Top 5 Things To Do in October

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

Get ready for a ‘frightfully’ good Halloween, make the most of Autumn with our historic gardens and explore stories of black history. Read on to discover fascinating people, must-see properties and captivating videos.


1. Explore historic gardens this Autumn

Autumn is a beautiful time to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. Head to our historic gardens to experience the spectacular autumnal colours in all their glory and enjoy views that date back centuries.

Go behind the scenes with our expert garden teams to find out more about the work that goes into maintaining these spectacular spaces and join them as they harvest the garden produce. Or delve into the history of English harvest and the origins of many of our Autumn traditions.

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2. Plan a frightfully good day out

Grab your broomsticks for a great-value day out at our Halloween events taking place across the country.

Throughout the October half-term our ghost-hunting storytellers will be hosting family-friendly walks through the shadows of our historical sites. For older paranormal investigators we’ve planned adults-only evening tours of our spookiest historic places, where you can uncover the darker side of history.

Learn about the origins of Halloween and the roots of traditions still celebrated to this day. Discover popular misconceptions about witchcraft and the spookiest stories connected to England’s historic sites.

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3. Marvel at illuminated ruins and a legendary re-enactment

This October see Bram Stoker's inspiration in a new light. The gothic splendour of Whitby Abbey will be bathed in dramatic illuminations as the story of Dracula is brought to life… with a twist! Have your camera at the ready for this spectacular event that guarantees to get you in the mood for Halloween.

We also invite you to join us on the anniversary of England’s most famous battle. Taking place on the very spot where King Harold and Duke William fought in 1066, over 300 reenactors will be recreating the drama and intensity of the Battle of Hastings.

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4. Start planning your Christmas visits

Now is the perfect time to look ahead to the festive season and plan outings that the whole family will love. This Christmas, some of our most popular sites will be lit up with dazzling new light trails. Experience the sprawling grounds of Kenwood, Eltham Palace, Wrest Park and Walmer Castle like never before, as they are transformed into a magical world of illumination, sound and colour. We recommend booking in advance as these Christmas events are in high demand.

Younger family members will enjoy coming face-to-face with Father Christmas as he shares seasonal stories. It’s the ideal event for getting your little ones into the festive spirit.

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There are no known surviving images of James Chappell. This portrait of him was painted by Glory Samjolly as part of English Heritage’s 2021 ‘Painting our Past’ project, which invited contemporary artists to portray historical figures from the African diaspora.

5. Explore Stories of Black History

Black history is a vital part of England’s story, reaching back many centuries. There is evidence of African people in Roman Britain as far back as the 3rd century AD, and black communities have been present since at least 1500. Learn about the stories of the remarkable black figures who are linked with our historic places: from James Chappell who led the rescue of Christopher Hatton and his family from the rubble of Castle Cornet on Guernsey; to Sarah Forbes Bonetta, the African orphan who became the protégée of Queen Victoria.

You can also listen to our series of podcast episodes dedicated to black history or learn about the blue plaques which honour pioneering black figures and their achievements.

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The Month in History

  • The Women’s Social and Political Union was founded on 10 October 1903, by Emmeline Pankhurst. Its members used tactics including civil disobedience to campaign for women’s rights, becoming known as suffragettes. A blue plaque marks the home of Emmeline and her daughter Dame Christabel Pankhurst.
  • King Harold, England’s last Anglo-Saxon king, was killed during the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066. The victory for William the Conqueror and his Norman army changed the course of English history.
  • On 11 October 1982 the ‘Mary Rose’, Henry VIII’s flagship, was raised. She sank off Portsmouth in 1545, and over 22,000 artefacts were recovered from the depths.
  • Harold Moody, physician and campaigner for racial equality, was born on the 8 October 1882. His home in Peckham is now the site of a blue plaque.

More to Explore

  • Inspire Me

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