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London is a city which cannot be adequately described as there are sites and experiences on every street corner. A minimum amount of time that one should spend in this grand city is three days, in order to fully appreciate the flavor which London gives the visitor.
More than any other region of England, The Cotswolds embody the popular image of the English countryside. The area is popular with travelers and the best advise is to explore on your own and to find your ideal Cotswold village. Hear are some suggestions of some good starting places.
Lacock a typical thatched village but has the further advantage of having an abbey from the 13th century.
Stow-on-the Wold is one of the more impressive villages, and therefore visited, in the Cotswolds.
Warwick Castle is a medieval castle founded in 1068 and is home to the Earl of Warwick who’s line can be traced back throughout the history of England. While there you can experience the 15th century and the development of this castle through the ages.
Stratford-upon-Avon is an ordinary midland town, which also happens to be the birthplace of William Shakespeare. There are many attractions associated with his life, as well as three theaters run by the Royal Shakespeare Company, in addition to its London venues, so there is always a show to be seen.
Blenhein Palace is one of the largest palaces in Europe and was the birthplace of Winston Churchill. The place was designed by Vanbrugh and Hawkmoor in 1704 and in 1722 the gardens were designed by Capability Brown. The palace is designed in the baroque style and is well worth the visit.
Oxford, the “City of Dreaming Spires” named for the spires, which rise above the city. The University is the oldest in Britain, it is unknown when it was founded but in the 11th century it was an informal center for scholars and students. The current Colleges of Oxford started to be founded in the 13th century and now there are currently over 36 colleges on the grounds.
Windsor Castle has been home to the British royal family for over 900 years. Construction was begun in 1165 and it is one of greatest surviving medieval castles. The strategic value of this castle has long since disappeared but the symbolic importance is such that the current royal family took its name from these ramparts. Within is the splendid Gothic St. George’s Chapel, which has been resorted after a recent fire completely destroyed it, as well you are able to tour the royal apartments and treasures.
Across the river from Windsor castle is Eton College founded in 1440 it is Britain’s most famous public school and has recently educated the royal Princes William and Harry
In many ways, Wales is just what you picture it to be: rolling moorlands, glaciated mountain areas, mellifluous male-voice choirs, tongue-twisting place names, Rugby Union, 'Bread of Heaven', romantic castles, people with querying lilts, cheese on toast and old mining towns.
But Wales is more than this. Apart from the fantastic walking and cycling that's available in the country, there's also a wealth of water and adventure sports, horse riding and fishing. Add to this some fine festivals and Cardiff's nightlife, and you have a great destination awaiting you.
Although buzzing with eager expectation, Wales is still a country that's finding its feet; a place where history is living and traditions, including the Welsh language, are fighting for their future. Yet its strange mix of diehard tradition and New World sophistication is one of Wales' greatest assets. It has a strength of spirit and character which, despite centuries of neglect and attempted assimilation, remains delightfully defiant
THE HEART OF ENGLAND
Often dismissed as the industrial working class heartland of England, there are some beautiful corners which are often overlooked by the visitor. Such as the regions of the counties Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and the Peak District, all with there soft hills, forests and fens.
Cambridge is a university town founded in the 13th century. The City itself is an architectural treasure house whose’ sites are too numerous to mention, though one should not miss the choir and chapel of King’s College. The chapel was begun in 1446 in Late Gothic Perpendicular style, both the exterior and interior are simply magnificent, and if it can be seen while the choir is singing the better.
Norwich is the ancient capital of Norfolk and at one time was bigger then London. It still retains its medieval center with a large castle, cathedral and no fewer then 33 churches.
King’s Lynn is an interesting old port and was the center of the trade with Flanders which can be seen in some notable buildings, showing the large influence this trade with Holland had on this region.
Shrewsbury is an attractive city and is famous for its black and white half-timbered buildings with a multiple of medieval streets for you to explore. The city provides the setting for Ellis Peters Brother Cadfael Chronicles, about a medieval sleuth, and there is a “Shrewsbury Quest” which plays on this theme.
Ironbridge Gorge is a World Heritage site to the Industrial Revolution, there are seven main museums and several smaller sites strung along the gorge which chronicle daily life and technology of the 19th century.
Chester is a town surrounded by an unbroken red sandstone wall, which dates back to the Roman era. The medieval look to the town though is from the Victorian area not the middle ages, but it is still a town not to be missed. The two mile walk around the ramparts is the best way to see the town and allows for easy detours when something strikes your fancy.
Liverpool was one of the great ports of England, has two professional football clubs, the largest Anglican cathedral in the world and was home to the Beatles. Liverpool has a relatively compact city center with many historically architectural significant buildings. The Albert Dock, a 19th warehouse, complex has been converted into a series of shops and museums. There are a series of tours and sites dedicate to the Beatles. Also visit the Western Approaches Museum the headquarters of the battle of the Atlantic in WWII it has been extensively restored and up kept to show this vital lifeline during the War.
