England’s heart, also known as the Midlands, is rich with Anglo-Saxon history, quaint villages and institutions with impressive scholarly clout. Bookworms, intellectuals and anyone with an interest in history will find themselves cerebrally engaged on a trip through this region, as will those who simply love looking at picturesque English hamlets. But first, you’ve got to coax yourself to leave the enthralling city of London.
Sit in a traditional pub with a foamy pint and a classic paperback in the medieval town of Stratford-upon-Avon, where Shakespeare took his first breath. Venture to the ‘city of dreaming spires’, otherwise known as Oxford, where Oscar Wilde studied, and follow in the footsteps of Isaac Newton as you walk the beautiful grounds of Cambridge. It’s impossible not to feel inspired by the bright minds filling these centres of learning.
If it’s British architecture that interests you, you’ll find many grand houses and great stone castles rising from manicured estates around the region. One of the most impressive is Lincoln Castle, a medieval fortress sitting on grounds that have been occupied since Roman times. In its later life it served as a prison and it has been immortalised on film and television, most notably in Downton Abbey. A three-kilometre Roman wall encircles Chester, the gateway to Northern Wales. While you’re here be sure to stop by the ancient Amphitheatre – the largest in Britain and shop in the boutiques that squeeze into the timber-clad double storey buildings of Chester Rows.
Perhaps the most English region of all is the Cotswolds. The region spans six counties, and its limestone hills and quaint hamlets with houses made of stone remain ever enchanting. The small village of Castle Combe belongs in the pages of a picture book, and you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped back in time while wandering past original facades in the medieval wool village of Lacock.
Once you’ve had your fill of villages and rustic town life, make for London where endless experiences await every type of traveller. Get sky-high views from the London Eye and plan your attack – will you start with delicious food markets, cruise down the River Thames or spend an afternoon with the impressive wax figures at Madame Tussauds? Then consider the West End shows and all those galleries and streets steeped in history, and begging to be explored. You might just find yourself booking a return trip.