Most interesting wonders of England
Below are listed the most amazing natural and man made landmarks of England.
- Brimham Rocks – North Yorkshire. Incredible balancing rocks with some formations up to 30 m high. Especially amazing is Idol Rock – large mass of rock balancing on incredibly small foot.
- Seven Sisters – East Sussex. Series of chalk cliffs, dissected by ancient dry valleys. There are more famous white cliffs in this part of England.
- Easegill System – North Yorkshire. Longest cave system in Britain, with 76 km long passages. Beautiful cave formations.
- Gaping Gill (Gaping Ghyll) – Northern Yorkshire. Impressive sinkhole, waterfall and cave. Here the Fell Beck stream falls directly into Britain’s largest cavern, waterfall is 105 – 110 meters high.
- Peak Cavern (Devil’s Arse) – Derbyshire. Almost entirely natural cave with characteristic, flatulent-sounding noises from the inside of cave. Main entrance in the cave is one of the largest in Britain. Until 1915 the cave was inhabited – the last place where people in Britain lived in houses inside the caves. Cave reportedly was used also as a haven for bandits. Length of passages – 17.59 km, depth up to 248 m.
Trees and meadows
- Badbury Hill bluebell woods – Oxfordshire. One of the most beautiful bluebell woods in England. In springs – in April – the beech forest on Iron Age hillfort is covered with dense carpet of bright blue flowers.
- Fredwille Park Oak, Majesty – Kent. Beautiful, giant oak tree, with girth 12.1 m. Trunk maintains the girth up to 9 m height. Volume of the trunk most likely exceeds 80 m3.
- Snowdrop Valley near Wheddon Cross – Somerset. Deep, forested river valley. In spring it is covered with a carpet of snowdrop flowers. Later it is flowering with countless bluebells as well.
Man made landmarks
- Avebury – Wiltshire. Well known megalithic site consisting of henge, several stone circles, stone avenues, barrows. Developed sometimes around 3300 – 2630 BC. Contains one of the largest stone circles in Europe, with diameter 331,6 m and originally with 98 stones. Contains also West Kennet Avenue made of paired standing stones and Beckhampton Avenue.
- Hadrian’s Wall – Northumberland. Stone and turf wall across northern England. Total length 117 km. Construction started in 122 AD by Romans. One of more prominent landmarks here is Knag Burn Gateway – fortified gate through the wall.
- Silbury Hill – Wiltshire. Artificial, 37 m tall mound, tallest prehistoric human-made mound in Europe. Built approximately at 2750 BC, purpose unclear.
- Stonehenge – Wiltshire. One of the most popular archaeological monuments worldwide. Consists of a group of large standing stones in a circular setting, erected sometimes around 2500 BC (?). Located in the middle of dense complex of archaeological monuments.
- Uffington White Horse – Oxfordshire. 100 m long prehistoric hill figure. Made with deep trenches, filled with crushed chalk. Bronze Age, between 1400 – 600 BC. Possible tribal symbol.
Urban planning monuments
- Chester medieval walled city – Cheshire. One of the best preserved medieval cities in British Isles with street network from Roman times and almost intact defensive walls – the best preserved in Britain. On the top of 3 km long walls is walkway. Unique feature is Rows – covered walkways on the first floor level of four main streets, with entrances in shops. Rows were developed in the 13th century.
- Grainger Town – Tyne and Wear. Unique urban planning monument – large complex (36 ha) of magnificent Neo-Classical buildings, developed by Richard Grainger in 1824 – 1841. 450 buildings, most of high architectonic value.
- Historical center of Stratford-upon-Avon – Warwickshire. One of the best preserved medieval cities in United Kingdom – there is preserved historical street pattern, many streets here are lined with well preserved half-timbered houses. The conservation of historical values started here more than 200 years ago.
- York walled city – North Yorkshire. One of the most beautiful and historically most significant cities in England. Founded by Romans in 71 AD and for many centuries the most important city in Northern England. The structure of this historical city is very well preserved and such places as The Shambles provide insight into medieval city planning with a streets with runnels, overhanging timber frame buildings. Fortification walls include older Roman walls (Multangular Tower, 211 AD and seven more towers) and four medieval gatehouses. There is a possibility that the small Anglian Tower is from Saxon times, built in the 7th century.
