As many houses close for the winter, architectural enthusiasts need to look elsewhere for things to visit. There is still lots to see on a beautiful winter’s day if you wrap up warm and its all free.

Castlerigg Stone Circle
The British have become so focussed on the fate of Stonehenge that the existence of so many other impressive prehistoric monuments across the kingdom seems all but forgotten ina popular sense. Set above the lakes with spectacular views in all directions, Castlerigg is one of the most impressive stone circles in Britain.

castlerigg

Llanthony Priory, near Abergavenny
The remains of an Augustinian Priory remotely set in the vale of Ewyas in the Black Mountains. The walks around it are spectacular and a pub in the former western range of the abbey cloister makes for a happy place of retreat when the sun goes down.

llanthony

Blancheland, Northumberland   
This remote village has been created from the monastic building of the Premonstratensian Abbey of Blancheland: the abbey church became the parish church and the village squares follow the plan the lines of the former monastic ranges. There are magnificent walks along the valley and the Abbot’s lodging is now a pub.  

Oakham Castle, Rutland  
The 12th-century hall of this castle survives as a roofed building and served until recently as a courtroom. Besides the interest of the architecture, which reflects the influence of early Gothic detailing in the form of the capitals, the walls are hung with an astonishing collection of horseshoes. Since the Middle Ages, any nobleman who passed through the town was expected to present a horseshoe to the hall. One of the largest, which is a huge hoop of iron, was presented by Edward IV.
oakham

God’s House at Ewelme, Oxfordshire  
A magical collection of 15th-century buildings constructed as a chantry foundation for the Chaucer family. The foundation still operates and supports a school and almshouse beneath the parish church. The cloister courtyard is open to the public, though its enclosing cottages are still occupied. The parish church possesses the spectacular burial chapel and tomb of Alice de la Pole, a granddaughter of Geoffrey Chaucer. It includes a full-size effigy of the duchess’ emaciated corpse.

ewelme

Nunney Castle, Somerset  
The magnificent ruin of a 14th-century tower house. The remains of the building stand on a small moated island in the centre of the village. In the neighbouring village of Mells, the church houses the outstanding 1920 memorial by Lutyens and Munnings to Edward Horner.

nunney

The Crown Bar, Belfast  
Run by the National Trust, this late Victorian terracotta fantasy in central Belfast is one of the architectural delights of the city. Inside is a spacious bar with comfortable snugs. A perfect place to recover from the effects of Christmas shopping…