English Heritage membership – what bloody great value!

As per my re-start post I am going to be re-blogging some of my posts from a site that unfortunately no longer exists in an effort to get working on my blog again.

As with other posts of old blogs the photos are as taken with the exception of some cropping.

This blog was originally written in October 2012.

Towards the end of April 2011 we went on holiday to Suffolk for a week and whilst there we joined English Heritage. Joining as new members we got 3 months free so we got 15 months for the price of 12. Our membership renewed at the end of July 2012 and I thought it was time to share a few photos and remind myself what good value the membership is.

Joint membership (2 adults) now costs £82.00, I can’t remember if this is the same as when we joined but there will only be a pound or two difference if it has gone up. As well as getting free entry to EH sites and free or discounted entry to EH events there are also a number of associated sites – more on this later. Here come memories of the first 15 months. Beth is free to everything – at the moment she is young enough to be free anyway but if Jo and I stay members she can get in free until she is 19 if she is with us.

All photos up until Jan 2012 were taken on a Panasonic DMC-FS8. From Jan 2012 onwards everything was taken on my HS20.

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The first place we visited – which was where we decided to join – was Framlingham Castle. This is a late 12th Century castle. Having served as a stronghold for several centuries it was used as a prison in 16th century and later still a poor house was built inside the walls.

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Through the poor house you can get up to walk around the top of the walls which gives some wonderful views.

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Back to the gate. Entrance cost us £6.30 each. We joined when we came out and so received the money back.

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Next was Leiston Abbey – this was free entry anyway. Remains of an abbey of Premonstratensian canons, mainly 14th century.

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Though all ruins it was still an impressive sight.

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Leiston Abbey was a stop off on the way to Orford Castle.

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Orford was an advanced design for the time. It was built by Henry II to counterbalance the power of the turbulent East Anglian Barons like Hugh Bigod of Framlingham as well as to guard the coast.

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View from the top of Orford Castle over Orford village to Orford Ness – a National Trust nature reserve.

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The EH flag standing proud atop Orford Castle.

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Looking up to Orford Castle from the village.

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This was £5.60 entry each, bringing the running total to £11.90 each so far.

The final day of our Suffolk holiday took us to Saxstead Mill in the morning. This is a 13th century mill whose whole body revolves on its base. Milling only ceased in 1947 but the mill is still in working order.

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Inside you can climb to the different levels to see the machinery.

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You have to climb the steep steps of the support to get to the upper levels.

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This was another £3.50 each bringing the running total to £15.40 each.

Saxstead Mill was next to Framlingham, so we popped back to the castle.

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As well as going inside I took the opportunity to go round the outside of the castle which we didn’t do on the first visit.

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Another £6.30 each towards the membership, running total each now stands at £21.70 each.

The next EH visit wasn’t until July 2011. On the way back from Torquay we took a detour to go to Stonehenge.

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It was quite busy – this doesn’t do the number of people justice. The car park was absolutely full – there is a lot of work going on at the moment to make improvements to the site and think it will make the world of difference as currently there isn’t really a lot there in the way of information displays. NOTE: Since this was originally written the work is now complete (mostly at least). Check out http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/stonehenge/ for details.

Could have done with a better zoom for this – the sky was quite a moody overcast grey and the crows on top of these mammoth monuments would have had a great backdrop.

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This was £7.50 each towards paying for the membership – running total now £29.20 each.

Next one was in August, but we did two in one day. First up was Sutton Scarsdale Hall.

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This is the shell of a grandiose Georgian mansion built 1724-9. As it was a lovely day we had a picnic in the shade – this is Beth and I, Jo my wife had the camera.

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Roofless since 1919 when the interiors were dismantled and some were shipped to America – still a lot to see though. This was another freebie.

Though we didn’t look round it next door is a church – took the chance to try and experiment with a different type of shot aiming for silhouette.

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There was also a view over to our next destination – Bolsover Castle.

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Bolsover Castle was the main stop for the day. Though there are token battlements this is not actually a castle. It was the site of an old fortress bought by Sir Charles Cavendish and built as a fashionable retreat.

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Some lovely examples of wood work in the roofing of some of the buildings.

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Not all rooms were still roofed though or so well kept – some areas have been restored.

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Going in to the main building – the ‘Little Castle’.

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Some beautiful decoration inside.

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Beth was fascinated by the immense fireplaces.

The fountain outside.