- Alnwick Castle – Northumberland. Residence of the Duke of Northumberland built after Norman conquest. Oldest parts built already in 1096, by 1138 already characterized as a very strong fortress. Nowadays represents very impressive sight, it is second largest inhabited castle in England. Interiors used as prototype to Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films and many other movies.
- Bodiam Castle – East Sussex. Well preserved castle surrounded with large moat. Built in 1385 and consists of well preserved outer walls with chambers inside, along the walls. Built to protect southern coast of England from French raids.
- Dover Castle and tunnels – Kent. Large, well preserved and historically important castle, founded in the 12th century in the site of earlier fortifications. Contains the only medieval counter tunnel in the world, built for surprise attack on French in 1216. Extensive, more than 5 km long tunnels under the castle were used as a command center during the Second World War.
- Tower of London – Greater London. Royal palace and fortress. White Tower – the central keep – constructed in 1078 – 1087 by William the Conqueror and represents outstanding example of Norman architecture. This enormous keep is 27.4 m high, walls up to 3.4 m thick. Used as a prison already in 1100. Over the centuries extended with numerous buildings within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. Building of outstanding historical importance. Tower houses Crown Jewels. Well known site of legends, reportedly haunted.
- Windsor Castle – Berkshire. One of major castles and palaces of the world. Initial castle built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror and soon afterwards used as a royal palace. Later the castle was largely extended, always trying to imitate early medieval designs. Longest occupied palace in Europe, largest inhabited palace in the world. Beautiful interiors from the 19th century in State Apartments. Site of many important historical events.
- Blenheim Palace – Oxfordshire. Enormous country house, the only non-royal and non-episcopal country house in England, which is named "palace". Built in 1705 – 1724 in splendid English Baroque style and contains many valuable artworks. Home of Churchill family for several centuries, now property of Dukes of Marlborough.
- Brighton Royal Pavillion – East Sussex. Former royal residence, one of the most extravagant historical buildings in Europe. The building is built in Indo-Saracenic style, more characteristic for India in the 19th century, with very richly-decorated interiors. Built in 1787 – 1822.
- Hampton Court Palace – Greater London. Royal palace, one of the most impressive palaces in United Kingdom. Started in late Gothic – Renaissance style in the early 16th century, continued in Baroque style in the 17th century. Site of numerous important historical events, contains huge amount of valuable artwork, site of legends.
- Castle Howard – North Yorkshire. One of the most magnificent palace-like structures in Britain. This stately home has been constructed mainly in 1699 – 1712 in Baroque style, designed by John Vanbrugh. 145 rooms, including the Great Hall, rising 24 m high.
- Knole House – Kent. Enormous, very well preserved late Renaissance (Jacobean) country house. This building has 365 rooms and 12 entrances – thus it is one of the rare cases worldwide, when planning represents a calendar. Contains furniture from the 17th century, paintings by Van Dyck, Gainsborough, Reynolds and other values.
- Stowe House – Buckingamshire. One of the most impressive mansions in England. As a core part serves a mansion constructed sometimes around 1683, but it has been rebuilt and now the Neo-Classical south facade of the building is 279 m long. Mansion contains rooms with amazing decorations and paintings, in total here are more than 400 rooms.
- Bristol Cathedral – City of Bristol. Beautiful Gothic cathedral, belongs to the most interesting and most beautiful in England. Contains some Romanesque parts built in the 12th century, further extensions from 1220, 1298 – 1332, middle of the 15th century and later times. Building has very intricate vaulting surpassing the Gothic vaults of many more famous churches.
- Brixworth All Saints’ Church – Northamptonshire. Unique monument of architecture history – nearly completely preserved early Anglo-Saxon church built around 650 – 675 AD. There are also later additions from the 10th, 13th and 19th centuries but the oldest part is major part of building – nave with windows, presbytery, foundations. In the construction used reclaimed Roman stonework.
- Canterbury Cathedral – Kent. Enormous, richly decorated and historically important cathedral, rebuilt numerous times since around 740, today mainly in Gothic style. One of earliest representatives of Gothic style in England.