Peak District placed in what seems to be the middle of the industrial regions it seems unlikely that this is one of the more beautiful areas of England. Even the name is misleading as there are no peaks, it is derived from the tribes which once lived here. There are many prehistoric sites as well as hiking and cycling paths in this national park.
Lincoln is a city rich in history, founded 2000 years ago by the Romans it later became a strong hold of the Normans. The Lincoln cathedral is the third largest in England. It was started in 1068, though the existing building was built in the 12th and 13th centuries.
The north is more rugged than the south and has been the frontlines of the conflicts between the north and south for centuries.
York has been the capital of the north of England for over 2000 years. There was a city in existence before the Romans conquered the area but was under them that it rose to prominence. There is a lot to see in York and this is just a quick thumb nail sketch. The city walls , built in the 13th century, are the most impressive in England and enclose a fascinating medieval center. There are two working medieval gates , or bars, the Monk bar which has a working portcullis and the Walmgate bar with an intact barbucan.
The present York Minster Cathedral took over 250 years to build, starting in 1220, but there has been a church in this location since 627. York Minster is most noted for its extensive medieval stained glass windows, particularly the Great Eastern Window, of 1405, depicting the beginning and end of the world. The Jorvik Viking Center is a scale model of Viking York, which was captured from the Saxons in 867, and soon became a important trading center and capital of this region of Danelaw.
Castle Howard is one of Britain’s finest estate homes. Built in 1699 by Sir John Vanbrug with its distinctive domed roof, it is still the home of the Howard family and holds a large collection of important art works as well as a 400 hectare park with large ornate gardens, forests and lakes.
Durham is home to two important Norman constructions, the World Heritage cathedral and the Castle. The Cathedral was completed in 1133 and took only 40 years to build, and thus is built in a unified Norman style. The castle was started in 1072 and remains the largest and most complete Norman castle in all of England.
North York Moors National Park allows the walker to experience both dale, moor and costal paths. The Park is more off the beaten path then some of the other national parks and is thus less crowded.
Yorkshore Dales National Park was made famous by James Herriot and the TV series All Creatures Great & Small. Simple stone villages and rolling rills cuts by streams, rivers and endless stone walls make this a beautiful place to walk around.
Berkwick-upon-Tweed located next to the Scottish boarder this city changed occupational forces of either the Scots or the English over 14 time between the 12th and 15th centuries until massive ramparts were built by the English which still enclose the city center.
Alnwick is dominated by Alnwick Castle, the home of the Duke of Northumberland. This castle is known as the “Windsor of the north” as it is fascinating both inside and out. The town also holds a large market on Thursdays and Saturdays as well has having many local specialty shops.
Hadrians wall stretches 73 miles along a naturally defensible ridgeline from Newcastle-upon-Tyne past Carlisle. The best section to visit is between Hexham and Brampton though there are many museums and sites throughout its length.
Carlisle has had a turbulent past as it was either defending the northern boarders of England or the southern ones of Scotland. MacBeth, of Shakespeare fame, ruled these street for Scotland and is was in the Market cross where Bonnie Prince Charles proclaimed his father king in 1745. It past strategic location makes it ideal for exploring the local counties and sites
Lake District National Park is a combination of green dales rock mountains and lakes that seem to create peace and tranquility. There are many excellent walking paths. The two main bases are Keswick and Windemere. Windemere is an excellent place for boating the lakes, and there are many places to hire boats, as well as an excellent museum showing some beautifully restored boats. Keswick is an excellent hiker and sportsmen base as the area is known for its trout and salmon streams and mountain pathways.
SOUTH OF ENGLAND
The extreme south of England, is considered the historical heart of England. Including, the supposed birth place of King Arthur, Stonehenge, Roman ruins of Bath, Navel Ports, Tudor Castles and great Cathedrals.
Canterbury is home to the Archbishop of Canterbury the Primate of All England and head of the Anglican church. Thus the‘seat’ of the Archbishop is the impressive Canterbury cathedral built in two stages in 1070 to 1184 and 1391 to 1505. This large complex can take over half a day to explore with its many alcoves each holding a variety of stories and fables, so a tour guide is recommended.
Sandwich was once a thriving port and one of the Cinque Ports, but when the coastline moved Sandwich became a beached time capsule into the medieval world and has remained relatively unaffected by tourism.
Dover is the only remaining Cinque Port which is still actively running ferries to the French coastline. The most notable aspect to the city is the Dover castle a well preserved medieval fortress which offers some spectacular views. Enclosed in the castle are the remains of a Roman lighthouse and a guided tour of the fortress’ fortifications during WWII.
Sissinghurst holds one of the most spectacular gardens in England. Designed by the poet and novelist Vita Sackville-West they show off the splendor of the English countryside in summer. She was born in Knole House a spectacular 17th century county house which Virginia Wolfe based her novel Orlando. Both properties are up kept by the National Trust.
