Best of Britain in 2017
The UK is one of the world’s premier historical destinations, so forget the passport, dodge those unfavourable exchange rates and explore the riches right here on our doorstep…
Alittle-celebrated corner of England is in the spotlight in 2017. HULL’S status as Capital of Culture ( hull2017.co.uk) means there’s a whole year of events in store. Highlights include revitalised historical attractions such as Hull’s Old Town, a William Wilberforce walking route, the Museums Quarter and the beautiful Holy Trinity Church, due to be given Minster status in May. While in the area, stop by the superbly preserved city of Beverley and explore the countless undiscovered villages of the Yorkshire Wolds.
Another alternative to bigger-name destinations is SHREWSBURY, Shropshire. One of the UK’s best-preserved medieval towns, Shrewsbury is perfect for a weekend of poking round ancient alleyways and churches. The 1403 battle of Shrewsbury, one of the bloodiest to be fought on English soil, is also commemorated on the Albrighton Estate, north of the town centre.
2017 marks the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s death ( janeausten200.co.uk), with
HAMPSHIRE cities, houses and countryside hosting events and exhibitions. There’s a permanent display on Austen’s life in Winchester Cathedral where the writer is buried. Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton will also be marking the event, and the village will be hosting a history-rich Open Garden weekend in June. Winchester and its cathedral are of course premier historical destinations in their own right, and the battle of Cheriton, one of the pivotal skirmishes in the Civil War, took place just outside the city in 1644.
WALES is celebrating its legends in 2017, and none capture the imagination like the myths surrounding King Arthur. Given the lack of certainty surrounding Arthur you might feel his presence at any ancient hill fort, castle or mist-covered llýn. More specifically, Dinas Powys Hill Fort near Cardiff dates from the right period, while the Bedd Arthur stone circle in Pembrokeshire’s Preseli Mountains is said to be the setting for his grave. Carmarthenshire County Museum in Abergwili holds a branch from Merlin’s Oak, still reputed to have magical properties. You’re never far from history in Wales, and the castles and railways of north Wales, set in stunning mountain and coastal scenery, are a good place to start.
The BORDERS RAILWAY ( bordersrailway.co.uk), opened in 2015 from Edinburgh to Tweedbank, is the perfect way to explore the attractions of this beautiful part of Scotland. Melrose Abbey, Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott, and Floors Castle are all superb day trips from Edinburgh made accessible by rail, and tours connect harder-to-reach locations with train services ( scotrail.co.uk/scotland-by-rail/bordersrailway/borders-tours). The region can easily be visited in conjunction with the highlights of NORTHUMBERLAND, just over the border in England, as well as an extended exploration of Scotland’s capital.
Twentieth-century transport heritage will be the focus at AEROSPACE BRISTOL, opening in summer 2017. As well as exploring the area’s links with aviation, the museum will provide a fitting home for its centrepiece, Concorde 216, the last Concorde to be built and the last to make a supersonic flight.
The Elizabethan Old Market Hall, built in 1596, in the centre of beautiful Shrewsbury, a town steeped in history dating back to the fifth century
This year marks the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s death