, offering a fantastic insight into the lives of its former residents through their written words.

Photo by Alun Salt (cc)

Wall Roman site

The Wall Roman site in Staffordshire houses the ruins of an Ancient Roman inn.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Wall Roman site in Staffordshire houses the remains of what was a Roman military staging site, essentially an inn or “mansio” along the ancient route towards Wales.

Then known as Letocetum, the Wall Roman site was a convenient stop along this important military road.

Visitors to the Wall Roman site – now managed by English Heritage – can see the foundations of this Roman hotel as well as those of its Roman baths. There is also an on-site museum displaying finds from the Wall Roman site.

Photo by Peter Broster (cc)

Warwick Castle

Built by a king, the seat of a kingmaker and vital stronghold in the Wars of the Roses and the English Civil War, Warwick Castle has played an important role in British history.

DID YOU KNOW?

Built by a king, the seat of a kingmaker and vital stronghold in the Wars of the Roses and the English Civil War, Warwick Castle has played an important role in British history.

Saxon Origins
Before Warwick Castle’s existence, the site on which it sits was the location of a Saxon fort built by Alfred the Great’s daughter, Ethelfleda in 914AD. Its aim was as a defence from Danish invaders.

Construction and Change
It was in 1068 that the initial visage of Warwick Castle began to take shape, when its construction was ordered by King William I, better known as William the Conqueror. At this point, it was a wooden motte and bailey construct, eventually to be turned into a stone castle in the 13th century.

In fact, Warwick Castle would undergo centuries of change, some due to altering styles, but others for military reasons or due to necessity such as after a fire in 1871. For example, while its two vast eastern towers date to the 14th and 15th century renovations and the Great Hall to the 14th century much of the interior, such as the State Dining Room, was redone or created in the 18th century.

Vital Stronghold
A major part of what makes Warwick Castle truly exceptional is its story and those of the people and dynasties for which it formed a backdrop. For example, it was owned by the Earl of Warwick Richard Neville, a central character in the Wars of the Roses who history has named the Kingmaker.

It was also at Warwick Castle that Edward IV was held prisoner in 1469 and it was later held by future King Richard III, the Duke of Gloucester in the 1480s. In 1642, Warwick Castle also played its part in the English Civil War, withstanding a Royalist siege.

Warwick Castle Today

The seat of the Earls of Warwick until 1978, Warwick Castle then opened to the public and today offers a range of things to see and do. Visitors can tour the site and its grounds, learning about its history and enjoying its architecture. There are also often children’s activities. A full visit can last around 4-5 hours.

Watford Museum

This museum is devoted to the history of the local area and that of the town of Watford itself.

DID YOU KNOW?

Watford Museum covers the history of the local area and that of Watford itself, reflecting the diversity of life in this town located just outside London.

It has a number of permanent exhibitions including local history; particularly interesting are the exhibitions on the Earls of Essex and Cassiobury Park. The history and the growth of the town is also examined, including its transformation from a small market town to the bustling centre it is today.

Watford Museum also has exhibitions about Watford Football Club and has an impressive collection of footballing memorabilia. Also found within the museum is a collection of fine art, some donated by local residents, and some acquired by the museum. Particularly interesting are the portraits of the Earls of Essex (both the Devereux and the Capel families).

Photo by Legis (cc)

Welwyn Roman Baths

The Welwyn Roman Baths complex houses the remains of a Roman bathhouse dating back to the 3rd Century AD.

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The Welwyn Roman Baths complex houses the remains of a Roman bathhouse dating back to the 3rd century AD.

Originally part of a larger Roman Villa, the Welwyn Roman Baths are housed in a unique environment - an underground chamber built nine metres below the A1(M) motorway.

Excavations took place before the motorway was constructed and efforts to preserve Welwyn Roman Baths resulted in the construction of the chamber and an access tunnel.

