Top 10 Historic Sites Outside of London

September 12th, 2014
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The UK is home to many historic sites which showcase Britain’s rich and diverse history, a history that attracts thousands of visitors to our island each year! Living in the UK, it is easy to forget that historical sites can be found almost everywhere you look and that they aren’t just limited to the country’s capital, London. Here at Sykes Cottages we have scoured the UK in search of its best historic sites and below you will find our choice of the ten must see sites outside of London.

Whitby Abbey – North Yorkshire

Image provided by Charlotte Stamper.

Image provided by Charlotte Stamper.

Overlooking the popular coastal town of Whitby, the abbey dominates the horizon with its gothic demeanour. As one of the most atmospheric visitor attractions in Yorkshire, Whitby Abbey is a must at any time of year.

Caernarfon Castle – Gwynedd

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Built by Edward I, the intimidating keep of Caernarfon Castle makes it one of Wales’ most impressive structures.  With its unusual polygonal towers and colour coded stones, this castle is sure to capture the imagination of children and adults alike.

Iron Bridge and Tollhouse – Shropshire

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

The Iron bridge and Tollhouse in Telford, Shropshire is seen as one of the iconic symbols of the industrial revolution. Become part of the story as you walk over and marvel at the world’s first cast-iron bridge, an activity tourists have been partaking in since 1779!

Stonehenge – Wiltshire

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

As one of the wonders of the world, you would be crazy not to plan a trip to Stonehenge in Wiltshire. Archaeologists believe that the structure was erected around 3,100 BC and took some 300 years to build.

Bayham Old Abbey – East Sussex

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Located on the Kent/ Sussex border, Bayham Old Abbey is a fascinating collection of ruins which include most of the 13th to 15th century church. The ideal location for a picnic, this historic site is a favourite amongst visitors to the area.

Birdoswald Roman Fort – Cumbria

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Birdoswald Roman Fort is located alongside the longest remaining continuous stretch of Hadrian’s Wall. Not just famed for its historic remnants but also for the abundance of wildlife, this area is the ideal stop off for visitors making their way along Hadrian’s Wall.

Chatsworth House – Derbyshire

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

With its regal appearance and impressive surroundings Chatsworth House in Derbyshire is a favourite among tourists. Steeped in history, this regal building also plays a part in popular culture as the setting of Mr Darcy’s Home in the 2005 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Roman Baths – Somerset

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

As one of the largest tourist attractions in the South West, the Roman baths in Bath make for a captivating day out. Below modern street level, the baths have four exciting features to explore; the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House, the Sacred Spring and finds from Roman Bath.

Edinburgh Castle – Edinburgh

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Dominating the skyline of Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh castle sits proudly on top of its great rock. Used for centuries as an ancient stronghold, home to royalty and then as army headquarters, Edinburgh castle provides something for everyone on a family day out.

Chester City – Cheshire

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

The historic city of Chester is a fantastic destination for a weekend away, with so much history to discover you’ll want to squeeze in as much as possible! We would highly suggest trips to the Roman Amphitheatre, Chester Cathedral and of course a spot of light exercise walking the city walls.

We hope this selection of ten historic sites to visit outside of London has left you feeling inspired. If we’ve missed out your favourite historic attraction then let us know! We would love to hear from you and can be reached on Facebook, Twitter or over Google Plus.

nicole.westley

By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.

Ten Reasons to Love Vintage Festivals

September 11th, 2014
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From cars, clothing, music and the lifestyle, we’re a nation of vintage lovers. More and more vintage shops are appearing on our high street, more vintage cars can be seen touring country roads on a weekend, and vintage festivals are quickly becoming as popular as our summer music festivals. With this in mind, and our love of a good bit of bunting here at Sykes HQ, we thought we’d take a look at some of the reasons why vintage festivals are becoming so popular in the UK.

1. The Music

Image via Flickr

Image via Flickr

Take your ears back in time and listen to the songs, styles and genres that helped shape the music that we listen to today.

2. Everyone Dresses Up…

Image via Flickr

Image via Flickr

Festivals celebrating all things vintage are always the perfect excuse to get dolled up in your finery. Whether you fancy channelling the fifties with a feather headdress and pearls or epitomise the style of the swinging sixties with a bold mini dress, anything goes!

3. .. Including The Guys!

Image via Flickr

Image via Flickr

This dressing up malarkey isn’t just for the ladies. In bygone decades, men would always put their best fashion-focused foot forward and made sure they were looking dapper and dandy at all times.

4. Food and Drink

Pimms

Image via Flickr

Say goodbye to dodgy burger vans, hot dog stands and overpriced drinks. Vintage festivals are full of freshly baked goods, picnics and Pimms. Yum!

