6 Must See Historical Destinations in England and Scotland for Heritage Lovers
Tips when you plan your British holiday, from a heritage lover’s experience
The red telephone boxes, London black cabs, the Monarchy and history are what entice me to the United Kingdom. The UK has held my fascination for years. It was a dream to visit this country and see the red telephone booths, the Underground and the many historical monuments with my own eyes.
My travels led to the northern Scottish Highlands and down south to London. If I were given a month to explore Britain it wouldn’t suffice! The castles that adorn the Aberdeenshire county in Scotland and the well known heritage buildings in London are simply overwhelming.
Where to travel to? What to see and what to skip? Deciding which destinations to explore in Britain is indeed very difficult.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to visit Aberdeenshire. This county in Scotland has about 300 beautiful castles whether they be ruins or mighty fortresses.
In this article I would like to recollect and point you to the top 6 Must See Historical Destinations in England and Scotland for Heritage Lovers. This list might make it easy to plan a trip and not miss the beautiful historical destinations. I have personally visited these historical sites. There are of course hundreds more that you can explore which are equally magnificent.
If you decide to travel to all the mainstream destinations in the UK, you must take some time to visit these and add them to your list if you haven’t already.
I must advice you- make sure you at least read a gist of British history. Britain has a huge, vast history. If you don’t know any, you could easily be lost!
Lets begin with our Must See Historical Destinations in England and Scotland for Heritage Lovers
Palace of Westminster
Since all foreign tourists land in London Heathrow, let us begin in the capital of Great Britain-London.
The most symbolic of all monuments in this city is the ‘Big Ben’. This clock tower however is not officially called ‘Big Ben’ but Elizabeth Tower. The bell inside this clock tower is the real ‘Big Ben’ that is hidden from all tourist eyes! This Elizabeth Tower is a part of the Palace of Westminster or better known as the British Houses of Parliament.
The British Houses of Parliament where the MPs meet in the Houses of Lords and Commons sits on the banks of the river Thames.
This is a historical site- a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The former Palace of Westminster stood tall here since 1016 AD. Unfortunately a fire burnt this Palace down in 1840.
Charles Barry and Augustus Welby Pugin were both asked to rebuild the Palace. The result was this beautiful Neo-Gothic architectural building.
The Palace of Westminster is open for tourists. During our trip, we weren’t aware of this so when we did get to visit it, was a very welcome surprise!
The interiors are so marvellous, more so than the exterior. You can feel history throbbing the walls around you and filling you up with awe and a sense of how important this place really is.
Opposite to the Houses of Parliament sits the Westminster Abbey, where the Coronation chair resides amidst much more history. This Abbey was where the Cambridges tied the knot back in 2011 just like their grandparents, the Queen and Prince Philip, 70 years ago.
Stonehenge is a popular destination in the UK. Don’t skip this. What seems to be ‘just stones standing around’ is in reality a very mind boggling mystery.
When we got off the bus that takes visitors from the parking lot to the monument, I could feel the aura emitted from these stones. The magnificence and the realisation that they are centuries old and designed by our own human ancestors gave me a jolt of fascination.
The history of Stonehenge makes it more alluring. Some historians believe that it was never completed. There is a debate as to the reason why Stonehenge was built in the first place- was it a calendar or was it a shrine?
The biggest question of all- how did they transport and lift such heavy stones in an age without technology?
I have written an entire article on Fascinating Things About Stonehenge. You can read it here and find some answers!
It was, like most days in Britain, a rainy day, but even the weather couldn’t dampen the beauty of this cathedral. Just about 13 kilometres from Stonehenge, sits this beautiful Anglican Church of Salisbury.
The Salisbury Cathedral is one of the most historic churches in this country.
The spire of this church is the tallest in Britain.
One of the four original copies of the Magna Carta is also on display here. I was absolutely floored to see it with my own eyes! Just so you know- the Magna Carta dates back to 15th June, 1215!
Besides this, Salisbury Cathedral houses the world’s oldest mechanical clock.
The construction for Salisbury Cathedral began on 28th April, 1220. The main body of this church was completed on 29th September, 1258.
This photogenic church is just a day’s trip from London and of course very close to Stonehenge so it should perfectly fit into your itinerary.
A key tip- check out the unique Baptism Font of the cathedral. It is truly one of a kind.
Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury 🏴🇬🇧 This picture shows the beautiful courtyard of the cathedral after a nice chilly drizzle of rain. The grass looks velvety soft and I wish for those chilly days in this sweltering April-May heat. ___ Yesterday @yorkshyrelass pointed out in the comments that her favourite part of the castle was the Baptism Font. This Baptism Font is a beautiful piece of architecture. It is in a shape of a crucifix. The water trickles down from the 4 corners into a copper drain on the floor. What catches your eyes is the still water inside the font. It looks still but is not! There are absolutely no ripples on the water though. Looking at this Baptism Font makes you feel calm and peaceful inside. And did you know this is a new addition to the cathedral? Salisbury Cathedral never had a fixed Baptism Font till 2008 when this one was installed!!
Another mistake we made was deciding to skip Windsor Castle. Luckily we came to our senses and squeezed the castle in our itinerary at the last moment. And thank god we did!
