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7 places we discovered in 2016!

It's countdown to Christmas!!

​In the final week before Christmas I have decided to mark each day with a place we visited for the first time in 2016! So, when I say discovered I mean in the Columbus sense - they were already there but for whatever reason we had not been.  

There are, in fact, way more than 7 so I am also going to write a new year blog on places to visit in 2017 which will be published in the New Year. Some of them really are off the beaten track!

But for now let me tell you about each of the 7 places featured on our countdown to Christmas which is being shown on our Facebook and Instagram channels.

Now, without further delay let me take you to 7 fantastic historical locations which you'll be desperate to put on your 'must visit' list!


Rushton Triangular Lodge

Make sure you see:

All of it, but do also go inside. Note the plain interior in direct opposition to the elaborate exterior.

Where is it?

Rushton, Kettering, Northamptonshire, NN14 1RP

Note: Parking is in a small layby opposite

The UK is not short of stunning architecture from past eras but I challenge anyone to walk up to Rushton Triangular Lodge without mouth open! In short, it is incredible to look at. However, its allure only grows as you study the symbols, codes and patterns which cover every part of the building. Ostensibly a warrener's lodge on the Tresham estate it was in fact Thomas Tresham's dedication to the trinity in stone. The building still holds some of its secrets as not all messages have been deciphered.

Go here if you are interested in: 

Tudor times, Religious history, Art history, architecture, Elizabeth I, Catholicism in England, the Reformation.


Boscobel House and the Royal Oak

Make sure you see: 

The map of Charles' route as he attempted to flee England. It illustrates just what a dangerous task this was!

Walk out to the site of the Oak tree.

Charles' hiding place in the attic of the house.

Go here if you are interested in: 

Charles II, the English Civil Wars, Oliver Cromwell, Legends

Where is it?
Brewood, Bishop's Wood, Shropshire, ST19 9AR

Boscobel House, home to the famous oak tree within which Charles II hid during his escape from England following the Parliamentarian victory which ended the English Civil War of the 1600's.The oak tree sat in the grounds of the house in a heavily wooded area. The original oak died, possibly from the effects of too many souvenir hunters, but the one which has grown up in its place is a direct descendent.

Charles and his loyal servant, Major William Careless, spent an entire day in the large oak tree. Once immediate danger had passed Charles returned to the house and ate a meal in the Parlour and warmed his feet by the fire. Charles would recognise this room as it is little changed. He spent that night in a priest hole (not unusual in a Catholic household) underneath the attic floor before leaving the following evening to continue his dangerous journey to eventual safety at the court of Louis XIV.


Portchester Castle and Roman Fort

Make sure you see: 

Graffiti by French Prisoners of War on the angle tower of the inner bailey (it's on your right as you enter from the shop).

If you can manage the stairs and are not frightened of heights, climb the spiral staircase to the keep roof for fantastic views over the entire site and over toward Portsmouth.

Where is it?

Church Road, Portchester, Hampshire, PO16 9QW

This once lavish Royal residence has seen it all! Its strategic position in the natural harbour at Portsmouth meant it was invested in by successive English kings.The sumptuous royal palace of Richard II was further invested in as it continued to be vital for defence along the south coast. Elizabeth I held court here in 1603 but the castle transferred to private hands in 1632 when a local landowner bought it from Charles I. In the following centuries it had been used on numerous occasions as a prisoner of war camp until the last prisoner left in May 1814.

The ancient priory Church of St Mary, Portchester also sits within the original Roman walls of Portchester. This church is still in use and you can visit. Look them up on Facebook (@stmaryportchester) for details of their Christmas services.

Go here if you are interested in: 

Roman Britain, Royal Castles, Richard II, Prisoners of War camps.


Wenlock Priory

Make sure you see: 

the carved walls of the Chapter House

the medieval tiles on the floor of the priory's library

the octagonal lavabo - the water vessel used by monks to wash their hands before eating.

Where is it?

5 Sheinton Street, Much Wenlock, Shropshire, TF13 6HS

Note: Parking is £1 all day

The eerie beauty of Wenlock Abbey is difficult to capture in a picture. As you walk up the gravel pathway the tall hedge suddenly gives way to the magnificent ruins of the abbey, once the centre of community in this area. As you explore, you discover that this ruined abbey has far more to offer than just a nod to its former glory with incredible features insitu and requiring less imagination than you would think to see them as they would have looked 500 years ago.

