Oh, yes. If visions of castles and grand country estates dance about your dreams, a visit to Peterborough is surely in the fates for you. Sip on pots of tea, like the poets and noblemen of the past, and wrap yourself in the elegant splendor of English country gardens. Quietly nestled outside London, Peterborough offers everything from the castles of Lords and Ladies, to sprawling cathedrals, to quiet country meadows. Prepare to embark on a time capsule of a journey that will steal your breath and beat in time with your heart. Here are the best things to do in Peterborough!
1. Elton Hall & Gardens
Located eight miles (12.8 km) outside Peterborough, Elton Hall & Gardens is like stepping through the looking glass. Most astonishingly, Elton Hall has been owned by the same family since 1660. Today, Sir William, Lady Proby, and their four daughters warmly welcome visitors into their home.
Not only will you fancy the stunning architectural delights, but also the State Coach that brought the Proby family to the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Queen Victoria. Wonder over Henry VIII’s Prayer Book and wander across the rolling acres of well-coifed gardens. This is #1 on the list for a reason; it’s an absolute must-see.
Elton Hall & Gardens
Address: Elton, Peterborough PE8 6SH, UK
Hours of Operation: Wednesday & Thursday, from 2 pm - 5 pm
Website: Elton Hall & Gardens
2. Longthorpe Tower
Longthorpe Tower beholds 14th-century wonders, including tales of past kings, musicians, saints, and mythological beasts. Robert Thorpe was a prestigious and lucrative lawyer who amassed great wealth during the 13th and 14th centuries. Sometimes around 1330, he attached a 40-foot (12 m) symbol of his lofty status to his home, still standing today.
Not only is this architectural feat a wonder, the inner workings are unimaginable. Wall paintings cover nearly every available surface on the first floor of this tower, depicting religious, secular, and mythical subjects, along with heraldry and images of birds and animals. Can you even imagine that wall paintings have endured through seven centuries? Yes, after soaking in the history and grandeur of Elton Hall, a visit to Longthorpe Tower is an absolute must.
Address: Thorpe Rd, Peterborough PE3 6LU, UK
Hours of Operation: Saturday & Sunday, from 10 am - 5 pm
Website: Longthorpe Tower
3. Peterborough Cathedral
Peterborough Cathedral is one of England’s most breathtaking cathedrals, first founded as a monastic community in - wait for it - 654 AD! Easily one of the most significant medieval abbeys in all of England, Peterborough Cathedral stands as the burial place of two queens and the scene of Civil War upheavals.
Daily services are still held, and the grandeur and elegance of such is well worth the visit alone. Feel free to visit on your own, or book a tour if you want to soak up every last detail in this token of England’s rich history. After a nice, thorough stay, make sure you venture on over to Beckett’s Tea Room - located in the Cathedral Precincts - and sip on a lovely cup of tea, as God’s peaceful grace envelopes you.
Address: Peterborough PE1 1XS, UK
Hours of Operation: Mon - Fri, from 9 am - 5 pm; Sat, from 9 am - 5 pm; Sun, from 12 pm - 3 pm
Website: Peterborough Cathedral
4. Burghley House
Next stop in our time machine is Burghley House. Although not in Peterborough, it is located in the town next door and is a short drive from Peterborough. If you thought Elton Hall was gorgeous, just wait until you step through the threshold of Burghley House. Built between 1555 and 1587 by Lord High Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I, the main part of Burghley House boasts 35 major rooms on the ground and first floors. In total, however, there are more than 80 lesser rooms and countless halls, corridors, bathrooms, and service areas. Can you just imagine all the secrets those passageways and rooms could whisper?
Offering a unique glimpse of the manner in which great houses of the past - all the way back to Queen Elizabeth I - were furnished and inhabited, a trip to Burghley House is an absolute must on your time machine’s hop-on, hop-off schedule. Wear your walking shoes, for their expansive gardens are not to be missed!
