*** We can now offer 15% discount on annual and gift membership of English Heritage. See below. ***
English Heritage has over 400 sites throughout England and the good news is that these sites will be almost fully open this summer, although some Covid-19 precautions will still be in place and prior booking is advised.
So why not include one or more of them in your staycation plans this year!
A useful membership bonus for those of you with children and grandchildren is that you can take up to six children under 19 years old with you free of charge.
An additional benefit of English Heritage membership is that it gives you free entry (half price entry in first year of membership) to Historic Environment Scotland sites and CADW Welsh heritage sites.
Tintagel Castle is where legend meets history and where a new suspension bridge takes you to the ancient castle, weather permitting. A much less well known site is the Cistercian Cleeve Abbey in Somerset. Here, amid fine cloisters, visitors can get a feel of monastic life 800 years ago.
London and South East
In South-East London, Eltham Palace stands out as a curious mixture of Medieval Palace and Art Deco Mansion. About 10 miles due south in Bromley is Down House, the home of Charles Darwin. Both the house and gardens give a fascinating insight into the life of this extraordinary man.
Take a ferry across to the Isle of Wight (with special discounts for English Heritage members) to see Queen Victoria’s favourite retreat, Osborne House. An earlier monarch, King Charles I, had a far less happy time as a prisoner in the nearby Carisbrooke Castle.
East of England
In a previous article I’ve described Audley End, one of English Heritage’s finest properties, Framlingham Castle, with its complete curtain walls, and Wrest Park, with its stylish gardens and parkland.
But for something completely different, visit Grime’s Graves near Thetford in Suffolk, which reopens August 1st. This is the site of 400 Neolithic flint mines dug over 5,000 years ago, one of which can be descended 30 ft by ladder to see the black flint.
East and West Midlands
Out my many favourites in the Midlands, I’ve chosen four very different sites.
Witley Court and Gardens in Worcestershire has immaculate parterre gardens and fountains, with the dramatic ruins of the Italianate mansion as a backdrop. Kenilworth Castle was an important defensive fortification, now largely in ruins except for the keep, but its restored Elizabethan Garden is quite outstanding. Kirby Hall in Leicestershire is one of England’s greatest Elizabethan houses, with extensive grounds to explore. Bolsover Castle is fairytale Stuart mansion, rather than a true defensive castle, built for entertainment and for its panoramic views over the Derbyshire countryside.
Yorkshire and the Humber
In a previous article I’ve already mentioned Brodsworth Hall in South Yorkshire, with its impressive gardens, and Helmsley Castle and nearby Rievaulx Abbey in North Yorkshire.
Two less well known sites that are well worth visiting are Conisbrough Castle in South Yorkshire, with its lofty circular keep, and Kirkham Priory beautifully positioned by the River Derwent near Malton.
North West and North East
There are several English Heritage sites along Hadrian’s Wall, including two large forts and museums that bring the Roman occupation period to life. The nearby 12th Century Carlisle Castle includes a regimental museum and an exhibition of Roman relics.
Across on the east coast, Lindisfarne (Holy Island) is not to be missed (tides permitting), with a visit to Lindisfarne Priory giving an insight into the development of Christianity in Anglo-Saxon England.
Belsay Hall, Gardens and Castle and Warkworth Castle and Hermitage have been described in a previous article.
Some of Scotland’s finest heritage sites come under the Historic Environment Scotland umbrella, including the moated Caerlaverock Castle near Dumfries and Edinburgh Castle towering over the city.
Just over the Firth of Forth, a visit to Dunfermline Abbey and Palace brings to life Scotland’s royal history since the 11th Century.
Further north near Inverness, the massive Fort George, which was built as a symbol of military power after the Battle of Culloden, now offers visitors an interesting military museum and sweeping views over the Moray Firth.
CADW has stewardship over many impressive sites in Wales including several castles in the North-West such as Caernarfon Castle, Beaumaris Castle (on Anglesey) and Harlech Castle.
In addition there are the magnificent Gothic ruins at Tintern Abbey on the River Wye and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Blaenavon Ironworks in South Wales.
So that’s some of our Favourite Sites by Region. We hope you enjoy your visits as much as we have.
If you intend to visit a few English Heritage properties in a year, then taking up annual membership could save you a lot of money. We have special offers on annual and gift membership. For 15% discount, click on English Heritage and enter EH2021 at checkout.
POSTED 1st JUNE 2021 by BARBARA HANSON. The photographs were taken by BARBARA and STEVEN HANSON.