Things to Do

Top 5 Things To Do in September

To help you get inspired, each month we round up five of the best things to see and do with us at English Heritage. 

In September, explore England's history in the open air with our pick of the best outdoor historic places. Or if you are heading indoors, keep yourself and others safe with our stylish new face coverings inspired by historic wallpapers and furnishings.

You can also read our tips to rainproof your weekends, explore London's hidden personal histories and discover what the pirates of the past were really like.

The month in history

  • Salisbury Cathedral, as it stands today, was completed on 29 September 1258. The building had been re-sited from Old Sarum after relations between the military and the clergy soured, but the foundations of the original cathedral can still be clearly seen at Old Sarum.
  • Britain and France declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939, in response to Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Poland. Just eight months later, in May 1940, Dover Castle played a vital role in the war as the headquarters for the evacuation of Dunkirk.
  • The Beatles started their first recording session at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios on 4 September 1962. The north west London studios became synonymous with the ‘Fab Four.’ One member, John Lennon, is commemorated with a London blue plaque at his nearby home in Marylebone.

1. Enjoy some fresh air with our pick of the best outdoor places

Missing your history fix but worried about keeping a safe distance from other people on your visit? We’ve put together a list of our top 9 historic places with plenty of outdoor space, helping you to explore England’s past while easily maintaining social distancing.

Take a trek back through time on Hadrian’s Wall, lose yourself among the spectacular open-air ruins and beautiful gardens of Witley Court or simply relax in the sunshine on Kenwood‘s rolling lawns. Wherever you are in the country, there’s a historic outdoor space waiting for you to enjoy. Let's make the most of the summer while it lasts.

See our spacious places

2. Stay Safe in Style with Our New History-Inspired Face Coverings

Whether you're planning a visit to one of our historic sites this month, or just want to add some historic style to your shopping trip, our new range of face coverings are sure to turn heads. 

The adult coverings feature designs inspired by wallpapers, ceiling paintings and other furnishings at five different historic places: Bolsover Castle, Down House, Eltham Palace, Dover Castle and Marble Hill House. Plus there's a smaller size for children with a colourful design of Roman helmets, royal crowns and other historical symbols.

All of the coverings are coated with an antiviral treatment for better protection and come with an extending clip for greater comfort.

Browse the designs in our online shop

3. Waterproof Your Weekend Adventures

The infamous British weather has a tendency to get particularly British at this time of year, but the rain doesn't have to put a damper your family's plans. 

Step inside the intricately decorative Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire, once home to William Cavendish, 17th-century playboy and pioneer of dressage. Explore Down House in Kent, family home of Charles Darwin, to see the recreated study where he wrote his seminal On the Origin of Species. Or visit Osborne, Queen Victoria's vast holiday home on the Isle of Wight, for a full day out under one royal roof.

See our top rainy days out

4. Discover London's Hidden Histories

Have you ever walked past an interesting building and wondered who might have lived or worked there in times gone by? The London Blue Plaques Scheme, which started in 1866, commemorates the people from history who lived and worked in London. 

If you're planning to be in the capital this month, exploring the city's 900+ blue plaques is a great way to get a slice of history in the outdoors. Download our Blue Plaques app for guided walks on a particular theme, or simply search for those that interest you, from medical pioneers to music stars, civil rights campaigners to sports heroes.

Our newest blue plaque commemorates Noor Inayat Khan, a British spy of Indian origin who worked as an undercover radio operator in Nazi-occupied France during the Second World War. She is the first woman of Indian heritage to receive a blue plaque. Find the house where she once stayed, at 4 Taviton Street, Bloomsbury.

Explore all blue plaques

5. Meet the real pirates of England's past

Yo-ho, yo-ho, me hearty! Think you know pirates? Peg-legs, eye patches, bottles o' rum and parrots on shoulders? Think again. 

We invited Historian Paul Pattison to dig through the treasure chests of England's pirate past, to uncover what privateering plunderers really got up to. Meet John Hawley, the 'Merchant Mayor' of Dartmouth who — after a spell in the Tower of London — went on to build the town's castle. Or how about 'The Rover' of Dorset, Henry Strangways, who stored some of his plunder at Portland Castle

Discover history's perilous pirates

More to Explore

  • Tasty Historical Makes and Bakes

    Serve up a slice of history with these delicious recipes from the past. Whip up a batch of Mrs Crocombe's favourite Queen Drop Biscuits, bake a medieval pie, watch our interview with a Tudor cook and more.

  • 39 Ways to Explore History From Home - for Free

    From 1066 to toilets through time, and from country gardens to Mrs Crocombe, our website and social media channels are packed with ways to discover England's past.

  • Visit Stonehenge

    Walk in the footsteps of your neolithic ancestors at one of the wonders of the world: Stonehenge in Wiltshire.

  • Support Us

    The maintenance of our historic gardens relies on your support. By donating or volunteering, you can help to secure the future of England's horticultural heritage.

'step into englands story