Top 5 Things To Do in November

Top 5 Things To Do in November

Autumn is here! And with things a little different at the moment, there are plenty of ways to explore England's past from the comfort of your home this month.

Try your hand at Victorian cooking with our new cookbook, enjoy behind-the-scenes videos at our places and Blue Plaques, as well as getting ahead on the Christmas shopping with unique history-inspired gifts.

The month in history

  • Elizabeth I became Queen of England on 17 November 1558. Elizabeth was the only English queen never to marry, despite a string of noble suitors. One was the Earl of Leicester Rubert Dudley, who transformed Kenilworth Castle into a magnificent pleasure palace to impress her. The queen stayed at Kenilworth for 19 days of festivities in 1575.
  • Guy Fawkes was arrested beneath the Houses of Parliament on 5 November 1605, foiling a plot to kill King James I by blowing up the building with gunpowder. Learn more about the Gunpowder Plot
  • On 18 November 1852, an extravagant procession and state funeral was held for the Duke of Wellington. The Duke's body was carried on a 10-tonne carriage made from cannon bronze from the Battle of Waterloo. It passed his home, Apsley House, and Wellington Arch before continuing to St Paul's Cathedral.
  • Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species was published on 24 November 1859. The work set out Darwin's now-famous theory of evolution by natural selection, the foundation of evolutionary biology. Much of Darwin's research was carried out at his family home, Down House.
  • At eleven o'clock in the morning on 11 November 1918, an armistice between Allied and German forces came into effect, marking the end of the Great War. Annual commemorations remember this important moment, most notably at the Cenotaph.
The central bronze group of the Belgian Gratitude Memorial, representing a mother and two garland-bearing children
The central bronze group of the Belgian Gratitude Memorial (also known as the Anglo-Belgian Memorial or Belgian Refugees Memorial). To pay for the memorial, subscriptions were raised from Belgian troops, as well as donations from the Belgian royal family
© Historic England (photo by Lucy Milson-Watkins)

1. Take a closer look at London's war memorials

On 11 November, we commemorate the end of the First World War with events at The Cenotaph. But London is home to many other WWI memorials, marking events less well-known. 

Created by the sculptor Francis Derwent Wood, the Machine Gun Corps Memorial on Duke of Wellington Place is unusual. It controversially depicts a nude statue of David holding a long sword, dismissed as crass by critics when unveiled. But in truth, Wood had good reason for the depiction. 

The Belgian Gratitude Memorial, in Victoria Embankment Gardens on the north bank of the Thames, is another surprising example. The mother and children cast in bronze are symbolic of Britain's welcome of Belgian refugees fleeing German invasion.

Read more
Wood engraving of Florence Nightingale
A 19th-century wood engraving of Florence Nightingale in a Crimean hospital with her famous lamp
© Wellcome Collection/Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

2. Discover the history of health in England

Health is on everyone's lips at the moment. But did you know that the London Blue Plaques Scheme celebrates many of the figures that shaped public health as we know it today? 

These contributions range from Nye Bevan and Sir William Beveridge, instrumental in the arrival of a National Health Service, to earlier pioneers such as Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Mary Seacole and Florence Nightingale. Explore the story of health in England through the centuries. 

Learn more

3. Get the Christmas shopping done from the comfort of your sofa

Sit back and treat family and friends to some unique history-inspired gifts from the comfort of your own home. 

Bring the family together with our toys and games, including exclusive historical versions of all the favourites: Monopoly, Risk, Top Trumps and Cluedo. For the friend or relative who likes a tipple at Christmas, a bottle of Victorian spiced gin is sure to go down well. And no Christmas would be complete without some new socks... how about Stonehenge ones?

Plus, we have new specially-designed Christmas cards this year to share your message featuring a range of beautiful festive designs.

Purchases from our shop support us in our vital work to safeguard the places and stories of England's past.

Browse our online shop

4. Find us on TikTok!

Get a new perspective on Stonehenge from among the stones. Enjoy a tour of Charles Darwin's family home. Take a closer look at our newest Blue Plaques to be unveiled. See history like never before with historical photographs brought to life in vibrant colour. 

We are now on TikTok and you'll find lots of exclusive behind-the-scenes content on our channel. So whatever your favourite period of history, there's something interesting to explore.

Follow us on TikTok

5. ...or explore History at Home

There are many ways to explore England's past from home this month, discovering new places and stories that will amaze and inspire. 

Learn about the obscure medieval laws that can seem extreme to us today, like a ban on football, or those that were never repealed. (If a fisherman catches a sturgeon today, technically he should offer it to the Queen!) 

Take a closer look at costume, a tradition that can be found in different times and cultures throughout our past, from early May Day festivals to interwar costume parties and the modern Halloween tradition.

Test your history knowledge with our online quizzes, or delve into our podcast to uncover new stories and perspectives.

Explore history from home

More to Explore

  • More spotlights on places we love

    Find out more about some of our favourite historic places in England.

  • We're on YouTube

    From internet superstar Mrs Crocombe in her Victorian kitchen to animated history and exclusive documentaries, our YouTube channel is a treasure trove of discoveries.

  • SPOTLIGHT ON PLACES WE LOVE

    Take a closer look at some of our favourite historic places. Discover what we love about them, then plan your own adventure.

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