Old Royal Naval College

Old Royal Naval College

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.  

The Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich

The Old Royal Naval College is at the heart of this spectacular UNESCO World Heritage site in London and winner of Large Visitor Attraction of the Year at the VisitEngland Awards in 2020.

The Old Royal Naval College tickets include award winning tours of this magnificent 17-acre riverside estate, where you hear the fascinating 600-year story of this site, including being the birthplace of Henry VIII. These leave every hour from 11am – 3pm from the Visitor Centre. Tours include the beautiful Chapel of St Peter and St Paul which is one of Britain’s finest eighteenth-century interiors. As you walk along the underground tunnel which connects the Chapel to the Painted Hall – you have the chance to try your hand at one of the few remaining Victorian Skittle Alleys in existence. This used to keep the Naval Officers entertained and is usually open to the public from 12-3pm. Prepare to have your breath taken away as you enter the Painted Hall, which took 19 years to Paint, known as the UK’s Sistine Chapel – included is a free audio guide (in 7 languages) or join a guided tour every 30 mins.

The estate has become one of the most popular filming locations in the world. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, the stunning buildings,  alongside the Painted Hall and exquisite Chapel have starred in hundreds of productions, including The Crown, Les Miserables, Thor: The Dark World, Cruella, Bridgerton and many more – book a film tour to find out what goes on behind the scenes of these films and some trade secrets as to how it is done. These need to be booked separately due to limited capacity.

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.

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Number of results: 8

  1. Royal Observatory Greenwich

    Type

    Type:

    Museum

    London

    Stand astride two hemispheres on the Prime Meridian Line and enjoy spectacular views over London at the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  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. 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…

  6. Royal Museums Greenwich

    Type

    Type:

    Museum

    Greenwich, London

    The world’s largest maritime museum, filled with inspirational stories of exploration and adventure at sea. Critically acclaimed temporary exhibitions (ticketed). General admission free.

  7. 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.

  8. 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…