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Abbey Park is Leicester’s premier park and opened in 1882. It includes gardens, lakes, a café, sports pitches and facilities for bowling, tennis and boating. It is a place for families and lies about a mile north of the city centre. The River Soar divides it into two distinct parts – a Victorian park with shrubberies, boating lake and miniature railway, and the western part which includes the remains of the 12th century Leicester Abbey, where Cardinal Wolsey died and was buried, and the ruins of the 17th century Cavendish House, a mansion which was Charles I’s HQ before the Battle of Naseby. It was destroyed and plundered by Royalist troops.
All Saints', Brixworth, is the largest surviving Anglo-Saxon church in Britain. The Saxon builders re-used Roman bricks when constructing their arches. It is also known that a monastery was founded on the site toward the end of the 7th century, sacked by the Danes. The church includes Norman features, an 11th century round tower and a 15th century spire. It is also famous for the Brixworth Relic - a human throat bone that allegedly once belonged to St Boniface.
A very special church dating from 10th century. The tower is the main survivor from this period and contains some unique Anglo-Saxon architectural decoration. The rest of the church was built between the 12th and 15th centuries. One of several Saxon churches in the area.
Sitting in acres of Northamptonshire countryside, Althorp has been the residence of the Spencer family for 500 years and is one of England's grand stately homes. It is packed full of treasures, including some fascinating portraits. The original Tudor house is still there, beneath the later restorations and refurbishments, but the overall feel of the place is distinctly 18th century. The gardens are lovely and regular events are held, including an annual literary festival. Althorp is, sadly, best known for the association with possibly the most famous Spencer, Lady Diana, whose last resting place is on an island in the Round Oval lake.
Althorp has limited opening - it is essential to check their website before making a special trip.
Very small, attractive, village between Daventry and Rugby. The Jacobean manor was owned by the Catesby family and the gatehouse is famous for being the place where the Gunpowder Plot was planned (neither the gatehouse nor the manor is open to the public). There is a wonderful medieval church, dedicated to St Leodegarius, a pub (the Olde Coach House) and a series of estate workers' cottages designed by Lutyens.
NB Warning notice that village website may be hacked, hence the link has not been included here.
The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) is an aerial display team flying historic aircraft. They appear at shows throughout the country, on state occasions and at events commemorating the Second World War. The aircraft normally flown are an Avro Lancaster, a Supermarine Spitfire and a Hawker Hurricane and they are all veterans of the Second World War. The Lancaster is one of only two in the world that are still flying - the other is in Canada. The Spitfire collection includes an original Mark 2 version that flew in the Battle of Britain as well as later models, such as the high-flying high-speed reconnaissance versions. The collection also includes a Douglas C-47 Dakota that ferried wounded soldiers from Normandy after D-Day. The flight is administratively part of No. 1 Group RAF, flying out of RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire - which is an operational base on the front line of Britain's defences. The Battle of Britain Flight aircraft can be visited at Coningsby, where expert guides will give you details of their history and tales of the men that flew them.
Say 'beaver'. The name is derived from Norman-French meaning 'nice view' but, apparently, the Anglo-Saxon peasants couldn't pronounce it.
Belvoir Castle has been the home to the Dukes of Rutland’s family since 1067 and home to the Manners family for more than five centuries. The present castle, built in the early 19th century, is the fourth to stand on the site. High on a hill, it commands magnificent views over the counties of Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire and is considered one of England’s finest Regency houses. The house is packed with artwork, period furniture, tapestries and other treasures. And you may hear tales of witches and seiges.
The Belvoir Estate of almost 15,000 acres includes formal gardens and woodland, as well as a retail village, the Engine Yard, in restored Victorian buildings. Belvoir has also featured in several film and TV productions, including the Netflix series ‘The Crown’, as well as films such as ‘The Young Victoria’ and ‘Victoria & Abdul’ starring Judi Dench.
Image credit: Historic Houses
Built in around 1220-30 by Ranulph de Blundevil, Earl of Lincoln and Chester, Bolingbroke Castle is principally known for being the birthplace in 1366 of Henry of Bolingbroke, son of John of Gaunt and Blanche of Lancaster and the future King Henry IV. Both parts.
The castle was in a poor state by the time of the 17th century English Civil War, but was briefly held by the Royalists until captured by Oliver Cromwell following the Parliamentary victory at the nearby Battle of Winceby in October 1643. When the Roundheads departed, they deliberately slighted the castle – like so many others. Now it is an interesting and fairly picturesque ruin, with nice views across the remains of the moat to St Peter and St Paul's church and accessed from a narrow, attractive, lane. Bolingbroke was an enclosure castle, with a stone curtain wall surrounding a courtyard in which were located timber-framed buildings, including a great hall. There is no easily visible trace of these buildings, but the ruined remains of the curtain wall, gatehouse towers and 5 additional towers can be seen. And there is a pleasant walk around the outside of the walls.
Astonishing Stuart mansion, mid-way between a castle and a country house, built to entertain and impress by the staunchly Royalist Charles Cavendish. The place is full of surprises, including some intriguing and lavish decoration, a beautiful garden, wall walk and an unusual riding house. There is an informative exhibition which puts things in perspective before you tour - and a great childrens' playground!
Site of the decisive battle on 22nd August 1485 where King Richard III was killed and the victor, Henry Tudor, started a new dynasty as Henry VII. There is a heritage centre with an exhibition/museum, shop and café. It is possible to walk round the battlefield on a well-signposted trail. Events are held including an annual re-enactment of the battle.
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