Things to Do

Top 5 Things To Do in January

This January we've got plenty of ideas to help you step into history.

Make the most of the season with a visit to our winter gardens, start a new tradition and discover the highlights of our collection. Read on to discover fascinating people, must-see artefacts and captivating videos.

1. Plan your February half term

The upcoming half term is the perfect time to get active outdoors and enjoy fun-filled family activities at your favourite castles, abbeys and historic houses.

At several sites there will be the opportunity to join characters from the past for historical high jinks and hands-on shenanigans. Be transported back in time to the Victorian period by magical lantern shows and stories at Eltham Palace. Join our resident archaeologists and explore the Roman period through ancient finds at Audley End. Dress up and take part in fun ecclesiastical games and activities at Whitby Abbey. There’s a wide variety of events to help history come alive for younger visitors, and ensure a fun day out for all ages.

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2. Explore winter gardens

There's nothing like a fresh winter walk through a beautiful historic garden. Our castles, halls and stately homes are enchanting in the colder seasons, and now is the perfect time to make the most of rewarding garden walks and sparkling wintry views.

Highlights include Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens’ 28m Douglas Fir sprinkled in snow, Kenwood’s ponds and woodlands sparkling in the winter frost and the winter flowering shrubs at Witley Court and Gardens (including witch hazel and viburnums). Even your local sites offer something new in the winter season. Get outdoors and combat the January blues with a stroll through nature.

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3. Revive a medieval tradition

To bring cheer to the winter months, why not do as our medieval ancestors did and leave your Christmas decorations up until Candlemas on 2 February.

The theory that it's bad luck to leave decorations up beyond Twelfth Night (around 6 January) is a modern take on the tradition. Instead, during the Medieval period, decorations were kept up until Candlemas, the official end of Christmas in medieval England. The date itself was a great feast day and candles intended to be used in churches in the coming year would be blessed on that day. There were also candlelit processions in honour of the feast. Keep the festive spirit going for a little longer and brighten up your January with this medieval tradition.

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4. Become a Member

The start of a new year often brings a fresh start and resolutions for the year ahead. Becoming an English Heritage Member gives you unlimited access to hundreds of historic places for a whole year, enabling you to stand in the places history happened. Other benefits include free entry for up to six children, our exclusive Members’ Magazine three times a year, Members’ Rewards offers on great brands, and even free or reduced-price entry to our events.

Our Members also help us to care for our historic places and monuments spanning 6,000 years of history. Without this support, we wouldn't be able to conserve our properties for future generations.

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5. Discover our collection

Did you know that English Heritage cares for more than 700,000 objects spanning more than 5,000 years of history?

Our collection highlights page is a great way to discover some truly fascinating objects and learn more about their connections to certain sites. Some of our most intriguing items include Aldborough Roman site’s face pot, Rievaulx Abbey’s chess pieces, Bayham Abbey’s pilgrim badge and Brodsworth Hall’s folding bed. Also unmissable is the impressive Wernher Collection on display at Ranger’s House with over 700 works of medieval and early modern European art.

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The Month In History

  • On 10 January 1863, the London Underground came into operation. It was 70 years later that Harry Beck designed the iconic map of the network, which has since inspired similar metro maps around the world. Beck is commemorated with one of our iconic blue plaques.
  • Captain James Cook's ship, the Resolution, became the first vessel to cross the Antarctic Circle on the 17 January 1773. A slate plaque marks the site where his London house used to stand.
  • On 28 January 1547 Henry VIII died at Whitehall Palace. He spent much of his childhood at Eltham Palace, where the magnificent medieval Great Hall still survives today.
  • The classic horror novel Frankenstein was published anonymously by Mary Shelley on 1 January 1818. Tilbury Fort on the bank of the Thames features in the story, one of many historic places that appear in literature.
  • Winston Churchill passed away on 24 January 1965. As a war leader, Churchill used his extraordinary energy and inspirational speeches to rally the nation. A blue plaque marks his Kensington home.

More to Explore

  • Inspire Me

    Our historic sites offer something for everyone. Here we have gathered some of our favourite features, events and things to do to inspire your next visit.


    Join presenter Charles Rowe as we bring the history of our sites to life with news, views and expert interviews across over 150 episodes.

  • Become a member today

    Enjoy unlimited access to hundreds of historical places with an annual membership. Plus there's free entry for up to six children. Memberships start from £53 a year.