Go here if you are interested in: 

Monasteries, 

Dissolution of the Monasteries

Medieval England

History of Religion

Art History


Dunster Castle

Make sure you see: 

the Leather hangings depicting the story of Anthony and Cleopatra,

the Victorian kitchens (book onto a free tour)

the Servants living quarters (book onto a free tour)

the secret passage in the King Charles room

the Reservoir.

Where is it?

Dunster, near Minehead, Somerset, TA24 6SL

A castle has graced the hill at Dunster for over 1000 years. It has developed and adapted to the times, each time leaving part of its past intact. Incredibly it was held by the same family, the Luttrells, for 600 years until the final occupant moved out int 1976.

It is beautiful, intriguing and welcoming, children are encouraged to bang the gong and all visitors are encouraged to sit a while in the Morning Room with the daily papers.

Go here if you are interested in: 

Servitude, 

'Upstairs'/'Downstairs'


Kirby Hall

Make sure you see: 

The servant's quarters: visit the old kitchens. These are in ruin but the spit mechanism, powered by the heat from the fire, is still in situ!

The moulded stone handrail of the Grand staircase.

Great Hall ceiling - restored to its original colour.


Where is it?

Off Kirby Lane, Corby, Northamptonshire, NN17 3EN

Kirby Hall had us captivated the moment we walked into the outer courtyard! It was built to impress and even in its semi-ruinous state it still awes the viewer (even on the rainy day that we endured). Most of the building is without a roof but what is left can still tell the story of the building from fit for a queen (Queen Elizabeth in fact - although she never came!) to ruin. The house was acquired by one of Queen Elizabeth's favourites, Christopher Hatton, in 1575.

In the grounds, on the edge of the formal gardens, you can see a stepped mount. This is the site of the church which served the medieval settlement here. The settlement's name was 'Cherchberie', which means village with a church, which gave the house its name.

Go here if you are interested in: 

Elizabethan England, Grand Houses, Architecture


Bosworth Battlefield, Richard III Centre and Leicester Cathedral

Ok so this is 3 locations in 1 but, as they are all doable in 1 day and all are all part of understanding the incredible end to the Plantagenet dynasty with the death of Richard III, I thought I'd put them together for the purpose of this blog.

Began your day at Bosworth Battlefield with a walk into the landscape on which the final battle of the Wars of the Roses was fought on the circular walk, which begins and ends at the visitor centre car park. 

The exhibition brilliantly explains how the battle played out as well as displaying many of the artefacts found around the battle site. At the end of the exhibition you get the chance to cast your vote - who was the better king: Richard III or Henry VII.

The Richard III Centre in Leicester City is built around the famous 'car park grave' in which Richard III was discovered in 2012.You can visit the grave, cleverly presented with a glass floor over the excavation trench and a projection to show exactly how the bones were when discovered.

Leicester Cathedral, opposite the Richard III Centre, is not as grand as you might expect but what it lacks in grandeur it more than makes up for in beauty and reverence.Richard's tomb sits elegant and regal in its own space behind the Sanctuary, his position equivalent to that which he occupied in Greyfriars Church where he was buried in August 1485.

Make sure you see: 

The Sundial Monument to the men who lost their lives at the Battle of Bosworth on 22nd August 1485, at Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre.

The CT Scan exhibit, within the Richard III Centre which demonstrate how CT scanning of the Richard's skeleton identified the injuries he sustained, when they were sustained and which were the likely causes if death.

The funeral pall used at the reinterment of Richard III in Leicester Cathedral and his replica Coronet.

Our Richard III history travel trail will be available from our History Trail Collection in February 2017.

Go here if you are interested in: 

Richard III, Medieval England, the Plantagenets, the Tudors, Battlefields.

Where are these places?

Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre & Country Park,
Sutton Cheney, Leicestershire, CV13 0AD

King Richard III: Dynasty, Death and Discovery.
4A St. Martin's, Leicester, LE1 5DB

Leicester Cathedral
Peacock Lane, Leicester, LE1 5PZ



Wishing you all a fantastic Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Keep an eye out for our new year blog which will give you more ideas for historical locations to visit in 2017!

Philippa, Barney and the British History Tours team


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