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Travel Guide to England - Places to Visit
Hampton Court Palace

15 miles from London. Take a frequent train from Waterloo Station to Hampton Court... or Green Bus #718 from Victoria Station. The trip takes about 40 minutes. Daily 9:30-5. Hampton Court was built by Cardinal Wolsey in 1515 and was taken over by Henry VIII. It is a mammoth Tudor structure and contains the State Apartments, an indoor kitchen where an entire ox could be roasted, and beautiful gardens with the famous maze. Hampton Court is England's Versailles... and a highly recommended excursion if you are staying in London.


Take the train to Salisbury from Waterloo Station in London. Upon arrival a Hauts and Dorset bus will meet you and take you to the Stonehenge Ruins and get you back to the station in time for a return train to London.

Stonehenge is Britain's most important pre-historic monument. This huge oval of lintels and pillars is believed to date from 3500 to 4000 years ago. Some tourists are disappointed because the size is not as great as expected, but they still represent an amazing engineering feat. Many of the stones were moved from miles away to this site.

The generally accepted view is that Stonehenge was the work of the Druids, but this appears to be without foundation. The boulders, many weighing several tons, predate the arrival in Britain of the Druids. And recent excavations continue to bring new evidence to bear on the origins and purpose of Stonehenge.

Some now think this monument was used as an astronomical observatory, capable of predicting eclipses. Others say it may have been used as a burial gound - for sun worshipping - for human sacrifices... etc. Unfortunately it has become necessary to now fence-off these ancient stones. Visitors can no longer walk among them. One is allowed to only walk around them in a roped-off circle.


Lies in the valley of the Avon River and is filled with Tudor inns and tearooms. Long before you reach the village, its most famous sight will come into view... the 400-foot tower of Salisbury Cathedral. This early English and Gothic Cathedral is the tallest in England. It looks just as the English artist Constable painted it so many times. Construction began in 1220 and took 38 years. That was very fast in those days. The graceful spire began soaring at the end of the 13th century. Note the fine sculpture on the octagonal Chapter House. The library contains one of the four copies of the Magna Carta.

The Cotswold

Less than 100 miles west of London is the region known as the Cotswolds. It encompasses about 450 square miles of rolling limestone upland known as the Cotswold Hills, which are dotted by charming, carefully preserved medieval towns and villages built from the hills' honey-colored stone. This is what gives the region its character. The countryside is tranquil and picturesque, like a rich tapestry. Much of this land is a great pasture for the famous Cotswold sheep, which, at one time brought great wealth to the area. This is the England of the imagination... rolling hills covered by ancient oaks, country walks, and bird watching. Towns are tied to one another by twisting country lanes that carry farmers, sheepers, postmen, and parsons. The vista from any hill is as likely to include the square tower of a Norman Church, as a field of sheep...and any church is likely to be surrounded by the stone-tiled roofs of the village. One particularly charming village is Broadway.


This is an unspoiled Cotswold market town... in spite of the busloads of tourists. It's the happiest town in the Cotswold's, built on a hill(Wold) about 800 feet above sea level. In its open market square, one can still see the stocks where offenders in the olden days were jeered at and punished by the townspeople who threw rotten eggs in their faces.


The birthplace of Winston Churchill. He is buried in Bladon Churchyard near the Palace of Blenheim.


Located 2 miles outside Windsor is the meadow on the south side of the Thames, in Surrey, where King John put his seal on the Great Charter... the Magna Carta. Today, Runnymede is also the site of the John F. Kennedy Memorial.


The huge rock formations of this granite mass sometimes soar to a height of 2000 feet. The National Park here is a patchwork quilt of mood changes... purple heather... Dartmoor pony's... gorges with rushing water.

Moreton Hampstead

This peaceful little town is perched on the edge of Dartmoor. It contains much that is old, including a market cross and several 17th c. colonnaded almshouses.


The historic seaport of Plymouth was almost totally destroyed in World War II, but has been entirely rebuilt. For the really old sections, one must visit the Elizabethan section known as Barbican. Here, walk along the quays where Sir Francis Drake walked...and set sail on his round the world voyage. More famous still is that voyage in 1620 when the Pilgrim Fathers left England for the New World. There is a plaque to commemorate this event. Here you will find the Memorial Gateway from where the Pilgrims embarked on the Mayflower. Here too, is the Blackfriars Refectory Room, dating from 1536, which is Plymouth's oldest building. In this interesting area are a maze of narrow streets, old houses, and seaside shops. Fishing boats still unload their catch at the wharves. Interesting area!

