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Britain, places to visit, attractions, heritageThis 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.

Towns

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ALDEBURGH

Popular Suffolk seaside sailing town, famous for its fresh fish sold from the seashore, the Scallop sculpture by Maggi Hambling and the Aldeburgh Festival, started by the composer Benjamin Britten, who lived in the town and whose house, the Red House, can be viewed. The main concert venue is at Snape Maltings, just up the road. Aldeburgh also boasts a fine Tudor Moot Hall and a Napoleonic Martello Tower - the latter is not open to the public, but is available for holidays. Aldeburgh is a fairly buzzy place, with a variety of shops, pubs, restaurants and a cinema.

County: Suffolk
Post Code: IP15 5DS
Main Historic Period: Victorian
Link to featured article: From a house in the clouds to a fort
Useful Website Address: Suffolk Coast website
Tip/Nearby: Orford Castle, Orford Ness, Thorpeness
Primary Management: Local Authority
BATH

“Who can ever be tired of Bath?” Jane Austen enquired. Apart from being a favourite of one of England’s most-loved novelists, Bath is probably most famed for its Roman and Regency heritage. The Romans built extensive baths there and called the town Aquae Sulis (the waters of Sul, a local Celtic deity similar to Minerva). The remains of the complex were discovered in the 18th C, by which time the healing waters of Bath had again become fashionable, with the help of the dandy, Beau Nash, and the town evolved into a go-to Regency place. Thus Bath is also loved for its surviving honey-coloured Georgian architecture, not least its elegant Royal Crescent and unusual Pulteney Bridge over the Avon, designed by Robert Adam and containing shops built across its full span.  Among Bath’s many other attractions is the Gothic 15th C Abbey, where a monastery was founded in the 7th century. Bath is a World Heritage Site, one of Britain’s tourist magnets and features heavily on overseas visitors’ itineraries, as well as being a desirable romantic weekend destination.

Region:
County: Somerset
Post Code: BA1 1LT
Main Historic Period: Georgian
Useful Website Address: Visit Bath website
Tip/Nearby: Handy for the Cotswolds, Marlborough Downs and Mendips.
Primary Management: Local Authority
Cambridge

Cambridge developed around an Anglo-Saxon bridge, the Danes used it as a trading post and William the Conqueror built a castle there.  The city’s greatest fame, however, derives from being home to Britain’s second oldest university, established sometime after 1209.  The first of Cambridge’s residential colleges, Peterhouse, was established in 1284 and it is these self-governing institutions that make up the university.  The entre of Cambridge is King’s Parade, where you’ll find King’s College (founded in 1441) with its breathtaking chapel and, close by, other colleges – like St John’s (1511) and Trinity (1544) – which can be visited.  In parallel with King’s Street are the Backs – a stretch of riverside gardens and lawns linking several colleges.  The university boasts more Nobel Prize winners than you can shake a stick at, as well as a multitude of well-known graduates including politicians, writers and entertainers.

Wander along in and out of colleges, , take a punt on the Cam, stop for a coffee, ice-cream, or a pint.  For visitors, Cambridge also offers notable churches (including one of only 5 round churches in England), outstanding botanic gardens, several museums with interests ranging from archaeology, computing, earth sciences and the polar regions – though the most famous is probably the astonishing Fitzwilliam Museum, which includes world-class artwork as well as major collections from antiquity.  Theatres and cinemas offer a variety of entertainment and there is a large general weekday market as well as specialist arts and crafts ones at weekends.  Nearby attractions include Duxford air museum, and the Cambridge American Cemetery just outside the city is a thought-provoking place to visit.

