Things to Do in England
As one of the most important pilgrimage sites of medieval Europe, Canterbury’s iconic cathedral is worthy of its UNESCO World Heritage status and remains an important center of Christian worship. Originally founded in 597 by St Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, Canterbury Cathedral is the oldest church in England still in use and largely regarded as the birthplace of English Christianity. The present day cathedral owes much of its structure to a series of 11th and 12th century reconstructions, with highlights including the 235-foot-high Bell Harry Tower and over 1,200 square meters of early medieval stained glass windows.
The cathedral also hosts the poignant shrine of St Thomas Becket, the one-time Archbishop of Canterbury who was murdered in the cathedral in 1170 at the hands of King Henry II's knights. Immortalized in Geoffrey Chaucer’s 14th-century book, The Canterbury Tales, which tells the story of a group of pilgrims traveling to visit the shrine.
Encompassing three different venues – the Concert Hall, Corn Exchange and Pavilion Theatre – under one roof, the Brighton Dome is Brighton’s number 1 destination for the arts. Housed in an elegant Grade I-listed building at the center of the Royal Pavilion Estate, the stylish venue is linked via underground tunnels to the Royal Pavilion and Brighton Museum, and boasts a fascinating history, once serving as a Royal stables and WWI hospital.
The award-winning venues host hundreds of shows, concerts and workshops each year, with events including music, theatre, dance, comedy, visual arts and film. The top ticket is the legendary Brighton Festival, renowned as one of England’s leading multi-arts festivals and held over three weeks each May. As well as the trio of venues, the Dome is also home to the Brighton Dome Café-bar and Studio Theatre Bar, both of which are open to the public.
More Things to Do in England
Etihad Stadium, also known as the City of Manchester Stadium or simply CoMS, is home to the Manchester City Football Club. Originally built to host the 2002 Commonwealth Games, the stadium has also hosted the 2008 UEFA Cup Final, numerous rugby league matches, boxing title fights and England football internationals, and will host one Rugby World Cup match in 2015. It is currently under construction to increase stadium capacity to 62,000, at which time it will be the second largest stadium in the Premier League and among the top 10 largest stadiums in the United Kingdom.
The stadium was designed to resemble a Roman gladiatorial arena, with a roof held up by a unique cable net system, three tiers of seating on the side and two tiers of seating on the ends. The design was also intended to maximize sunlight on the field, to help the grass grow. It received critical acclaim for design after the 2002 Commonwealth Games and won multiple design awards.
One of the oldest cathedrals in England, the Exeter Cathedral is one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in the world and a highlight of any tour around southwest England. With beautiful stained glass windows and intricate carvings, the cathedral also features the longest stretch of unbroken Gothic vaulting anywhere in the world. While the towers date to the early 13th century, most of the building that stands today was finished around 1400. Inside the cathedral sits an 18-meter tall bishop’s throne made of Devon oak, as well as the earliest complete set of misericords in the United Kingdom and a minstrels’ galley in the nave that is unique among English cathedrals. Visitors should be sure to climb the north tower of the cathedral, which is said to offer the best views in Devon. In February 2016, the cathedral started a project to build a replica of the building out of Legos and for every pound a visitor donates to the project, they can add a block to the model.
Sitting on a 150-ft (46-m) volcanic outcrop overlooking the North Sea on one side and a cute little town of the same name on the other, Bamburgh Castle began life in Anglo-Saxon times as the fortified home of the kings of Northumberland. By the 12th century the massive stone keep was in place; this is the oldest part of the castle as most of what stands today is a Victorian folly. It is the result of rebuilding in the 19th century by the wealthy industrialist Lord Armstrong, who was also responsible for creating Cragside House nearby, where hydroelectricity was first used in 1863. Today Bamburgh is still the private home of the Armstrong family, and a tour of its interior winds through impressive staterooms laden with decorative arts from Sèvres porcelain to medieval weaponry.
Highclere Castle is best known as the filming location of the popular British TV drama Downton Abbey and home to the fictional Crawley family. In reality, the estate is owned by George Herbert, the eighth Earl of Carnarvon, and his wife Lady Carnarvon. The castle has been in the Carnarvon family for centuries, but it was remodeled from a simple mansion to its current grandeur between 1839 and 1842 by Sir Charles Barry, an architect known for his contributions to a Renaissance-revival movement.
Located in the rolling green hills of Hampshire, the estate covers over 5,000 acres of mostly parkland. It includes forests, lakes and decorative gardens planted with a wide array of plants ranging from climbing roses, lavender and geraniums to fruit trees and meticulously sculpted hedges. In the center of it all sits the great Victorian castle with its pinnacles and towers jutting into the air.
Since it was officially opened on New Year's Eve 1999 (as part of the millennial celebrations), the London Eye has become one of London's most popular attractions. It has 32 sealed 'pod' capsules, fitting a total of 800 people, revolving on a huge Ferris wheel. One go-around takes half an hour with the wheel rotating at only twice the speed of a tortoise sprinting, so you can step on and off without the wheel needing to stop!
The London Eye is the fourth-tallest structure in London, so the far-reaching views over London are spectacular. On a clear day you can see as far as Windsor Castle. And the slow speed of the rotation means there's plenty of time to see everything and take lots of photos.
The main research library of the University of Oxford and one of the oldest of its kind in Europe, the Bodleian Library is also one of the UK’s five "copyright libraries," famously housing a copy of every book printed in Great Britain—a collection that spans more than 11 million works. Founded by Sir Thomas Bodley in 1602, the Bodleian Library, or "the Bod" as it’s known to students, is actually a complex of libraries and reading rooms located in the heart of Oxford, including the domed Radcliffe Camera, the vaulted Divinity Room, the Duke Humphrey's Library and the Old and New Bodleian Libraries.
With its towering shelves of prized books and manuscripts, exploring the Bodleian libraries is a rare treat for book lovers, with everything from early manuscripts, biblical texts and ancient maps to rare literary editions, Oriental manuscripts and a large collection of original J.R.R Tolkien works.
- Things to do in London
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- Things to do in Manchester
- Things to do in Oxford
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- Things to do in Cambridge
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- Things to do in Birmingham
- Things to do in Newcastle-upon-Tyne
- Things to do in Wales
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- Things to do in North West England
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- Things to do in Yorkshire