Bath is one of the most beautiful cities in the UK: full of Georgian architecture, historical attractions, and wonderful walks.
However, one of Bath’s biggest attractions – and one of the reasons it’s a hotspot for educationa day trips – is connected to its Roman history. Once a town called Aquae Sulis, Bath was famous for its natural hot springs, which the Romans channelled into a large public bath house and temple to Minerva (the goddess of wisdom). Though you can no longer bathe in the historic baths, the architecture has been preserved and restored: visitors can learn all about how the baths would have worked via the comprehensive museum, view reconstructions, and even visit the original site of Minerva’s temple. There are also activity sheets and costumed guides to engage younger children, as well as audio tours with plenty of extra gems of information.
A must-do for all Roman fans and students of history!
Blenheim Palace is so much more than just another stately home. This impressive abode has a powerful military history – home to the first Duke of Marlborough, a great British war hero, and birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, the revered wartime prime minister – and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. The palace is also stunning to behold: a glorious example of 18th century baroque architecture and the work of famous landscape architect, Launcelot ‘Capability’ Brown. In summer 2019, the Rose Theatre (an authentic reconstruction of an Elizabethan playhouse) arrives at Blenheim Palace, treating ticket-holders to performances of some of Shakespeare’s best-loved plays.
Less than an hour away by car or bus is the city of Oxford: one of Mentor Education‘s favourite spots for educational day trips. Well known for its famous ‘spires’ and prestigious university, Oxford is full of cultural (yet fun) things to do and see. Everywhere you walk you will be confronted by amazing architecture (from Palladian domes to medieval arches) and famous sights. Learn about the history of the different colleges (which your children may recognise from various movies, such as Harry Potter); go for a ride down the river on a ‘punt’, a special type of boat; and visit the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology (Britain’s first public museum) to see etchings by Michaelangelo, Raphael and Rembrandt.
Unsurprisingly, Stratford-upon-Avon is stuffed with Shakespearean treats – after all, it’s not only the birthplace of the Bard but also home to his family abode (as well as his wife’s cottage and mother’s farmhouse). By day, you can visit these important historic sites, most of which have been lovingly preserved, and learn all there is to know about England’s greatest writer; by night, you can visit the Swan Theatre – home to the Royal Shakespeare Company – and watch some of the Bard’s best works being performed on stage.
Stratford isn’t only for lovers of literature, though. Simply walking through this Tudor town is an educational delight; much of the original architecture has been preserved, giving the town a wonderfully unique, ‘old-meets-new’ feel. Other attractions include Chedham’s Yard, the Stratford Butterfly Farm, and the MAD Museum. It’s a varied, culturally-rich place: a perfect destination for educational day trips.
Stonehenge is one of the UK’s most important – and most famous – historical landmarks. Experts believe the towering stone circle was constructed around 5,000 years ago, but are still no closer to figuring out why and how the rocks were placed in their current positions. As well as getting a closer look at the stones (the tallest stands a massive 30 feet tall and weighs 25 tons!), visitors can learn all about life in the Stone Age by spending time at the extensive museum (which also includes a fascinating reconstruction of a Stone Age village).
Whilst in the area, it’s worth combining your trip with a visit to Salisbury. The 800-year-old cathedral is of particular note: a beautiful example of Early English architecture, the church boasts the tallest spire in the UK (over 400 feet tall), the oldest working mechanical clock in the world, and the best preserved remaining copy of the Magna Carta.
Often called one of the best historic sites in the UK – if not the world – the Historic Dockyard at Chatham in Kent is an amazing snapshot of British maritime history.
From the mid-1500s until the 1980s, some of the most important ships in the British Navy were created and launched here (such as HMS Victory, which was Nelson’s primary ship during the Battle of Trafalgar).
With 100 listed buildings and 47 monuments within its 80-acre grounds, the Historic Dockyard is brimming with incredible sights, fascinating historical titbits, and even interactive exhibitions. Film and television buffs are certain to spot a few familiar backdrops, too, as the Dockyard is often used for film shoots. A real treat for the whole family!