5. Meet Like-Minded People

Image via Flickr

Image via Flickr

Unfortunately, not everyone likes vintage. Some people just like things to be modern and it can be difficult to find other fanatics to discuss all things vintage. At vintage festivals you can strike up a sixties conversation with absolutely anyone!

6. Classic Cars

Vintage Car

Image via Flickr

It’s not just dancing, music and food at vintage festivals. At many you will see a selection of classic cars that, even if you’re not a motoring fan, you’re sure to appreciate!

7. Dancing

Image via Flickr

Image via Flickr

With such incredible music it would be difficult not to get a bit of a swing in your step and getting involved in the care-free atmosphere is where the most fun is!

8. Vintage Markets

Image via Flickr

Image via Flickr

For collectable items, one of a kind pieces or even just an excuse to pick up a little treat, vintage markets and boot sales are a regular occurrence at vintage fairs!

9. Poodle Parades

Image via Flickr

Image via Flickr

Dog lovers unite at Atomic Festival’s Poodle Parade, where you can see a number of these beautiful dogs permed to fifties perfection.

 10. The Chap Olympiad

Image via Flickr

Image via Flickr

Umbrella jousting, iron-board surfing and a pipeathlon all whilst wearing your dandiest clothing; The Chap Olympiad sounds pretty perfect to me!

There we are, ten reasons to love vintage themed festivals. Are you a seasoned vintage festival go-er? If so, we’d love to know what your favourite thing about these wonderful events are. Drop us a line on Twitter or Facebook and let us know.

Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.

Visit Heritage Open Days this Weekend!

September 10th, 2014
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From 11th- 14th September, Heritage Open Days are offering culture lovers the opportunity to visit interesting sites which are normally not accessible to the public, or that normally charge for admission, for free! This annual event, which is funded by the English Heritage, aims to celebrate the wealth of architecture and culture on offer in England and encourage us to discover what’s on our doorstep.

Young Explorers Heritage Fun Trail, Yorkshire

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Via Flickr

Taking place at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield, the Young Explorers Heritage Fun Trail is a great way to spend an afternoon with the kids! The whole family will enjoy this self-guided trail around the park, taking in the wildlife, lakes and woodlands and learning more about the history surrounding them. The event is totally free and there’s no need to book, just grab a leaflet from the YSP Centre to take part and there’s also a chance to win a Young Explorer’s Goody Bag. This event is taking place on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th September, from 10am until 4pm. For more information, see the Heritage Open Days website for more information.

Guided Tour of Three Tuns Brewery, Shropshire

Pints of beer

Via Flickr

This weekend, you can take a tour of England’s oldest licensed brewery for free! Established in 1642, the Three Tuns Brewery in Bishops Castle is offering free guided tours on Saturday 13th September as part of Heritage Open Days 2014. This brewery offers a unique tour experience as it’s housed in a building steeped with history, including a miniature Victorian tower which was built around 1890. Tours take around an hour and a half and afterwards, why not visit the brewery’s own pub for a couple of pints and a bite to eat? Visit the Heritage Open Days website.

Four Castles Guided Walk, Northumberland

Chillingham Castle, Northumberland

Via Flickr

On Friday 12th September, you can take part in a guided walk with David Barker around four of Northumberland’s most impressive structures. This 7.5 mile route will take all day and covers Chillingham Castle, Ros Castle, Hepburn Bastle and Hepburn Fort. This walk is not suitable for children and attendees are advised that it can be hilly and muddy in places. For more information about the event, click here.

Heritage Tours of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Warwickshire

Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company

Via Flickr

This Sunday 14th September, Shakespeare fans can explore over 150 years of theatre heritage in Stratford-upon-Avon for free! Visitors to this event can learn more about the theatre techniques introduced to the RSC over 100 years ago, that are still used today; they can also discover more about the people behind the project and theatre architecture, from the local Georgian theatre to the Victorian Gothic Shakespeare Memorial theatre. Tours must be pre-booked, please see here for more information.

To find out more about all of the events taking place as part of Heritage Open Days, you can visit their website here. If you’re planning to travel to visit one of the Heritage Open Days then why not check out our cottages near English Heritage properties for a cosy, comfortable place to stay while you explore England’s impressive architecture and culture.

Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

How to research the history of your holiday home

September 9th, 2014
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A few weeks ago I noticed a plaque thirty feet up the rear wall of my building with the numbers ‘1836’ inscribed on it. With nerdy hastiness, I did some research into said date-plate and- shock horror- it turns out the building was indeed built way back in 1836.

Amazing, right? Well I certainly think so. Thanks to the power of the internet, it’s now easy to turn Tony Robinson for the day and research the history of your home-amazing!

But Jonathan, pray tell: how do you go about researching the history of your abode? Well loyal reader, I’m glad you asked. Below you’ll find some useful hints and tips on how to get the bits and pieces that make up your home’s history; so let’s get down to business.

