1.) Fotheringhay Castle
For you history geeks, this is the place where Mary, Queen of Scots, who was accused of plotting to end Elizabeth the first’s reign, came to a sticky end herself. All that’s left is the mound, a hefty chunk of rubble from the castle by the passing River Nene (pronounced neen or nen).
The Fotheringhay Church of St Mary & All Saints, built in the mid-15th century, houses a lot of intriguing documents regarding the local area and rural life. It’s also the resting place of Richard Plantagenet, the father of Richard III, who went on to infamously fight for the House of York in the War of the Roses.
All of these sights are within the village's vicinity with free entry. Although not exactly cheap, stop by the critically acclaimed Falcon Inn for some great food in truly picturesque surroundings.
2.) Apethorpe Hall
A house once owned by a certain Henry VIII, Apethorpe Hall is a splendid example of late medieval architecture and one of England’s great country houses.
A hotbed for spotting royalty, the house once played host to Queen Elizabeth I, King James I and King Charles I; with 13 royal visits recorded between 1636 and 1656 in total.
Apethorpe Hall is currently closed until April 2013, with opening times being available nearer the time.
3.) Rushton Triangular Lodge
This charming triangular building was designed by Sir Thomas Tresham (father of one of the Gunpowder Plotters) and built between 1593 and 1597. It is a tribute to Tresham’s Roman Catholicism: the number three, symbolising the Holy Trinity (Father, Son & the Holy Spirit), is apparent everywhere.
There are three floors, trefoil windows (common in Christian architecture) and three triangular gables on each side. On the entrance front is the inscription “Tres Testimonium Dant” (‘there are three that give witness’ in Latin), a Biblical quotation from St John’s Gospel referring to the Trinity. It is also a pun on Tresham’s name; his wife called him ‘Good Tres’ in her letters.
Adult entry is £3.20, child is £1.90 and concessions are £2.90. Thursday to Monday opening times are 11:00 to 16:00, with Tuesday & Wednesday closed. (Note that the lodge closes between November through to April).
4.) Kirby Hall
Kirby Hall is one of England’s finest Elizabethan and 17th century houses, formerly owned by Sir Christopher Hatton, Lord Chancellor to Queen Elizabeth I.
Albeit this expansive mansion is partly roofless, the walls show the lavishly rich decoration by successive owners, who were forever in the forefront of innovation about architecture and design. The Great Hall and state rooms remain unharmed, refurbished and renovated to authentic 17th and 18th century styles.
Adult entry is £5.80, children (5-15) are £3.50, concessions (over 60) are £5.20 and family (2 adults & 3 children) is £15.10. Thursday to Monday opening times are 10:00 to 17:00, with Tuesday & Wednesday closed. Between November through to April 2013, opening days are restricted to Saturday & Sunday with times between 10:00 to 16:00.
For those from overseas, English Heritage offers an ‘Overseas Visitors Pass’ which means you save a neat sum on the countless historic attractions across the country in general.
Written and contributed by Harry James