Today visitors to Welwyn Roman Baths can view the remains of the small bath complex, information on the Roman approach to bathing as well as an exhibition detailing the history of the site and other relevant archaeological finds from the local area.

Photo by Man vyi (cc)

Western Approaches Museum

Take command of the British Navy with a visit to the Western Approaches Bunker and submerse yourself in the history of the decisive Battle of the Atlantic.

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The Western Approaches Museum in Liverpool allows you to step back in time and undertake a completely unique experience, where you don’t just see the history but can actually venture inside to experience it first-hand.

The Western Approaches Museum sits within a World War II bunker complex which served as the combined services command centre during the Battle of the Atlantic - the Allied fight against the German U-boat offensive in the Atlantic ocean. The bunker has undergone a complete restoration and has now become a celebrated attraction and memorial site.

Named after the passage of ocean that it defended, the bunker played a key role in protecting the thousands of ships that made port in the Mersey during the height of the war, all while the tactical operations team worked hard to develop anti-submarine defensive strategies. Churchill himself was later to say that the Battle of the Atlantic was the “dominating factor all through the war”.

During their visit, guests are truly immersed in the action and can visit the underground telecommunications and mapping rooms and explore the bunker as a whole. Displays and information help people gain an insight into the development of the battle and the challenges involved in keeping the sea lanes open. Visitors can also pay their respects to those who lost their lives fighting for what the Prime Minister saw as the greatest challenge of the war.

Contributed by Rebecca Lewis

Photo by Historvius

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey is a picturesque cliff-top ruin of the 13th century church which belonged to a Benedictine abbey in Yorkshire.

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Whitby Abbey is a picturesque cliff-top ruin of the 13th century church of a Benedictine abbey in Yorkshire.

An Anglo-Saxon monastery was actually first founded here by Northumbria’s King Oswy in 657AD, but nothing remains of this now. Instead, the jagged walls and arches that stand here are what are left of a later gothic church, part of an abbey begun in 1220 by the Normans.

Whitby Abbey has several claims to fame, although mostly from its first incarnation. The site has been the residence of Caedmon the cowherd as well as a royal final resting place. What’s more, Dracula author Bram Stoker used the site as inspiration for his dark novel.

Over time, Whitby Abbey has suffered from a series of destructive elements, having been ravaged by invaders, dissolved by Henry VIII and pummelled by wartime bombs.

Today, Whitby Abbey is open to the public under the remit of English Heritage. There is also a modern visitor centre which tells the story of Whitby Abbey as well as having exhibitions of finds from the site, including from the 7th century abbey.

Photo by Dave Catchpole (cc)

Whitley Castle

This little-known, remote Roman fort in the North Pennines bordering Cumbria and Northumberland is not only the highest stone-built Roman fort in Britain, it has the most complex defensive earthworks of any known fort in the entire Roman Empire.

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Stewart Ainsworth from Channel 4’s Time Team called Whitley Castle ‘the best preserved fort in the Roman Empire’ and it’s hard to disagree. Also known as Epiacum (the first town in northern England occupied by the Celtic, pre-Roman Brigantes tribe and probably named for a local chief), Whitley Castle in the North Pennines is not only the highest stone-built Roman fort in Britain, it has the most complex and elaborate defensive earthworks of any known fort in the entire Roman Empire.

The uniquely lozenge-shaped fort was built to fit the knoll on which it was constructed and interestingly, there were small site digs in the early 19th century, then in the 1930s and again in the 1950s but it wasn’t until 2012 that funding to the tune of £49,200 was secured to raise awareness of the site.

Built in the second century (around the same time as Hadrian’s Wall), demolished soon after and rebuilt not long after that, it’s a relatively typical Roman fort in terms of layout. There are straight roads, a headquarters building, barracks, a bath house and a temple and one of the many inscriptions reads ‘DEO HERCVLI C VITELLIVS ATTICIANVS > LEG VI V P F’ or ‘To the God Hercules, Gaius Vitellius Atticianus, Centurion of the Legio VI Victrix, Loyal and Faithful.’