First Steps

So, you’ve got your house, but how do you start unearthing its dirty secrets? The first thing you should do is try determine roughly when your property was built.

Look for obvious clues that may ascertain the age of the property. Like mine, your home may have a plaque detailing its erection date. These are often located on the exterior, although in some properties they may appear indoors.

If your holiday home’s really old, there’s a chance it might be a listed building, in which case you should have a look at the National Heritage List for England, an online database listing all of the country’s designated heritage assets. If it’s on there, that’s good news, as there should be plenty of information to boot, including when it was built. If not, don’t get down; there’s another angle of attack.

If you’re struggling to determine when your property was built, it might be a good idea to speak to neighbours or other members of the community to see if they can shed light on when your home was originally constructed. You never know, some nebby-neighbour might be able to point you in the right direction, or at least provide some gossip on its previous occupants.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Unlocking your home’s history

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Now that you’ve got a general idea of when your house was raised from its foundations, it’s time to start going through the history books to delve deeper into its past. Who lived there? What were their livelihoods? Was it stricken by tragedy, or at the centre of a community-wide dispute? Thanks to the internet, there are hundreds of free-resources you can use to unlock the secrets of your home’s past.

If you’d like to find out who lived in your house, the best place to start is at your local records office. Here, thousands of public archives are available to view, including electoral registers, census catalogues and Ordnance Survey Maps, all of which can be used to unearth the history of your home.

For instance, electoral registers will list every resident who was registered at your address, since records began. Just think of all the interesting folk who may have passed through the front door of your property!

Put that research to use

When you’ve completed your research and exhausted your home’s history, it’s time to share what you’ve learnt with the world. As a holiday home owner, your guests are likely to be just as interested in the history of your home as you are, so create an information pack for your property that details the ins and outs of its history.

People are always interested to hear about the history and heritage of where they’re choosing to stay, so an illustrated guide to your home, as well as the local area, would go down a treat.

To find out more about researching the history of your home, visit the English Heritage website.

Jonathan Tuplin

By Jonathan Tuplin

Jonathan is a lover of books, music and good food. Originally from Yorkshire, there's nothing he likes more than a cycle in the country. One of his favourite spots in the UK is Tenby, where he spent many a happy holiday as a child.

Sykes’ Horrible Histories: The Romans

September 8th, 2014
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So the kids are back in school and the learning will have begun. Back in the day my favourite lesson was always history but far too often the classes seemed to be made up of reading boring passages from old textbooks, and there’s no reason why learning about history should be anything like this! Here in the UK we’re lucky enough to have easy access to some brilliant and interesting attractions and museums. And so we’re going to be having a look at some of the most exciting periods in British History and where you can go to get a taste of it, starting with the Romans!

Veni, Vidi, Vici

4123999205_20b7fccda8_z

via Flickr

To start with we’re going to have to go all the way back to 55 BC when the most famous Roman of all, Julius Caesar decided he fancied adding Britain to his long list of conquests. However things didn’t quite go to plan and two invasions later he headed back to Rome. However around a hundred years later, in 43 AD to be precise, the Romans finally managed to seize the islands. They were in charge for the next 350 years, until in 410 AD they officially left the Britons to fend for themselves in a period known as the Dark Ages.

What Have the Romans Ever Done for us?

hadrians wall

Hadrian’s Wall, via Flickr

Quite a lot as it turns out! It might have been over 1500 years since the Romans left Britain but you can still see many of the things that they left behind them. You might not know it but every city with ‘chester’ in its name was founded by the Romans, from Manchester through to Colchester and even the home of Sykes Cottages – Chester! They also built the first roads in the country, many of which form the base for the ones that we use today. And then there’s the small manner of a wall built all the way from one side of the country to the other, all to keep the pesky Picts up and out of the way!

Where Can You Go?

chester amphitheatre

Chester Amphitheatre’s Mural, via Flickr

There are still plenty of spots in the UK where you can get a glimpse of some Roman handiwork. Hadrian’s wall is the obvious one, many sections of the wall are still standing so you can walk in the footsteps of soldiers from almost 2000 years ago. Whilst you’re there make sure that you pop into Vindolanda, one of the old forts along the wall that is now home to a fantastic museum filled to the rafters with fascinating exhibits. Or you could always swing by Chester where you’ll find the biggest amphitheatre in the country and will have the chance to be given a tour of the city by a Roman soldier!

Hopefully you’ll have enjoyed our whistle stop tour of the Romans in Britain, if so make sure that you keep your eyes peeled for the next instalment and if you have any ideas for something that would make a good blog then please let us know, either over Facebook or Twitter and we’ll do our best!

Jamie Tomkins

By Jamie Tomkins

Jamie is a big fan of long weekend walks with the dog, especially when there is the chance to refuel with lunch in a country pub. Living in Lancaster for three years gave him the perfect opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Lake District.