UNESCO World heritage sites in England
1. Ironbridge Gorge
2. Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites
3. Studley Royal Park including the Ruins of Fountains Abbey
4. Durham Castle and Cathedral
5. Blenheim Palace
6. City of Bath
7. Frontiers of the Roman Empire
8. Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey and Saint Margaret's Church
9. Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine's Abbey, and St Martin's Church
10. Tower of London
11. Maritime Greenwich
12. Derwent Valley Mills
13. Dorset and East Devon Coast
15. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
16. Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City
17. Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape.
18. The English Lake District.
There are 31 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK, ranging from archaeological sites to impressive natural formations, historic buildings to entire cities. Eighteen of them are located in England.
You find hereunder some details about the UNESCO world heritage sites in England. As for world heritage sites in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, click here.
World Heritage Sites in England
1. Tower of London, London
One of the most iconic historic buildings in London, the Tower has stood on the north bank of the River Thames for more than 900 years. Begun by William the Conqueror in 1080, successive monarchs have added to and enlarged the building, using it as a royal residence, armoury, treasury, but most famously as a prison.
Elizabeth I was held at the tower before she became queen, and the two young sons of Edward VI were imprisoned and supposedly murdered there in the 15th century.
In the Second World War, the Tower of London was used as a prison for German spies - 11 were executed at the Tower.
There are different towers to explore, historic battlements, a museum of five centuries of armour and the chance to see the Crown Jewels, the Queen's private jewellery collection. Web: hrp.org.uk
“Coins and Kings: The Royal Mint at the Tower” is a new permanent exhibition at the Tower of London, where the Royal Mint was based from 1279 - 1812. Through interactive displays visitors will step back in time and experience what life was like for the tight-knit community who worked on Mint Street. Web: royalmintmuseum.org.uk
Getting there: The nearest underground station is Tower Hill.
2. Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey including Saint Margaret’s Church, London, England
Westminster Palace, rebuilt from the year 1840 on the site of important medieval remains, is a fine example of neo-Gothic architecture. The site – which also comprises the small medieval Church of Saint Margaret, built in Perpendicular Gothic style, and Westminster Abbey, where all the sovereigns since the 11th century have been crowned – is of great historic and symbolic significance.
3. Maritime Greenwich, London
A World Heritage site, due to the impressive collection of historic and scientific buildings that are gathered together in this leafy corner of south-east London, the National Maritime Museum is a fantastic introduction to the most famous stories in Britain's maritime history. Elsewhere, the Christopher Wren-designed Old Royal Naval College is home to a state-of the-art Visitor Centre, which covers 500 years of history.
The real gem is the Cutty Sark, the fastest sailing ship of her day when she was launched in 1869, and is the last surviving tea clipper in the world. Other attractions include the world-class Greenwich Observatory and the charming market. Web: rmg.co.uk
Getting there: The nearest underground station is North Greenwich, or by river from central London with Thames River Services.
4. Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine's Abbey, and St Martin's Church, Kent, England
Canterbury, in Kent, has been the seat of the spiritual head of the Church of England for nearly five centuries. Canterbury's other important monuments are the modest Church of St Martin, the oldest church in England; the ruins of the Abbey of St Augustine, a reminder of the saint's evangelizing role in the Heptarchy from 597.
Read more about “Britain's famous religious sites”.
5. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Surrey, England
This historic landscape garden houses botanic collections (conserved plants, living plants and documents) that have been considerably enriched through the centuries. Since their creation in 1759, the gardens have made a significant and uninterrupted contribution to the study of plant diversity and economic botany. Highlights include the iconic Palm House glasshouse, Kew Palace - where King George III sought refuge during his bouts of ‘madness’ - a treetop walkway and an arboretum containing 14,000 trees.
Kew Gardens are just 30 minutes south of central London, on the District line to Richmond.
6. Stonehenge near Salisbury, Wiltshire, west England
Visitors to Stonehenge can immerse themselves in a 360-degree virtual experience at the prehistoric site's visitor centre, which opened at the end of 2013 and is located 2.1km (1.5 miles) from the stones. Special technology allows you to 'stand in the stones' before entering a gallery presenting the facts and theories surrounding the monument through various displays and nearly 300 prehistoric artefacts.
Visitors arrive at the stones and can explore the surroundings of the monument including the Avenue, Stonehenge's ancient processional approach, guided by new interpretation panels. You can also explore a group of reconstructed Neolithic houses based on dwellings where the builders of Stonehenge may have lived, complete with furniture and fittings. Web: english-heritage.org.uk
Getting there: Stonehenge is a 20-minute car journey from Salisbury, which is a 90-minute train journey from London. From Salisbury there are buses to take you to Stonehenge.
Read more about Britain’s ancient heritage.
7. Georgian Bath, Wiltshire, west England
The entire city of Bath is a World Heritage Site. Walking around Bath is rather like stepping into an open-air museum of Britain's architecture.