It was garrisoned until about 400AD and while the Romans used Epiacum ostensibly as a base from where to control the area, also it seems they used it to take control of the profitable local lead mining industry.

Today, Whitley Castle is on private land and is a Scheduled Ancient Monument which means that no digging can be done (frustratingly for archaeologists) and nothing can be taken from the site so when you come and visit ‘the best preserved fort in the Roman Empire’, don’t take anything!

Photo by benjgibbs (cc)

Winchester Cathedral

One of Europe’s great cathedrals, Winchester spans 1,000 years of rich, fascinating history with so much to discover including one of the world’s most exquisite bibles, the 11th century crypt and Jane Austen’s final resting place.

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Every year, three hundred thousand people from all over the world visit Winchester Cathedral, one of the finest in Europe. Once the seat of the royal power of the Anglo-Saxons and Normans, a Christian church was built here around 645AD and over the next 350 years it became the most important church in Anglo-Saxon England.

By 1000AD, its status as one of the grandest cathedrals in Europe was assured. Its early Norman roots are visible in the round-arched crypts and transepts and over the centuries, ‘soaring Gothic arches’ were added, as were stunning works of art, medieval carvings and the 12th century 1.5 ton Tournai marble font. Other highlights include the 17th century Morley Library bequeathed by Bishop Morley, the Triforium Gallery that includes the Shaftesbury Bowl, the last surviving example of late Saxon glass in England and the jewel in the cathedral’s crown, the Winchester Bible.

Commissioned in 1160 probably by William the Conqueror’s grandson, it is a magnificent handwritten, hand-illustrated and hand-coloured Romanesque manuscript (including gold leaf and lapis lazuli from Afghanistan which are as vibrant and intense today as they were eight centuries ago). The Winchester Bible is a masterpiece, a lavish testament to 12th century creativity and is worth the trip on its own!

Winchester is a magnificent cathedral (and a working church with daily services), and is a great day out for the whole family. There are activities for kids where they can explore and have fun learning about the cathedral’s history and characters and you can even climb the 213 steps to the top of the tower, passing the great cathedral bells on the way up to amazing views of the ancient city of Winchester.

Photo by Aaron Bradley (cc)

Winchester Palace

Winchester Palace in Southwark was a twelfth-century grand complex which was one of the most important buildings in all of medieval London.

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Winchester Palace in Southwark was a twelfth-century grand complex which was one of the most important buildings in all of medieval London. Today the relatively obscure ruins are located close to Southwark Cathedral and Borough Market.

Founded by Bishop Henry de Blois - brother of King Stephen - and subsequently home to the powerful Bishops of Winchester, a devastating fire in 1814 destroyed most of the building. Today, all that is left of this once lavish residence are the remains of the great hall including the striking Rose Window.

Photo by Lee Haywood (cc)

Wollaton Hall

A classic prodigy house, Wollaton Hall in Nottingham is a spectacular Elizabethan mansion built in the 1580s for Sir Francis Willoughby. It now houses the Nottingham Natural History Museum and was described as ‘the architectural sensation of its age.’

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Designed by Robert Smythson and built from Ancaster stone for 16th century industrialist Sir Francis Willoughby and his family in the 1580s, Wollaton Hall is a genuinely jaw-dropping Elizabethan mansion of spectacular proportions. It was described as ‘the architectural sensation of its age.’

A classic ‘prodigy house,’ a term for ostentatious palatial-style homes built by courtiers and described as ‘noble palaces of an awesome scale’ and ‘proud, ambitious heaps’, Wollaton Hall sits in 500 gorgeously-manicured acres of Nottinghamshire countryside.

