Our Five Most Romantic Places
From windswept clifftops to tranquil ruins, and from royal courtship to tragic love stories, English Heritage looks after some incredibly romantic pieces of English history.
Here's our pick of the places that will turn even the most stone-hearted cynic into a hopeless romantic.
Tintagel Castle, Cornwall
The windswept headland of Tintagel Castle has inspired writers, royals and romantics for centuries. It's most famous for its links with Arthurian legend - it's supposedly the site where Arthur was conceived. And the castle has also been long associated with the tragic love Celtic story of Tristan and Isolde.
Beneath the cliffs, there's a small but perfectly formed beach, and at low tide you can explore Merlin's Cave. In Tennyson's Idylls of the King, Merlin used the cave to carry the infant Arthur to safety. Learn more about the castle's myths and history in the exhibition, find the sculptures dotted around the headland, and enjoy a locally-sourced meal in the brilliant Beach Café.
Osborne, Isle of Wight
"It is impossible to imagine a prettier spot" - such were the words of Queen Victoria after a visit to Osborne. With beautiful formal gardens, a golden beach and an attractive wildflower meadow, this royal Italianate seaside palace was a haven for the queen and her beloved Prince Albert, and it's just as easy to fall in love with Osborne today.
Treat yourself to a spot of fine dining in the elegant Terrace Restaurant, or keep cool with an ice cream from our parlour on the beach. Explore the sumptuous state apartments and Victoria's private family rooms, and stroll through the extensive gardens and grounds.
Osborne really is a place to fall in love with. Make the most of it with a stay in the Pavilion holiday cottage, or in one of two cottages within the estate's ceremonial gate. And for romantics who want to celebrate their love in royal style, Osborne is available for weddings.
Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire
The extensive ruins of Kenilworth Castle hold a special place in English history for romantics. Robert Dudley transformed the castle into a grand palace in an attempt to win the heart of Queen Elizabeth I. In 1575 he attempted to woo her with a spectacular garden and a series of lavish entertainments when she visited Kenilworth for 19 days, but the two were never married. When Robert died, Elizabeth stayed in her room for days.
The viewing platform in Leicester's Building allows you to see the view from Elizabeth's private chambers, and the reconstructed Elizabethan Garden offers a glimpse into Robert's romantic extravagance, with its arbours, aviary and stunning marble fountain. Kenilworth stands as a glorious testament to one of English history's most romantic 'what ifs'.
Furness Abbey, Cumbria
Romance isn't all about love. The great Romantic artists of the late 18th and early 19th centuries were inspired by the beauty of nature and ruins, and William Wordsworth and JMW Turner both visited Furness Abbey.
The ruins of the abbey lie in a beautiful wooded valley close to the Lake District. Wordsworth taken with the place, mentioning it in a number of poems. In The Two Part Prelude, he recalled hearing a bird in the nave singing so sweetly "that there I could have made/ my dwelling-place, and lived for ever there/ to hear such music."
Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens, Northumberland
The Classical Greek Revival villa was built by Sir Charles Monck, who was influenced by the the buildings of ancient Greece that he'd seen on his honeymoon. In the gardens, Charles' love of the picturesque inspired him to create the spectacular Quarry Garden. Today it's filled with exotic plants that thrive in the garden's microclimate.
Flower-filled formal gardens, a Victorian tearoom and a ruined medieval castle all add to Belsay's romantic atmosphere.