10 Historic Days Out

Step back in time 

Stately homes, historic houses, glorious gardens and art through the times, the East of England has plenty for history lovers to enjoy. Learn more about East Anglia’s heritage with our pick of 10 great historic days out.

Ickworth House, Parkland and Gardens

The Rotunda, Horringer, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP29 5QE

Tel: 01284735270 | www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ickworth

Two girls looking down onto Athamus

A Georgian Italianate palace in an idyllic English landscape Ickworth’s impressive Rotunda – a magnificent showcase commissioned by the 4th Earl of Bristol to house his priceless treasures collected on tours around Europe in the 18th-century – is an architectural marvel. The Rotunda is enveloped in 1800 acres of Parkland and Gardens where you can explore, discover and rediscover something new every season in Ickworth’s gardens, a place of contrasts, tranquillity and enchantment.  


As we move into the spring months Ickworth continues its tradition of grand entertaining with outdoor theatre and cinema. Bask in the early dusk, with the Rotunda as the stunning backdrop for your evening performances. Bring your family to the brand new Country Estate Fayre held at Ickworth; a chance to celebrate the traditions and skills of old and new, as well as live music, storytelling, games and much more! For those wet weather days, watch the past unravel around you in the 1930s Servants’ Quarters, and when the sun does decide to show its face explore the 1800 acres of historic gardens and parklands, with one of the many walks and paths available to discover. 

Kentwell Hall

Long Melford, Sudbury CO10 9BA

Tel: 01787 310 207 | www.kentwell.co.uk

Explore this beautiful home which has been lived in for over 500 years. Most of the house can be viewed, while the extensive gardens offer many ancient features including a moat, 17th century walled garden and yews of a great age. This year Kentwell Hall celebrates 40 years of Tudor re-creations. This summer sees history brought to life on 16-17 June, 18-27 August and 22-23 September.

Humphry Repton exhibition at Woburn Abbey & Gardens

Woburn, Bedfordshire, MK17 9WA

Tel: 01525 290 333 | www.woburnabbey.co.uk

Earlier this year Alan Titchmarsh opened a new exhibition at Woburn Abbey & Gardens, which celebrates the bicenternary of Britain’s first landscape gardener, Humphry Repton. Open to the public between 23 March and 28 October 2018, the exhibition explores the fascinating relationship between Repton and Woburn. On public display for visitors to see for the first time will be his most elaborate and comprehensive ‘Red Book’, his famous presentation document of proposed designs.

In addition, the exhibition will give guests the opportunity to discover Repton’s other works for the family including at the picturesque Devon estate of Endsleigh, Oakley House and Russell Square in London. Never before seen unexecuted designs will feature alongside works of art and archival treasures, which bring to life the creative legacy of Repton. There will also be Repton-related family trails, activities and events throughout the year.

Norwich Castle

24 Castle Meadow, Norwich NR1 3JU

Tel: 01603 493625 | www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk/norwich-castle

A visit to Norwich will bring you to the very heart of East Anglia, one of the finest heritage cities in the land where you’ll discover over 1,000 years of history, a buzzing cultural scene and superb shopping destination. Make sure a trip to Norwich Castle Museum & Gallery is top of your list. Climb the 62 steps of the Norman staircase and enjoy a 360-degree canvas of uninterrupted views high above Norwich or delve into the city’s past with a battlement, dungeon or fighting gallery tour.

Throughout the year there are exhibitions and events. Its current exhibition, ‘The Square Box on the Hill’, available until 3 June, illustrates Norwich Castle’s rich history through a stunning mixture of prints, photographs, paintings, architectural plans, memorabilia and archives, many of which have never been on display before.

Henry Moore Foundation

Dane Tree House, Perry Green, Much Hadham SG10 6EE

Tel: 01279 843 333 | www.henry-moore.org

In March the Henry Moore Studios & Gardens, in Much Hadham, opened for the 2018 season with a new exhibition; ‘Out of the Block: Henry Moore Carvings’, available to view from 30 March until 28 October. In the year of Henry Moore’s 120th birthday, the Henry Moore Foundation presents an exhibition exploring Moore’s changing approach to this key element of his artistic practice.