Admission to Wollaton Hall is free although guided tours at midday and on the hour until 3pm cost £5 for adults and £4 for concessions. If you’re brave enough, you can even Meet the Ghosts of Wollaton Hall on a real-life night-time ghost tour…

The Natural History Museum is packed full of incredible sights including fossils, birds, mammals, reptiles, fish, bugs, beasties and creepy-crawlies as well as their famous Africa Gallery!

If that wasn’t’ enough to pack in, you’ll also find the Nottingham Industrial Museum, the Steam Engine House and the Yard Gallery all on-site with great programmes of ever-changing events for the whole family.

Wollaton Hall Park’s formal gardens and the small walled botanic garden aren’t open all the time but if they are open on your visit, don’t miss them and the beautiful deer that parade up and down.

Photo by steve p2008 (cc)

Wroxeter Roman City

Wroxeter Roman City houses the remains of what was once Roman Britain’s fourth largest city.

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Wroxeter Roman City is an impressive Ancient Roman site in Shropshire. It houses the remains of what was once known as Viroconium, at one time Roman Britain’s fourth largest city. In fact, Viroconium was initially a first Century garrisoned fort which evolved into a city.

Around 5,000 people lived in Viroconium at its peak and those who visit Wroxeter Roman City can learn about their lives through an audio guided tour as well as through the artefacts exhibited in its museum. However, perhaps the most evocative elements of Wroxeter Roman City are its ruins.

From the exercise hall to the bathing complex and walls, visitors can view the buildings in which its population of mostly traders and ex-soldiers lived, worked and were entertained. Most of Viroconium – there were two hundred acres of it in its heyday – still lies unexcavated, but that which can be seen offers a glimpse into what this great city would have looked like.

A fascinating aspect of Wroxeter Roman City is actually its existence at the end of Roman Britain and beyond. Possibly inhabited up to the sixth century, the ruins include sites erected and rebuilt after the Romans had left, yet in typical Roman style. This has led archaeologists to believe that those who lived in Viroconium after the Romans had left wanted to carry on living in the same way.

Wroxeter Roman City is an English Heritage site.

Photo by By Neil T (cc)

York City Walls

The York City Walls are England’s most intact set of city walls and one of the city’s most popular attractions.

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The York City Walls are England’s most complete set of city walls and one of the city’s most popular attractions. Made up of structures built at different times of the city’s history, resplendent with four main ornate stone gateways known as “bars” and 34 towers and offering a great way to see the historic sites of York, these walls are an integral part of the city.

Roman Times
The first incarnation of the York City Walls were originally established in 71 AD during Roman times, built to protect the 9th Legion from the locals. This leads some to call them the Roman City Walls, but very little of the Roman walls remain. One structure which can be found is the Multangular Tower, an imposing third century AD ten-sided stone tower located in the gardens of the York Museum.

Anglo Saxons and Vikings
The Romans left Britain in around 400 AD, ushering in the Anglo Saxon age, during which time the exact fate of the York City Walls is unknown. However, there are some records from the time when the Vikings captured York in 866 AD, showing that the walls still existed but were in a bad state of repair. It is thought that the Vikings added to and strengthened the walls, although this too is uncertain.

The Normans and up to the 16th century
Renovated, fortified and extended under the Normans, the York City Walls continued to be added to up to the sixteenth century. Their gateways or “bars” were also used from the mid-thirteenth century onwards as a way to control who came in and out of the city, even as types of medieval toll booths to levy entry fees for non-freemen bringing goods to market.

English Civil War
In 1644, during the English Civil War, the Parliamentarians laid siege to the York City Walls, trying to capture the city from the Royalists. On 16 July 1644, the city fell to the Parliamentarians, but only after severe clashes which caused damage to the walls.

Georgian Times
However, some of the greatest destruction caused to the York City Walls was not committed by act of war, but by administrative action. In the nineteenth century, it was found that the upkeep cost of York’s walls was very high, especially as they were in a bad state of repair. As a result it was decided to demolish parts of the walls.

