Join our tour guides as they each choose their top five: Simon Jenkins, Sir Roy Strong, Simon Thurley, Prof Richard Holmes, Clare Balding, Jeremy Paxman, Julian Lloyd Webber, Mark Hix, Arabella Lennox-Boyd, Candida Lycett-Green, Michael Billington, Jeremy Musson, John McEwen, Tom Petherick, Tim Knox, Marcus Binney, Clive Aslet, Huon Mallalieu, Prof Martin Biddle, Alastair Bruce, John Goodall, Rupert Uloth
What would be in your Grand Tour list? Email us at email@example.com
Churches and Cathedrals
King’s College Chapel
The most beautiful interior anywhere, with sun-dappled stained glass reflecting light onto the sensational fan vault.
St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol
Great English town church, built on the might of mercantile Britain.
Tiny drover/pilgrim church high above the Conwy valley, mostly enveloped in ghosts of the 15th century.
Quaker Come-to-Good Meeting House, near Feock
The embodiment of timeless, silent meditation on a Cornish fjord.
Lastingham, North Yorkshire
Ancient crypt where the ghosts of Roman occupation merge with those of medieval masons.
Simon Jenkins is the Chairman of the National Trust, and author of ‘England’s Thousand Best Churches’
For its medieval, Tudor and Jacobean layers, its stately courtyards, and its entrancing ancient atmosphere.
The stately south front rebuilt in the 1690s as England’s first Baroque country house.
Castle Howard, Yorkshire
The way in which Vanbrugh’s early-1700s masterpiece and the landscape together speak of
a poetic vision of the classical.
Holkham Hall, Norfolk
The epitome of the 18th-century Palladian dream, housing sculpture and paintings from the Grand Tour.
Buckinghamshire Sheer luxury and glamour, the dream French château of the Rothschilds, built in the 1870s and 1880s, with the finest collections and gardens.
Jeremy Musson is an architectural historian and author of ‘How to Read a Country House’
Dr John Goodall
The Tower of London
Britain’s most celebrated fortress and prison. The treasury of the Crown Jewels.
Commanding the shortest sea-crossing with the Continent, Dover has been a crucial stronghold since the Iron Age.
The principal royal castle of Scotland with a rich history and magnificent buildings.
The seat of the Prince Bishops of Durham, the castle is superbly paired with the cathedral on the city peninsular.
This majestic castle was begun in 1283 by Edward I to control the newly conquered principality of Wales.
John Goodall is the architectural editor at Country Life, and is the author of the forthcoming ‘The English Castle, 1066–1650’
It’s a toss-up between Royal Ascot and Epsom, but I would plump for Derby Day—a spectacular day with the whole range of society enthralled and entertained
Lord’s Test match
In particular, an Ashes Test—it’s a chance to witness history unfolding before your eyes (July 16–20)
I would recommend the second Monday or men’s semi-final day (June 29 or July 3)
The Open Championship
A chance to get close to the best golfers in the world (Turnberry, July 16–19)
A Premiership match at Old Trafford
Football is the national game and Manchester United the biggest club in the world. It has to be done.
Clare Balding is a television and radio broadcaster across a variety of programmes. She has worked for the BBC since 1994, and has reported from four Olympic Games
Sacred: The Wilton Diptych, anon (14th century)
Monarchy survived, but the Puritans destroyed most of our sacred inheritance (National Gallery).
Sporting: Hambletonian, George Stubbs (1724–1806)
Sporting art and sport, an English inspiration, supremely the sport of kings (National Trust, Mount Stewart).
Watercolour: Orange Sunset, J. M. W. Turner (1775–1851)
The most substantial school, expressing the national obsession with the weather (Tate Gallery).
Eccentric: Reserved Table, Patrick Caulfield (1936–2005). Oddballs: visionaries, wits, naïves. Funny/ sad, sumptuous/Minimalist, unclassifiable (Waddington Galleries, in reserve).
Satirical: The Trout fisher, rising, Thomas Rowlandson (1756–1827)
Irrepressible irreverence, which remains our best defence of liberty (British Museum).
John McEwen is an author and art critic who has written a number of books on 20th-century art
Julian Lloyd Webber
BBC Proms, London
A magnificent, awe-inspiring music festival.
Three Choirs Festival, Hereford/Gloucester/Worcester
Britain’s oldest annual musical event, renowned for its Elgar associations.
Bradfield Festival of Music, Sheffield
A quintessential English music festival set in glorious South Yorkshire countryside.
Rhythm of London
A new celebration of young musical talent.
English Music Festival, Dorchester-on-Thames
An exploration of England’s neglected musical heritage.
Julian Lloyd Webber is one of the world’s leading cellists, and President of the Elgar Society
Has there ever been a visitor to Ludlow who hasn’t wished they lived there?
The Black Mountains
The view from the top is a peek into the heart of England.
The Kyle of Tongue
Almost as far north as you can go on the Scottish mainland. The spectacular setting of the ruined fortress gives the most magical feeling of finality.
So perfect that it’s almost a parody of the Highlands.
Even after all these years, Wordsworth had it right.
