Tourist Attractions - Central England

As well as information about the area, here are some tourist attractions and places of interest to visit with direct links to their websites.    

 

Useful websites for a full selection are: 

 

THE NATIONAL TRUST               HISTORIC HOUSES ASSOCIATION    

 

NORFOLK TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

 

ENGLISH HERITAGE          THE NATIONAL GARDEN SCHEME 

 

THE WILDLIFE TRUST

 

Or for more specific places:

HISTORIC SITES/CASTLES/CATHEDRALS  

CHESHIRE

Cholmondeley Castle - Malpas: This romantic castle, from the early 19th century, stands on a high rise above a lake

Tatton Hall - Knutsford: This early 19th-century Wyatt house sits amid a landscaped deer park and is opulently decorated

DERBYSHIRE

Chatsworth House - Bakewell: One of Britain's best loved historic houses  

Hardwick Hall - Chesterfield: One of the most splendid houses in England, built in the 1590s and unaltered since

Haddon Hall - Bakewell: Sits like a jewel in its Elizabethan terraced gardens, and overlooking the River Wye

Renishaw Hall: A beautiful 300-acre park, eight acres of the most important Italianate gardens in England and a house full of treasures collected over many centuries

LEICESTERSHIRE

Belvoir Castle - Grantham: This beautiful castle has stunning views over the Vale of Belvoir

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE

Newstead Abbey - Ravenshead: The ancestral home of Lord Byron

Nottingham Castle: A magnificent 17th Century ducal mansion built on the site of the original Medieval Castle, with spectacular views across the city

Wollaton Hall: A spectacular Elizabethan mansion a prominent Grade I Listed building

SHROPSHIRE

Ludlow Castle: The finest of medieval ruined castles, set in glorious countryside

Upton Cressett Hall - Nr Bridgnorth: Moated Elizabethan brick manor with historic gatehouse and Norman church set in a beautiful landscape

Boscobel House and Royal Oak - Bishop’s Wood: Both became famous as hiding places of King Charles II

STAFFORDSHIRE

Shugborough Estate - Milford Common: A fine Georgian mansion house, with magnificent views over riverside garden terraces

WARWICKSHIRE

Warwick Castle: Dramatic medieval fortress on the banks of the River Avon built by William the Conqueror

Sulgrave Manor: Built by the ancestors of George Washington in Tudor times

Charlecote Park - Wellesbourne: Superb Tudor House and landscaped deer park. Enjoy guided walks around the house, gardens and park

Ragley Hall - Alcester: Delightful Palladian house standing in majestic, formal gardens within beautiful ‘Capability’ Brown parkland

OXFORDSHIRE

 Blenheim Palace - Woodstock: An English Baroque masterpiece, birthplace of Winston Churchill. Set in a 2,100 acre park landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown

HERTFORDSHIRE

 Hatfield House: A stunning Jacobean house within its own park

St Albans Abbey: A magnificent building standing over the place where Alban, the first Christian martyr, was buried over 1,700 years ago

WORCESTERSHIRE

Worcester Cathedral: Believed to be England´s loveliest cathedral with an ancient crypt, medieval cloisters and Royal tombs

HEREFORDSHIRE

Hereford Cathedral: Grade I listed, its most famous treasure is Mappa Mundi, a medieval map of the world dating from the 13th century

Croft Castle and Parkland - Leominster: Castellated manor house set in stunning countryside with panoramic views

GLOUCESTERSHIRE

Gloucester Cathedral: One of the most beautiful medieval buildings in the country

Acton Court - Iron Acton: Believed to be the most ‘original’ Tudor house in Britain. It has been left in its original state as far as possible

Berkeley Castle: Still inhabited by the same family who built it originally in the 12th century

Kelmscott Manor - Lechlade: Tudor manor house which was the home of William Morris, founder of the Arts and Crafts movement

GARDENS  Back to the top  

CHESHIRE

Ness Botanic Gardens - Neston: Superb gardens renowned for its herbaceous borders, Potager and iconic Rock Garden

Lyme Park - Stockport: A 17 acre high-Victorian garden. Explore the Edwardian rose garden, ravine garden or luxurious herbaceous borders

DERBYSHIRE

Melbourne Hall Gardens - Melbourne: The colourful and tranquil gardens are designed with paths intersected by streams that flow through the grounds

