Literary Connections

Did you know that many English Heritage sites have inspired authors over the centuries, from Shakespeare and Wordsworth, to contemporary writers and poets?

South East

Bayham Old Abbey
Horace Walpole – commonly known as the creator of the Gothic literature genre wrote The Castle of Ortrant: a Gothic Story whilst living here in 1764.

The Home of Charles Darwin - Down House
Charles Darwin, perhaps the most influential scientist of the 19th century, lived at Down House for over 40 years.

It is here that he wrote On the Origin of Species. The house remains much as it was when Darwin lived here.

An exhibition provides access to a rare collection of Darwin materials including his notebooks, letters and diary.

The Home of Charles Darwin, Down House, Kent, BR6 7JT

The Home of Charles Darwin, Down House, Kent, BR6 7JT


Marble Hill House
This lovely Thames-side villa was built in the 1720s for Henrietta Howard, mistress of George II. The site has connections to the literary world of Alexander Pope, John Gay and Jonathan Swift.

With the design influenced by the Italian architect Palladio, the villa’s intimate interiors give you a glimpse of Henrietta’s fascinating lifestyle. 

Marble Hill House, Richmond

Marble Hill House, Richmond


Ashby De la Zouch Castle
These impressive ruins of a grand medieval castle with extensive grounds were the setting for many of the scenes in Sir Walter Scott’s classic tale Ivanhoe.

Haughmond Abbey
Both the philosopher Thomas Traherne (16th century) and the Shropshire poet John Audelay (15th century) have mentioned the abbey in their works.

Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Garden
This largest castle ruin in England has a past rich in famous names and events. Sir Walter Scott breathed life into this great fortress in his novel Kenilworth.

Peveril Castle 
Sir Walter Scott glamorized the castle in his novel Peveril of the Peak.

Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Garden

Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Garden, Warwickshire


Brodsworth Hall and Gardens
The case of Jarndyce v Jarndyce described in Charles Dickens' Bleak House is thought to be inspired by a similar incident, which happened at Brodsworth Hall and was widely reported at the time.  

Dickens himself said his novel reflected various celebrated cases of the day.

The Brodsworth inheritance incident eventually led to Parliament passing the Accumulations Act in 1800, often called the Thellusson Act (after Peter Thellusson, who owned Brodsworth at the time), which limited the length of time that property could be left to accumulate.  

Whitby Abbey
The moody and magnificent ruins of Whitby Abbey have drawn generations to the headland location as a site of settlement, religious devotion and literary inspiration.

Bram Stoker's horror classic Dracula was inspired by the atmospheric ruins.

Whitby Abbey is also the centre of the dramatic plot in Michel Faber’s The 199 Steps.

Brodsworth Hall and Gardens, South Yorkshire

Brodsworth Hall and Gardens, South Yorkshire


Prudhoe Castle
The famous contemporary chronicler Jordan Fantosme recorded how the castle resisted sieges by the Scottish in 1173 and 1175.

Warkworth Castle
Towering above the River Coquet, Warkworth Castle was home to Harry Hotspur, the famous warrior immortalised in Shakespeare’s Henry IV.

Warkworth Castle and Hermitage, Northumberland

Warkworth Castle and Hermitage, Northumberland

South West

Dartmouth Castle 
Dartmouth Castle in its superb waterfront setting is the guardian of the Dart estuary.  It was ideally positioned to protect the homes and warehouses of Dartmouth’s wealthy medieval merchants and was an inspiration for Chaucer’s A Shipman’s Tale.

Old Sarum
The site of the original city of Salisbury founded in the Iron Age and occupied until the 16th century.  Romans, Saxons and Normans have all left their mark.

Part of the Domesday Book was written here, and on its completion it was to Sarum that King William I summoned all the landholders in England to swear their oath of allegiance.

The international best seller Sarum by Edward Rutherford is largely based in the Salisbury area and Old Sarum.

Tintagel Castle
Overlooking the wild Cornish coast, Tintagel is one of the most spectacular spots in the country associated with King Arthur and Merlin.

Recent excavations revealed Dark Age connections between Spain and Cornwall, alongside the discovery of  the ‘Arthnou’ stone suggesting that this was a royal palace for the ‘Dark Age’ rulers of Cornwall.

The castle was included in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s medieval'History of the Kings of Britain.

Alfred Lord Tennyson featured the castle in his poem Guinevere as well as Idylls of the King.

Totnes Castle
The focal point of the delightful town of Totnes, the castle is a mighty legacy to the power of the Normans.

Tim Bowler’s childrens’ book Blood on Snow is based in the area.  

Tintagel Castle, Cornwall

Tintagel Castle, Cornwall


Visit Britain’s most remarkable and intriguing prehistoric monument at the centre of a World Heritage Site. 

Thomas Hardy’s tragic heroine Tess of the d’Urbervilles finds sanctuary within the stone circle with true love Angel Clare after stabbing the dastardly Alec to death.

Described by Angel as “A very Temple of the Winds” Stonehenge provides the couple with shelter and solitude. But the romantic scene is all too short – after just a few days Tess is caught.

Stonehenge is also featured in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s medieval History of the Kings of Britain.

The international best seller Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwall is a fictional tale about the development of the site.

Stonehenge in the mist

Stonehenge, Wiltshire