Historic sites near London
From the Tower of London to the Houses of Parliament, historical sites in London are second to none. If you’ve exhausted the historic tourist attractions in the centre, try these historic attractions within easy reach of London by car – and much closer than Barnard Castle.
North of London
The home counties to the North of the capital are teeming with ancient history. From Roman settlements to a medieval fortress, check out these historic places.
The remains of this motte-and-bailey castle date from the middle ages. The fortress controlled the northern approach to London, protecting the city from invasion. There’s no need to storm the battlements today, as Berkhamsted Castle is open to visitors and makes an interesting and picturesque location for a picnic.
Distance from London by car: 33 miles
St. Albans Roman Wall
St Albans puts the Roman ruins in London to shame. Built between AD 265 and 270, the Roman wall can still be traced for almost two miles around the centre of St Albans. It’s a thriving town with plenty of historic attractions, from a Roman Mosaic to the Cathedral - not to mention plenty of old pubs, with one (Ye Olde Fighting Cocks) claiming to be the oldest in Britain!
Distance from London by car: 25 miles
South of London
Littered with relics dating back to 1066 and beyond, the countryside south of London is perfect for history trips.
A rare example of an early Norman enclosure castle, Eynsford Castle was founded shortly after the Normal Conquest of 1066. When the Eynsford family died out in 1261, the estate became the subject of a bitter and long-lasting family feud, culminating in destructive vandalism in 1312! The castle was never lived in again, but its impressive ruins remain for visitors to admire.
Distance from London by car: 21.5 miles
If you like your history with a dose of spookiness, Betchworth Castle is said to be haunted by two ghosts – a black dog that prowls the ruins by night, and the Lord of the Manor who is said to be filled with regret after killing his own son, who he mistook for an escaping convict. Today it looks just like a haunted ruin should - overgrown with ivy and crumbling as the years pass.
Distance from London by car: 24 miles
East of London
There’s more to East London than the Isle of Dogs and Essex. These historic attractions are a testament to that.
Founded in 1178, the medieval abbey was among the first monasteries to be suppressed under Henry VIII’s rule. Much of the abbey was pulled down and used for building materials, leaving behind the ruins that remain today. Flanked by Lesnes Abbey Wood to the south, the ruins are in an idyllic spot for exploring.
Distance from London by car: 15 miles
The site of this crusader-era castle has a colourful history dating back to Roman times, when it was used as a watchtower. The fortress was built by the Saxons, and was home to Stephen and Robert de Thurnham, who crusaded with Richard the Lionheart in the 12th century. Boasting an elevated position overlooking the picturesque Kent Downs.
Distance from London by car: 40 miles
West of London
With the River Thames connecting the historic cities of Oxford and London and towns dating back to the Roman conquest, you’ll find a rich tapestry of history to the West.
Silchester Roman City Walls and Amphitheatre
The remains of the important Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum were never reoccupied after they were abandoned in the 6th or 7th century, and archaeological investigations have unearthed rich details of how people lived. The Roman walls, town defences and the remains of the amphitheatre are some of the best-preserved examples in England.
Distance from London by car: 47 miles
On the northern bank of the Thames between Oxford and London, Wallingford Castle was one of the most powerful royal castles in the medieval period. It became a luxurious royal residence until the reign of Henry VIII, after which it fell into decline. Today castle visitors enjoy picnicking in the surrounding grounds.
Distance from London by car: 48 miles