- Durham Cathedral – Durham. One of the finest examples of Norman architecture, one of the greatest churches in United Kingdom. Built by Norman conquerors in 1093-1133, in Romanesque style. It is interesting though that there are used some elements of next – Gothic style. Contains relics of several saints – St Cuthbert, head of St Oswald of Northumbria, Venerable Bede.
- Gloucester Cathedral – Gloucestershire. Ornate Romanesque – Gothic cathedral. Built on a foundation which was laid in 1089. Cathedral built until 1499. This beautiful building is 130 m long, ornate central tower is 69 m tall. Cloisters have fan vaults. Interesting details are the earliest images of golf game in stained windows from 1350 and carved image of medieval football.
- Kilpeck church of St. Mary and St. David – Herefordshire. One of the best preserved Norman style churches in England. Built around 1140 and retained stylistic purity. Adorned with numerous Norman carvings showing animals and mythical beings. Most valuable carvings adorn south doorway.
- King’s College Chapel in Cambridge – Cambridgeshire. One of finest Gothic buildings in England. Built in 1532 – 1536, 88 m long. The largest fan vault in the world and some of the most magnificent medieval stained glass windows in the world. Altar painting made by Rubens.
- Lincoln Cathedral – Lincolnshire. Enormous Gothic cathedral, built in 1185 – 1311. One of most beautiful church buildings in United Kingdom. For 249 years (1300 – 1549) was considered to be the tallest building in the world, until the 160 m tall spire collapsed. 148 m long building with an unique facade.
- Salisbury Cathedral – Wiltshire. Impressive representative of Early English architecture (Early Gothic style), built in 1220 – 1258. Spire of the church is 123 m tall. Contains the oldest working clock of the world, from 1386 as well as many valuable works of art.
- St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle – Berkshire. Representative of fine Perpendicular Gothic style. Site of significant historical events – many royal weddings and burials.
- St Paul’s Cathedral – City of London. This enormous church is an important representative of Baroque style, built in 1708, one of the largest churches in United Kingdom.
- Westminster Abbey – Greater London. Royal church of United Kingdom with numerous art values. Built in 1245 – around 1745, mainly in Gothic style. One of the earliest representatives of Gothic architecture in England.
- York Minster – Norht Yorkshire. One of the largest cathedrals in Northern Europe. This ornate Gothic structure was built in the site of several earlier churches, current structure was started in 1230, using the existing Norman groundwork and completed in 1472. Enormous windows are adorned with the largest medieval stained glass expanse in the world (Great East Window). Church is 158 m long.
Parks and gardens
- Eden Project – Cornwall. World’s largest greenhouse – group of artificial biomes with plants collected from all around the world. Opened in 2001. Greenhouses are built of inflated plastic cells on steel frame. Currently there are two systems of greenhouses – Tropical forest (1.56 ha) and Mediterranean Biome (0.654 ha). There is also outdoor biome for plants of temperate zone.
- Kew Royal Botanical Gardens – Greater London. One of the most important botanical gardens in the world with world’s largest collection of living plants. Here are more than 30,000 varieties of plants, herbarium with more than 7 million specimens, library with more than 750,000 volumes. Developed since the 18th century.
- Stowe Landscape Gardens – Buckingamshire. Over the 18th century around Stowe House were developed magnificent English landscape gardens with incredible number of impressive follies and park architecture – the largest number of such structures in a single park in United Kingdom.
- Iron Bridge – Shropshire. First iron bridge of the Industrial Age in the world, built in 1779.
- Tarr Steps – Somerset. Prehistoric clapper bridge, possibly built as early as in 1000 BC, made from enormous stone slabs, each weighing up to 5 tons. 55 m long, with 17 spans.
- Tower Bridge – Greater London. One of the most iconic bridges in the world – combined bascule and suspension bridge built in 1894. Length – 244 m, longest span – 61 m. Consists of two massive, tall towers standing in Thames with high airbridges connecting them. The bridge part between both towers is opened some 1000 times per year.
