Spring is in full swing and this time of year is perfect for getting out there and enjoying all that our historic places have to offer. Our popular St George’s Day events take place in April, featuring spectacular displays and activities inspired by every era from the Romans to the Victorians. Our historic gardens are also at their most beautiful from April, and we’ve got inspiration for great days out whatever the weather.
Did you know? 🤔
- The prosperous border town of Berwick and its extensive fortifications were captured by Robert the Bruce of Scotland on 1 April 1318. The town saw much cross-border conflict and changed sides several times before finally being recaptured by the English in 1482.
- Henry VIII became King of England on 21 April 1509, upon the death of his father Henry VII. Driven by fears of invasion from Catholic Europe, he went on to build more than 30 coastal forts between 1539 and 1547, including Pendennis, St Mawes, Portland, Yarmouth, Walmer and Deal castles.
- On 12 April 1606, under the orders of James VI, a new British flag was created to unite the red cross of England’s St George and the white-on-blue saltire of Scotland’s St Andrew. The Union Jack was born.
- Edward the Confessor was crowned King of England on 3 April 1043. His death 23 years later in 1066 sparked a chain of events that led to the most decisive conflict in English history, the Battle of Hastings.
Experience the spectacle of St George’s Festival 🐉
On Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 April, we’ll be marking St George’s Day with one of our most popular events of the year, our spectacular St George’s Festival at Wrest Park in Bedfordshire. This celebration of England through the ages features a march of Roman soldiers, a live medieval joust and tea with the Georgians, making a thrilling day out for the whole family.
There are St George’s Day events at other sites across the country too, so wherever you are, you can get involved and take part in the celebrations.
- St George’s Day Festival at Wrest Park, Bedfordshire
- St George’s Day at Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire
- The Tale of St George at Richmond Castle, North Yorkshire
- St George’s Day Pageant Warkworth Castle, Northumberland
- St George & The Dragon at Beeston Castle, Cheshire
Who was St George anyway?
Like many saints, St George’s true identity is shrouded in mystery. But some things we do know. Probably born in what is now Turkey, it’s unlikely that George ever visited England, and he almost certainly wasn’t a knight. He is also the patron saint of Venice, Genoa, Portugal and Catalonia among others.
Make the most of the Easter holidays 🐰
With the schools breaking up for Easter, we’ve got all the inspiration you need to share memorable days out as a family in April. Have a go at making a cardboard sword or shield with our history-inspired craft guides, then head to one of our top 10 castles as chosen by you. There are lots of events happening during the holidays too.
And it doesn’t need to break the bank – see our selection of family days out for under £20 for places you can visit with the kids on a budget.
Enjoy our beautiful historic gardens and parks 🌼
Our historic gardens are spectacular in April and May. Get lost among vibrant blossoms, daffodils, tulips and more in the grounds of our stately homes and castles. See a diverse variety of historic fruit and vegetables grown in the kitchen garden at Walmer Castle in Kent, or spend an afternoon exploring Capability Brown’s expansive parkland and the immaculate parterres of Audley End House in Essex. Plus, why not visit Charles Darwin’s own back garden, where he made important discoveries and conducted many of his experiments? Every garden tells its own story, and April is a great time to visit.
Get up close with conservation of the Iron Bridge 👷
In 2018, we are undertaking a major conservation project to protect an icon of the industrial revolution for future generations, backed by your support. Starting on 11 April, you can see this work up-close for yourself with our series of Iron Bridge Hard Hat Tours.
These unique events are an opportunity to join contractors on the scaffolding. See the world’s first iron bridge like never before and gain an insight into the highly specialist work being carried out to care for it.
Learn to forage like your Neolithic ancestors 🍲
Our special Feast! exhibition at Stonehenge explores what the builders of the ancient monument ate and where their food came from in the surrounding landscape.
In a new blog post, food and lifestyle author Jessica Seaton looks at how foraging for food in the natural environment can help us to reconnect with the places where we live, as it did for our prehistoric ancestors.
Don’t let the rain stop you ☔
If April showers threaten to dampen your days out, be prepared with our inspiration for things to do on a rainy day. Head to one of our many cafes and tearooms to enjoy homemade treats, many made using ingredients grown in our historic kitchen gardens.
Lots of our sites make a great day out in any weather. Visit Battle Abbey where Norman and Saxon armies clashed in the famous battle of 1066, or the decadent art deco mansion of Eltham Palace that was home to the wealthy Courtaulds, and explore England’s history without the worry of getting caught in a downpour.
Somewhere to visit this month – Belsay Hall 🏰
The spring is a great time of year to visit Belsay Hall and Gardens in Northumberland. This photo taken by staff recently shows beautiful violet crocuses thriving in the post-snow thaw.
The medieval castle and Grecian hall are accompanied by 20 acres of gardens, including the unique Quarry Garden which hosts rare exotic plants.
Find more inspiration for days out, events and things to do on our website.