Amongst other things, both Skeldergate Postern and Micklegate barbican were destroyed, despite the fact that Parliament had not given the requisite permission for this action. Reconstruction was later undertaken to repair many of the demolished sections.

Victorian Additions
The Victorians also made their mark on the York City Walls, adding, amongst other things a further bar (Victoria Bar) and the Robin Hood Tower.

Modern Times and the Gateways
Today, visitors can walk along the York City Walls, which run for some 2.5 miles and enclose the historic part of the city. The main gates to see are Bootham Bar, Monk Bar, Walmgate Bar and Micklegate Bar, all mostly constructed in the fourteenth century with later additions. Micklegate is the most important of the gates, and is the site where Richard, Duke of York was beheaded in 1461 and his head was displayed.

Photo by By adactio (cc)

York Minster

York Minster is one of the largest gothic cathedrals in northern Europe, built by the Normans and expanded over the centuries.

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York Minster is a vast gothic cathedral – one of the largest in Northern Europe – officially known as The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of St Peter in York. The term “Minster” is attributed to the cathedral as it was a teaching church founded by the Anglo Saxons.

In fact, the first church built on the site of York Minster was a small wooden one constructed in the seventh century for the baptism of the Anglo Saxon monarch, King Edwin of Northumbria. This was soon replaced by a stone church, however this was destroyed in a fire in 1069.

It was the Normans who began building the basis of the York Minster which exists today. Begun in 1080 and completed in 1100, the Normans built a vast cathedral, the remnants of which can be viewed in the undercroft of the current cathedral together with the remains of ancient buildings from the Roman era.

Over the next centuries, York Minster was enlarged and renovated, much of the work being instigated by Archbishop Walter Gray. By 1472, the structure of York Minster was complete with the addition of the north and south transepts, the nave, the Lady Chapel, the Quire, rebuilding the collapsed central tower (this had to be supported once again in the twentieth century) and the western towers.

Since these major works, York Minster has changed little. Some reconstruction works had to be undertaken due to outbreaks of fire at the cathedral (one such fire being set deliberately in 1829).

There is much to see at York Minster. In addition to admiring its beautiful architecture and imposing proportions, one can visit the undercroft to see ancient Roman and Norman ruins and climb the 275 steps of the central tower for great views of the city.

Exhibitions within York Minster focus on the long and vibrant history of the site. Of particular interest is the section dedicated to Roman history, from the Roman barracks first establishment here to the life of Constantine the Great, who was declared Emperor in York. In addition to these displays, under foot are glass floors which reveal the ruins of the original Roman buildings.

As well as individual passes, there are various types of guided tours available (mostly for group booking) including a free guided tour of up to 1.5 hours which details the history of York Minster.

Yorkshire Museum

The Yorkshire Museum is a true celebration of two thousand years of history of one of the UK’s most beautiful, traditional and influential cities.

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The Yorkshire Museum was opened in 1830 by the Yorkshire Philosophical Society and is a celebration of two millennia of history of one of the UK’s most beautiful, traditional and influential cities. One of the UKs first purpose-built museums, it reopened in 2010 after a £2m refurbishment project.

The Yorkshire Museum is home to around a million exciting archaeological finds including the skeletal remains of the Roman ‘Ivory Bangle Lady’; the Bedale Hoard; the thousand year old Cawood Sword; the Anglian Gilling Sword; the 4.5 billion year old Middlesbrough Meteorite, the Middleham Jewel and the York Helmet. There are also amazing collections of stained glass, coins, Iron Age jewellery, dinosaur skeletons and extinct Auks and the world-famous York Observatory.

There are some great activities for kids as well as competitions and downloadable resources and you can all walk on a genuine Roman mosaic floor and discover what Yorkshire was like when it was still underwater!

This is one of the best regional museums in the UK and if you are in the city discovering it’s wonders, including the magnificent York Minster, make sure the Yorkshire Museum is on your ‘to do’ list.