Great Britain’s heritage is alive and well in its royal castles, university towns, Roman marvels, and world-renowned music.
FROM STONEHENGE TO BEATLEMANIA
Britain’s traditional legacy is astounding—whether your clients encounter it at the ancient site of Stonehenge or by following Manchester’s rebellious music trail. In Kent, for example, recommend a visit to Canterbury Cathedral, with a history dating back to AD 597 and housing the country’s most important collection of early medieval stained glass windows.
In London, a must-see is St Paul’s Cathedral, where visitors can climb the dome to the Golden Gallery to enjoy breathtaking views of London. For Roman history buffs, there’s the World Heritage City of Bath with its Roman temple and bathing complex; in Kent, there’s the Lullingstone Villa, stemming back to around AD 100 and one of the most magnificent villa survivals in Britain; and in Caerleon, Wales, travelers can visit the Fortress of the Legion, one of the most important military sites in Britain under the Roman Empire.
To delve even further back into Britain’s history, tell clients to take a detour to Orkney, Scotland, with its own Neolithic stone circles, such as the Ring of Brodgar, or to Wales with the Pentre Ifan Burial Chamber, a Neolithic chambered tomb in Pembrokeshire.
For a more modern take on British heritage, this is the year—during the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ invasion of the U.S.—for your clients who are Beatles fans to make the trip to Liverpool, and specifically The Beatles Story Liverpool. It’s the world’s largest permanent exhibition completely devoted to the lives and times of The Beatles.
Of course, a visitor hasn’t truly immersed themselves in British heritage without visiting Oxford or Cambridge, both home to Britain’s oldest universities. Or perhaps your clients want to play at being British, and for that you can recommend clay pigeon shooting in Gleneagles, Perthshire, Scotland; afternoon tea at Cliveden, a country house in Berkshire, England; croquet at Cricket St Thomas, a 19th century former stately home tucked away in England’s Somerset countryside; falconry at Stapleford Park, in Leicestershire, England; and a medieval feast at Ruthin Castle in Wales, where the Jester Feast is a re-creation of the legendary banquets hosted by the Earl of Warwick in the 16th century.
With a collection of over 400 of the country’s finest historic attractions including Roman villas, castles and stately homes and gardens, English Heritage (english-heritage.org.uk) provides a 9- or 16-day Overseas Visitor Pass for your clients that includes unlimited admission to England’s greatest historic attractions such as the Bayham Abbey, Grime’s Graves—the only Neolithic flint mine open to visitors in Britain—and the York Cold War Bunker, as well as free or reduced entry to hundreds of events.
Historic Scotland (historic-scotland.gov.uk), meanwhile, is Scotland’s largest operator of heritage visitor attractions, including Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart castles. This supplier offers the Explorer Pass, which includes free entry to numerous attractions and events, and clients can beat the lines at Edinburgh and Stirling castles; the Scottish Heritage Pass provides entry to such sites as Edinburgh Castle, Culloden Battlefield, Culzean Castle, Urquhart Castle, Traquair House, Mount Stuart and Stirling Castle.
A royal welcome
We all know Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and Kensington Palace, but what about…
This is one of the largest inhabited castles in England, as such it’s known as “The Windsor of the North.”
Located in Oxfordshire, this is the home of the 11th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. It’s the only non-royal non-episcopal country house in England to hold the title of palace.
Located in Kent, it’s known as the “loveliest castle in the world” with over 900 years of history and an aviary with over 100 species of birds.
This medieval castle in Kent was built by King Henry II and at its heart is the Great Tower, 83 ft. high and just under 100 ft. square, with walls up to 21 ft. thick.
Tower of London:
This UNESCO World Heritage site offers visitors a chance to see the Crown Jewels on display, made up of nearly 24,000 gems, and a glimpse into what imprisonment was like for the “upper classes” of previous centuries.
This castle in England used for “Downton Abbey” and in fact many of the rooms are exactly as they appear in the TV series, particularly the Red Room and Lord Grantham’s study.
Located on the banks of Loch Ness, this breathtaking castle was once Scotland’s largest castle and today its remains include a tower house that offers inspiring views across the loch and Great Glen.
This striking and grand castle in Wales was begun in 1283 as the definitive chapter in King Edward I’s conquest of Wales. It served as a military stronghold as well as a seat of government and royal palace. To this day, it’s Wales’ most famous castle and quite popular with tourists.
Did you know?
The Battle of Bannockburn—Scotland’s most significant military victory over the English—will mark its 700 year anniversary in 2014. In honor of the occasion, the Bannockburn Heritage Centre in Stirling has been renovated and reopened this month with an interactive 3D battle simulation and 360-degree film. A 3-day festival will take place June 28-30. battleofbannockburn.com
A GARDEN STROLL
Green spaces abound in Britain. Here are some top picks.
Next to the castle of the same name, this garden’s unique features include a treehouse (where visitors can dine), the Poison Garden and myriad water features.
Drummond Castle Gardens:
These are Scotland’s most important formal gardens first laid out in the early-17th century and redesigned and terraced in the 19th century. The copper beech trees planted by Queen Victoria in the 1800s are preserved to this day.
These gardens in Northern Ireland were first established in 1828 and have been enjoyed by the people of Belfast since 1895. It features a rose garden and rare oaks planted in the 1880s.
In Cumbria, England, the topiary here is some of the oldest in the world dating back some 300 years; hard to imagine that they’ve survived in their original design.