Other monuments of architecture and art
- Liver Building – Merseyside. One of the first true European skyscrapers, this 90 m tall building was built in 1908 – 1911. The building has 13 floors. One of the first buildings in the world constructed with reinforced concrete.
- Old Royal Naval College – Greater London. Beautiful architectural ensemble in Baroque style – former Greenwich Hospital designed by Christopher Wren, built in 1696 – 1712. Consists of two buildings – split in order to have view on Thames from the nearby Queen’s House. Beautiful interior.
- Palace of Westminster – Greater London. One of the highest achievements of Neo-Gothic architecture, one of iconic buildings in the world. Meeting place for the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Built in 1840 – 1870, works at interior continued well into the 20th century. Famous feature is the large clock tower of palace – the 96.3 m tall „Big Ben”. Facade is 265.8 m long, building has more than 1,100 rooms.
- Royston Cave – Hertfordshire. Small, artificial cave with numerous unique medieval carvings on its walls. These intricate carvings most likely were colored. Drawings for most part depict religious symbols.
- British Museum – Greater London. Museum of human history and culture, one of the most comprehensive museums of the world. Established in 1753 and since then gradually expanded. Contains numerous unique items of high importance to the culture of world. Amazing architecture of Great Court (2000), the main building is important example of Greek Revival from the middle of the 19th century. Extremely important artifacts in the museum include Rosetta Stone, mummy of Cleopatra, Elgin Marbles from Parthenon, Discus-thrower, Cyrus Cylinder, cuneiform tablets from Ashurbanipal Library, drawings by Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Raphael and numerous other renowned artists, Hoa Hakananai moai statue from Easter Island.
- National Gallery – Greater London. Art gallery, founded in 1824. Contains more than 2,300 paintings dating from the 13th to the 20th century. Many paintings are well known worldwide. Located in large Neo-Classical building, constructed in 1832 – 1838.
- Natural History Museum – Greater London. One of major natural sciences museums of the world, housing some 70 million specimens. Located in beautiful building which was built in 1881. One of the most renowned artifacts is 32 m long replica of Diplodocus carnegii.
- Science Museum – Greater London. Enormous museum of science, holding more than 300,000 specimens. Some of the most renowned are the oldest locomotives of the world, world’s first jet engine and many amazing technical exhibits.
- Victoria and Albert Museum – Greater London. World’s largest museum of decorative arts and design, founded in 1852. Museum has 145 galleries with over 4.5 million objects, in many areas the collections are among the most important in the world. Beautiful museum building with impressive frescoes and otherwise rich interiors.
Described wonders of England
The natural and cultural heritage of England is very diverse and here are found some of the world’s most impressive landmarks in several categories, such as:
- Church buildings. Already the oldest English churches exhibit high skills of build technics, intricate details and rich, well-balanced array of artwork, including some of the best and oldest stained glass in the world.
- Museums. The culmination of international influence of Britain coincided with the age of Enlightement and Industrial Revolution. As a result England and, notably, its capital London contains several richest scientific collections in the world as well as very rich art collections.
England though is very rich with many other kinds of landmarks, including some of the best known castles, palaces, megalithic monuments, bridges and historical cities.
Ceremonial counties of England
England has several systems of administrative division. In this website England is divided into 48 ceremonial counties.
- City of Bristol
- City of London
- East Yorkshire
- East Sussex
- Greater London
- Greater Manchester
- Isle of Wight
- North Yorkshire
- South Yorkshire
- Tyne and Wear
- West Midlands
- West Sussex
- West Yorkshire
The word "megalith" brings one immediate association to many people around the world – Stonehenge.
The history of this monument started approximately 6 500 years (some findings testify that even 10 000) ago, when people established first known cult sites nearby. It seems, cult related activities have continued here for most of the time. Such a long history of worship sites is not common.
Hike the wild moors of Dartmoor, explore the scenic bays of Cornwall, and dive into history at Hadrian’s Wall: with Rick Steves on your side, England can be yours!
Complementing the best-selling The Most Beautiful Villages of England, Hugh Palmer has produced a stunning sequence of images of those ancient towns in which the true heart of England lies. All the places included here embody a long, preindustrial heritage; they are also communities of a well-preserved beauty, widely visited by travelers from all parts of the world.