Things to Do

Top 5 Things To Do in June

This June, we’ve got plenty of ideas to help you step into history.

Celebrate the Summer Solstice, learn about Queen Victoria and plan your summer holidays with English Heritage. Read on to discover fascinating people, must-see properties and captivating videos.

The month in history

  • The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday 18 June 1815, where armies led by the Duke of Wellington and Gebhard von Blücher defeated Napoleon Bonaparte. A visit to the Duke’s London home of Apsley House lets visitors explore his personal life and his passion for art.
  • Lindisfarne Monastery was brutally raided by Vikings on the 8 June 793. This attack was different from previous Viking raids because it took place in the sacred heart of the Northumbrian kingdom, where Cuthbert (d. 687) had been bishop.
  • The SS Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury on the 22 June 1948 marking the start of post-war immigration from the Commonwealth.
  • George Orwell, novelist and political essayist best remembered for his dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, was born on 26 June 1903. He is commemorated with a blue plaque at 50 Lawford Road in Kentish Town, where he lived from August 1935 until January 1936.
  • Birth of Alan Turing, pioneer of computer science and cryptanalyst at Bletchley Park during the Second World War, where he made his vital contribution to the deciphering of the German Enigma code. He was born on the 23 June 1912 at 2 Warrington Crescent, W9 now marked with a blue plaque.

1. Celebrate the Summer Solstice

At Stonehenge on the Summer Solstice, the sun rises behind the Heel Stone in the north-east part of the horizon and its first rays shine into the heart of the stone circle. This year we bring the Solstice celebrations to you with a live-stream from the stones. On Tuesday 21 June you can marvel at the ancient wonder that is the Summer Solstice from the comfort of your home. The live-stream is free and easy to watch on our social media channels.

In preparation for the Solstice, why not learn more about the history and stories of this magnificent monument. Discover how Stonehenge was built and the importance of the solstice axis and the alignment of the stones. Explore the landscape from above or enjoy an educational virtual tour of the site.

Find out more

2. Give the gift of membership this Father’s Day

This Father’s Day the past makes for a perfect present: how about treating your dad to a year of fun-filled days out in history. An English Heritage membership offers unlimited visits to over 400 historic places across the country, four Members' Magazines per year, our exclusive Members' Handbook, access to tons of exciting events and free entry to sites for up to six children. Plus you’re helping to preserve England’s history for future generations. You can even personalise your Gift of Membership with a personal message.

We also have several exciting events happening during Father’s Day weekend. The grounds of Castle Acre Priory will be transformed into a Tudor encampment with demonstrations of cooking, crafts and a display of Tudor weaponry, including archery and gunfire. Alternatively, Broadsworth Hall offers a weekend full of classic cars, ranging from vintage vehicles to modern motors from the eighties and nineties. Use our family property guides for further inspiration of stunning places the whole family can enjoy for a truly special Father’s Day.

Give the gift of membership

3. Plan a historical summer holiday

With summer approaching and holidays to look forward to, why not start planning your summer getaway and take a look at our inspirational guides for the best holidays in historical locations that the UK has to offer. With suggested places to visit and detailed itineraries, you can plan your trip by location, or browse to find a completely new destination. If you fancy a trip with your four-legged friend in tow, take a look at our top dog friendly days out.

We also offer luxurious stays at the heart of our historic properties, with holiday cottages located in picturesque historical buildings, often in the grounds of our properties.

Plan your holiday

4. Commemorate 250 years since the Somerset V Stewart case

250 years ago on 22 June 1772, William Murray, Baron (later Earl of) Mansfield and Chief Justice of the Court of King’s Bench, ruled in the case of Somerset v Stewart that it was unlawful to transport James Somerset, an enslaved African, forcibly out of England. When the verdict was announced, it sent political and legal shockwaves through Britain and its American colonies.

William Murray lived at Kenwood House on the edge of Hampstead Heath in North London. He and his wife were childless, but later provided a home for their niece, Anne Murray, and two great-nieces, Elizabeth Murray and Dido Elizabeth Belle. Dido was the illegitimate daughter of a formerly enslaved young black woman named Maria Bell and Mansfield's nephew Sir John Lindsay. It was extremely unusual at this time for a mixed-race child to be raised not as a servant, but as part of an aristocratic British family. A portrait of Dido Belle was commissioned as part of the ‘painting our past’ series, which aimed to depict six figures from the African diaspora whose stories have often been overlooked. The painting now hangs at Kenwood.

To celebrate the 250th anniversary of this ruling on Wednesday 22 June Kenwood is hosting an evening event to mark the momentous occasion. There will be discussion of the enduring relevance of the Somerset case today and live performances of classical music.

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5. Learn about Queen Victoria

On 20 June 1837 crowds lined the streets of London for the Coronation of Queen Victoria. 185 years later her descendent Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her Platinum Jubilee. Our current Queen has now earned the title of longest reigning English monarch, but why not find out more about the ruler who previously held the title and ruled over England for an impressive 64 years.

Queen Victoria had a large family of nine children, five girls and four boys, with 17 years between the oldest and the youngest. The family enjoyed spending time at Osborne, Queen Victoria’s holiday home for over 50 years, and the children especially loved playing and learning to bake at the Swiss Cottage. The children also had their own garden, and used to grow fruit, vegetables and flowers before selling them to Prince Albert for market prices. Some of Victoria’s most precious family memories were made there and the house reveals much about the private life of Victoria and her family.

Queen Victoria had a sweet tooth and a love for the quintessential pastime of Victorian England, afternoon tea. Cakes closely associated with Victoria are still eaten today, Battenburg Cake, Victoria Sponge and Osborne Pudding (a variation on the traditional bread and butter pudding that uses brown bread and marmalade).

Queen Victoria struck up an unlikely friendship with Abdul Karim, the first of the Queen’s Indian servants. Within two years he became the queen’s Munshi (teacher) and taught her Urdu as well as keeping her letters in order. In time she named him her official Indian Secretary. Their friendship caused turmoil within the royal household, however Victoria defended Abdul against all opposition.

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