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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.

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This is, allegedly, the only place in the world where you can visit a colony of nesting Mute Swans. (Trust me, they are not mute).  A Benedictine monastery was established at Abbotsbury in the 11th century and the monks began farming swans - which often featured at medieval banquets. The monks have long gone, but the swans are still there (different ones, obviously). If you visit Abbotsbury Swannery these days, you'll find about 600 swans, all free to roam. The colony is established adjacent to a shallow lagoon, the Fleet, which lies behind Chesil Beach. It's a unique location.

Location/Address: New Barn Road
Nr Weymout
County: Dorset
Post Code: DT3 4JG
Main Historic Period: N/A
Useful Website Address: Abbotsbury Swannery website.
Tip/Nearby: Abbotsbury Abbey (remains) and St Catherine's Chapel
Primary Management: Private - open to the public

Victorian memorial on the site of the abbey, said to have been founded by King Alfred in 878, on the site of his refuge from the Danes on the Isle of Athelney.

Location/Address: Field near Athelney Farm
Cuts Road
County: Somerset
Post Code: TA7 0SD
Main Historic Period: Victorian
Link to featured article: Was England born in Athelney?
Tip/Nearby: Burrow Mump is just down the road. Muchelney Abbey isn't far.
Primary Management: Unknown

Enormous Neolithic stone henge and bank surrounding the entire village of Avebury.  Dates from c2600BC.  Part of a wider complex of prehistoric sites nearby. Get up close and personal with the stones - which you cannot normally do at nearby Stonehenge.

Location/Address: Avebury
County: Wiltshire
Post Code: SN8 1RF
Main Historic Period: Prehistory
Link to featured article: Avebury Henge
Useful Website Address: English Heritage listing for Avebury
Tip/Nearby: Huge number of prehistoric sites, including West Kennet Long Barrow, Silbury Hill and Windmill Hill, within walking distance. Stonehenge not far away by road.
Primary Management: National Trust

Barrington Court is a 16th century house that became derelict and was carefully restored in the 1920s by Colonel Lyle, as in Tate & Lyle the sugar refining company. The house is currently shown empty of all furnishings, which is curiously wonderful. The gardens are simply stunning.

Location/Address: Barrington
near Ilminster
County: Somerset
Post Code: TA19 ONQ
Main Historic Period: Tudor
Link to featured article: Barrington Court: bring on the empty mansion
Primary Management: National Trust

“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.

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

A brooding, ruined, medieval castle located atop a dramatic wooded cliff and with the remains of an unfinished Jacobean house inside its walls, which was intended to be the grand home of the Seymour family. Berry Pomeroy Castle has a reputation as one of the most haunted places in Britain.

Location/Address: Berry Pomeroy
Nr Totnes
County: Devon
Post Code: TQ9 6LJ
Main Historic Period: Medieval
Link to featured article: A bit more about Berry Pomeroy Castle
Tip/Nearby: Totnes, Dartmouth
Primary Management: English Heritage

The Cotswold village of Bibury on the River Coln is lovely, has been around since at least Saxon times and was described by William Morris as “The most beautiful village in England”. It is much-visited by tourists, much photographed and particularly known for a row of cottages called Arlington Row – which has featured in movies.  Arlington Row was built as a wool store by monks in the 14th century and was converted into weavers’ cottages in the 17th century.  One, No 9, is owned by the National Trust and is available for holiday bookings.  An area of marshy water meadow close to Arlington Row was known as ‘Rack Isle’ and was where wool was hung on racks after being washed.  These days, it’s a nature reserve.

Location/Address: Nr Cirencester
County: Gloucestershire
Post Code: GL7 5NP
Main Historic Period: Stuart
Useful Website Address: Bibury village website
Tip/Nearby: Other Cotswold villages and attractions, including the Cotswold Wildlife Park
Primary Management: Local Authority

Part-ruined home to the Bishops of Bath and Wells for 800 years, the palace dates from 13th century and is surrounded by a moat, upon which swans glide gracefully; they are trained to ring a bell when they're hungry.  Croquet is played on the lawn.  The highlight, though, is the gardens.  These are a delight to wander in and include the well pools that give the city its name.

Location/Address: Wells
County: Somerset
Post Code: BA5 2PD
Main Historic Period: Medieval
Useful Website Address: Bishop's Palace website
Tip/Nearby: Wells Cathedral
Primary Management: Church authorities

Brownsea Island (aka 'Branksea') is the largest island in Poole Harbour (about 1 mile x 1/2 mile) and is primarily a wildlife area of woodland, heath and wetland, home to red squirrels and a variety birds. There are trails and events, including open air theatre and an annual round the island swim. Brownsea was chosen by Baden-Powell to try out his scouting ideas and is also said to have inspired Enid Blyton. Brownsea Castle, originally 16th century, is currently (August 2016) leased to the John Lewis Partnership as a staff hotel and not open to the public. Access to the island is by ferry from Poole.

Location/Address: Poole Harbour
County: Dorset
Post Code: BH13 7EE
Main Historic Period: N/A
Primary Management: National Trust

A natural hill rising out of the Somerset levels, with the ruins of a church, St Michael's, on top, giving the place an evocative feel. There was probably a castle on the site once. Burrow Mump also has possible associations with King Alfred, who hid in the marshes around nearby Athelney to escape the Danes.  It is now a war memorial, dedicated to all those from Somerset who died in the First and Second World Wars.

Post Code is for the nearby King Alfred pub. Small free car park at the foot of the hill.

Location/Address: A361
County: Somerset
Post Code: TA7 0RB
Main Historic Period: Georgian
Tip/Nearby: Willow and Wetland Visitor Centre. Glastonbury and Wells aren't far.
Primary Management: National Trust
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