Leeds Castle is famous as being one of the world’s most beautiful castles. Situated on a island on a lake it was transformed by Henry VIII from a fortresses into a grand palace surrounded by a large park.
Brighton is Britain’s most popular seaside town since the 1750’s when doctors recommended that bathing and drinking the water was good for them, though today it is not suggested as a wise choice. Other then the beach, Brighton does have some interesting sites, such as the Royal Pavillion which is an interesting meld of an Indian palace on the outside and a Chinese one the inside. It was built in 1815 to the specifications of George IV (then the Prince regent) and is over the top in every respect and for that reason alone it should not be missed. One cannot travel to Brighton and not visit the Palace Pier, the very image of Brighton, the place of fun and amusements.
Portsmouth has been the home of the British navy for much of the islands history. Portsmouth itself has been extensively rebuilt after heavy WWII bombing destroyed much of the city. The center attraction is the Naval Heritage Area where Nelson’s HMS Victory, Henry VIII’s the Mary Rose and the HMS Warrior are on display as well as the various dockyard supply and maintenance depots of the tall ship era.
Winchester is a small beautiful cathedral city rich in history and charm. The cathedral is one of the most beautiful in England and combines a mixture of Norman, Early English and Perpendicular Gothic styles. Visit the Great Hall built by William the Conquer and holds the fabled “Round Table” of King Arthur. One can also arrive at the Hospital of St Cross the oldest almshouse in England and receive the traditional “Wayfarer’s Dole” consisting of bread and ale.
Salisbury is famous for is cathedral as well as being a market town. A market has happened here every Thursday and Saturday since 1361. St. Mary’s Cathedral was built in the relatively short period of time from 1220 to 1266 resulting in a uniform building style of Early English typified with pointed arches and flying buttresses. The chapter house of the cathedral holds one of the four surviving original versions of the Magna Carta, the agreement made between King John and his barons in 1215.
Stonehenge is the most famous Stone Age site in Europe, built over 5000 years ago this ring is comprised of a circle of stones, some of which came from as far away as Wales.
Avebury is a complex of prehistoric sites dating from 3500 BC, including Silbury Hill , the largest constructed mound in Europe, West Kennet Long Barrow, a burial chamber, and a museum of the site.
Wells is a small medieval cathedral city and is home to one of England’s most beautiful and best example of a full-cathedral complex. The cathedral was built in stages from 1180 to 1508 and is thus a series of different architectural styles. The most famous features are the western façade composing of a sculpture gallery of over 300 figures, the scissor arches, the chapter house and the mechanical clock in the transept.
Glastonbury is a small town full of legends and myths. It is claimed that Jesus visited here with Joseph of Arimathea; that it is the burial place of King Arthur and his knights and that the tor is the Isle of Avalon; or the gateway to the underworld. Whatever your belief the tor offers a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside.
Bath is an architectural stunning success. During the 18th century the English elite gravitated here and brought with them the foremost architects of the day. The city was designed for walking and there are numerous walking tours which you can take, seeing the covered market, Pulteney Bridge and the Parade Gardens. The most popular attraction is the Roman Baths, excavated passages and chambers below street level, include the sulphurous mineral springs, which still flow, the central heating system and the bath.
Exeter is a city which was devastated during WWII but to its good fortune the cathedral remained relatively undamaged. With two magnificent 11th century Norman towers the cathedral was added to over the centuries to create one of the most attractive cathedrals in England.
The English Riviera The three Devon resort towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham have been known collectively as the English Riviera since 1896 and is composed of 35 km of spectacular coastline and magnificent gardens. This area was the inspiration to the “Fawlty Towers” series and the home of the mystery writer Agatha Christie.
Dartmoor National Park at the western edge of Devon it, encloses some of the wildest and bleakest country in England, punctuated by high granite tors of windswept gorse and heather and deep valleys and moors with many excellent hiking trails throughout.
Exmoor National Park in the north of Devon encloses and wide variety of landscapes. A high plateau rises from the coast and is cut by steep fast flowing streams. Bare high hills of heather and grass run parallel to the coast and the southern end of the park run the two rivers of Exe and Barle wide through wooded valleys. Throughout the park roam wild ponys and the lasts herds of wild red deer. The park is also interspersed with thatched cottage villages and medieval castles all connected by numerous walkways.
Land’s End is the furthest western point of England and has incredible coastal scenery which one can walk along.
St. Ives has attracted artists for centuries for the steep slopes, narrow alleyways, coastline and beaches. In 1993 a branch of London’s Tate Gallery was opened to display local works.
Tintagel is the legendary birthplace of King Arthur but the main attraction of the region is Tintagel Head where the ocean crashes on the seashore
Learn More about Great Britain and it's other Regions
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