OXFORDSHIRE

Rousham House and Gardens: A Jacobean mansion set in superb landscape gardens, which have remained unaltered since they were designed in the early 18th century

HERTFORDSHIRE

Benington Lordship Gardens: Spread over seven acres surrounding a fine Georgian manor house with remains of a Norman Castle and moat

BEDFORDSHIRE

Wrest Park - Luton: A fascinating history of gardening styles inspired by the great gardens of Versailles in France

BUCKINGHAMSHIRE

Cliveden - Maidenhead: This spectacular country estate overlooks the River Thames

Stowe Landscaped Gardens: One of the most remarkable creations of Georgian England, the scale, grandeur and beauty of Stowe is inspiring

LEICESTERSHIRE

Barnsdale Gardens - Oakham: 38 individual gardens with an inspiring range of garden styles and planting themes

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE

Felley Priory Garden - Jacksdale: A garden for all seasons - with its ancient walls, yew hedges and topiary, snowdrops, hellebores, an orchard of daffodils, herbaceous borders and an old-fashioned rose garden

Newstead Abbey Gardens - Ravenshead: Covering over 300 acres, they include lakes, ponds, parkland and waterfalls

SHROPSHIRE

Hodnet Hall Gardens - Market Drayton: 60 acres with of magnolias, rhododendrons ponds and waterfalls

Dorothy Clive Garden - Market Drayton: Intimate and informal – quintessential English gardening

Wollerton Old Hall Garden - Market Drayton: Strong formal design has created many separate gardens each with its own character

STAFFORDSHIRE

Biddulph Grange Garden - Biddulph: This amazing Victorian garden takes you on a global journey from Italy to the pyramids of Egypt, a vision of China and a re-creation of a Himalayan glen

WEST MIDLANDS

Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Glasshouse - Edgbaston: This Victorian gem is a 15 acre oasis of delight

Winterbourne House and Gardens, West Midlands - Edgbaston: Seven acres of beautiful botanic gardens

WORCESTERSHIRE

Witley Court and Gardens - Great Witley: A palatial mansion surrounded by magnificent landscaped gardens

Croome - Severn Stoke: The serene landscape and lakeside are full of paths which stretch for miles, taking you on a journey through 18th-century pleasure gardens

GLOUCESTERSHIRE

Hidcote Manor Garden - near Chipping Campden: The archetype of a garden with room-like enclosures. Each 'room' has a unique character and colour scheme

Sudeley Castle Gardens - Winchcombe: These award-winning gardens have been lovingly restored and redesigned to compliment the elegance and tranquility of the castle and its ruins

Batsford - Moreton in Marsh: The most visited arboretum in the UK with one of the largest private collections of trees and shrubs in the country

Bourton House - Moreton in Marsh: This award-wining garden is a plantsman’s delight and one of the finest gardens to visit in the Cotswolds

Kiftsgate Court Gardens - Chipping Campden: Spectacularly set on the edge of the Cotswold escarpment.

FAMILY ATTRACTIONS  Back to the top  

CHESHIRE

Blue Planet Aquarium - Cheshire Oaks: Includes the largest collection of Sharks in Europe

Chester Zoo - Upton-by-Chester: Over 7,000 animals and 500 species, all set in 110 acres of picturesque gardens

Gulliver’s World - Warrington: Family-run theme park for children aged between 2-13 years

DERBYSHIRE

Highfields Happy Hens - Etwall: An open working farm where you can feed the animals, collect your own eggs and handle the baby chicks

STAFFORDSHIRE

Alton Towers - Alton: Theme fun park with attractions and rides for all the family

Drayton Manor Theme Park - Tamworth: 280 acres of lakes and parkland packed with a host of great rides and attractions including a zoo

Rudyard Lake Steam Railway - Leek: Enjoy rides on a narrow gauge steam railway alongside an historic lake

WARWICKSHIRE

Twycross Zoo - Atherstone: Raising awareness of animals by education and conservation, and helping to conserve endangered species

Stratford-upon-Avon: The birthplace of William Shakespeare, steeped in culture and history

WEST MIDLANDS

Birmingham Sealife Centre: Over 1,000 creatures including sharks, seahorses, otters and rays

Cadbury World - Bourneville: Chocolate paradise for all chocaholics

Dudley Zoo and Castle: Home to some of the world´s biggest and exotic animals

National Motorcycle Museum - Solihull: Recognised as the finest and largest motorcycle museum in the world