Location/Address: Cambridge
County: Cambridgeshire
Post Code: CB1 1PS
Main Historic Period: All
Useful Website Address: Cambridge tourist website
Tip/Nearby: Nearby towns include Ely, St Neots, Saffron Walden, Huntingdon and Stamford.
Primary Management: Local Authority
CLEVEDON

Clevedon is a historic town on the Somerset side of the Bristol Channel that developed as a resort in the Victorian period. There is no beach. Its crowning glory is its 1017 feet long (310 metres) pier, which was completed in 1869. It also boasts an unusual 'marine lake', miniature railway, historic church (St Andrew's) and art-deco 1920s cinema. Nearby is the medieval Clevedon Court (National Trust). A coastal path, Poets' Walk, takes you above the town with great views - and an Iron Age hillfort. Spot the wonderful green-tiled Victorian drinking fountain near the pier.

Region:
County: Somerset
Post Code: BS21 7QU
Main Historic Period: Victorian
Useful Website Address: Visit Somerset website
Tip/Nearby: South of Bristol
Primary Management: Local Authority
IRONBRIDGE

Charming and now relatively peaceful Shropshire town at the heart of the Industrial Revolution, spanning the river Severn and a beautiful gorge with its famous 18th century iron bridge. There are many museums in the town and nearby, as well as walks.

Location/Address: Ironbridge
County: Shropshire
Post Code: TF8
Main Historic Period: Georgian
Link to featured article: Ironbridge - cradle of industrialisation?
Useful Website Address: Visit Ironbridge website
Primary Management: Local Authority
LYNTON and LYNMOUTH

Lynton and Lynmouth are really two villages forming a single town on the edge of Exmoor, on the north Devon coast. Lynmouth began as a pretty fishing village and, when there was no longer any space to build there, it expanded to Lynton 700 feet above it on the clifftop. The two are connected by the water-gravity-powered Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway. Lynton is mainly 19th and 20th century, Lynmouth is a little older and was favoured by the artist Thomas Gainsborough and the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.  However, it was wrecked by a devastating flood in August 1952, when 34 people died and hundreds made homeless. Some of the village was never rebuilt. Nevertheless, it is an attractive place and popular with tourists.  It is also walking country.  The South West Coast Path and Tarka Trail pass through it and the views from the cliffs are wonderful.

 

Region:
County: Devon
Post Code: EX35 6HW
Main Historic Period: N/A
Useful Website Address: Visit Lynton and Lynmouth website
Tip/Nearby: Exmoor, Valley of Rocks, beautiful part of the North Devon Coast
Primary Management: Local Authority
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE

Newcastle occupies the north bank of the Tyne, opposite the town of Gateshead. It was a fortress town, named for its 11th century Norman castle. A thousand years earlier, the Romans built a fort to guard their bridge over the Tyne – Pons Aelius. From the Middle Ages, it became known for its coal exports, and in later centuries came engineering, steel and shipbuilding; Tyneside was famed throughout the world for its ships. In modern post-industrial times, Newcastle upon Tyne has become renowned as a party town, with lively clubs, pubs and restaurants making it a magnet for hen parties and stag nights. But it also has a thriving and less boisterous cultural side, with dynamic music, theatre and art scenes and noteworthy museums. The Discovery Museum explores the area's maritime, scientific and technological significance; The Life Science Centre is an interactive science village with a planetarium, themed shows and a 4D ‘motion ride’; The Great North Museum is a refurbished Victorian museum with natural history and Hadrian's Wall displays; The Centre for Contemporary Art occupies a former grain warehouse on the Gateshead side of the river. Then there’s the medieval castle (bizarrely bisected by the main north-south railway line), St Nicholas’ Cathedral and Bessie Surtees’ House (two houses dating from 16th and 17th centuries). Or wander through the elegant city centre to Earl Grey’s Monument, or take in the family-friendly Sunday market along Quayside.