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On the way home a stop off to get a view up the hill to the castle. This was another £7.80 towards making the membership back – £37.00 running total each.

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On to the end of August and the next EH day was Kirby Hall.

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A 17th century Elizabethan house. Although partly roofless the walls are largely all still standing to their original height.

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Kirby Hall was once described as having ‘ye finest garden in England’.

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This was another £5.60 each towards making the membership back – running total to £42.60 each.

The next EH related day was actually an associated site – Warwick Castle at the very beginning of September.

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Originally built by William The Conqueror there have of course been many changes since then.

Beautiful grounds…

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…lots of displays…

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…and lots of people in costume and staying in character all day made for a great day out.

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And that’s without the jousting…

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…and the birds of prey display.

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You can also a walk around the high battlements.

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Price of entry to Warwick Castle is £19 each but as EH members we got 50% off – so that’s another £9.50 each towards making back the membership – running total £52.10 each.

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We also had a second day at Warwick in the middle of October for only £1 each thanks to a voucher picked up on the last visit, though I am not going to count this towards the membership as this was not specifically a members discount – even though this would be an immense £18 each towards it.

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We had a bit more of a walk around the grounds.

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Including the flower gardens.

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Before going home with a very tired little princess.

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The next EH day out wasn’t until February – had my HS20 now though still only using EXR auto mode. Two places on one day – first up was Houghton House.

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Built in 1615 now only the ground floors survive though some walls do still stand tall.

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This was another freebie.

From Houghton House we went on to Wrest Park.

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A large part of the grounds has only recently been opened up after lots of restoration work was needed to clean up the grounds and improve the visitor reception and experience.

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Statues are located all through the gardens.

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This was a further £5.50 each towards making our membership back – running total £57.60 each.

The next day out was an event day – jousting at Bolsover Castle in May 2012.

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Now almost entirely working in manual mode on the HS20.

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This was a medieval themed day, as well as the jousts there was a falconry display…

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…everyone taking part staying in character all day to answer questions about life days gone by…

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… with displays of authentically reproduced equipment.

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Being an event day entry was more expensive than last time but as members we still got in free – this time a further £10.50 each towards making membership back – running total £68.10 each.

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Being so close we also paid a quick visit to Sutton Scarsdale Hall again.

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Next was Audley End in June. Quite an extensive history for many different sections – couldn’t hope to even give a vague idea of it here.

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Having had a rather rubbish British summer this year the day we went it rained most of the day so we didn’t spend long outside and being privately owned I couldn’t take pictures inside so not many photos from the day unfortunately – still a great day though.

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Somewhere for us to go back to as the grounds are very big. This was another £12.50 each towards making membership back – running total £80.60 each.

The next EH visit was to Rushton Triangular Lodge.

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Built by Sir Thomas Tresham (father of one of the gun powder plotters) this was a testament to his devout Catholicism – references to the trinity found everywhere in its design.

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This was a further £3.20 each towards making our membership back – running total now £83.80 each.

The final EH day out for the first 15 months was back to Kirby Hall.

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This was another £5.60 each towards making the membership back – running total to £89.40 each.

So after 15 months of doing English Heritage related stuff our entry fees should have come to a total of £178.80 (not including the £9.50 each we still had to pay to get into Warwick Castle) and instead we paid just £82.00. Great value in anyone’s book.

As this has been more of a brief “this is what we did” rather than having any in depth detail you can find more information on the English Heritage website (www.english-heritage.org.uk/).

Each day we just packed up a picnic to take with us – some of the places further away we possibly ate out but generally speaking the only cost for these days was the fuel to get to the place. This made several trips affordable as family days out. For those with larger families you can take up to six children (under the age of 19) in free of charge with your membership.

I hope you have enjoyed this whistle stop tour of 15 months with English Heritage and would highly recommend anyone to join. All of these places apart from those we visited in Suffolk are within about 1.5 hours drive of us and there are lots more within that distance as well – we’ll never be stuck for things to do again. English Heritage, please keep up the good work.

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5 thoughts on “English Heritage membership – what bloody great value!

  1. Lovely post, we enjoy many days out with both this membership and National Trust, both great value for family days out 😀

    1. Thanks Karen 🙂 We are currently members of both as well – I’m sure something will follow eventually about NT as well – did a similar thing for our second year of EH membership which will be going up before too long

      1. We did a similar exercise when we first joined both and like you it was worth the membership. We use NT a little more as there are LOTS near where we live.

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