England has a rich and colourful history which is the envy of much of the modern world. English tourists, including visitors both at home and from abroad, enjoy the many historic houses and gardens, architecture, walled cities and many museums which can be visited. Many of these sites owe their preservation and continuing survival to organizations such as English Heritage which exists solely to protect and promote England's historic sites. Each time you pay an admission to visit one of these attractions, consider it a donation to the continuing work of researching and maintaining this magnificent heritage. Membership of English Heritage is encouraged, which for an annual fee gives benefits such as unlimited free admission to all its properties. It makes a great gift!
English Heritage is a Government body and does receive some funding from the Government for the work it does. As a matter of interest, in 2008/09 public funding was £132.7 million whilst income raised from other sources was £48.1 million. English Heritage is run by a Chairperson and a board of up to 16 government-selected Commissioners. Its primary function is to maintain England's ancient monuments which range from Stonehenge to grand Osborne House, a favourite home of Queen Victoria. It also maintains the public archives known as the National Monuments Record.
In all, English Heritage is the custodian for over 400 historic properties which range from Roman ruins and abbeys to palaces, castles and stately homes. Whether you are interested in history, Roman remains, the Civil War, furniture, castles, artwork, antiques, walking, falconry or beautiful gardens, English Heritage has something for everyone. Some English Heritage properties are also available for hire, either as luxury holiday cottages or for weddings and other special events.
The northeast is scattered with old castles, abbeys and priories. A little further south is Bolton Abbey with its RHS gardens at scenic Skipton and the Botanical Gardens at Sheffield, complete with a huge glasshouse.
In the Midlands, visit the huge castle and gardens at Kenilworth Castle, an important site during the English Civil War. The first ever Iron Bridge spanning the River Severn in Shropshire is a well-preserved symbol of the Industrial Revolution and the Roman foundations of a bath house at Lichfield make another interesting place to visit.
The South Coast includes such treasures as Portland Castle, Henry VIII's stronghold, the ancient monument at Stonehenge, possibly erected 5000 years ago, and nearby Woodhenge. In the south east is the Farmland Museum and Denny Abbey; the site of the 1066 Battle of Hastings and a cluster of defensive castles along the southeast coast.
We are so fortunate to have such a rich historic and cultural heritage and thanks to organisations such as English Heritage, these sites will remain for generations to come.