Many of our sites reopened last month and we’re delighted that more Book of Dead online slots of our historic places will open their doors to visitors from Saturday 1 August. Each site will have specific measures in place to keep everyone safe – so please check our Site Reopening page for more details. You will also need to book your visit in advance as we have limited visitor numbers to ensure effective social distancing measures.
With that in mind, here are our top five tips for ways to make the most of summer with us this month.
Did you know? 🤔
- The month of August was originally known as Sextillia, as it was the sixth month of the year in the Roman calendar. Just as July was named after Julius Caesar, Sextillia was renamed August after the Emperor Augustus in 8 B.C. Learn more about the Romans
- The poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson was born in Somersby, Lincolnshire on 6 August 1809. He would go on to be named Poet Laureate after William Wordsworth. A London Blue Plaque commemorates Tennyson at 9 Upper Belgrave Street, Belgravia.
- The British film director Alfred Hitchcock was born in London on 13 August 1899. Hitchcock is one of the most celebrated directors in film history, best known for Vertigo (1958) and the classic horror Psycho (1960). He is commemorated with a London Blue Plaque at 153 Cromwell Road, South Kensington.
1. Enjoy the nation’s outdoor spaces with us 🌳
Whether you hit the trail to explore Roman Britain on Hadrian’s Wall, enjoy fresh coastal air on the rugged Cornish headland of Tintagel or delve into the rich Victorian history of Audley End House in Essex, almost 100 of our staffed sites await you from Saturday 1 August.
Things might be a little different when you visit, but you’ll still be able to enjoy exploring the places where history happened. Our staff have been trained in hygiene and social distancing, and provided with the necessary PPE. Ground markings and one-way systems will help you to maintain social distancing where needed, and you’ll need to remember your face covering if you want to enter our indoor gift shops, tea rooms or cafés.
💡 Some of our best historic places for outdoor space, open now:
Tintagel Castle, Cornwall: Remains of a dramatic castle on a rugged coastal headland, steeped in the legend of King Arthur. Book tickets
Whitby Abbey, Yorkshire: Evocative Benedictine monastery on a clifftop site occupied for more than 3,000 years, above the fishing town of Whitby. Book tickets
Old Sarum, Wiltshire: Iron Age hillfort and the original site of Salisbury Cathedral, surrounded by broad open spaces and stunning views. Book tickets
Witley Court, Worcestershire: Dramatic ruins of a great Victorian country house set amid broad and vibrant pleasure gardens and a woodland walk. Book tickets
Hadrian’s Wall, North of England: Four unique forts and settlements that once stood on the northern frontier of the Roman Empire in Britain. Book tickets
Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens, Northumberland: Regency country house and medieval castle in thirty acres of unique gardens, including the exotic Quarry Garden. Book tickets
2. Embark on a summer explorer quest 🔎
Crack the clues and follow the trail to conquer a historical quest this summer, at 15 historic places across the length and breadth of England.
Pick up the clues from our staff when you arrive, then embark on an adventure through the grounds of a mighty castle, elegant palace or grand stately home to claim your adventurer’s certificate.
Our summer quests are ‘social distancing friendly’ and available to enjoy until 1 September, a fun day out for the whole family this summer holiday.
Hit the trail at…
- Birdoswald Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall
- Framlingham Castle, Suffolk
- Osborne, Isle of Wight
- Pendennis Castle, Cornwall
- …and more
3. Sit back and lose yourself in a tall tale from history 📚
As a nation, we love to tell and hear stories. England’s history is filled with fascinating true stories, but our medieval ancestors loved to spin a yarn too, particularly if it shared a message of morality.
So make a cup of tea, put your feet up and join characters from medieval England as they recount tall tales of bishops and prioresses, blacksmiths and innkeepers, virtuous deeds and devilish bargains.
The latest story: #3, The Devil’s Holiday
4. Explore history from home with your family ✏️
As the school holidays begin, we’ve a wealth of ways for the whole family to explore England’s story from the comfort of your sofa.
Try these historical crafts for kids, with step-by-step guides to make your own Roman tabula, bronze age roundhouse or medieval castle using cardboard, plasticine and plenty of colour.
Have a go at our popular history quizzes: test your knowledge of London blue plaques, and see if you can unscramble 21 historic place name anagrams.
Or take out the pens and get creative with print-at-home colouring sheets for young history lovers. Bring scenes from the past to life including an Anglo-Saxon settlement, a Victorian railway station and a Roman town.
Discover more on our History at Home hub
5. Mix up your board games shelf with some ancient additions 🎲
Just like many of us these past few months, the people from our past — from Roman soldiers to medieval monks — often passed the time by playing board games. One of the world’s most popular games, chess, can be traced back to the 7th century AD and originally featured pieces quite different from the familiar knights, bishops and castle rooks we use today. 12th-century chess pieces can be seen at Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire.
Learn more about the 2,000-year history of board games, how they evolved into the forms we know today and — most importantly — how you can play them at home with your family.
History through your lens 📸
As our places begin to reopen their doors, many visitors have been sending us wonderful photos of (socially-distanced) days out in the places where history happened.
We love this photo by Katie (@our_old_house_on_the_hill) of young Lara catching the wild Atlantic wind in her hair at Tintagel Castle on Cornwall’s northern coast.
The rugged headland at Tintagel is home to the ruins of a dramatic castle renowned for its associations with the legendary King Arthur. A spectacular new footbridge, officially opened last month by the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, reunites the two halves of this ancient fortress. Tintagel Castle is now open again, but pre-booking is required and tickets are in high demand so please plan your visit in advance.
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