Top 15 English Heritage Sites to Visit as a Family

Top 15 English Heritage Sites to Visit as a Family

We have just become members of English Heritage for the next 12 months and I want to tell you all about our membership and some of our favourite places to visit as a family and where we hope to visit over the next 12 months. Plus the special offer benefits you can have from being a member. There’s a lot more to an English Heritage membership than you may think!. We now have an annual membership card for myself and my husband and we can bring up to 6 children (aged 17 and under) with us who can enter an English Heritage property for free.

English Heritage Membership can make a perfect gift.

Currently, online at English Heritage an annual pass for an individual adult is £59, £99 for a joint adult membership and a family with 2 adults is also £99. Perfect for family days out.

Buyagift are currently selling English Heritage membership as a gift pack and occasionally this will be at a discounted price to the same membership via English Heritage. An English Heritage membership can make a perfect gift for someone that is really difficult to buy for or who simply prefers doing things rather than receiving things that they really don’t want or need. With over 400 sites to choose from the pass should be well used during a year!

The wonderful people at Buyagift sent me a gift of an annual pass for two where up to 6 kids can also go free. It comes in a lovely presentation pack and activating the code online is really simple. Once done you then print out a form and fill in your details which you then send to English Heritage and await your membership pack (mine took around 2 weeks to arrive).

Top 15 English Heritage Sites to Visit as a Family
English Heritage gift pack from Buyagift

What do you receive with an English Heritage One Year Membership?

As well as receiving your membership cards that allow you entry to over 400 English Heritage properties there is so much more in an English Heritage membership pack.

We received a bookmark, window sticker, events guide, the kids rule! guide to Tudor England. This is a magazine for kids with stories, facts, quizzes, interactive elements via an app and more. Plus a pop badge which is exclusively for family members which kids can collect more of when you visit an English Heritage property. There’s also a very thick Handbook for 2018/19 which lists all the properties you can visit and there is an English Heritage members magazine which is useful and makes for a good read (you will receive four over the course of a 1 year membership). Here’s a photo of everything that we received with our membership cards.

English Heritage Membership Pack
English Heritage Membership Pack

Plus you also entitled to half price admission in the first year of membership and free entry on subsequent years of membership to Historic Scotland and Cadw (the Welsh equivalent) properties. Manx National Trust (Isle of Man) welcomes English Heritage members for free to their attractions. Plus Opw Heritage in Ireland and Heritage New Zealand.

There are also many associated properties in England that you can also visit that offer tickets at discounted prices. or discounted English events. Such as a 25% discount off entry to the Cutty Sark, 30% off Blenheim Palace, a discounted rate at Castle Howard and much more. Please click here to find out more.

Top 15 English Heritage Sites to Visit as a Family

 

Here we are my Top 15 English Heritage sites to visit as a family, in no order of preference

1 – Audley End House and Gardens, Essex

Audley End House was lived in until 1948. Now you can explore the house and see how it worked for both the servants and their masters. You can view many rooms within the Jacobean Mansion. Children can dress in period costume and play with replica toys of the 1830s. At the stables they have riding displays plus hands on demonstrations of horse care which children can take part in. The service wing comes alive with life like sounds and sites plus costumed interpreters on selected days.

The gardens were remodelled by Capability Brown and include a Tea House bridge, Classic temple of concord, a second world war memorial and much more. There is a children’s play area next to the cafe. The gardens have won many prizes.

Audley end house and gardens
Audley End, House and Gardens – Photo courtesy of English Heritage

 

 

2 – Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens, Northumberland

There are 40 acres of gardens at Belsay. Plus a large medieval castle enlarged into a Jacobean mansion with an elegant Greek revival-style home to succeed it. You can look around both the castle and the hall so there is plenty to see and do. If you can manage it there are 56 steps to the top of the castle tower which is worth it for the view. The gardens themselves could take a long time to explore with ravines cut out of rock and a Jurassic feeling quarry garden. There’s also a tea-room to pause for some refreshments.

Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens – Photo courtesy of English Heritage

 

 

3 – Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire

Bolsover castle is actually two castles. There is the ruined castle which was built back in the 12th Century but neglected by the 14th Century. Much of it has fallen away but what is left behind is really fun to explore and imagine the people of the past living there. There are some stunning views of the Derbyshire countryside from the other side of the ruin. There is also the Little castle. This is a fairy tale type castle with rooms to match. You enter via some very grand wooden doors and into some gorgeous gardens and there’s plenty of rooms to explore plus a wall walk.