Address: Stamford PE9 3JY, UK
Hours of Operation: Sat - Thu, from 11 am - 5 pm, 18 Mar 2017 - 29 Oct 2017
Website: Burghley House
5. Peterborough Museum
With 14th-century wall paintings and monastic communities dating back to 654 AD, it’s not possible to avoid a tour through Peterborough Museum. Scan through personal letters and correspondences from the time when people dipped their feather pens in ink wells. Browse 19th-century furnishings. Show your little ones what children from the early 1700s played with. With over 200,000 items to keep you lost in another world, an afternoon amongst other Peterborough wanderers is surely worth the trip.
Address: Priestgate, Peterborough PE1 1LF, UK
Hours of Operation: Daily, from 10 am - 5 pm
If you have a passion for nature and a penchant for model railways, this is an absolute must for one of your afternoon itineraries. This unique attraction has paired a beautiful wildlife habitat alongside model railways. To really do this right, visit a local market in the morning, pack a lovely picnic, and relish all your time in this unique affair. Railworld is completely run by volunteers, so your affordable ticket price will be well worth the investment.
Address: Oundle Rd, Peterborough PE2 9NR, UK
Hours of Operation: Wed, Sat & Sun, from 11 am - 4 pm
7. John Clare Cottage
“I found the poems in the fields, and only wrote them down.” - John Clare, The Later Poems, 1837 - 1864: Volumes I and II.
While visions of grandeur swirled up in Eton Hall and Burghley House, a gifted poet by the name of John Clare rested his head in a quiet country cottage tucked between Stamford and Peterborough. Doesn’t it sound like he might’ve enjoyed a stroll or two through the Ferry Meadows?
This carefully restored cottage contains samples of Clare’s work and information about his life. Some of the rooms have been restored in such a loving way that you’d swear you were visiting the man himself! If you dabble in the written word yourself, the carefully tended gardens are sure to inspire tales of fairy hills and ancient sorcerers. A nice activity before your evening meal, a visit to John Clare’s Cottage is surely worth the rural trek.
John Clare Cottage
Address: Woodgate, Helpston, Peterborough PE6 7ED, UK
Hours of Operation: Friday & Saturday, from 11 am - 4 pm
Website: John Clare Cottage
Once the English manors and country gardens have been explored, it’s time to drink in a taste of farm life. Sacrewell has a captivating history that can be traced back to the Domesday Survey of 1086.
Today, you can wander about, explore an 18th-century watermill that’s still in operation, and befriend a few rare breed farm animals. Old farming equipment is scattered about, as well as a woodcarving workshop. Don’t be surprised if a little ‘ol fox comes up to greet you with glad tidings or a pair of swans glide past you in the mill stream.
Address: Thornhaugh, Peterborough PE8 6HJ, UK
Hours of Operation: Daily, from 9:30 am - 5 pm
9. Flag Fen
Believed to be the site of religious ceremonies dating back 3,500 years, Flag Fen is a uniquely ancient wooden monument comprised of over 60,000 timbers, creating a wooden causeway across the wet fenland.
Through all this time, amidst all the cold and rainy English nights, can you believe something this old still stands? Dipping back in time - all the way back to the Bronze Age - is the perfect way to close out your most memorable trip to pretty Peterborough, England.
Address: The Droveway, Northey Rd, Peterborough PE6 7QJ, UK
Website: Flag Fen
10. Ferry Meadows, Nene Park
Ferry Meadows is a treasure trove of serenity, less than three miles (5 km) from the bustling heart of Peterborough. A hub for serene lakeside activity, Ferry Meadows offers walking trails, cycling trails, horseback riding, fishing, endless meadows, lakes, and woodlands.
Take your journal, a brimming picnic basket, and try to capture all the lovely moments Peterborough has brought you. A photographer’s delight and a painter’s dream, Ferry Meadows is the place to go as you’re nearing the end of your stay in Peterborough.
Ferry Meadows, Nene Park
Address: Ferry Meadows, Ham Ln, Peterborough PE2 5UU, UK
Website: Ferry Meadows, Nene Park
Pots of Peterborough memories
When you return home, don’t be surprised if it becomes your mission and your joy to brew pots of tea the likes of Beckett’s Tea Room or Burghley House. Consider it your link to the treasured moments Peterborough was so eager to give to you and never will a sip be taken in sadness.
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