County: Tyne and Wear
Post Code: NE1 1RQ
Main Historic Period: All
Useful Website Address: Newcastle-Gateshead website
Primary Management: Local Authority
Radcliffe Camera, Oxford

Oxford, the city of dreaming spires, has more than 1500 listed buildings from every period of history since the 11th century.  It grew as a river crossing  - a ford for oxen - in Saxon times at a strategic position beside two rivers, the Thames (known locally as ‘the Isis’) and the Cherwell.  The crossroads of the old town is known as the Carfax, a word derived from the Latin (or French) for ‘four forks’.  Though known as the home of Britain’s oldest university, dating from the 13th century, there was also considerable industrial development in the 20th century. The university consists of some 39 colleges and the first one, University College, was founded in 1249.  Many of the colleges can be visited and have beautiful gardens as well as stunning chapels and halls.  The colleges have educated world leaders as well as authors, scientists, actors and comedians.  Balliol College has produced several prime ministers, including Herbert Asquith, Harold Macmillan, Edward Heath and Boris Johnson.  Among Christ Church's alumni are thirteen prime ministers, including Robert Peel, WE Gladstone, Anthony Eden and Alec Douglas-Home,

Oxford is an easy city to wander in and there’s an architectural gem around most corners.  Get a map and work out a route. Each college has something special, but favourites include Balliol, Christ Church, Magdalen, Merton and Exeter.  Take a tour of the Bodleian Library, one of the oldest libraries in Europe, and in Britain is second in size only to the British Library. Don’t miss sites like the Sheldonian Theatre or the Bridge of Sighs.  World class museums include the Pitt-Rivers and the Ashmolean – the world’s oldest public museum.  Visit the Oxford Botanic Garden – the UK’s oldest botanic garden.  Take a trip on a punt and pop into  one of Oxford’s historic pubs. Oxford is also famous for its literary connections and places that have been featured in film or on TV.

Region:
Location/Address: Oxford
County: Oxfordshire
Post Code: OX1 3AS
Main Historic Period: All
Useful Website Address: Oxfordshire tourist website
Tip/Nearby: Attractions not far from Oxford include Woodstock and Blenheim Palace, Burford, Wantage (birthplace of King Alfred the Great), the Berkshire Downs to the east and the Cotswolds to the west.
Primary Management: Local Authority
Southwold from the pier

A charming, small, seaside town, famous for its colourful beach huts and home to Adnams Brewery. It has a pier, with some quirky slot machines, a boating lake and putting green. Most importantly, there's a decent beach, a mixture of shingle and sand. There's also a lighthouse, museum, other attractions and associations with George Orwell, whose parents lived in the town.  he Battle of Solebay took place off-shore in 1672.

Location/Address: Southwold
County: Suffolk
Post Code: IP18 6DS
Main Historic Period: All
Link to featured article: A short visit to Southwold
Useful Website Address: Visit Southwold website
Tip/Nearby: Aldeburgh, Thorpeness
Primary Management: Local Authority
Stamford

Stamford, on the River Welland, is one of Britain’s most attractive small towns.  It was once declared the Best Place to live in the UK in the Sunday Times and described by Sir John Betjeman as the finest stone town in England.  The Romans were nearby, but it was the Anglo-Saxons who made Stamford a town and it grew as a Danish settlement and one of the Five Boroughs of the Danelaw.  It was a commercial centre in the middle ages, famous for its pottery and wool – and a convenient stopping-place on the great road north (which now thankfully by-passes it).  Stamford contains a huge number of listed properties made from the local limestone, five medieval churches – including the notable All Saints’ - and attractive shops and pubs.  There is a Friday market.  Stamford has also often been used as a film location in period dramas.  The Burghley Horse Trials are held annually in early September at Burghley House, on the outskirts of the town.

Location/Address: Stamford
County: Lincolnshire
Post Code: PE9 2LB
Main Historic Period: All
Useful Website Address: Stamford town website
Tip/Nearby: Burghley House, designed and built by William Cecil, the first Lord Burghley and Lord High Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I.  The town is handy for exploring the East Midlands and close to Rutland Water (the largest man-made lake in Britain).
Primary Management: Local Authority
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