The city spans 2,000 years of history, from the Roman Baths to 15th century Bath Abbey, and the neo-classical Pulteney Bridge, which was based on a disused sketch for the Rialto in Venice. But it is Georgian architecture that Bath is most famous for, sweeping terraces such as the Royal Crescent, Palladian-style villas on elegant squares, and classical facades in warm, golden-hued Bath stone.
The architecture stems from the 18th century boom in the city, when it became a fashionable spa resort and the city has become a major spa destination 200 years later, with the opening of the luxurious Thermae Bath Spa, there for all for a dip in the famous healing waters. Web: visitbath.co.uk
Getting there: Bath is around a two-and-a-half drive west of London, or 90 minutes by train from London Paddington.
8. Dorset and East Devon Coast (Jurassic Coast), southern England
The Dorset and East Devon Coast has an outstanding combination of globally significant geological and geomorphological features. It displays approximately 185 million years of the Earth's history,
Dorset is in south-west England, approximately two hours from London by train.
9. Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape, south west of England
Much of the landscape of Cornwall and West Devon was transformed in the 18th and early 19th centuries as a result of the rapid growth of pioneering copper and tin mining. Cornwall and West Devon were the heartland from which mining technology rapidly spread throughout the world.
10. The Ironbridge Gorge, in Shropshire, England
Ironbridge, the world's first bridge constructed of iron, is known throughout the world as the symbol of the Industrial Revolution. It contains all the elements of progress that contributed to the rapid development of this industrial region in the 18th century, from the mines themselves to the railway lines.
11. Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, south central England
The magnificent Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire will host its own flower show again this year between 17 - 19 June. The birthplace of Winston Churchill and one of Britain's most beautiful historic properties, Blenheim is worth a visit at any time of the year and fits nicely with a trip to Oxford or the Cotswolds region of England. A stunning 25,000 sq ft Grand Floral Pavilion is the main centrepiece of the show but there's lots more, including food and refreshments and family activities. Web: blenheimpalace. com
Getting there: Trains and coaches run from London to Oxford regularly; it takes about two hours, and from there you can take a bus directly to the palace.
12. Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City
Six areas in the historic centre and docklands of Liverpool bear witness to the development of one of the world’s major trading centres in the 18th and 19th centuries. Liverpool played an important role in the growth of the British Empire and became the major port for the mass movement of people from northern Europe to America. Liverpool was a pioneer in the development of modern dock technology, transport systems and port management.
13. Derwent Valley Mills, Derbyshire, north England
The Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site stretches for 15 miles along the river Derwent, from the city of Derby to the village of Matlock Bath in the Peak District. The former factories and miles combine together to form a spectacular monument to the decades in the 18th and 19th centuries when Britain lead the world in terms of industry.
The Visitor Centre at Belper North Mill is an ideal place to start a visit, and the best way to explore further is on foot; a walking route along the riverbank links all the mills and museums, and there are some lovely picnic spots including Belper River Gardens and Darley Park. Web: derwentvalleymills.org
Getting there: Belper is around three-and-a-half hours' drive north from London, or just over two hours by train from London St Pancras, with a change at Derby.
14. Saltaire, West Yorkshire, England
Saltaire is a complete and well-preserved industrial village of the second half of the 19th century. Its textile mills, public buildings and workers' housing are built in a harmonious style of high architectural standards.
15. Durham Castle and Cathedral, County Durham, North East England
US author Bill Bryson called Durham "the best cathedral on planet earth"; dating back to the 11th century, visitors are free to explore the cloisters, undercroft and the beautifully vaulted main church. Durham is around three hours by train from London. Web: durhamcathedral.co.uk
16. Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal Water Garden, Ripon, Yorkshire, north England
The sheer range of history is what makes Studley Royal such an astonishing place. The biggest spectacle is the ruined 1ih century abbey that dominates the 800-acre estate. After taking in the Abbey, visit the beautiful landscaped water gardens, dating back to Georgian times, dotted with neo-classical statues, follies and wonderful views across the Yorkshire countryside.
The estate is also home to the Elizabethan Fountains Hall and the ornate St Marys' Church, which dates back to the Victorian era. Web: nationaltrust.org.uk
Getting there: Fountains Abbey is around one hour's drive north-west of the city of York. Harrogate rail station is a half-hour taxi ride away, which itself is less than three hours from London's Kings Cross.
17. Hadrian's Wall, Northumberland, north-east England
Hadrian's Wall stretches for 73 miles between the coasts of northern England, from Ravenglass in Cumbria on the western side, to the bustling port city of Newcastle upon Tyne in the east. The wall dates back to Roman times and was begun in AD 122 to 'separate the Romans from the Barbarians', soon becoming the most heavily fortified border in Europe.
Large section of the wall are still intact and, unlike many UNESCO sites, visitors can go right up to, and even touch the wall itself. A cycling and walking path runs the distance of the Wall, and there are several ruined Roman forts to discover, as well as three museums. Web: visithadrianswall.co.uk
Getting there: Newcastle is around three hours from London Kings Cross by train. A special bus route runs from stations on the Newcastle-Carlisle line and drivers can give information on where to get off to see specific parts of the wall.
Sources: Visit Britain and UNESCO