Things to Do

Top 5 Things To Do in February

From enjoying England's historic places on your daily walk to a virtual trip to the theatre with our new historical plays, here's our pick of the five best ways to step into the past with us this month. 

The Month in History

  • A cheque was used for the first time in Britain on 16 February 1659 as the merchant Nicholas Vanacker settled a debt of £400 to a Mr Delboe. 312 years later, in February 1971, pennies, bobs and half-crowns became history when British currency went decimal. 
  • The landscape gardener Lancelot 'Capability' Brown died on 6 February 1783. Brown is remembered as England's greatest in his field, with a lasting legacy at many country houses Audley End House in Essex and Wrest Park in Bedfordshire.
  • Charles Dickens was born on 7 February 1812 in Portsmouth. The author is inextricably linked with London and wrote many of his early works — including Oliver Twist — at his home on Doughty Street in Bloomsbury, where a London blue plaque now commemorates him. 
  • On 1 February 1901, the Royal Yacht Alberta arrived in Portsmouth Harbour carrying the body of Queen Victoria. The Queen died at her grand holiday home, Osborne, on the Isle of Wight where she often retreated to spend time with her family away from court life.

1. Take your daily exercise in beautiful historic surroundings

We are keeping a selection of free-to-enter and paid sites open for local people to use for exercise. 

Whether you stretch your legs and take in some fresh air at a medieval castle, Victorian country house or prehistoric stone circle, our places have plenty of outdoor space for safe social distancing. 

Check our Winter Opening page to see which sites are open near you and remember that visits to paid sites must be booked in advance.

Find a place to visit

2. Explore history from home with fun crafts and activities

Whether you're looking for ways to enhance home learning or fun activities the family can enjoy together, our History at Home pages have you covered. 

Get cutting and sticking to make your own Victorian toy theatre, Roman prefect's house or Tudor castle using nothing more than paper and card. Test the family's history knowledge with quizzes on topics including London blue plaques, the industrial revolution and Kings and Queens. 

Plus, you'll find hundreds of teaching resources and educational activities to help ensure the kids are keeping up with history in fun and interactive ways.

Things to make and do

3. Get the popcorn out for a virtual trip to the theatre

So you've watched everything on Netflix and nothing quite compares to the glow of the stage lights and seeing a story unfold live before your eyes? We have some good news for you. 

We've teamed up with a small theatre to bring you a series of short plays based on some of the most remarkable stories linked to England's historic places, available to enjoy for free on YouTube. 

Our first production, Letters Home, explores the pivotal role the Post Office played in the first world war, delivering millions of letters and parcels to soldiers on the front line. 

The second, A Life in Bloom, is the story of Gertrude Bell and her relationship with her mother. Bell was an explorer, travel writer, diplomat, spy and more who traveled the east and documented her experiences in letters and diaries.

Want to be notified when more are released?

Subscribe on YouTube

4. Immerse yourself in England's stories with our podcast

If you need a soundtrack for your daily exercise, or just want to 'unplug' from life at home for half an hour, the English Heritage podcast is your ticket to escape into the pages of history. 

Released weekly, our recent topics have included the history of the calendar, the challenges of conserving historic sites and the role of superstition and magic in Roman Britain. 

You can listen to all 95 episodes on our podcast page. They are also available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen. 

Listen now

5. See England's historic places from the air

If you're missing your favourite castle, abbey, country house or ancient monument, you'll love our 'Postcard from' videos. 

With the help of a drone, we show you some of the nation's most iconic sites from a new perspective. From the dramatic Atlantic cliffs of Tintagel Castle in Cornwall to the awe-inspiring landscapes of Hadrian's Wall country, take to the skies and enjoy some of England's best views from the comfort of your sofa. 

Explore the YouTube playlist

Check before you travel

A selection of our sites are now open for local people to use for exercise during the lockdown period. These are a mixture of free-to-enter and paid sites, and all have plenty of outdoor space for safe social distancing.

Please stay local and follow the latest government advice.

Before visiting, please also check the page for the individual site to ensure that it's open. Visits to paid sites must be booked in advance.

See which sites are open
'step into englands story