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East of England
The largest and most northerly of more than 100 Martello Towers built from Sussex to Suffolk to help defend England from the French. Aldeburgh's tower is unusual because it is quatrefoil in shape - four towers in one, designed to take 4 guns. It was built between 1808-1812. Derelict by the 1970s, it was restored by the Landmark Trust and is now managed by them as a holiday let. It is not generally open to the public so please respect people's privacy is you want to see it from the outside. It sits just a few minutes walk south of Aldeburgh, on the shingle spit of Orford Ness between the River Alde and the North Sea.
A small museum telling the history of British military intelligence from the Boer War onwards. There are additional exhibitions dedicated to BRIXMIS, an intelligence gathering mission based in the former DDR during the Cold War, and to the Intelligence Corps' work with SOE, Special Operations Executive, during WW2.
The museum is on a military base. Visitors are welcomed but need to book visits in advance and brink photo ID with them - eg UK passport or driving licence.
What remains of Norwich's Norman castle is a striking white stone keep, now housing a museum and art gallery. Here you can learn about the history of the castle, which has been both a palace and a prison, as well as explore the battlements, dungeons and collections. Galleries are dedicated to art, ancient Britons, Egyptians, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings and natural history.
Hero or villain, Oliver Cromwell was one of those people who make a brief appearance on history’s stage and leave their mark. So his house has got to be worth a visit. Cromwell inherited the lease from a rich uncle, moved there with his family in 1636 and they stayed for 10 years - though Cromwell himself would have been away for much of that time. It stands opposite a small green, next to St Mary’s Church. It has been a pub, vicarage and at time of writing is Ely’s Tourist Information Centre. A tour of the house includes the fascinating kitchen and Cromwell's study.
And - it is meant to be haunted...wooooo!
The polygonal keep of Orford Castle survives in remarkable condition, surrounded by the remains of moats and walls visible as shapes in the grass. The castle was built by Henry II in the 12th century to protect his interests locally. Given that most of the castle has gone, inside the keep there's a surprising amount to see - including Orford Museum - and there are fabulous views from the top of St Bartholomew's church, Orford Ness and the surrounding countryside.
Oh - and don't forget the legendary merman.
Orford Ness is Europe's largest shingle spit, approximately 10 miles long running between the River Alde and the North Sea in Suffolk. It is an internationally important area of shingle habitat, home to a huge variety of wildlife, much of it fragile and precious. It was also used for secret military testing and experimentation, including for aircraft, radio, radar, ballistics and atomic weapons, since the First World War until after the Cold War. Limited access is available via National Trust Ferry from Orford.
Pembroke College was founded in 1347 by Mary de St Pol, the widow of Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke. In 1360, she sought permission from the Pope to build a college chapel – the first in Cambridge. The original chapel is still there – it is now a library – but the current chapel is the first completed building designed by Christopher Wren. It includes some notable features, not least an exquisite 15th century alabaster representation of the Virgin Mary and the Archangel Michael depicting the judgement of a soul. Next to the chapel is a cloister where memorials commemorate the 450 Pembroke men who fell in the wars of 1914-18 and 1939-45. Around a third of the young men who joined the college between 1911 and 1917 were dead by 1919.
Notable alumni include William Pitt the Younger, Peter Cook, Eric Idle, Clive James, Bill Oddie, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Roger Bushell, Naomie Harris, Robert Macfarlane and Jo Cox.
The Cathedral Church of St Peter, St Paul and St Andrew has its roots in Anglo-Saxon times. The first abbey was established at Peterborough (originally called Medeshamstede) in 655 AD and largely destroyed by Viking raiders in 870. In the mid 10th century a Benedictine Abbey was created from what remained. Some buildings were destroyed in Hereward the Wake's resistance to the Norman Conquest in 1069, but the church survived until an accidental fire swept through it in 1116. The present building was begun in 1118, consecrated in 1238 and the structure of the building remains essentially as it was on completion. Most significantly the original wooden ceiling survives in the nave, the only one of its type in this country and one of only four wooden ceilings of this period surviving in the whole of Europe, having been completed between 1230 and 1250. There is some fine 16th century fan vaulting at the east end of the church. Peterborough grew to be a wealthy monastic house, with 120 monks just before it was dissolved in 1539. However, the abbey church survived as Peterborough Cathedral. Parliamentary troops caused damage to glass and monuments during the Civil War. Two queens were buried in the Cathedral, Katherine of Aragon and Mary Queen of Scots: however, in 1612, James I/VI had his mother re-buried in Westminster and her grave is now empty.
The royal founders of Queen’s College were Margaret of Anjou (1430 – 1482) in 1448 and Elizabeth Woodville (c1437 – 1492) in 1465. Margaret was the wife of King Henry VI and Elizabeth was the wife of King Edward IV. The has also enjoyed the patronage of three further queens - Anne Neville (1456 – 1485), who was married to King Richard III, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (1900 – 2002), the late Queen Mother and HM Queen Elizabeth II. Queens’ College Cambridge is the only Oxbridge college to have the Queen as Patroness. Particular features of the College include the 15th century Old Court, Hall and Cloister. Walnut Tree Court is located on the site of a 13th century Carmelite Monastery. The Wooden Bridge – wrongly called ‘the Mathematical Bridge’ – dates from 1749, though the current version was completed in 1905. Famous alumni include Bishop John Fisher, Stephen Fry, Richard Dearlove and Emily Maitlis.
This is where the composer Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) lived and worked for the last two decades of his life with his partner, tenor Peter Pears (1910-1986. Today it is the home of the Britten-Pears Foundation. It is open to visitors.