5 must-see English Heritage sites

For Christmas last year Boyfriend’s parent bought me an English Heritage membership. (Jolly nice of them wasn’t it?) I’ve been a National Trust member for years, lured in mainly by the cream teas, but had never really got into English Heritage apart from a visit to a castle with Belle on the Isle of Wight last summer.

Now though, I am a convert. This week my new handbook and magazine arrived, giving me the perfect excuse to turn off Twitter for a few minutes, make a cup of tea and read some real words on actual paper. You know, the old fashioned stuff, made of trees?

English Heritage

As part of my list of 40 things to do before I’m 40, I plan to visit every county in England, and I thought that English Heritage would be an ideal way to make sure I did something wholesome along the way, rather than just stopping in every county for a cake. I’ve browsed my brochure and come up with five English Heritage sites I would love to visit on my travels:


A bit of a classic this one. I have driven past it a few times, and have a vague memory of visiting when I was small (although it could have been anywhere really – perhaps the stones just looked big because I was little?) but I would love to visit properly.

There is just something so magical about it isn’t there? Seriously, those stones are massive, how did they even get there?? Please do take a quick look at the video – it’s really short but just beautiful.

Bolsover Castle

The East Midlands generally is the region of England that I have visited least, so I thought I should pick out a couple from this area. I was drawn to Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire as it’s described as a ‘fantasy castle of frivolity’ – ‘a uniquely preserved example from an age of extravagance.’

Well, I’m always up for a bit of extravagant frivolity as you know, so what’s not to love?

Bolsover Castle

Peveril Castle

Also in Derbyshire, I thought this one would make a nice contrast to Bolsover, as it used to be a prison. Call me morbid if you will but there is something very evocative about a ruined prison. Gazing out over the Peak District I imagine getting a real sense of what life may have been like as a prisoner – the vast, sparsely-populated landscape stretching for miles.

It hasn’t always been a prison mind you – mentioned in the Domesday survey, Peveril Castle is one of England’s earliest Norman fortresses. Pretty cool.

Peveril castle

Whitby Abbey

Having lived near Glastonbury for the majority of my life I have a bit of a soft spot for ruined abbeys and Whitby Abbey looks particularly beautiful. In fact, its gothic splendour is said to have inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula – spooky stuff. There are even sometimes live performances, helping you to get into the Dracula spirit of things, which is always fun.

Whitby Abbey

Audley End House and Gardens

When you think Essex you might not immediately think stately homes and sites of historical interest, but Audley End House looks like a cracker and Essex is on my list of counties I’ve never been to. Reopening this spring after a huge redevelopment project, Audley End House promises the whole upstairs downstairs thing – showing the contrast between how different members of the household lived.

I always love seeing the kitchens and servants’ quarters in old houses as I think these create much more powerful, relatable stories.

Audley end house and gardens

What are your favourite English Heritage sites?

All images apart from the one of my cup of tea are courtesy of English Heritage.



  1. 1 April, 2014 / 11:50 am

    Stonehenge and WHitby Abbey are two of my favourite places to visit… both well overdue another visit soon!

  2. 1 April, 2014 / 12:40 pm

    I haven’t been to Stonehenge since I was about 3, but we’ve got mini versions in The Rollright Stones near us! Must take Nathaniel some time.

    I love the idea of visiting every county. I might nick that (although with only 2.5 years to go before 40, it might be a bit difficult)

  3. 1 April, 2014 / 7:15 pm

    I’ve never even heard of English Heritage, although I have been to Stonehenge, I will have to Google! x

  4. 1 April, 2014 / 7:28 pm

    love the idea of visiting every county in England! The only one of those I’ve been to is Whitby Abby, it’s really amazing x

  5. 1 April, 2014 / 9:29 pm

    I haven’t been to any of these but would love to. We’ve been discussing which would be more worth our while to join National Trust or English Heritage. You’re tempting me into getting both!

  6. 1 April, 2014 / 9:54 pm

    ooo English heritage! We’re only members of National Trust, but these places all look so inviting! Audley End house is in the town where I grew up, I remember summers of running around on the lawns, climbing ancient trees, and watching battle reenactments! Its very beautiful and so exciting that they are opening up the upstairs too. I’ll have to visit when I’m back home!

  7. 2 April, 2014 / 7:54 pm

    Ooh stonehenge looks wonderful in that video. I haven’t visited Whitney abbey but think it might be on my list now. x

  8. 2 April, 2014 / 11:34 pm

    A great bucket list before 40. After you’ve conquered all the County’s in England you need to “do” Wales! Won’t take you long! I was only saying last night that we need to take the kids to Stonehenge soon. x

  9. 8 April, 2014 / 10:56 am

    Oooh, we always go to National Trust and Forestry Commission sites, but I’ve never considered English Heritage. I will have a look for somewhere to go this weekend! Thanks x

  10. 9 April, 2014 / 6:34 pm

    Castle Acre Priory in Norfolk is my favourite place,set in a lovely village with pubs and tea rooms,it also has a castle.
    The Priory was of The Cluniac order,originating from France,it has a beautiful West Front,the architecture is brilliant,well worth a visit,highly recommended.

  11. 9 April, 2014 / 7:00 pm

    We were members of both National Trust and English Heritage for a few years, but retained membership of English Heritage as they were willing to allow dogs into sites and had dog bowls available also. All the properties we have visited with English Heritage have been superb, and we are trying to visit as many as possible. Yesterday (08.04.14) we went to Wrest Park in Silsoe, Bedfordshire, and even though it was a 2 and a half hour drive it was worth it!

  12. Sandra
    10 April, 2014 / 3:15 am

    I am presently reading a book which is set in the Peak District and it is as beautiful as I imagined from looking at your picture of Peveril Castle, thank you.

  13. SHA
    10 April, 2014 / 2:12 pm

    Bolsover castle is fantastic. We tend to stop there on journeys between London and York, it has a fantastic tea shop, too! Well worth the audio tour.

  14. Nic
    11 April, 2014 / 6:09 pm

    Rievaulx Abbey was my favorite site we went to when I visited in ’12. It is stunning.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.