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English Heritage Card

This summer we are house sitting outside London (Cobham, Surrey) for six weeks and traveling for several weeks afterward. I was looking into getting a senior joint annual Heritage Pass (87 pounds). Has anyone else bought the pass and if so, was it worth it?

Posted by
242 posts

Do the sums - check out on the prices of the properties you are likely to want to visit. Most charge a minimum of £6 each per visit and some are a lot more expensive. It won't take many properties before you have recouped your costs. I have annual membership and I find with the free admission I often use it for a very quick visit which I wouldn't do if I had to pay the entry charge. Knowing it is free I'll also stop off the see a place I wou;ldn't bother with if I had to pay the admission .... Manystaffed places have toilets, which does have advantages...

Remember the English Heritage pass is ONLY for EH properties and won't give free entry to places like National Trust.

Posted by
307 posts

There was a "cheat" (I cannot confirm it is still valid) whereby you could buy a New Zealand Heritage membership.
Because of reciprocal arrangements, this gave access to both English Heritage AND National Trust properties and similar organisations in Scotland and Wales.

Posted by
4895 posts

I have National Trust membership, which I have found to suit my interests more than the EH membership. EH a is more about ruins and castles whereas the NT is houses and gardens, with the odd castle thrown in for good measure.

You need to work out what you want to see and do the maths.

If you are American, will you be allowed into the U.K.?

Posted by
711 posts

We loved the English Heritage pass we had several years ago. As wasleys says, it allows you to make a quick stop. Some places are quite expensive, like Stonehenge, so it can be worthwhile quite quickly.

Posted by
4537 posts

Just a note that entrance to Stonehenge is one of the few places covered by both English Heritage and the National Trust as each own part of the land.

Posted by
80 posts

I think we will get the card. We can get into the country but have to quarantine for 10 days, which is fine. Also, right now you have to make a reservation at most sites, you can't just drop in.

Posted by
3318 posts

Believe we had the National Trust card in Scotland and whichever is used in Wales (CADW) and we more than got our monies worth. You just need to be sure the properties you’re going to visit would cost more separately than with the card.

Posted by
26090 posts

It is important to understand the differences between the main four different organizations opening properties to the public. Only English Heritage is related one way or another to the government.

English Heritage is much as the name says, maintaining properties throughout the country of particular national heritage interest. Most properties are not in a state where somebody could live there (Eltham Palace a notable exception) if that were possible, such as castles, like Kenilworth Castle or Berkhamsted Castle in various stages of ruin, megaliths, and places where notable things happened.

HHA, Historic Houses, started as a group of independent house and stately home owners banding together for a presence. They now have over 1,000 houses, castles and gardens. Each one is run independently so presentation differs, and they tend to be in excellent condition.

Historic Palaces is a charity which opens Kensington Palace, the Tower of London, Kew Palace (with Kew Gardens), the Chinese Tower (with Kew Gardens), Banqueting House, Hampton Court Palace, and in Ireland, Hillsborough Castle. The former royal residences are kept in magnificent condition and are very popular. There is currently an exhibition at Kensington Palace of Princess Dianna's wedding dress - I was lucky to be at a special event (virtual) last week where it was shown.

The big daddy of them all is National Trust which owns thousands and thousands of properties. They deal in scenery, beauty, and preserving a great variety of buildings from workers cottages and factories to magnificent stately homes to the best gardens in the world. Many of their properties have been given to them. The collection is very wide ranging, and includes many miles of coastline, many of the most beautiful scenery (much of the Cotswolds is National Trust as is much of the Lake District and the South Downs). A lot of the open land is free to enter, but properties which are staffed (mostly by volunteers) have a charge. Not only does a National Trust membership get you into all these places, it also gives you free parking at the National Trust carparks - very handy for example in the Lake District.

So all focus on a different segment, with a different point of view. All have excellent websites and that's the best way to see what will be near you and what sort of experience you will likely have.

Good luck with your house sitting...

for the record I have never had HHA membership, have previously had English Heritage membership, and currently have National Trust and Historic Palaces, as well as Royal Horticultural Society.

Posted by
576 posts

We are members of Historic Houses Association, so I would like to add something o Nigel's very informative post. The HHA properties are a real mix. Some can be grand places which are independently owned, and income from ordinary vistors is important to pay for their upkeep. Other HHA properties are smaller, and may be open for only a few days each year. They are often family homes, and you may be shown around by the family themselves. The properties may not be well kept up, and the arrangements a bit amateur, but these are often places with a lot of real history. Just looking at those within easy reach of the Cotswolds, there are Sezincote, Chavenage House, Berkeley Castle, Woodchester Mansion and many more.

Where a house received grants for it upkeep, a condition is often that is open to the public. In some cases, these properties also receive income from weddings, conferences and as film sets. It may not be worth buying annual membership, but you should consider the properties alongside those managed by the other organisations.

Posted by
242 posts

We had HHA membership for many years and loved the different properties. It covered places like CAstle Howard, Burghley House, Blenheim Palace, as well as m,any smaller more intimate properties. In the smaller ones, you may be shown around by the owners and this really does give you the insiders view. Many are still very lived in, much loied family homesd and the knitting and book may be left in full view!

Work out where you may be interested in visiting and then do the sums. Unfortunaterly there is no pass that covers everything now.

Posted by
576 posts

I heard recently that Castle Howard is no longer a member of HHA. It's always worth checking before you make a journey.

Posted by
242 posts

Thanks for pointing that out Bob. I hadn't picked that up. It would be an expensive visit if you were expecting free entry!! I must admit I was a tad disappointed by the inside of the house.