History at Home

7 Ways to Escape the Everyday

Feeling the call of adventure? Start planning some unforgettable days out and stand where history was made. From awe-inspiring gardens and hidden spaces, to brooding ruins and formidable castles, we’ve selected our favourite places to discover historic treasures and escape the everyday.

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Stand among Secrets


A visit to our famous prehistoric monument provides a tantalising glimpse into the secrets of the stones and the lives of those who constructed the stone circle on Salisbury Plain 4,500 years ago.

Stonehenge visitor centre is currently operating a one-way system, allowing you to safely explore the site and examine some of the hundreds of artefacts discovered in and around the stone circle. Just outside the visitor centre, you can take a stroll among a number of replica Neolithic houses before completing your visit with a walk around the iconic stones.

You might also enjoy: Avebury, Old Sarum, Tintagel Castle

Discover Stonehenge

Conquer a castle


Overlooking the shortest span of sea between England and France, Dover Castle has long defended our island. While it’s best known for its medieval keep, this hill above the White Cliffs has been occupied since the Iron Age, and its network of tunnels played a pivotal role in the Dunkirk evacuation of 1940 during the Second World War.

While these tunnels remain closed for now, the medieval tunnels and Great Tower are open again offering vividly-recreated rooms. The rest of the site provides 80 acres of courtyards and hills to explore. Journey through time as you peer inside the Roman lighthouse before looking out over the English Channel from the First World War fire command post.

If soaking up a sea view is a must, there's also Pendennis Castle. Explore the castle keep and gun emplacements that defended the coast, and marvel at the view over the Fal estuary.

You might also enjoy: St Mawes Castle, Framlingham Castle

Discover Dover Castle

Lose track of time in amazing gardens


Prepare to be charmed by Belsay, with its 30 acres of gardens bursting with exotic plants and seasonal blooms surrounding a medieval castle and an imposing 19th-century Greek-revival mansion.

While the hall and castle are closed, the gardens are open to explore. Much of what you’ll see was designed by Sir Charles Monck (1779–1867), who was keen to enhance the planting that he’d inherited. The Quarry Garden, created by the excavation of the stone for the Grecian hall, is a dramatic setting of ravines and pinnacles. More formal gardens can be found nearer the hall, including the Yew Garden and Magnolia Terrace. The gardens are being replanted this year under the expert eye of acclaimed landscape designer Dan Pearson and this is your chance to see them in their autumnal glory.

You might also enjoy: Wrest Park, Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Garden, Witley Court and Gardens

Discover Belsay Hall



If you’re looking for a unique marriage of ancient and modern, Eltham Palace is hard to beat. Once home to a succession of royals before falling into gradual decline, it gained a new lease of life in the 1930s when a lavish art deco mansion was built, incorporating the medieval Great Hall.

Almost all of the house's opulence, including the Great Hall, is open for visitors to explore. Eltham Palace also sits within 19 acres of beautiful gardens that incorporate medieval elements into its Arts and Crafts design, as well as a Rose Garden, herbaceous border, and wildflower meadows.

You might also enjoy: Apsley House, Kenwood

Discover Eltham Palace

March in the footsteps of Roman soldiers


Dating back to AD 122 and standing on the longest remaining stretch of Hadrian’s Wall, Birdoswald Roman Fort is one of the best places to admire the scale of this frontier. Roam the ruins and get young visitors to imagine they’re Roman soldiers on patrol.

Once you’ve explored the fort itself, take a short walk through the rugged countryside to discover the wall’s other defences, such as a turret and a milecastle.

You can also imagine military life on the Wall at Housesteads and Chesters and Roman Forts. Or, step foot in what was once a bustling Roman town at Corbridge, site of the Corbridge Hoard

You might also enjoy: Wroxeter Roman City, Lullingstone Roman Villa

Discover Hadrian's Wall

Discover how the Victorians lived


Once the treasured family holiday home of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their children, Osborne was built from 1845 onwards and remains a treasure trove of the royal family’s time here. The house is surrounded by extensive grounds, with ornate terrace gardens giving way to less formal parkland and paths leading down to the villa’s private beach.

The gardens, beach and most of the ground floor of the house are currently open. Wander through the grand corridor, state rooms and Durbar wing, as well as the beautiful wider estate. The Isle of Wight’s climate ensures the gardens are a riot of colour, from the formal planting of the terraces to the wildflowers of the parkland. Tucked away in the woods you’ll find the Swiss Cottage – a chalet built for the royal children. Wander a little further and you can take a cooling paddle on the beach.

You might also enjoy: Audley End House and Gardens, Stott Park Bobbin Mill, Home of Charles Darwin - Down House

Discover Osborne

Roam brooding ruins


The ruins of 13th-century Whitby Abbey are an iconic sight. The site’s religious significance stretches back to the 7th century, and it has survived storms, Viking raids and shelling in the First World War.

Our visitor centre and museum is open, displaying artefacts from the Bronze Age onwards. These tell the story of the site, which has provided artistic inspiration for JMW Turner and Bram Stoker. The extensive grounds are also perfect for family picnics.

You might also enjoy: Kenilworth Castle, Witley Court and Gardens

Discover Whitby Abbey

More to Explore

180+ Free-to-Enter Sites

As well as those places recommended above, most of our free-to-enter sites offer the chance to explore with no need to handle money or tickets: just turn up and enjoy.

From remnants of Roman forts to prehistoric stone circles, Norman earthworks to once-mighty castles, the majority of free-to-enter sites are open at any reasonable time during daylight hours.

Explore Free-to-Enter Sites
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