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This is the place to search for places and things of interest to visit in Britain, by name, location, type, keyword – or just have a browse. It is a growing directory – over 780 entries as of June 2020. Most entries have links for further information.
Stately homes and palaces
One of the largest houses in England, Knole is allegedly a 'calendar house', with 365 rooms, 52 staircases, 12 entrances and 7 courtyards - though only a proportion of the house is open to the public. It was built as an archbishop's palace, but passed into the hands of the Sackville family during the reign of Elizabeth I, and it is still their home. Knole is also packed with precious artwork and furnishings.
In 2012, the National Trust launched an extensive six-year conservation programme. This has also opened parts of the complex previously unavailable to be seen by the public.
Knole is situated in the middle of a medieval deer park, which is open to all and is wonderful to wander in at any time of year.
This is where the English Parliament executed the King of Great Britain and established a republic in England and Wales. It was also a place of extravagant Jacobean entertainment. Banqueting House is a surviving relic of the great Palace of Whitehall, which was originally the medieval London home of the Archbishops of York and known as York Place. When the once powerful Cardinal Wolsey, Archbishop of York, fell from grace, King Henry VIII grabbed his London home, enlarged it, renamed it Whitehall, and it became a favourite of subsequent Tudor, and Stuart, monarchs. The current, spectacular, Banqueting House (there were predecessors) was designed by Inigo Jones, completed in 1622 and provided a venue for excessive celebration. Underneath it is a vaulted drinking den, used by James I for decadent goings-on. Banqueting House has a breathtaking ceiling, probably commissioned by King Charles I in 1629-30 and the only surviving in-situ ceiling painting by Flemish artist, Sir Peter Paul Rubens. It would have been one of the King's final sights on 30 January 1649, before stepping outside to meet his end on a scaffold that had been specially erected so that everyone could see their king die.
Buckingham Palace is the administrative HQ of the Monarchy and has been the Monarch's official London residence since 1837. The Duke of Buckingham acquired a house on the present site in 1698, which he replaced with a new 'Buckingham House'. This was acquired by George III in 1761 as a family residence for his wife, Queen Charlotte, and their children, and extensively refurbished and modernised. George IV commissioned John Nash to turn the house into a Royal Palace. The familiar east wing, with its central balcony, was added during the reign of Queen Victoria.
Visitors can see three aspects of Buckingham Palace.
1) The State Rooms. The 19 sumptuous state rooms, where guests are received and entertained, are generally open to the public during summer months. They include paintings, porcelain and furniture from the royal collection.
2) The Queen's Gallery, which hosts a programme of changing exhibitions of artwork, mostly from the royal collection, is open most days.
3) The Royal Mews is the stables responsible for the horses that pull the royal carriages as well as where state vehicles are kept and looked after. It is open most days, but closed in December and January.
All three venues have separate entrances on Buckingham Palace Road (the road running along the left of the Palace as you face it).
The Jewel Tower is a small, but fascinating, remnant of the medieval Palace of Westminster. It was built in the 14th century and once housed Edward III's treasures. It was subsequently used to store records from the House of Lords - including notable Acts of Parliament - and went on to be the National Weights and Measures Office.
In 1689 William III bought the Jacobean mansion Nottingham House from his Secretary of State, the Earl of Nottingham, and commissioned Christopher Wren to extend and improve it. Thus it became Kensington Palace, a favourite residence of successive monarchs until the death of George II in 1760. Queen Victoria was born and spent much of her youth here.
Today, Kensington Palace contains the offices and London residences of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as well as The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, The Duke and Duchess of Kent and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.
Visitors can walk in the footsteps of royalty in Victoria's re-imagined childhood rooms, see the magnificent King's State Apartments and the famous Sunken Garden.
Lambeth Palace has been the official London home of the Archbishop of Canterbury for 800 years. It is famous for its gardens, and its extensive ecclesiastical library, which holds records dating back before the Norman Conquest and the archives of the Archbishops of Canterbury. Architecturally, the Palace is famous for its Tudor gate, Morton's Tower, but also has a medieval chapel and Stuart Great Hall. It is not, generally, open top the public, but guided tours available - see the website.
Arguably one of the best attractions in London, the Tower has been so many things - Norman fortress, medieval palace, prison, place of execution - even a zoo. There is so much to see, not least the Crown Jewels. Don't let the queues put you off, allow plenty of time and soak up the atmosphere.
The Palace of Holyroodhouse was built around an abbey founded by King David I in the 12th century, which had royal chambers attached to it. James IV (1488-1513) decided to upgrade the chambers to a palace, and this work was added to by subsequent monarchs. The Palace is the British monarch's official residence in Scotland and Her Majesty Her Majesty The Queen visits during Holyrood week, at the end of June/beginning of July. When The Queen is in residence, the Scottish variant of the Royal Standard is flown.
Parts of the Palace are open to the public, though opening arrangements are subject to change, sometimes at short notice, and you should check before making a special journey. Highlights of a visit include the magnificent State Apartments and the fascinating Mary, Queen of Scots', chambers. You can also walk round the ruins of Holyrood Abbey and parts of the gardens.
Castle Howard is an 18th century Baroque stately home in North Yorkshire, one of the grandest and most over the top in England, with 145 rooms and set in 1,000 acres of gardens and parkland. It is owned by the Howard family, and has been for over 300 years. The house was started for the 3rd Earl of Carlisle in c1699, designed by John Vanbrugh (his first commission) and Nicholas Hawksmoor, and took about 100 years to complete. It is built on the site of a ruined medieval castle and the original estate covered 13,000 acres - which included several villages. In addition to being able to tour the house and gardens, visitors can enjoy various exhibitions, and activities take place frequently.
Castle Howard was famously used for the 1980s TV series and 2008 film, Brideshead Revisited.