England has a wealth of history, customs and traditions. We have Stone Circles and Burial Mounds from the Stone Age, Iron Age and Bronze Age Round Houses and Enclosures (Hill Forts), Roman towns, roads and defences, Saxon and Viking heritage, and with the Norman invasion came the building of impressive stone Castles and Churches, through the rich Tudor and Elizabethan periods to the birth of the Modern Age with the Industrial Revolution first with Water Power and then with Steam and the great Victorian builders, engineers and inventors. Sprinkled in with this is myth, legends and a little licence from our literary fraternity and even more from TV and Film makers – there is a lot of History and Heritage in England, even those with no interest in our past must surely be impressed by the architecture, art, crafts, writings or monuments that are part of our English Heritage or just curious to see the places that they have see in movies!
Our history has been documented by generations of scholars, however many overseas visitors may have a view of our history that has been derived from Hollywood films and from literature both factual and fictional. Therefore reality can sometimes be a bit of a shock and sometime a pleasant surprise.
There are some sites that are of such importance that they have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. One of the most iconic is Stonehenge. Others are associated with our Industrial Heritage and the birth of the Industrial Revolution, our period as a province of Rome and more relate to our history of the last 1000 years with its Castles, Palaces, Churches and our Maritime Heritage
Literature Heritage attractions cover a wide spectrum from Lindisfarne and its world famous Lindisfarne Gospels, to Shakespeare’s Birthplace, the home of Agatha Christie and the Lakes Poets. We have been blessed with so many famous Poets and Authors, many are celebrated with dedicated museums often in a building directly associated with them.
We also have something of an obsession with the Age of Steam, there are industrial museums dedicated to the people, processes, machinery and social change associated with the industrial revolution and the period of Steam Power. In particular we love our Heritage Railways and Steam Locomotives, there are many small, often volunteer run, heritage railways dotted about the country and for those with some nostalgia for the period there is nothing to beat travelling in a vintage railway carriage being pulled by a Steam Engine with its evocative sounds and smells.
On top of that we have some world class museums and art collections. There are also countless smaller and local museums, specialist museums and historic collections, along with the many Country Houses, Mansions, and Cathedral Churches celebrated for their architecture and individual collections
On this website we have included a “Historic and Architectural Properties and Gardens" page in each county section to help you find local places to visit
Suggestions for towns and cities to visit for history and heritage - London has a lot but there is so much more ...
The city of Bath - Spa town with Roman-era Baths, 18th-century Georgian architecture - Royal Crescent, Jane Austen Centre - UNESCO World Heritage site Historic maritime port of Bristol – sitting on the River Avon, historic docks and museums, visit Brunel's SS Great Britain and iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge also – Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites – prehistoric monuments dating back over 5000 years to the Neolithic and Bronze Age - UNESCO World Heritage site
Oxford - historic university city, rich architecture, museums and galleries, Blenheim Palace World Heritage Site home of the 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. Winchester - for its medieval Cathedral and Portsmouth for its Historic Dockyard. Dover and its Castle, Broadstairs and its Dickens connection, Ramsgate and its network of underground tunnels
Central / Midlands
Stratford upon Avon, visit the birthplace of William Shakespeare also Warwick and Kenilworth for their castles
Nottinghamshire its castle, its legendary son and the folk hero Robin Hood and see the former homes of the romantic poet Lord Byron
In the West Midlands discover the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, Black Country Living Museumand and JRR Tolkien's childhood haunts, the inspiration for literary classics Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
Lincoln – Historic town, castle, cathedral with Europe’s finest examples of Gothic architecture – copy of the Magna Carta
Cambridge - historic university city, rich architecture, museums and the Bronze Age archaeological site at Flag Fen
York – walled city centre, castle, Roman, Viking and Medieval heritage, historic buildings, museums including the National Railway Museum, JORVIK Viking Centre
Chester – founded as a Roman fortress in the 1st century A.D., walk the city walls, historic Rows shopping streets, largest Roman Amphitheatre in Britain, 1000 year old cathedral Liverpool – Maritime port city, with its Albert Dock, the "Three Graces" – Royal Liver Building, Cunard Building and Port of Liverpool Building on the Pier Head and pop music heritage of The Beatles, Port Sunlight 19th century “garden village” - UNESCO World Heritage site
Durham – with its Cathedral, one of Eurpoe’s greatest medieval buildings, and the Shrine of St Cuthbert, Castle, historic University, - - UNESCO World Heritage site
Tyne and Wear offer Washington Old Hall the ancestral home of first US president George Washington, see reconstructions and live excavations on a visit to Hadrian’s Wall and experience life from the Norman invasion to Victorian slums in Newcastle Castle
below I have listed some useful links related to our history and heritage
Major Museums and Galleries
Ashmolean Museum - University of Oxford museum of art and archaeology
British Museum - world famous collections
Imperial War Museums - IWM’s collections cover all aspects of twentieth and twenty-first century conflict involving Britain, the Commonwealth and other former empire countries.
Jorvik Viking Centre - reconstruction of Viking-Age streets of York
Mary Rose Museum - Dedicated to the Tudor Warship "Mary Rose" and the men who served on her
National Glass Centre - Part of the University of Sunderland
Natural History Museum - world famous collections
National Gallery - world famous collections
National Maritime Museum - Ships and Naval history, that shaped the world
National Portrait Gallery - world famous collections
National Railway Museum - York- world famous collection of Locomotives and Railway
Science Museum - world famous collections
Victoria and Albert Museum - Said to be the world’s greatest museum of art and design
Organisations and Websites
Culture 24 - What's on where in the UK, Art, History, Performance
English Heritage - The government body caring for historic properties in England, most open to the public, some charge an entrance fee
Historic Houses Association - association of privately owned historic houses, stately homes, castles and gardens open to the public
National Trust - Historic Buildings and Gardens - a membership organisation for the preservation of historic buildings, gardens and landscape, generally entrance fees for non-members but a tourist membership may be more economic. If you are a member of a similar organisation in another country there may be a a reciprocal arrangement see www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/overseas-organisations
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew - landscapes, glasshouses, historic buildings, a vast range of rare and beautiful plants and collections of historic documents and plant specimens