UNESCO World Heritage Site of Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

Blenheim Palace

Woodstock, Oxfordshire

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

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UNESCO World Heritage Sites offer a genuinely unique visitor experience. They are, by definition, irreplaceable and are of cultural or natural significance. South East England is blessed with a fine collection that champion our proud history.

Each of these attractions has been judged to be of outstanding universal value to humanity with important religious, royal and scientific ties making them fascinating places to visit. Areas of natural beauty are subject to a tourism programme strategy aiming to make them more accessible while preserving their unique organic state for future generations. 

Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

This masterpiece of Baroque architecture was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and is home to one Europe's historically significant collection of portraits, furniture, sculpture and tapestries. The long library contains more than 10,000 books, many of which are hundreds of years old.

The Formal Gardens and Pleasure Gardens are a joy to behold while the new 'Churchill' exhibition commemorates Blenheim Palace as the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.   Whilst the new 'Stables' exhibition houses in the historic stable block, celebrates the importance of horses to Blenheim Palace throughout the ages.  Donating the cost of your entry to the Blenheim Palace Heritage Foundation Charity gets you a free annual pass and guided tours are included as part of admission.  

Hosting a year-round calendar of events including Nocturne Live at Blenheim Palace (15th - 18th June 2023), Blenheim Palace Food Festival (27th May - 29th May 2023), Blenheim Palace Flower Show (23rd - 25th June 2023), Halloween at Blenheim Palace (21st - 30th Oct 22), Christmas at Blenheim (18th Nov - 2nd Jan 22) and many more, there are lots of reasons to keep heading back and discovering more of this stunning UNESCO site.

The Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich

Discover this spectacular UNESCO World Heritage site just on the outskirts of London.  The Old Royal Naval College with its magnificent architecture by Sir Christopher Wren and beautiful riverside setting reveals an extraordinary 500-year history.  The college forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Maritime Greenwich, which became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997 and includes Queens House, Royal Observatory, the historic town centre and Royal Park.

Explore the peaceful riverside location and Sir Christopher Wren’s iconic architecture. The stunning buildings and grounds are where great stories unfold from kings and queens to heroic lives and creative geniuses, from Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth I to Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson.

Experience ‘Britain’s Sistine Chapel’, Sir James Thornhill’s breathtaking Baroque Painted Hall and discover 40,000 square feet of awe-inspiring painted walls and ceiling and its neighbour, the glorious Chapel of St Peter and Paul. Love film and TV? Book one of the 'behind the scenes' tours exploring the venues on-screen experiences (included in ticket price) June - Sept.  Taking the family? Join the first Sunday of the month for storytelling Sundays, aimed at 5 - 10 year olds (included in ticket price), or take part in one of the many workshops on offer throughout the year. 

Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, Surrey

Set in 326 acres of beautiful grounds containing the world’s most diverse collection of living plants, Kew Gardens became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located just 30 minutes from central London, the garden can trace its roots back to the 18th Century and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site as recently as 2003 thanks primarily to the work of renowned landscape architects including Capability Brown. The expansive gardens are fully accessible thanks to a land train with six stops throughout Kew.

Explore tropical rainforests in the Palm House and marvel at the architecture of the restored Temperate House. Discover beautiful botanical art in the wonderful galleries and step back in time at Kew Palace – the former summer residence of King George III. Visit The Hive, a fascinating installation highlighting the plight of the honeybee, the Great Broad Walk borders which contain over 30,000 plants, providing stunning colour from spring through autumn and a 200m long Treetop Walkway giving outstanding views of the forest canopy with its birds and insects, lichens and fungi.  

Canterbury Cathedral, Kent

Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine's Abbey and St Martin's Church make up one impressive site that was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1988 as the spiritual head of the Church of England for nearly 500 years. Dating back to the 11th Century, it boasts the richest collection of stained-glass windows in the UK with the most grand in the chapter house.

Steeped in English history and synonymous with Thomas Becket, this magnificent building with awe inspiring architecture offers a warm welcome, the chance to discover 1400 years of history,  including the re-establishment of Christianity in England in 597, to the murder of Thomas Becket and why this made Canterbury one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the medieval world.

List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Other special sites not to miss that border South East England include the stunning Dorset's Jurassic Coast  which stretches 95 miles from Old Harry's Rocks near Swanage to Exmouth in East Devon and was recognised by UNESCO in 2001 for its rocks, fossils and landforms. 

UNESCO World Biosphere Reserves

In 2019 the Isle of Wight was designated a UNESCO Biosphere reserve one of two in the South East region and one of only six regions in the UK to hold this award.  The award shows that people and the natural environment are coexisting in harmony, that there is a balanced relationship between people and nature and that nature continues to thrive here. 

Brighton and the Lewes Downs became a UNESCO Biosphere reserve in 2014.  The award is centred on the Brighton chalk block that lies between the River Adur in the west and the River Ouse in the east.  The area includes three interwoven environments, rural, coastal & marine and urban, and is home to over 200+ species that have been recorded on international conservation lists and over 1K local rare species.

These outstanding attractions feature as part of our list of UNESCO World Heritage sites from this part of the UK. For a map showing their geographical representation, select the 'Map View' button.

Number of results:

Number of results: 6

  1. Canterbury Cathedral

    Type

    Type:

    Cathedral / Minister

    Canterbury

    Motherchurch of the Anglican Communion, seat of the Archbishop. Stunning stained glass. Eleventh Century Crypt, Twelfth Century Quire, Fourteenth Century Nave.

  2. Blenheim Palace

    Type

    Type:

    Historic House / Palace

    Woodstock

    Birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill and home to the Duke of Marlborough, Blenheim Palace, one of the finest baroque houses in England, is set in over 2,000 acres of landscaped gardens

  3. The Living Coast By Bike

    Type

    Type:

    Cycling

    One of the best ways to discover this area is by bike and to help you explore, we have developed a series of tried and tested bike rides. The rides are graded easy, medium and hard, so no matter your ability you will be able to find something that…

  4. Old Royal Naval College

    Type

    Type:

    Historic House / Palace

    LONDON

    Marvel at VisitEngland's Large Visitor Attraction of the Year, right in the heart of the Maritime Greenwich UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Explore the peaceful riverside location and Sir Christopher Wren’s iconic architecture. The stunning buildings…

  5. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

    Type

    Type:

    Botanic Garden

    Richmond

    Come wander the 4.5 acres of gardens under glass, admire the unique landscapes and lose yourself in 250 years of history at this famous botanic garden.

  6. UNESCO World Biosphere Region

    Type

    Type:

    Nature Trail / Watching

    Brighton & Lewes Downs

    The Brighton & Lewes Downs UNESCO Biosphere Region.is a stretch of land and sea with a spirited city at its heart. Bordered by two rivers, its green chalk hills (the ‘Downs’) roll down to river estuaries, white cliffs, shingle beaches and chalky…

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