Things to Do

Top 5 Things To Do in October

Autumn has arrived and the change of season is starting to show in the leaves and in the temperature. For those who love nothing more than wrapping up in coats and scarves and the crunch of leaves underfoot, now is the time for getting out and about to explore England's historic landscape. 

There's lots to do this month. Our Halloween events will return, inviting kids and grown-ups alike to brave terrifying trails around historic places. 

Here's our top 5 things to do with English Heritage in October...

The month in history

  • The Battle of Hastings took place on 14 October 1066 between the armies of William the Conqueror and Harold Godwinson. William's Norman victory paved the way to his coronation on Christmas Day, altering the course of English history forever. 
  • The physicist Michael Faraday first demonstrated the dynamo on 28 October 1831. The device used electro-magnetism to create current and was the first electricity generator. It would also give its name, just over 100 years later, to the miraculous evacuation of troops from Dunkirk during the Second World War: Operation Dynamo
  • The composer Ralph Vaughan Williams was born on 12 October 1872. Comprising operas, ballets, chamber music and 9 symphonies, his work is noted for drawing from English folk music in place of the more traditional European influences. A blue plaque near Regent's Park in London marks the composer's home in later life.

1. Prepare for a Scare

This October half term, our popular Halloween events return and a night of spine-tingling fun awaits at a haunted house or creepy castle near you. 

Embark on an After Dark tour for ages 16+ as story-tellers from times gone by lead you through tales of ghosts, supernatural sightings and horrors from history. Plus, take the whole family on a chilling adventure with our spooky Woodland Walks for ages 5-12. Explore the grounds of Audley End, Belsay Hall, Walmer Castle, Brodsworth Hall, Witley Court and Wrest Park with our story-telling trails for the whole family. 

Dressing up is encouraged, but please remember to wear suitable outdoor clothing and footwear and don't forget to bring a torch. You could also make your own spooky lantern inspired by our historic places by following along with our video guide.

Book Your Tickets

2. Explore England's Black History with us

October is Black History Month, an annual observance to recognise the varied and important roles played by people of African descent in England's story. These range from the Windrush generation and prisoners held at Portchester Castle, to the many black pioneers who broke down boundaries in sport, art, literature and music. 

Explore our Black History online hub to discover the lives and achievements of some of history's most pioneering black figures, as well as the ways in which these stories from our past help us to understand events today. 

Stay tuned on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram throughout the month to learn more about black history in England. Our regular podcast will also be exploring the theme this month. The first, which focuses on Dido Belle and her life at Kenwood, is available now.

Find out more

3. Learn to cook the Victorian Way with Mrs Crocombe

If you watch our YouTube channel, you'll know about Mrs Avis Crocombe. She was the cook at Audley End House in 1881. Today, her recipes are brought back to life with our popular Victorian Way video series.

Now, Avis has brought her culinary career into the 21st century, with the new Victorian Way cookery book, available from our online shop as well as Waterstones and your local book shop.

Researched and written by historians Dr Annie Gray and Andrew Hann, the book translates real Victorian recipes both sweet and savoury for you to try at home in a modern kitchen. For the more adventurous chef there's Roast Pheasant, Rhubard Soup and... brain cakes. Or if you want something more contemporary, whip up Eggs with Cheese or a delicious Curry. 

There are even some Christmas recipes for the winter season, from Christmas Pudding to Nesselrode Cream. 

Watch our exclusive video to see author Annie Gray and interpreter Kathy Hipperson (who portrays Mrs Crocombe on-screen) prepare the cook's Lemon Cheese Cakes.

Get Your Copy

4. Get out and about in comfort with our most spacious outdoor places

Since national lockdown measures were eased, we've all been experiencing England's historic places in new ways. We've been thrilled to welcome you back to our sites to explore the places where history happened.

At a time when personal space is so valuable, many of our historic places make the ideal setting for a worry-free day out, where fresh air and open grounds await. 

So we've picked out 9 of the best places across the length and breadth of England to enjoy the great outdoors with peace of mind. Country houses with vast grounds to explore, enigmatic abbeys of towering architecture and ancient stone circles in the open air.

See the list

5. Get Crafty at Home this half term

Whether you're looking for ways to fill the half term break when options are limited, or just want a fun way to explore history at the weekend, our Kids Rule! arts and crafts guides are ideal. 

There are 20 different things to make using just paper, card and other household materials, from a gorgeous Georgian fan to a crenellated castle complete with working drawbridge

You'll also find a guide to designing your own historical coat of arms, and much more.

Browse our craft guides

More to Explore this month

  • Welcome Back

    Almost all of our sites are now open. Your visit may look a little different to before and new measures are in place to keep everyone safe. Find out more about what to expect before you visit.

  • Halloween Events

    Kids and families can head to our historic places this Halloween half term with spooky storytelling, creepy crafts and trick or treat themed trails at our castles, abbeys and houses. 

  • Join Today and Save

    As a charity, we rely on your support now more than ever. By becoming a member, you'll help to keep the story of England alive for future generations while enjoying unlimited entry to more than 400 historic places. 

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