Ten historical days out this summer

If you're planning what to do this summer, why not add some history into the mix? From County Durham to Cornwall to Cardiff, these ten venues offer fascinating insights into the UK's rich cultural heritage.

There's more to summer than lying on the beach and eating ice cream. How about treading in the shoes of Queen Victoria or William Shakespeare? Or exploring Britain's maritime or aviation heritage? Or even stepping back in time to visit a working Victorian town?

We've picked out ten venues around the UK that offer a thrilling glimpse into our collective history. So why not make a day out at one (or more) of them part your summer holiday plans this year.

All are free entry with a National Art Pass. You can currently buy a 3-month trial pass for just £10. Offer ends 30 June 2018.


Shakespeare's Family Homes

You might know Shakespeare inside out, but you’re bound to unearth something new at one of these five family homes. All within a short walk or drive, each distinctive house plots a point in the Bard’s life, from his mother’s childhood farm via his future bride’s cottage to his daughter’s Jacobean residence. And of course, you might want to pop by the RSC for a play too.


The Bowes Museum

Discover three floors of fashion, textiles and contemporary art in this stunning French chateau-style house. Summer is the perfect time to explore the surrounding historic market town of Barnard Castle – and don’t miss the mechanical silver swan, an 18th-century musical automaton brought out for a performance each afternoon.


Cardiff Castle

Explore 2,000 years of history at one of Wales’ most significant heritage sites, which dates back to the building of a Roman fort around the end of the 50s AD. Keep an eye out for the Animal Wall, which flanks the castle and is populated by a host of watchful creatures carved into stone, from a pair of lions to an anteater, pelican and seal.


Blists Hill Victorian Town

Step back to the 1900s at Blists Hill, a recreated Victorian town where you can explore the streets by horse and cart, change pounds into shillings and witness traditional skills like printing and candle-making in action – all giving you a sense of life in Shropshire at turn of the 20th century.


Dunham Massey

One of our finalists for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2015, this National Trust property not far from Manchester boasts a deer park and ever-evolving, seasonal gardens with ‘an Edwardian pleasure ground feel’ – ideal if you’re an urbanite in need of some nature. The grounds are also the starting point for a number of walks and wild trails.


Kensington Palace

At the birthplace of Queen Victoria (and the current London home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge), you’ll be able to gaze at an impressive painted ceiling in the Privy Chamber, wander the formal gardens and see where Victoria first found out she was to be queen – all just a few steps away from the hubbub of Kensington High Street.


National Maritime Museum Cornwall

If you need to cool off in the summer heat, where better to take some fresh coastal air than at this charming museum dedicated to the maritime heritage of Cornwall? Artefacts including whale-tooth carvings, old telescopes and log books tell the stories of the sea, and there’s also a play zone for kids based around the exploits of ships like the HMS Bounty.


National Museum of Flight

From the ocean to the open air, and from the south coast to the Scottish lowlands: the National Museum of Flight charts the history of aviation from the First World War to the present day, with lots of examples of military and civil aircraft, memorabilia and the chance to get close to Concorde.


Osborne House

If you’ve already visited Kensington Palace, you’ll be interested to see a very different side to Queen Victoria’s life: her holiday retreat. With its own beach and children’s cottage, this palatial seaside home on the North coast of the Isle of Wight offered the monarch and her family a place of respite and repose – and will hopefully do the same for you.


Waddesdon Manor

Opulence is the order of the day at this 1870s manor, where you can see huge living sculptures made out of plants, tables set for lavish parties in the style of a mini Versailles, and an array of delicate French artefacts including a desk made for Queen Marie-Antoinette – all accompanied by the sound of 56 clocks, which take an hour to wind each week.

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