Ten of the best places to visit in the UK, from top family day out to the place with the greatest loos

The winners of the 2018 UK Heritage Awards have been announced – these are the winners in the ten main categories.

Among the judges were Jeremy Musson, a regular contributor to Country Life, in an event organised by the publishers of the Hudson’s Historic Houses & Gardens guide. 

Some of the winners were well-known places – Alwnick Castle, for example, known to a generation as Hogwarts thanks to its starring role in the film adaptations of JK Rowling’s books, taking the prize for ‘Best Family Day Out’.

But there were surprises as well. Blenheim Palace, pictured above, was commended in the ‘Contribution to Heritage’ category, but pipped to the title by a collaboration between English Heritage and Google to bring online 2,000 little-seen objects.

Here the winners in the ten main categories:

Best Family Day Out –  Alnwick Castle, Northumberland

Judges’ verdict: ‘A family visit to Alnwick Castle promises a true cornucopia of entertainment.’

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Commended: Llanfaiach Fawr Manor, South Wales

Alnwick Castle - UK Heritage Awards 2018 Winner of Best Family Day Out

Best Place to Eat – Castle Howard, North Yorkshire

Judges’ verdict: ‘Castle Howard’s special Afternoon Tea is reason enough to visit Sir John Vanbrugh’s baroque masterpiece.’

Commended: Stansted Park, Hampshire

Castle Howard

Best Shopping Experience – The Queen’s Gallery, London

Judges’ verdict: ‘The shop at the Queen’s Gallery manages to cope with large visitor numbers, communicate the exceptional collection of works of art in the Royal Collection and maintain an air of prestige in exemplary style.’

The Queen's Gallery - UK Heritage Awards Winner for Best Shopping Experience

Best Place to Stay – The Victoria at Holkham, Norfolk

Judges’ verdict: ‘The Victoria Inn’s location couldn’t be better; less than a mile from England’s best beach, views over Holkham National Nature Reserve and with brilliant access to Holkham Hall.’

Commended: Head Gardeners’ Cottage, Floors Castle, Borders

The Victoria at Holkham - Winner of 'Wonderful Places to Stay' UK Heritage Awards 2018

Best Event/Exhibition – The International Autojumble at Beaulieu, Hampshire

Judges’ verdict: ‘Loyal exhibitors love it, look forward to it and often arrange their diaries around it.’

Commended: Whitby Abbey, North Yorkshire; Houghton Hall, Norfolk

Best Wedding Venue – Myres Castle, Fife

Judges’ verdict: ‘Myres Castle aims to combine impeccable service with the relaxed feeling of staying with friends.’

Commended: Hedsor House, Buckinghamshire

Myres Castle, Fife - Winner of Best Wedding Venue - UK Heritage Awards 2018

Best Contribution to Heritage – English Heritage and Google Arts & Culture

Judges’ verdict: ‘A ground-breaking collaboration… free, instant access to treasures not normally available to view, including Frank Wilkins’ 1820 painting of the Battle of Hastings or a 360° curator-led tour of Osbourne House.’

Commended: Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire; Special Recognition: Portchester Castle, Hampshire

Best Hidden Gem – The Charterhouse, London

Judges’ verdict: ‘The survival and preservation of so much history – all just moments from Smithfield Market – is extraordinary, and a visit is truly fascinating.’

Commended: Bridge End Gardens, Suffolk

The Charterhouse London - Winner of Hidden Gem - UK Heritage Awards 2018

Best Loos – Hampton Court Palace, Richmond

Judges’ verdict: ‘Taking a fun approach, visitors have the chance to keep learning about Henry and his wives during time spent in the loo. Specially designed graphics reveal Tudor beauty tips and silhouette you in costume in the mirror in a unique experience.’