‘Out of the Block’ brings together nearly 30 major works in stone and wood, made over six decades, from the collection of the Henry Moore Foundation. They trace Moore’s development as an artist and a carver and reveal his influences at different moments in his career.

Angelsy Abbey

Quy Rd, Lode, Cambridge CB25 9EJ

Tel: 01223 810080 | www.nationaltrust.org.uk/anglesey-abbey-gardens-and-lode-mill

A trip to this National Trust property is a great summer’s day out. From Lord Fairhaven’s collection in the House, which took 40 years and a vast fortune to acquire, to the amazing collection of plants in the garden, there’s plenty to see and do. There are a number of walks to enjoy. Explore the Cambridgeshire countryside, passing waterways and the Quy Fen or opt for Anglesey Abbey Dog Walking Trail, a short walk which takes in the countryside near the Abbey and the village of Lode.

Hatfield House

Hatfield Park, Hatfield, Herts, AL9 5NB
Tel: 01707 287010 | www.hatfield-house.co.uk

A gem in the Hertfordshire countryside, the stunning estate offers plenty for visitors to enjoy. Explore the Jacobean craftsmanship throughout the House and visit the gorgeous gardens, which feature a number of sculptures, creative landscape designs, colourful fauna and flora, a maze and walkways. Finish your visit with a browse around the Stable Yard shops and tea and cake at the River Cottage Kitchen & Deli. The House hosts a popular events programme throughout the year including monthly farmers’ and antique markets, the outdoor theatre in July and Battle Proms on 14 July.

IWM Duxford

Duxford, Cambridgeshire, CB22 4QR


Duxford Air Show 2016

This museum is a must for all with an interest in aviation and the Second World War. Walk through the impressive hangers and buildings, marvel in awe at some of the world’s most famous aircrafts such the B-52, Spitfire and Lancaster. Feel the thrill of flying with a Classic Wings flight experience or if you’d prefer to stay on the ground visit during the Duxford Air Festival on 26-27 May for an action packed afternoon.

Peterborough Cathedral

Peterborough PE1 1XS

Tel: 01733 355315 | www.peterborough-cathedral.org.uk

Peterborough Cathedral is situated in beautiful surroundings in the heart of the cosmopolitan city centre. As well as still operating as a thriving Christian Church, today the Cathedral offers a wide array of activity including an interactive exhibition, fascinating historic and Cathedral tower tours, an exciting mix of arts and crafts based events, and a popular coffee shop.

This year is the 900th anniversary of Peterborough Cathedral. In honour of the momentous event the ‘Peterborough Celebrates Campaign’ has been launched across the city. The aim is to increase the footfall in the city, boost tourism on a regional and national level and increase pride in the local area. A full list of events can be found at www.peterboroughcelebrates.org.uk

Wrest Park

Silsoe, Bedfordshire MK45 4HR

Tel: 0370 333 1181 | www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/wrest-park

Wrest Park is a spectacular country house which was designed to look like a grand French chateau. Visitors can explore the evolution of the English garden with a stroll through three centuries of landscape design at Wrest Park. From dazzling parterres and fragrant borders, to sweeping views and woodland walks, the 92 acres of award-winning gardens are a real treat for the senses. The house also has a remarkable history and operated as a military hospital and convalescent home during WW1.

This summer the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow will be filming for its 41st series in the grounds on 19 July. Fiona Bruce and the team of Antiques Roadshow experts will be waiting to welcome visitors to the event and locals are being encouraged to dust off their family heirlooms, raid their attics and dig out their car boot bargains to bring them along for free advice and valuations. Doors open at 9.30am and close at 4.30pm. Entry to the show is free, everyone is welcome, and no tickets or pre-registration is required. More information can be found at: www.bbc.co.uk/antiquesroadshow 


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