Lucy Hutchings, Head of Events at English Heritage encourages families this half term, to explore the historic sites on offer across the UK.
Across the UK, in our cities, towns and villages, in our parks and in our gardens, there are ruined castles and abbeys, prehistoric stone circles and historic houses right on our doorsteps, all waiting to be explored and enjoyed. At English Heritage, we care for over 400 sites throughout England – from Stonehenge to Hadrian’s Wall, these are the places where history really happened, where our prehistoric ancestors lived, where William the Conqueror defeated King Harold, and where Queen Victoria combined family life with governing an Empire.
And from Cornwall to Cumbria, this October we’re inviting young and old to join us and try stuff on, soak up the atmosphere, get your hands dirty or simply watch, learn and enjoy.
Our properties come alive at Halloween. Spooky palaces, ruined castle and ancient mansions are waiting to be discovered by spirited souls in a range of exciting half-term events. Those with a sense of adventure can test their nerves on late-night ghost tours at Dover Castle in Kent, Old Wardour Castle in Wiltshire and Pendennis Castle in Cornwall. At Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire, an eerie evening tour reveals such secrets as who really haunts the castle, while at Brodsworth Hall, Yorkshire, you can meet a Victorian undertaker and take part in creepy craft-making.
What chills the bones more than spooky storytelling? At Audley End House in Essex, you’re sure to feel shivers up your spine as the terrifying truth behind the fables of the Brothers Grimm is revealed. At Whitby Abbey in North Yorkshire, you’ll see Bram Stoker’s inspiration for Dracula in a new light as the magnificent ruins are illuminated. Several events reveal the superstitious side of the Victorians. At Audley End House, we’ll be revealing the tricks behind the trade of mystical practices such as crystal balls and Ouika boards, while at Belsay Hall in Northumberland, Victorian Illusion Week exposes the trickery behind the magicians of the era with hands-on activities that will enthral children. Finally if you want to know more about black magic, head to Framlingham Castle in Suffolk where the Wicked Witchcraft week brings you face to face with evil sorceresses and their devious hunters.
So yes, the summer may be fading away and the nights drawing in but there’s no shortage of reasons to get out and explore the heritage highlights up and down the country.
Our top six sites for a half term visit:
Dover Castle, Kent
One of England’s finest castles, this formidable fortress stands tall above the White Cliffs of Dover. Visitors can explore King Henry II’s Great Tower, or enter the subterranean tunnels to find out about Dover’s dramatic WWII history.
Whitby Abbey, North Yorkshire
Overlooking the seaside town, this atmospheric abbey has long inspired visitors, including Bram Stoker, who set part of Dracula here.
Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire
Climb to the top of the new platforms within the castle to look around the surrounding area, as Queen Elizabeth I would once have done.
Audley End House and Gardens, Essex
Discover Victorian life at this spectacular country house, from hard work below stairs to the life of children in the newly restored nursery wing.
Carlisle Castle, Cumbria
Discover the bloody history of this prominent landmark, one of the most besieged castles in England.
Battle Abbey and Battlefield, East Sussex
Visit the site of one of England’s most famous battles in 1066, and find out all about this key moment in history.
Find out what else is on offer by visiting the English Heritage website.