There is a cafe on site with a playground next to it. Bolsover has many events throughout the year including reenactments and horse displays.

Top 15 English Heritage Sites to Visit as a Family
Bolsover Castle

 

 

4 – Brodsworth Hall and Gardens, South Yorkshire

Brodsworth Hall is a grand yet gently timeworn Victorian house. Visitors can look around many of the hall’s rooms. The extensive gardens have been restored to their original splendour. There’s a walk with statues, a fern dell grotto and wild rose dell. The Hall and grounds are great for families. There’s a playroom, an outdoor play area and family-friendly events and activities throughout the year. The play equipment is currently been upgraded. Winter is also a great time to visit as the grounds come alive with festive lights for ‘Enchanted Brodsworth’.

Brodsworth Hall and Gardens, photo courtesy of English Heritage

 

 

5 – Dover Castle, Kent

Dover castle sits above the famous white chalk cliffs of Dover. It has seen many uses throughout time, starting as a Roman lighthouse which is still there today and then evolving as a medieval castle. You can explore the wartime tunnels which were used as bombproof naval headquarters during WWII. A lot of the castle’s tunnels were also used as an Underground hospital which can also be seen today. Aboveground the tower used by King Henry II has been recreated as it may have appeared when it was originally completed. There are also interactive displays for young and old. A climb to the top of the tower is more than worth it for the stunning views. It’s a fascinating place to visit with plenty to interest everyone and kids will love all the different tunnels.

Dover Castle, photo courtesy of English Heritage

 

 

6 – Eltham Palace and Gardens, Greenwich

Eltham Palace is a 1930’s art deco mansion combined with a medieval royal palace and gardens. The palace itself is quite different from all the other properties that English Heritage own or manage with a vaulted bathroom, onyx bath and decorated doors. It’s a fascinating glimpse into their world back in the 1930’s and you can see the clothes and accessories of the era in the lady of the house’s walk-in wardrobe. In a complete contrast, you can also look around the medieval great hall. There are 19 acres of beautiful gardens that you can explore with an excellent wooden play area with a plane to fly, mountains to climb, maps to explore and even a compass.

Eltham Palace and Gardens, photo courtesy of English Heritage

 

 

7 – Goodrich Castle, Herefordshire

Goodrich Castle is a medieval castle which stands amongst woods and a rocky crag in the picturesque valley of Symonds Yat. The 11th-century castle is still almost completely walled and offers stunning views across the valley. It also has one of the most complete sets of medieval domestic buildings than any English castle. There are some stunning modern stained glass windows in the medieval castle chapel. There are not many medieval castles this much intact and it is well worth a visit.

Goodrich Castle, Photo courtesy of English Heritage

 

 

8 – Hadrian’s Wall, North England

This isn’t one place but a series of places to visit and an English Heritage membership is the perfect thing to own when exploring Hadrian’s wall. Although not completely intact today Hadrian’s wall still has plenty to see and explore. English Heritage have 23 sites along the wall that you can visit. The smaller sites are free to visit but there are a few where you will need to pay or show your membership card.

The four main highlights along the way are Birdoswald Roman fort (interactive exhibition, cafe, shop and remains of the fort. Housesteads Roman fort which is the most complete Roman fort in the UK. There are extensive remains including the famous Roman toilets, there is an exhibition on site. At Corbridge Roman town you can walk along the ‘high street’ of an excavated Roman garrison town and an exhibition with found artefacts. Plus Chester’s Roman fort and museum with a complete roman bath house suite.

Hadrian’s Wall – Photo courtesy of English Heritage

 

 

 

9 – Kenilworth castle, Warwickshire

Kenilworth castle is so much bigger than you will be expecting. There is plenty to see and explore there with ruined parts of the castle which you can climb stairs up and around. There are some more than impressive Elizabethan gardens which were originally designed and made for Queen Elizabeth the 1st. Leicester’s Gatehouse is the most intact of the buildings and there are reconstructed rooms which you can look around. This is the perfect setting for kids to run around and let their imaginations run wild.

Top 15 English Heritage Sites to Visit as a Family
Kenilworth Castle

 

 

 

10 – Lindisfarne Priory, Northumberland

For thirteen centuries now visitors have been drawn to this Holy Island. Lindisfarne Priory was one of the most important centres of early Christianity in Anglo-Saxon England. The dramatic approach across the causeway to the priory is second to none. A visit to this priory is said to stay in your memory forever. It is now a ruin but it is still very dramatic and breathtaking in its location. There is also a museum on site and a shop.