St. Michel's Mount

Located 3 miles east of Penzance, St. Michael's Mount is reached at low tide by a causeway. It rises 250 feet from the sea and is topped by a partially medieval, partially 17th century castle. At high tide the mount becomes an island. A Benedictine monastery stood on this spot in the 11th century. Today the castle is a museum with a collection of armor and antique furniture... open, weather and tide permitting... Mon/Tue/Wed/Fri. It is only possible to go over when the causeway is dry.

St. Ives

This north coast fishing village is England's most famous art colony... 10 miles from Penzance. It's a village of narrow streets and well-kept cottages. The artists settled many years ago and have completely integrated with the fishermen. Expect to find many galleries selling the products of the natives (August is very crowded). One stop not to be missed by art lovers is the former home of Barbara Hepworth. It has become a museum of her sculpture from 1929 until her death in 1975. Closed Sunday.

Bodmin Moor

The Moors of Bodmin contain many interesting formations... mounds of granite blocks... steep rocky tablelands. In addition, there are various Roman ruins scattered about, and the area is prominent in the legend of King Arthur.


Cornwall is the extreme southwestern part of England, and is often called "the toe". It is almost an island, encircled by coastline, abounding with rugged cliffs, hidden bays, fishing villages, beaches, sheltered coves, and cottages clinging to the hillside. The people will appear generally darker and shorter than the English. To them the legend of King Arthur was very real... the knights really existed, and lived in Tintagel Castle. The castle, 300 feet above sea level, is now in ruins. Today, the men, like the Welsh, are great miners (tin and copper), and it's difficult to tell whether or not they're "putting you on".


These Norman ruins are popularly known as "King Arthur's Castle" and stand 300 feet above the sea on a rocky cliff. To climb up, there are 100 rock-cut steps. It is known that the ruins date from Geoffrey of Monmouth's time and what remains of the castle was built on the foundations of a Celtic monastery from the 6th century.

Exmoor National Park

As one approaches Exmoor, the rising granite and slate hills are a grand sight. Within the park are numerous resorts for hunting and fishing, along with some early ruins.

Lynton and Lynmouth

These twin resorts lie within Exmoor National Park. The village of Lynton is 500 feet high, and the valley just west of it offers the most spectacular scenery. Lynmouth is below where the East and West Rivers meet. Well worth a visit.


Located in the Somerset area are some of nature's most masterly scenic touches... limestone hills and valleys, with beautiful wildflowers in the spring. Somerset also lies within the heather-clad Exmoor National Park, and is associated with the King Arthur legend. The area opens onto the Bristol Channel, and its' villages are noted for their tall towers and their parish churches. Of the many Norman castles erected here, the most important is Dunster Castle, 3 miles from Minehead in the village of Dunster. If you are able to visit the area you'll be rewarded with terraced walks and gardens, which command great views of Exmoor, the Quantock Hills, and Bristol Channel. Today, Somerset is characterized by a quiet, unspoiled life.


Located within the Somerset area is the village of Wells. The town is a medieval gem, and was originally a vital link in England long before the arrival of William the Conqueror. It's Cathedral was a very important religious center, which was eventually toppled by the rival city of Bath. The resulting lack of prestige, has, however paid off handsomely, because much of the old look remains. Wells Cathedral dates from the 12th century and is a well-preserved example of the early English style. There are over 6 tons of statues here, and the west front of the structure is without peer in England. The landmark central tower was erected in the 14th century. Be sure to 1ook for the medieval Astronomical Clock with knights in armor jousting. Also walk along the cloisters to the moated Bishop's Palace. The swans in the moat here ring a bell when summoned to eat. Lastly, visit the small street/lane Vicars Close that is one of the most beautifully preserved streets in Europe. Nice Town.


