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Hundreds of open garden events take place in Britain every year, mainly during the summer and mostly, though not exclusively, in rural villages. The gardens belong to private homes and are often quite modest. The open garden event normally involves 10 gardens or so, sometimes more, sometimes less, and can either be a local event in its own right, or part of a larger village show of some kind. If you enjoy looking at gardens, a local open gardens can be an enjoyable way of spending an hour or three. Entry fees are usually just a few pounds. Check the UK National Directory for events near you.
St John's College was founded in 1555 by the Master of the Merchant Taylors' Company in London, Sir Thomas White, using the premises of St Bernard's College, itself founded in 1437 by Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury, for Cistercian monks studying at Oxford University. The Cistercian college was suppressed in 1536. St John's was the first Oxford college to be founded by a merchant. Alumni include Archbishop Laud, Jane Austen's father, A E Housman, Robert Graves, Kingsley Amis, Philip Larkin and former Prime Minister, Tony Blair. The buildings date from the 15th century. The Chapel was originally consecrated in 1530. The Library dates from the 16th century and holds over 200 medieval manuscripts, 20,000 books printed before 1850, several Middle Eastern manuscripts dating back to the 14th century, 200 modern manuscripts, and important collections of papers and books owned by figures such as Robert Graves, A E Housman and Spike Milligan.
Parts of the college are open to the public at particular times. Check the college website for details.
Woburn Abbey is one of the great treasure houses of Britain. It began life as a Cistercian abbey. The estate was given to John Russell, later Earl of Bedford, by Edward VI in 1547 and his ancestors became the Dukes of Bedford. Woburn Abbey is still the home of the Duke and Duchess of Bedford, but has been open to the public since 1955. The Palladian mansion contains a world-famous art collection, including works by Canaletto, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Hogarth, Lely, Rembrandt, Tintoretto and Van Dyck, as well as collections of porcelain and silver. The estate also includes gardens, a deer park and the Woburn Safari Park.
Drum Castle was seat of the Clan Irvine and in the Irvine family for 650 years, from 1325, when it was granted to William de Irvine by Robert the Bruce, until 1975. It has a rich history, 17th and 19th century additions and alterations, and is surrounded by gardens and an arboretum.
Balmoral is a 50,000 acre estate and the private Scottish home of the British Royal Family. It was purchased by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria in 1852, close to the Highlands they both loved. The current castle is new - Victoria and Albert had it constructed between 1853 and 1856; the old castle was then demolished. There is limited public access to the grounds, gardens and exhibitions (including access to the castle ballroom only) between spring and early summer, when the Royal Family is not in residence. Apart from the ballroom, the castle is not open to the public. Cottages in the grounds can also be hired.
The evocative ruins of Dunnottar Castle occupy a large, rocky, headland jutting into the North Sea, accessed by a narrow strip from the mainland. Though the current ruins date largely from the 15th and 16th centuries, its history goes back to the early medieval period, at least. Dunnottar was attacked by the Vikings, captured from the English by William Wallace, was famously where the Honours of Scotland (the Scottish Crown Jewels) were hidden from Oliver Cromwell's forces, and played its part in the Jacobite Rebellions of the 18th century.
NOTE: The castle can be closed to visitors in bad weather - essential that you check their website before visiting. There is also limited car parking - the castle is not in Stonehaven itself - it's about a 20 minute walk along the coast.
Ruined renaissance castle built by the 7th Laird of Tolquhon between 1584 and 1589. It has a particularly interesting gatehouse.
Verulamium, was the third largest city in Roman Britain and the museum, Verulamium, stands on the site of the Roman town. It is a museum of everyday life in Roman Britain, containing recreated Roman rooms, some amazing mosaics and several intriguing objects - as well as the Sandridge Hoard - a collection of 159 gold Roman coins discovered nearby in 2012.
The Roman theatre at Verulamium is unique in Britain, because it's a theatre with a stage, rather than an amphitheatre. It was built in about 140AD, later redeveloped and by the 4th century it is estimated it could seat an audience of some 2,000. Close to the ruins are the foundations of shops and a temple. There is not a great deal to see, but it is opposite the Roman Museum - so park near the latter and combine the two.
Part of the Gorhambury Estate.
The full name of this place is the Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings and it was England's first open air museum, established in 1967. Avoncroft displays 30-odd rescued buildings and structures, ranging from 14th - 20th centuries, which have been re-built in 19 acres of rural Worcestershire. The museum includes a wildflower meadow, period gardens and a traditional cider and perry orchard. It is also home to the National Telephone Kiosk Collection.