Lindisfarne Priory, photo courtesy of English Heritage

 

 

 

11 – Osborne, Isle of Wight

Osborne was once the private holiday residence of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. This was Victoria’s ‘Palace by the sea’ and there is a beach, plenty of grounds and gardens and a lavishly restored lower terrace with sea-themed statues. There are plenty of opulent staterooms that you can look around including many Indian treasures. During the summer months, you can take the courtesy bus and visit the beach where you can see the royal bathing machine, designed to protect the Queen’s modesty, plus deckchairs, seaside refreshments and sometimes Punch and Judy shows. There is also a children’s play area within the grounds.

Osborne House – photo courtesy of English Heritage

 

 

 

12 – Rievaulx Abbey, North Yorkshire

This now ruined abbey is set within a wooded valley. There is a cafe with abbey views, a museum, audio tour and an engaging family trail. It was once one of the wealthiest abbeys in medieval England. At its peak, 640 monks lived there. The church survives today almost at its full height. There is a maze of monastic ruins to explore. The museum displays previously unseen artefacts which tell the story of the rise and dramatic fall of the first Cistercian abbey in the North of England. You can grab a trail sheet from the visitor centre and find out all about life as a monk at Rievaulx Abbey. Discover what monks ate, how they communicated and where they went to the toilet!

Rievaulx Abbey, photo courtesy of English Heritage

 

 

 

13 – Stonehenge, Wiltshire

Stonehenge is one of the most iconic and historical sites in the UK. The monument was begun about 3000 BC. Originally it was used as a cremation cemetery. The larger stones were then brought around 500 years later from a site 16 miles away from Stonehenge. The smaller stones were transported over 150 miles to the site! The remains that are there today have been there for 4,000 years. The mind boggles how they even got the stones there all that time ago. They carry an air of mystery and power and are the focal point for so many people even today. As well as being able to walk around the outskirts of the stones there is an outstanding visitor centre with 250 ancient objects and come face to face with a 5,500 year-old man.

Stonehenge, photo courtesy of English heritage

 

 

 

14 – Tintagel Castle, Cornwall

Tintagel castle is also amongst one of the most historic and iconic sites in Britain. It is an atmospheric place that has been linked to the legend of King Arthur. It is incredibly dramatic, set on a rocky headland with stunning views out to sea. There is an exhibition which looks at Tintagel’s rich and varied past, including an innovative 3D model of the headland. You can climb the 148 steps on to the ‘Island’ and pass through the wooden door into what was the Great Hall built by Richard, Earl of Cornwall. You can also relax on the beach below the castle – one of Tintagel’s best kept secrets. Perfect for a quick paddle, or to explore the rock pools.

Tinntagel Castle, photo courtesy of English Heritage

 

 

 

15 – Wrest Park, Bedfordshire

Wrest Park boasts vast and varied gardens. There are charming follies, garden buildings, stunning views and many statues across the gardens. There is also a recently restored path to the Chinese bridge and Chinese temple. You can also visit the ground floor of the French chateau-style mansion. There is a cafe which overlooks the children’s playground. It’s a perfect place to let the kids run wild and blow off a few cobwebs.

Wrest Park, photo courtesy of English Heritage

Buying an English Heritage Annual Pass

Would you like to buy this same gift as a present for someone or even for yourself as they often have savings offers. Please head on over via this link to buy a gift, to find out more. (affiliate link, this will cost you no extra to click on).

 


Disclaimer: We were gifted a family annual membership for the purpose of this post. All words and opinions are my own.

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Top 15 English Heritage Sites to Visit as a Family

11 comments

  1. Pendennis Castle in Cornwall is a really gorgeous one too and there is so much to do with kids at the castle. Plus the sea views are just gorgeous. You’ve just reminded me, we need to renew our pass soon. What an amazing gift though. I’ve never heard of ‘buy a gift before’ and I’ve been so stuck on Christmas gift ideas for a few specific members of my family. I’m definitely going to look into doing something like this. Genius idea! x

  2. You’ve highlighted some amazing looking Heritage sites. If I was living in the UK I’d want to visit them all. And this sounds like a great gift to get those hard-to-buy-for people in your lives. I can think of a few!

  3. We have an English Heritage membership and love it. We have been to Dover Castle, Bolsover, Kenilworth, Stonehenge and Osborne, but there is so many more places we want to visit

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