The Windsor Castle has been in the news recently since it is the venue for the upcoming Royal Wedding. The Saint George Chapel where Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle have decided to tie the knot, has seen many members of the royal family, past and present, get married and buried.
The one reason why you must visit Windsor castle? The Queen herself loves it here! Isn’t that enough for a testimony?
The Queen’s apartments are out of access of course but the rest of this huge castle is open for tourists.
We took the train to Slough and then to Windsor. It takes about 45 minutes from London Paddington station. The castle is just a five minute walk from the Windsor Central station.
The architecture of Windsor Castle is what grips you first. Hence I had to add it to the Must See Historical Destinations in England and Scotland for Heritage Lovers list of ours.
This mighty fortress was built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror. Since then it has seen many Monarchs come and go.
Windsor Castle is also one of the Queen’s residential Palaces. This makes it the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world!
There is also a Change of Guards ceremony that takes place here similar to the one at Buckingham Palace. And if you also visit Buckingham Palace, the main official residence of the Monarch, you’ll see that the Windsor Castle is much more grander.#Didyouknow the Windsor Castle is the world's oldest and largest occupied castle! #Lovegreatbritain #travel www.giglee.in/historical-destinations-england-scotland-heritage-lovers/ Click To Tweet
York is a lovely town in England. Another Must See Historical Destination in England and Scotland for Heritage Lovers.
The railway Museum and York Minster are my favourites, especially the cathedral.
Take a Hop On Hop Off bus in this town, you’ll absolutely enjoy it (even if you are under the weather like I was).
The York Minster is a glorious 7th century church. The locals in York absolutely adore their Minster. There is also a law which prevents any buildings built taller than the spire of the Minster. The York Minster is be visible from almost all parts of the city!
The hallowed church is a masterpiece of architecture. The lovely designs especially on the ceilings and of course the beautiful Gothic architecture is one of a kind. More so than the architecture, the stained glasses here are well renowned.
If you visit, make sure to take the tour up to the top of the tower. It was indeed an experience for me. A spiral staircase takes you up, up and up till you come up to a spot where you see the tall spires of the Minster up ahead. Then another set of spiral staircases lead you further up till you are ready to collapse. And just when you think you can’t go on, a stunning view of York greets you- you are at the top! The entire city is visible from here including the Nestle Chocolate Factory!I love York especially the York Minster! Have you been to York? #Didyouknow the York Minster dated back to the 7th century! #lovegreatbritain www.giglee.in/historical-destinations-england-scotland-heritage-lovers/ Click To Tweet
Holyrood Palace and Abbey
Holyrood Palace is officially called the Palace of Holyroodhouse located in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. This Palace is the official residence of the Queen in Scotland but she just spends about a week here in summer.
The Palace was built after the Holyrood Abbey. It is built in the Neoclassical architectural style.
The old ruined abbey behind the Palace is a sight to behold. It was built by David I in 1128. The Abbey was a Parish church till the 1600s however after that in fell in ruins.
So what does Holyrood mean?
The name Holyrood stems from the word Rood which refers to the cross upon which Christ was crucified. Holyrood thus literally translates to Holy Cross.
Holyrood Abbey 🇬🇧 This incredible Holyrood Abbey was plundered twice in the 14th century by the English. In its heyday, the Abbey saw the birth of James I of Scotland’s twins, coronation of Mary of Gueldres and the marriage of James III with Margaret of Denmark. _________________________________________________________________ @visitscotland @this_is_scotland @unlimitedscotland @spectacularedinburgh @edinburgh_snapshots _______________________________________________________________________ #holyrood #holyroodpalace #edinburgh #scotlandlover #scotland #visitscotland #historic #history #historical #historicalplace #historynerd #castles #castle #palace #palaces #scotlandlover #monument #monumental_world #visitscotland #heritage #cultural #scottish #explorescotland #traveldiary #travelling #travelersnotebook #ig_europe #holyroodabbey #unlimitedscotland
The famous Royal Mile in the city of Edinburgh ends at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. You could visit this Palace and cross over to the Scottish Houses of Parliament. The Scottish Parliament is at a stark difference to its counterpart in London. It is new and bright. I was very lucky indeed to see The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon live in action debating about Scotland’s fate post Brexit!
From the Palace of Holyroodhouse you can take a trek up Arthur’s seat. I myself haven’t but I have heard its worth it. You can also walk up the Royal Mile. This cobbled road is historical as well. The old beige stoned buildings line the road. Walking up the Royal Mile will lead you to the Edinburgh Castle, our next destination.
I have some very fond memories of the Edinburgh Castle especially since I didn’t want to visit it! It would have been the first time I didn’t want to visit a castle but in my defence, the internet is littered with ghost stories about this castle and I was terrified!
As we hiked up from the Edinburgh Waverley Station, the castle knocked my breath away. The mightiness of it looming over the city, made me want to visit. That same day we climbed up the stairs from Grassmarket and explored this beauty of a castle.
Did you know this castle dates back to the 11th century?
The Honours of Scotland, the Scottish Crown Jewels are also on display here.
Read more about Edinburgh Castle in this article here.
The Edinburgh Castle brings us to the end of our list of 6 Must See Historical Destinations in England and Scotland for Heritage Lovers
But you can add more destinations. What other destinations in the UK are worth visiting- comment them below so that we could add it to our itinerary the next time (fingers crossed!) we visit the UK.
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