Save Money Entering Historic Attractions in the UK

Written and photographs by Gary

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In an earlier blog post, I looked at some discount programs primarily available for attractions in the USA.  In this article, I will switch my attention to the United Kingdom, that has an abundance of historical buildings including famous houses, gardens, castles, and living museums.  If you are visiting for several weeks and want to see more than a couple of these attractions, then you should be familiar with two membership programs available through the National Trust and English Heritage.

Raglan Castle, South Wales

Historic Places Abound in the United Kingdom - Raglan Castle, South Wales

On our recent trip to England, we signed up for a Family Membership with the National Trust.  This membership provided us free access to more than five hundred places, and free parking at most National Trust car parks.  Places you can visit include such treasures as Bodiam Castle, East Sussex, Great Charfield Manor, Wiltshire (one of the film locations for the popular BBC series Poldark), the beautiful summer gardens at Buckland Abbey, Devon and Quarry Bank living museum in Cheshire.  At the National Trust website, you can search for places by name, near your current location, or by using a helpful interactive map.  National Trust properties are located throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Founded in 1895, The National Trust currently has over five million members, and in the 2017/2018 tourist season saw around twenty-seven million visitors.  In 2019, a family membership cost £126 for a year, while joint (a domestic couple) membership is £120. £72 gets you an individual adult membership for the same period.  You’ll get this money back in your first four to five visits, possibly sooner.

Great Charfield Manor, Wiltshire - A National Trust Propery

Great Charfield Manor, Wiltshire

Dyrham Park - A National Trust property

Dyrham Park, Wiltshire - A 17th-Century House and Formal Garden

We visited many National Trust properties during our ten-week adventure in England, including two of those listed above.  Most National Trust properties have wholesome cafes, and so even if we were just passing through an area, we would pop in for a quick visit and a bite to eat.  In addition to fascinating stuff for adults, some National Trust properties now include treasure hunts for the kids, along with outdoor play areas. These offerings make traveling with younger ones a lot easier. Facilities available at each property can be found on their website.

Waddesdon Manor - a National Trust Property

Another Incredible National Trust Property We Visited - Waddesdon Manor

An alternative to the National Trust is English Heritage. Formed in 1984, English Heritage cares for over four hundred sites including iconic attractions such as Stonehenge (free access is also available through the National Trust) and the location of the Battle of Hastings where the armies of King Harold and William the Conqueror clashed in 1066. Again, a variety of membership options are available.  A 2019 Family Membership is £105 for the year, and, like the National Trust, includes free parking at English Heritage sites.  There is also the option to purchase an Overseas Visitors Pass for nine or sixteen consecutive days; cheaper than an annual membership but covering only one hundred of the total four hundred sites.

Main Dinning Room at Waddesdon Manor - a National Trust Property

The Opulent Dining Room at Waddesdon Manor

If you've enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy others about this trip including:

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