Also located within the Somerset area, Glastonbury Abbey was once one of the most prestigious monasteries in England. It's no more than a ruin today, but claims great historical prominence, linking such figures as Joseph of Arimathea, King Arthur, Guinevere, and St. Patrick. It is said that Joseph arrived here with the Holy Grail in his possession. When he buried this relic on a nearby conical shaped hill, a stream of blood burst forth from the hill. In 1191, monks dug up the skeletons of two bodies said to be those of King Arthur and Guinevere. These remains were transferred to a black marble tomb in the choir in 1278. Both spots are marked with plaques today. The village of Glastonbury is one of the oldest inhabited sites in Britain. After the destruction of its' once great Abbey, the village lost its prestige. The best-preserved building you'll find is the octagonal Abbot's Kitchen, which dates from the 14th century. Here, whole oxen were roasted to feed the wealthier of the pilgrims. The modern-day pilgrim can visit the ruins of the Lady Chapel, linked by an early English "Galilee" to the nave of the Abbey. There's also the ancient Gatehouse entrance to the Abbey, which is now a museum. On High Street is the village's main museum, containing relics excavated, which reveal Iron Age villages once stood here. Today, Glastonbury is a quiet market town. The "ruins" are excellent.

Peak District National Park

Heather-clad moors... fields... stone walls.


For a visit to the Wedgewood Visitour Center. See how the entire process is accomplished. The young people who demonstrate are all apprentices. Excellent Museum. Prices same as everywhere else.


An English "spa town".


This is an ancient town, founded by the Romans in the 1st century AD. It was a bustling port on the Dee River, but lost this claim when the river gradually silted-up. This writer found Chester to be one of the most interesting towns in England. Two miles of fortified city walls remaining at the cities edge. The Rows are double-decker layers of shops, one tier on the street level and the other stacked on top, connected by a footway. Truly outstanding and extremely photogenic. If you're near City Cross at noon or 3 PM, listen for the champion Town Crier to call out the news. Chester Cathedral was founded in 1092 as an Abbey and became a church in 1541. Notable features include the cloisters and the refectory, chapter house and the carvings in the quire. Chester Heritage Center is housed in the former St. Michael's Church on Bridge Street... all related to the preservation and history of Chester.

Northumberland National Park

Because this area lies so close to Scotland, it was the scene of many a skirmish. Today there are a number of fortified castles still around which saw action in those battles.

Hadrian's Wall

As the name implies, the Romans originally built this wall as defense against the northern tribes. It extends across the north of England for 73 miles from the North Sea to the Irish Sea. Only the lower parts of the wall are preserved intact. The rest were constructed in the 19th century from the original stones. From several vantage points along the wall, you have great views north and south.


It was a fashionable spa in the 19th century. Most of its town center is surrounded by a 200-acre lawn called "The Stray". Boutiques and antique shops, which Queen Mary used to frequent, make Harrogate a shopping center of excellence. It's called England's "floral resort", deserving such a reputation because of its gardens. This is the village that Agatha Christie hid out in during her mysterious disappearance (still unexplained) in the 1920's.

Sherwood Forest

Drive along the outskirts of the area associated with Robin Hood.


This city, today, is mainly industrial, but it is famous for the legend of Lady Godiva. It's the ancient market town she's supposed to have made her famous "nude ride" through, in protest of high taxes. Also, one should see the controversial, modern Coventry Cathedral here, dating from 1962. Other than the old Cathedral ruin, Coventry is very modern.

The Lake District

Even though it's only 30 miles across in any direction, there is a special intensity in the beauty of the Lake District... as if nature were offering a unique reward for the squalor of Britain's Industrial Belt. No part of the country is so universally loved by the Britons... for the purity of its clear mountain lakes, its almost vertical fields filled with grazing sheep, the stone walls that separate the farms, the sharp rock peaks, and the thousands of tiny lakes fed by innumerable waterfalls and streams. It is incredible that such beauty can take less than one hour to drive thru. This area is strongly associated with major poets... Wordsworth, Coleridge, Ruskin, and De Quincey.

Windermere Lake

The grandest of the lakes is Windermere, and the largest in England. Its shores wash up against the towns of Bowness and Windermere, which are resort towns. From either town one can climb up Orrest Head in less than an hour for a panoramic view. The best way to see the area is to take one of the regular cruises that operate between Lakeside in the south and Bowness/Waterhead at the north. There are several islands in Windermere, on which one (belle isle), stands a magnificent 18th century mansion. The western shore of Windermere has all the lure of territory that has been undiscovered.

Grasmere and Grasmere Lake

Located on the lake that bears its name, the village of Grasmere was the home of Wordsworth from 1799-1808. His home, Dove Cottage is now a museum. Wordsworth is buried in the graveyard of the village church at Grasmere. Grasmere Lake is very complete... with one emerald green island in its center.

Gretna Green

This is a village where the blacksmith used to wed run-a-way couples. It is also the entry from England to Scotland.
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Author of this article is Gene Gill. For more information visit his website: Gene Gill Miniatures.
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