News

09/03/2021

English Heritage welcomes visitors back to its historic sites from 29 March

  • Stonehenge to open from 12 April, property interiors from 17 May,
    and the full summer events programme starts on 21 June
  • Visitors to book in advance at www.english-heritage.org.uk

English Heritage will be welcoming visitors back to its historic properties and sites from 29 March 2021. Over 50 of the charity’s sites, which have been closed to the public since December 2020 as a result of the pandemic, will be opening at the end of March with more to follow provided the country successfully passes each milestone on the government’s roadmap.

All sites scheduled to open on 29 March enjoy large outdoor spaces, such as historic gardens, extensive grounds and even a battlefield, with plenty of room for social distancing. Subject to government guidance, Stonehenge and English Heritage’s collection of holiday cottages will open on 12 April while indoor areas and even more sites will open on 17 May 2021.

From 21 June, English Heritage will launch its full summer events programme, inviting the public to step in to England's story at the places where history happened.

Kate Mavor, English Heritage’s Chief Executive, said: "We can’t wait to open up our sites again and to welcome people back. It’s been a long, long winter and our sites – with their wide open spaces, beautiful buildings, fun events and fascinating stories – will be the tonic we all need."

To ensure a safe and enjoyable visitor experience both members and non-members must book in advance for a specific date and time slot via the English Heritage website. Tickets are now available to book for all dates between 29 March and 16 May 2021.

A full list of English Heritage sites opening on 29 March 2021 can be found at www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/plan-your-visit/

English Heritage’s top 10 sites for an outdoor visit, opening on 29 March:

Belsay Hall Castle and Gardens, Northumberland

A 19th century Grecian manor house, medieval castle and 30 acres of outstanding Grade I listed gardens welcome visitors to Belsay. The whole ensemble was created by one family, The Middletons, over the space of seven centuries, and the vast gardens prove a magnificent setting for the castle and hall. A unique micro-climate plays home to a host of exotic plants in the Jurassic-feeling Quarry Garden, whilst other delights include a wildflower meadow, one of the largest collections of rhododendrons in the country, a formal Yew Garden, Magnolia Terrace and Winter Garden, plus some delightful wooded trails.

Home of Charles Darwin - Down House, Kent

Charles Darwin lived with his family at the delightful Down House for 40 years, working on his revolutionary theories. For many scientists across the world, the gardens of Down House are hallowed ground. The gardens were used by Darwin as an outdoor laboratory for his ideas and experiments. From the kitchen garden, where 54 different varieties of gooseberry grow, to the proof of his theory of natural selection in the weed garden, every aspect of these magnificently varied gardens can still be seen today. Visitors can take a stroll on Darwin's 'Sand Walk' where the great man did most of his thinking surrounded by native trees, or explore the famous greenhouses packed with orchids and carnivorous plants, where the ideas for plant growth and pollination sprouted.

Witley Court and Gardens, Worcestershire

One hundred years ago, Witley Court was one of England's great country houses, surrounded by magnificent landscaped gardens and hosting lavish society parties. Then, in 1937, the house was gutted by fire and fell into long decline. The spectacular Italianate ruin now sits once more within beautiful restored gardens, in which visitors are transported back to the garden's Victorian heyday - with elegant parterres, immaculate lawns and ornate, colourful designs. Woodland walks and a wilderness play area for children are amongst the other highlights.

Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire

With spectacular views over Derbyshire, the fairy-tale Stuart mansion Bolsover Castle was designed to entertain and impress and its wonderfully recreated period gardens are no exception. The enchanting Fountain Garden was designed around the statue of Venus - goddess of love and pleasure - emerging from her bath, and included a secluded chamber for intimate banquets set into the garden wall. Wander the gardens and enjoy the 5,000 plants and flowers planted to capture the spirit of the garden in its heyday. The planting was based on the advice of 17th century garden writers such as John Gerard and John Parkinson to include 'outlandish' foreign bulbs such as tulips, and for special occasions, fanciful designs cut into turf and filled with colourful gravels.

Housesteads Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland

Lying midway along Hadrian’s Wall, Housesteads is the most complete example of a Roman fort in Britain and one of the best-known from the entire Roman Empire. It was built within a decade of AD 122, when work on the Wall began, and was garrisoned by an 800-strong infantry regiment until the end of the 4th century. With stunning panoramic views, coupled with historical treats including the oldest toilets you’ll ever see, Housesteads is the ideal location to let off some steam.

Whitby Abbey, North Yorkshire

Set high on the clifftops, towering over the picturesque fishing port of Whitby, the atmospheric ruins of Whitby Abbey have been inspiring visitors and artists for more than 1500 years. Originally an Anglo-Saxon Monastery, it was destroyed by Vikings and then re-founded soon after the Norman Conquest, eventually superseded by a great mansion. Legends and stories abound, and it’s no wonder that a visit by Victorian novelist Bram Stoker inspired the notorious gothic vampire novel, Dracula.

Tintagel Castle, Cornwall

Built half on the mainland and half on a jagged headland projecting into the Cornish sea, 13th century Tintagel Castle is one of the most spectacular historic sites in Britain and its association with King Arthur also makes it one of the most famous. For the first time in more than 500 years, the two separated halves of the castle have been reunited thanks to a dramatic new footbridge, allowing visitors to explore this legendary place just as our ancestors once did.

Mount Grace Priory, North Yorkshire

Set amid woodland in the Cleveland Hills, this delightful site encompasses one of the best preserved 14th century Carthusian priories in England, a 17th century Arts and Crafts mansion, as well as 13 acres of award-winning gardens. Masterminded by celebrity garden designer Chris Beardshaw, the Arts and Crafts gardens have been brought back to life with stunning terraced gardens, richly planted borders, wildflower meadows and ponds. Meanwhile, the monastery remains give an incredible insight into how the semi-hermitic Carthusian monks would have lived.

1066 Battle of Hastings, Abbey and Battlefield, East Sussex

One of England’s most significant historic sites, this is where the armies of King Harold and William the Conqueror clashed in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings. See the Harold Stone, marking the spot where King Harold fell - a decisive moment in English history – and walk the battlefield trail with its carved wooden sculptures depicting Norman and Saxon soldiers. The breathtaking ruins of Battle Abbey, built by William shortly after his victory, are surrounded by idyllic Sussex countryside and make the perfect location for a day out in the fresh air.

Dover Castle, Kent

From the Romans to the World War II, Dover Castle is jam packed with history. Standing atop the iconic White Cliffs, with views across the Channel, the Castle is dominated by Henry II’s might medieval Great Tower. Explore acres of wide open castle grounds, walk the battlements and mighty defences, discover the oldest surviving lighthouse in the country, and stretch your legs and imagination at one of England’s greatest fortresses.

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