Think Tank – Birmingham Science Museum: From steam engines to intestines, this exciting museum has over 200 hands-on displays on science and technology

West Midlands Safari Park - Bewdley: Four fantastic miles of safari trail with close encounters galore

National Space Centre - Leicester: The UK’s only attraction dedicated to space science and astronomy

LEICESTERSHIRE

Bosworth Battlefield - Sutton Cheney: The site of the Battle of Bosworth, re-live history with interactive displays and battle re-enactments

OXFORDSHIRE

Didcot Railway Centre: Unique collection of Great Western Railway steam engines and coaches

Farmer Gow’s - Faringdon: Activity Farm - a great day out for all ages

Cherwell - near Oxford: Established in 1904 and still a family run working boathouse with 80 punts and restaurant

Vale of the White Horse - Uffington: A White Horse figure carved into the chalk hillside below the striking prehistoric fort of Uffington Castle. The ancient Ridgeway, “the oldest road in the world” and used in Neolithic times, 6,000 years ago runs above it

BEDFORDSHIRE

Whipsnade Zoo - Dunstable: Get up close to some of the biggest, rarest and most majestic animals alive

Woburn Abbey Safari Park: Where you can drive your own vehicle through the reserves

HERTFORDSHIRE

Shepreth Wildlife Park – Royston: Started as a private wild animal sanctuary in 1979 and now is home to conservation and research projects

Verulamium Museum - St Albans: On the site of one of the major cities in Roman Britain, now an attractive park.

BUCKINGHAMSHIRE

Bekonscot - Beaconsfield: The world’s oldest model village with 1.5 acres of miniature marvels

Gullivers Land - Milton Keynes: A children's theme park centred around the Lilliput Land Castle

Bletchley Park - Milton Keynes: Historic site of secret British codebreaking activities during WWII and birthplace of the modern computer

Roald Dahl Museum - Great Missendon: Set in the village where Roald Dahl wrote his stories for 36 years, features two fun and fact packed galleries and interactive Story Centre

Chiltern Open Air Museum - Chalfont St. Giles: More than 30 rescued and preserved historic buildings, some used for demonstrations, making history come alive

GLOUCESTERSHIRE

Cotswold Farmpark - Nr Cheltenham: An unrivalled collection of rare breeds of British farm animals

Slimbridge: Wetland reserve managed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust

Dick Whittington Farm Park - Longhope: Full of interesting animals, fascinating wildlife and exciting activities.

Cotswold Motoring Museum -Bourton-on-the-water: Overflowing with vintage car collections, classic cars and motorcycles

Three Choirs Vineyard - Newent: Offering a unique experience, not just for wine enthusiasts but also for those looking for a relaxing and beautiful environment in which to enjoy a great day out

International Centre for Birds of Prey - Newent: Oldest dedicated conservation centre in the world. See more than 250 birds with babies in the Spring

Clearwell Caves - Forest of Dean: The nine caves open to visitors were once mined for iron ore and now a working mining museum. A site for many T.V. series.

WORCESTERSHIRE

West Midlands Safari Park - Bewdley: Award winning attraction combining a four mile self-drive Safari Park with discovery trail, live shows, african village and theme park

HEREFORDSHIRE

Westons Cider Visitor Centre: Join a tour to hear how cider is produced. As well as a glass of cider enjoy a shire horse dray ride, farm park and children’s playground

INFORMATION ABOUT THE AREA  Back to the top

Chalk hills, limestone wolds and granite heights.  Villages of stone, timber and thatch.  Abbeys, castles and great houses.  Ancient forests, pastoral beauty and tranquil rivers.     

It's difficult to know where to start in this part of England.  So let’s turn to Old Father Thames…the highway of history.  We’ll embark at Windsor, where William the Conqueror built a wooden castle to guard the western approaches to London.  In the 12th century, Henry II built stone walls and towers,

beginning alterations by successive monarchs that make Windsor a massive monument to royalty’s changing tastes.

Nearby is Runnymede, one of England’s most historic sites.  It was here the rebellious barons took on King John and forced him to sign the Magna Carta, which limited his royal powers and established England’s independent legal and taxation system.

If it’s jolly boating weather take a river trip from Windsor and Eton to Henley, the home of the world famous regatta. It’s the best way to appreciate this stunning river.

