World Heritage Day: What Monuments Are on Our Doorstep?

World Heritage Day is an international day that promotes awareness about the diversity of cultural heritage of humanity, and to protect and conserve various sites and monuments. Some famous worldwide cultural sites include the pyramids in Egypt, the city of Venice, the Taj Mahal and Machu Picchu. We understand that it may be a little too far for you to travel to any of those sites at the moment, so we’ve written this blog for you to learn about the heritage sites that are right on your doorstep. Maybe you can have a day trip to one of these sites with your family!

Wall Roman Site | Staffordshire

The wall in Staffordshire was an important Roman military road that leads to north Wales. It was an important road for Roman soldiers and messengers to travel across whilst changing their horses and finding lodging for the night.

If you visit the Wall today you can still see the remains of an inn where travellers stayed overnight, and some public baths with different cold, warm and hot rooms.

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Iron Bridge | Shropshire

The world’s first iron bridge was erected over the River Severn in Shropshire in the year 1779. It marked a turning point in English design and engineering and caused cast iron to become commonly used in the construction of bridges, aqueducts and buildings thereafter.

The bridge was made by Abraham Darby III, who had learned ironwork techniques from his grandfather of the same name. The bridge became so popular that it gave its name to the stunning wooded valley that surrounds it, now known as the ‘Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site’.

In the years 2017-18, the organisation ‘English Heritage’ began a £3.6m conservation project on Ironbridge, to help safeguard it for the future.

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Boscobel House | Shropshire

If you are looking for a thrilling day out, then look no further as you can discover one of the most dramatic escape stories within English History at Boscobel House. This house is one of the places where King Charles II took refuge after fleeing for his life following the Civil War defeat. Not too far away from the house is a descendant of the oak tree where King Charles II famously hid for a day whilst Cromwell’s soldiers searched for him. There are now over 500 pubs across the country called The Royal Oak in honour of King Charles.

Whilst you are visiting, you and your family can see the farmyard animals at the Victorian Farm, the stables, barns and dairy too. You can also visit the tearoom which serves homemade cakes, light lunches and hot and cold drinks.

The White Ladies Priory is also on site; the 12th century ruins of a church that had a small nunnery of ‘white ladies’ as they were known. King Charles II originally hid here before moving onto Boscobel House.

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Stokesay Castle | Shropshire

Pay a visit to the finest 13th century medieval manor house in England, which features a fairy-tale style tower that has breath-taking views of the Shropshire Hills.

Stokesay Castle was built at the end of the 13th century by Laurence of Ludlow, who at the time was one of the richest men in England. This castle is one of the best ways for you and your family to experience what it was like to live in medieval times. The castle has been carefully restored for you to be able to visit and see their stunning views of the great hall, the beautifully carved overmantel within the solar, and the tearoom serving delicious lunches and cakes.

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Black Country Living Museum | Dudley

The museum is located near Dudley Castle and occupies a disused railway goods yard, coal pits, old lime kilns and more. Many buildings have been brought to this museum from all over the Midlands and rebuilt to illustrate the Black Country life from 1850-1950. Not only are there buildings to explore, there is also a large exhibition of objects made by local industries, featuring glassware, metal chains, anchors, nails and vehicles; like trams, trolleys, motorcycles and more.

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Moseley Old Hall | Wolverhampton

Moseley Old Hall is yet another place that King Charles II stayed at whilst fleeing Cromwell’s soldiers. This is an Elizabethan farmhouse with a lovely fruit orchard and graceful gardens to enjoy. Your children will love the costume interpreters who will tell you fascinating stories on the tour, and afterwards they can explore the tree-hide or the spooky bat trail in the Walk Wood.

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Winterbourne House & Gardens | Birmingham

Another Edwardian House, this is a unique heritage attraction with 7 acres of botanical gardens to enjoy. The house is filled with lots of antiques and over 6000 plants from around the world. The gardens are a relaxing place to sit and listen to nature and appreciate the woodland.

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Soho House | Birmingham

Soho House reflects the styles of the Georgian period, and was owned by the industrialist and entrepreneur Matthew Boulton from 1766 to 1809. You can see some of Boulton’s products like buttons and buckles, vases, tableware and clocks, but also the factory where he and James Watt developed the steam engine.

Soho House was also used as a meeting place for the Lunar Society, which was a leading Enlightenment group. The Lunar Society would meet every month on the night of the full moon to dine, conduct experiments and discuss philosophical matters of the day. Members of the society included James Watt, Erasmus Darwin and Joseph Priestly, and together they exchanged ideas which have led to many inventions that we use today.

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Shugborough Estate | Staffordshire

The Shugborough Estate was once home to the Anson family in 1624, who used their money and social position to shape Shugborough; understanding the origins of their power helps us to interpret the ideas and materials which flooded into Britain throughout the 18th century, furnishing homes, forging fashions and changing culture.

The estate has a beautiful landscape for you to enjoy, an ancient woodland and many monuments. There is also a farm that your younger children will like, where they can meet cows, sheep and other farm animals that roam in the fields. There’s even a play area with a zipwire to try, if they’re brave enough!

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Priory Park | Dudley

Priory Park used to be part of a network of priories and monasteries established after the Norman conquest of 1066. Monks were residents on the site for almost 400 years until the year 1536, where Henry VIII decided to close down and take over the wealth and lands of all monasteries in England and Wales. Since the 17th century parts of the park became workshops and cottages, until 1932 where it became open to the public.

Today you can visit the ruins that still stand; see the monkey-puzzle trees and wooden sculptures, the children’s play area and play tennis or basketball on the games court.

Address: St James Priory Ruins, 55 The Broadway, Dudley, DY1 4AP.

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Wightwick Manor | Wolverhampton

Wightwick Manor was originally built by the architect Edward Ould for his parents, Theodore and Flora Mander in 1887, though was inherited by Geoffrey Mander who managed to persuade the National Trust to accept the house when it was only 50 years old. “While they lived in the house, Theodore and Flora took inspiration from Oscar Wilde’s lecture on ‘the House Beautiful’; as a result, the interiors reflect Wilde’s commitment to the principles of the Aesthetic Movement and the ideals of ‘art for art’s sake’. Wilde’s influence can be seen in the collection of objects from Japan and China and the designs of William Morris and his British Arts and Crafts contemporaries.”

Whilst Geoffrey Mander and his wife lived in the house, they created a collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings which has formed one of the largest public collections of work by female artists in Britain. There are also other exhibitions that change frequently that you may wish to see, alongside the beautiful gardens, Old Manor Shop, the second-hand bookshop, and the tearooms.

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Thank you for reading our blog on World Heritage Sites on your doorstep. If you are interested in reading more, please visit our blog.

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