Jeremy Paxman has presented BBC2’s ‘Newsnight’ for 20 years
Sir Roy Strong
The country’s achievement in painting from Hogarth to Freud.
The greatest house of England’s greatest age, that of Elizabeth I.
The Sir John Soane Museum
England’s aesthetic eccentricity in three dimensions.
The National Portrait Gallery
The nation’s eternal obsession with the human face in spades.
It’s got the lot—with royal knobs on!
Roy Strong was Director of the National Portrait Gallery, 1967–73, and of the V&A, 1973–87
The Coronation Chair, Westminster Abbey
The birthplace of Europe’s most successful monarchy.
The Death Warrant of King Charles I , House of Lords Record Office
The defining moment of British history.
The Newcomen beam engine at Elsecar, Barnsley
Faltering steps towards Britain’s greatest contribution to the world—industrialisation.
The Enigma machine at Bletchley Park
British and German ingenuity vie during the greatest struggle of the 20th century.
The title page of the Great Bible of 1539 in the British Library (and elsewhere)
The most powerful book ever published in England.
Simon Thurley is the Chief Executive of English Heritage, and is author of ‘Lost Buildings of Britain’
New this year, the Lyme Regis Food Festival had the added advantage of being right on the beach, so there was something for the kids to do while the adults were tasting the delicious West Country food and drink.
With a great variety of top producers, this is the perfect place for dinner-party shopping if you live in London.
Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival, Suffolk
Set in the beautiful surroundings of Snape Maltings, there are events taking place all week in the area, culminating in the food and drink festival at the weekend (September 26/27) with plenty of stands and chef demos.
Abergavenny Food Festival
This takes place every Sept-ember and attracts foodies from all over Britain. Well-known chefs and food writers also hold masterclasses and demos at the event.
The Royal Bath and West Show
I recently took part in the cider judging at this show in Somerset. The show offers a variety of food and drink, shows and entertainment.
Mark Hix was chef director of Caprice Holdings for 17 years, and was voted Best Cookery Writer by the Guild of Food Writers in 2005
The Ginkgo tree at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Ginkgo biloba)
The maidenhair tree is one of the oldest trees known on Earth, and this one (1762) is still flourishing.
The Yew tumps at Powis Castle (Taxus baccata)
Dating from the 1720s, it’s almost as if these yew trees have merged into one. Essential viewing.
The Major Oak of Sherwood Forest (Quercus robur)
Short, squat and solidly rooted for 1,000 years, this tree is both in and at the heart of England.
The Handkerchief Tree at Heligan, Cornwall (Davidia involucrata)
Unmissable for its white lacy bracts that flutter in the early summer breeze.
The Glastonbury Thorn
As the twice-flowering hawthorn, the staff of Christ was brought to Somerset by Joseph of Arimathea to spread the word. Blooms at Easter and Christmas.
Tom Petherick is author of ‘Trees that Shape the World’
Statue of Our Lady of Walsingham in the Parish Church of St Mary, Walsingham, Norfolk
This garish painted statue isn’t exactly a work of art, but a replica, created in 1922, of a famous cult image.
The Tomb of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York in Westminster Abbey, London, 1509–17
This magnificent Renaissance tomb, created by Michelangelo’s rival, Pietro Torrigiano (1472–1528), commemorates Britain’s first modern monarch.
Raving and Melancholy Madness by Caius Gabriel Cibber (1630–1700) in the Bethlem Royal Hospital Museum in Beckenham, Kent
These weathered statues of squirming lunatics once surmounted the gate piers of London’s notorious Bedlam.
Queen Victoria by Sir Alfred Gilbert (1854–1934), in the Great Hall, Winchester Castle, Hampshire
Gilbert’s outrageous statue, created in 1887, of the great Queen-Empress.
The Royal Artillery Memorial on Hyde Park Corner by Charles Sargeant Jagger (1885–1934)
The most impressive of all British war memorials. Erected in 1925, it commemorates the 79,076 dead artillerymen of the First World War.
Tim Knox is the director of the Sir John Soane’s Museum, and was Head Curator of the National Trust for three years
One of world’s most imposing bridges, a masterpiece of cantilever construction.
Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge
Sublimely placed engineering triumph, whether seen from the top of the gorge or the river below.
A modern marvel, where a giant rotating wheel does the work of a canal lock (connects Forth and Clyde Canal with Union Canal).
Royal William Victualling Yard (at Stone House), Plymouth
A sight to match the Arsenale in Venice, monumental stone buildings around a harbour and quays.
Caen Hill lock staircase on Kennet and Avon Canal
Breathtaking ascent of 16 canal locks climbing out of the Vale of Pewsey.
Marcus Binney is an architectural historian and author of ‘Our Vanishing Heritage’
Avebury Stone Circle
The greatest prehistoric temple in Europe: humbling in its magnificence and mystery.
A mighty reminder of centuries of breathtakingly efficient Roman occupation.
Great Coxwell Tythe Barn
Architecturally perfect and noble beyond compare.
The best example of our brilliance at creating seaside resorts. We led the world, after all.