There’s a name change for the Thames as it flows past Oxford…the Isis.  This probably came from a misinterpretation of the Roman name for the river, Tamesis.

Matthew Arnold called Oxford “that sweet city with her dreaming spires”.  Its university was established by English scholars expelled from France in the 12th century.  The city’s wealth of magnificent buildings are dominated by the Radcliffe Camera, Christ Church College and the Sheldonian Theatre…but arguments rage over which is the finest. Don’t even consider asking which of Oxford’s 36 colleges is the best!  The city’s Ashmolean Museum is certainly one of the best outside London.

West into the Vale of the White Horse with its stylised pre-historic horse carved into the chalk at Uffington.  It’s bound forever to gallop the hills. Stand in its eye and have your wishes granted.

On into the Cotswolds, the source of the honey-coloured limestone used to build its famous ‘chocolate box villages’ including Broadway, Chipping Campden, Upper Slaughter and Lower Slaughter.  Did you know Cirencester – the ‘capital’ of the Cotswolds – is said to have the tallest yew hedge in the world?

Gloucester was popular with Norman monarchs and it was here, in 1086, that William the Conqueror ordered the survey of his kingdom…to be known as the Domesday Book.  Three years later, work started on the city’s magnificent cathedral. 

Not far away is the Forest of Dean, one of England’s largest ancient forests, and the glorious River Wye.  At Symonds Yat the river flows through a narrow, 

deeply wooded gorge, making a five-mile loop around Huntsham Hill, leaving it a near island. The poet, Thomas Gray, described the river as ‘a succession of nameless beauties’.

The Malvern Hills rise sharply from the plain of the River Severn around Hereford and Worcester.  Their ancient granite and glorious scenery inspired some of Sir Edward Elgar’s, finest compositions.

From music to literature…and the Bard.  William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon on St George’s Day, April 23, 1564.  As a result, the town has become a shrine to Britain’s greatest dramatist and the most visited tourist attraction outside London.  His birthplace, in Henley Street, was bought for the nation in 1847.  Stratford is also home to the Royal Shakespeare Company, whose theatre dominates the west bank of the Avon.

We turn back towards the Chilterns to Blenheim Palace.  This Baroque masterpiece was built for the Duke of Marlborough in gratitude for his defeat of the French at the Battle of Blenheim, in 1704.  Winston Churchill, Britain’s World War II leader, was born here in 1874.  The palace’s amazing interior is matched by its park and gardens.

To the most ambitious and important landscaped garden in Britain…Stowe.  Over a hundred years, leading designers and architects transformed the original garden of 1680.  Landscaper, Capability Brown, began his career here.

On to Woburn Abbey, home to the Dukes of Bedford for nearly 400 years.  Although better known for its safari park, Woburn’s fine state apartments house art works by Reynolds and Canaletto.

On the slopes of the chalk hills is Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, the rural branch of London Zoo.  As the name suggests, there’s minimal use of cages for the 2,500 species kept here in its 600 acres.

Earlier, we visited Runnymede where King John was forced to sign Magna Carta.  The barons who challenged the king drew up the charter at St Albans Cathedral.  And it’s this ancient city we visit now.  The cathedal is the oldest site of continuous Christian worship in Britain.  Work started on it in 793 in honour of St Alban, Britain’s first Christian martyr.  The cathedral has England’s longest nave – 276 feet – and is an amazing mixture of architectural styles.  Just outside the city centre is Verulamium, one of the first Roman cities built after the invasion of AD 43.  The fascinating museum is just across the road from the Roman theatre.

Just outside St Albans are the Gardens of the Rose, belonging to The Royal National Rose Society.  Its 12 acres of gardens, with more than 30,000 blooms, are at their peak in late June.

East to Hatfield, and one of England’s finest Jacobean houses.  It was built from 1607 for the powerful statesman, Robert Cecil, although its main historical interest lies in the surviving wing of the original Tudor Hatfield Palace.  Queen Elizabeth I spent much of her childhood here and she held her first Council of State here after her coronation in 1558.  The gardens have been restored to reflect their Jacobean origins.

Enjoy the heartbeat of history

 

 

 

If you would like to add an attraction in this area to our website, then please send a short description of the attraction to cottages@bbnationwide.co.uk. We will contact you once we review the site.

 

 

 

 


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