Or for more specific places:
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
Blenheim Palace – Woodstock: An English Baroque masterpiece, birthplace of Winston Churchill. Set in a 2,100 acre park landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown
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
Worcester Cathedral: Believed to be England´s loveliest cathedral with an ancient crypt, medieval cloisters and Royal tombs
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
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
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
Benington Lordship Gardens: Spread over seven acres surrounding a fine Georgian manor house with remains of a Norman Castle and moat
Wrest Park – Luton: A fascinating history of gardening styles inspired by the great gardens of Versailles in France
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
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
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
Twycross Zoo – Atherstone: Raising awareness of animals by education and conservation, and helping to conserve endangered species
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
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
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.
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
Legoland – Windsor: Thrills and fun for the whole family, with over 55 interactive rides and attractions
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.
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
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 THIS AREA
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