St Pancras Station
An extraordinary and moving feat of Victorian engineering. Back then, our engineers were unsurpassed.
Candida Lycett-Green is a journalist, and the author of ‘England: Travels Through an Unwrecked Landscape’
Education in interesting plants, herbaceous borders and beauty.
Castle Howard Arboretum
Sensitive tree planting, many collected from the wild.
Exemplary plant collections with tempting, interesting plant centre.
West Dean Gardens
Superb kitchen garden, glasshouses and trained fruit.
William Kent’s classical English landscape for proportion and peace.
Arabella Lennox-Boyd, garden designer, has won six gold meals at the Chelsea Flower show
The Winchester Cathedral bench
Apparently made to fit an 11th-century apse, this is probably the oldest surviving piece of English wooden furniture
Bishop’s throne (together with the choir stalls), St Paul’s, by Grinling Gibbons
Murray cabinet at Temple Newsam by Giles Grendy
A mid-18th-century Baroque glory.
Chippendale’s breakfront bookcase at Dumfries House
Possibly the master’s masterpiece.
Yatman Cabinet at the V&A by William Burges
The highest High Victorian medievalist architect.
Huon Mallalieu is the Art Market correspondent for COUNTRY LIFE, and is author of ‘The Illustrated History of Antiques’
Villages and market towns
Cerne Abbas, Dorset
A village that grew up at the gates of a monastery, under the shadow of the pagan giant.
Apparently unassuming, yet visually perfect, Framlingham has a rich history, with its castle and Arundel tombs.
Climb up the stone tower of St Mary’s church in this Kentish vernacular village, and you’ll have an incomparable panorama of the Weald’s blue hills.
You might think this was a sleepy village, with an unusual buttercross, but the good old sport of Bottle Kicking (Easter Mondays) can be brutal.
Sledmere, East Yorkshire
There is a strong architectural gene in the Sykes family of Sledmere House: the estate village magnificently demonstrates its commitment to high standards over many generations.
Clive Aslet is author of ‘Landmarks of Britain’
Prof Richard Holmes
To understand something of how Britain has been shaped by battle, start at Battle in Sussex. Here, on October 14, 1066, Duke William defeated and killed King Harold, establishing Norman rule.
A cataclysmic Scots defeat at the hands of Henry VIII’s general, the Earl of Surrey, in 1513. A granite cross near the village of Branxton movingly commemorates ‘the Brave of both Nations’.
Fought on June 14, 1645, this was the decisive clash of the Civil War, and its field, just south of Market Harborough, is especially evocative.
On April 16, 1746, Hanoverian victory near Inverness spelt the end of Jacobitism: the battlefield, now cleared of trees, contains an excellent visitor centre.
The Battle of Britain
A battle that was vital to our national survival. Although it has no battlefield as such, its memorial at Capel-le-Ferne, near Folkestone, deserves a little quiet contemplation.
Richard Holmes has been professor of Military and Security Studies at Cranfield University since 1995, and he is author of ‘The World at War’
Prof Martin Biddle
Skara Brae, Orkney
Neolithic stone village, unparalleled window on home life 5,000 years ago.
Flag Fen, Peterborough
Wooden trackways and Bronze Age offerings to the watery spirits.
Housesteads on the Wall, Northumberland
The most complete Roman fort in Britannia.
Repton, Derbyshire, St Wystan’s Church
Columned Anglo-Saxon crypt, burial place of kings and shrine of Wystan.
Offa’s Dyke, along the English/Welsh border
Seventy miles long, the ‘greatest public work of the whole Anglo-Saxon period’ (Stenton).
Prof Martin Biddle is Emeritus Professor of Medieval Archaeology at the University of Oxford
Combines the very English desire to picnic in style with the best opera (to August 30).
Rock music, camping, probably mud and something for all the family (June 24–28).
Hay Festival of Literature
The paragon for many good equi-valents, with incredible speakers (May 27–June 6, 2010).
Parades, music, games, competitions. The definitive example of a deeply rural community at play in the summer (August 27).
Beaufort Hunt opening meet
A glorious, unchoreographed pageant that heralds the commencement of a great British sporting tradition (November).
Rupert Uloth is Deputy Editor of COUNTRY LIFE
Ceremony of the Keys,
Tower of London (every night) The oldest military ceremony in the world takes place in the Tower of London each night to protect the Regalia of Coronation.
General Assembly of the Church of Scotland (May)
A Lord High Commissioner represents The Queen and is like a king for a week.
Garter Day (June, Monday of Ascot Week)
The Queen, with Knights and Ladies of the Order of the Garter, maintains medieval traditions established by Edward III at Windsor Castle.
Tynwald Day (July)
The Isle of Man’s Viking assembly, called Tynwald, is the oldest parliament in continuous use. It meets ceremonially on its ancient mound each year to hear petitions.
Enthroning the Boy Bishop of Hereford (December)
Banned by Henry VIII, this ancient symbolic act of replacing the Bishop with a boy before Christmas has been revived, to raise the humble and put down the mighty.
Alastair Bruce of Crionaich is Fitzalan Pursuivant of Arms Extraordinary of the College of Arms