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Boom for rural visitor sites including famous Civil War site Boscobel House

Visitors have been flocking to heritage sites during the pandemic, with a rural 17th century house celebrating its best year yet.

Boscobel House in Shropshire sees best ever year of visitor numbers
Boscobel House in Shropshire sees best ever year of visitor numbers

Last year, Boscobel House on the Staffordshire/Shropshire border, where Charles II hid from Oliver Cromwell 370 years ago, witnessed an 82 per cent increase in footfall.

It comes following a relaunch of the attraction the previous year.

It comes as English Heritage, which runs the site, saw a boom in visitors to many of its smaller, local sites, including Barnard Castle in County Durham and Yarmouth Castle on the Isle of Wight.

Kate Mavor, chief executive of English Heritage, said: “At English Heritage, we look after over 400 historic buildings, monuments and sites across the country – many of which attract visitors from far and wide.

"In the past, those lesser known, more intimate local sites in our care have often been overlooked in favour of our more iconic ones, despite having just as rich and important a history.

"This has been a long and hard pandemic but one silver lining appears to be that with people staying closer to home, they have discovered historic places nearby.

“We also saw last year, once our sites had re-opened after lockdown, a surge in people joining English Heritage as members.

"And it’s these members who account for more than half of those bumper visitor numbers at local sites.

"People fell in love with their local heritage and as English Heritage members they were able to enjoy our sites for free.”

Boscobel House in Shropshire sees best ever year of visitor numbers
Boscobel House in Shropshire sees best ever year of visitor numbers
Boscobel House in Shropshire has enjoyed its best ever year for visitors

More than 372,000 people joined English Heritage as members in 2021, which is a clear indication to the charity that people wanted to rediscover the heritage nearer to home.

Boscobel House is a timber-framed hunting lodge where King Charles II fled for his life and took refuge in 1651 after Civil War defeat.

King Charles II famously hid for a day in a nearby oak tree whilst Cromwell's soldiers were searching for him below.

In later years, it became a Victorian farm and has a number of resident farm animals, including historic stables, barns and dairy.

English Heritage cares for more than 400 historic buildings, monuments and sites – from world-famous prehistoric sites to grand medieval castles.

Annual membership is £51 a year for unlimited access to more than 400 sites nationally.

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