1. The Natural History Museum at Tring
The Natural History Museum at Tring has six main galleries containing permanent collection of birds, fish and animals from around the world, cabinets full of insects, and fossils and skeletons. The stunning Gallery Six has been refurbished to include a modern glass display area showing fully cleaned exhibits including a collection of domestic dogs! The Rothschild Room recreates the surroundings of the museum’s original curators. Facilities at the museum include a gift shop and the Zebra Cafe.
2. Ashridge Estate
Ashridge Estate is an area of open countryside and woodland on the edge of the Chiltern Hills with a rich variety of bird and wildlife, including fallow deer and red kite. A network of footpaths criss-crosses the estate, where ancient woodlands display carpets of bluebells in spring and spectacular colours in autumn. See panoramas of Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire from the Ivinghoe Beacon – the 250 metre high site of an Iron Age hill fort. Facilities include a visitor centre, cafe and shop.
3. Hatfield House
Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, is a fine Jacobean House containing a marvellous collection of pictures, furnishings and historic armour, in a spectacular countryside setting. The West Garden is where Elizabeth I spent most of her childhood, and in the Park, an oak tree marks the place where the young Princess Elizabeth first heard of her accession to the throne. The West garden includes a scented garden, herb garden and knot garden. Facilities include a shop and restaurant.
4. Verulanium Museum
Verulanium Museum is on the site of one of the major cities of Roman Britain, now an attractive park. Inside there are some of the finest Roman mosaics and wall plasters outside the Mediterranean. With recreated Roman rooms, hands-on Discovery Areas, video presentations and touch screen databases the museum combines an outstanding collection of artefacts with interactive exhibits. There are also some remains of the original city, including the hypocaust building and the Roman Theatre.
5. Knebworth House
Originally a red-brick Tudor manor house, Knebworth was transformed in 1843 into the gothic fantasy of today, with its turrets, griffins and gargoyles. Encapsulating 500 years of British history, a walk from room to room is a journey back in time, through an Edwardian drawing room, a Victorian study, a Georgian bedroom and a Jacobean banqueting hall. The Italianate Victorian gardens have benefitted from an extensive programme of renovation, and kids will enjoy the ‘Dino Trail.’
6. Shaw’s Corner
Shaws corner is an Edwardian Arts and Crafts-influenced house which was home to the famous Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, who lived here from 1906 until his death in 1950. See the great dramatist’s revolving Writing Hut and many other literary and personal effects, including his Oscar and Nobel Prize. The orchard, flower meadow, rose dell and densely planted herbaceous beds create a vigorous English garden. Open-air performances of Shaw’s plays are staged during the summer.
7. Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture
The Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture is known as ‘the museum of the history of the home’. The varied exhibitions give a vivid picture of domestic life in the first half of the twentieth century while also looking at contemporary design, art, and issues related to the domestic environment. The museum’s collections throw light on what homes were like and how people lived in them. A busy programme of practical workshops, events and talks provide entertaining experiences for adults and children.
8. St Alban’s Cathedral
St Albans Cathedral is one of the finest examples of Norman architecture in the country. It boasts a fine set of 13th century wall paintings showing the death of Jesus on the cross, and the rounded Norman pillars and arches of the nave are built of re-cycled Roman brick. The cathedral is built on what is believed to be the site of the martyrdom of St Alban, a third century citizen who was beheaded by the Romans for giving shelter to a Christian Priest. Facilities here include a cafe and gift shop.
9. The Gardens of the Rose
The Royal National Rose Society was founded in 1876 to promote the growing of roses. At the Royal National Rose Society Gardens of the Rose, Hertfordshire, the gardens offer stunning displays of tens of thousands of roses, both old and modern, complemented by companion plants. The gardens have undergone a complete refurbishment with new roses, herbaceous perennials, spring bulbs, shrubs and lush grassy areas providing year-round interest.
10. Letchworth First Garden City Heritage Museum
Ebenezer Howard, founder of Letchworth Garden City, had a vision that would end the poverty and slum conditions suffered by many in the late Victorian era. The First Garden City Heritage Museum tells the story of the Garden City Movement from its origins to the present day. It is housed in a beautiful and unique building designed in 1907 by the architect Barry Parker. Visit his office, filled with Arts and Crafts furniture and see exhibits exploring the social history of Letchworth Garden City.