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Home to the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, Highclere is a predominantly Victorian mansion set in extensive grounds in Hampshire - though, confusingly, the postal address is for neighbouring Berkshire. The house was redeveloped in Jacobean style by Sir Charles Barry, the architect responsible for the Houses of Parliament, from an earlier Georgian mansion which, itself, replaced a Tudor House. Before that, a medieval palace stood on the site, property of the Bishops of Winchester. The property has earlier roots, however, and there is an Iron Age fort in the grounds.
The 5th Earl sponsored the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb by Howard Carter in 1922.
Highclere was used as the location for the TV series Jeeves and Wooster and, more recently, played the title role in the highly successful Downton Abbey.
NOTE: Highclere has limited opening - check details before making a special trip.
Windsor Castle was built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror and is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. It has been used by the British monarchy for almost 1,000 years and is an official residence of Her Majesty The Queen, whose standard flies from the Round Tower when she is at home. Parts are open to the public, including the State Apartments and St George's Chapel. A further highlight is Queen Mary's Dolls' House.
However, because Windsor Castle is a working palace, opening arrangements are subject to change, sometimes at short notice, and you should check before making a special journey.
Bletchley Park was the home of the top-secret code breakers of World War Two, whose work had a profound impact on the war; it has been claimed that their success in intercepting enemy signals and breaking codes shortened the war by two years. For years, very few people knew about their work, most famously centred on German Enigma cipher machines, but information started to become more available in the 1970s. Bletchley Park was in a poor state when taken over by Milton Keynes Borough Council in 1992. A trust was set up to conserve the site and turn it into a museum and it opened its doors to the public in 1993. A massive restoration project took place and BP is now a major tourist attraction.
Bletchley Park also includes the National Museum of Computing and has featured in several films and TV productions.
Spy, fighter pilot - but mainly author - Roald Dahl lived in the village of Great Missenden for 36 years and wrote his famous children's' stories there, in a hut in his garden. Situated in an old coaching inn, the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre holds the Roald Dahl archive, tells Roald Dahl's story (and the stories behind the stories) and includes his writing hut, lovingly relocated to the museum.
The evocative ruins of Sweetheart Abbey, a Cistercian house. It was founded by Lady Dervorgilla de Balliol as ‘New Abbey’ in 1273, in memory of her dead husband, John. The name evolved to ‘Sweetheart’ in honour of the husband and wife. John and Dervorgilla de Balliol were a powerful pair, and parents of the John Balliol who was, albeit briefly, King of Scotland. John Balliol senior is also credited with founding Balliol College, Oxford.
There's a good cafe, Abbey Cottage, next door.
Sweetheart Abbey is on the A710, about 7 miles south of Dumfries.
Anne of Cleves' House formed part of Anne’s annulment settlement from Henry VIII in 1540. Anne of Cleves was Henry's 4th wife - divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived. The house is a fine example of a late medieval timber-framed Sussex building, dating from the late 15th century with additions and improvements made over the next 200 years. Some of the rooms have been furnished in contemporary Tudor style. The house also contains the Museum of Lewes History and the Wealden Iron Gallery. There is a small garden, also inspired by the Tudor period, and a cafe. The house and museum is managed by the Sussex Archaeological Society.
Ashdown Forest is a 65,000 acre area of Outstanding Natural Beauty 30-or-so miles south of London, near East Grinstead. It was a hunting forest in medieval times but is now largely accessible to the public, with a myriad of walks, open spaces and wonderful views. Though it does contain woodland, most of it is actually heathland, a rare and protected habitat. Its most famous resident was Winnie-the-Pooh.
Battle Abbey was built on the orders of William the Conqueror, in penance for the bloodshed, on the traditional site of where some of the fiercest fighting during the Battle of Hastings took place on 14th October 1066. The high altar is supposed to mark the spot where Harold, last King of the English Saxons, fell. The abbey was dissolved and largely ruined in 1558. It then became a country house and, later, a school. The school is still there and not normally open to the public, but the abbey ruins, which include store rooms and wonderful vaulted ceilings, can be visited and there is a particularly fine 14th century gatehouse.
The abbey is managed by English Heritage alongside the battlefield of 1066.
The Battle of Hastings took place on 14th October 1066. It is probably the most famous battle in British history, when the invading Normans under William the Conqueror beat the English (Saxons) led by King Harold. The battle actually took place several miles north of Hastings adjacent to and within where the pleasant little town of Battle now is. Though the precise location of the battle has been much debated, wandering through the traditional site is worthwhile - and very pleasant when the weather's fine.
The battlefield of 1066 is managed by English Heritage alongside Battle Abbey, which was built as a penance and memorial afterwards.