There is such a wealth of great landmarks in England, with so much history, heritage and natural beauty crammed into a relatively small country. Join us as we explore over 40 of them, from ancient stone circles to modern skyscrapers and natural wonders to some of the most famous buildings in the world.
- 1 25 Famous Landmarks In England
- 2 Big Ben & The Houses Of Parliament, London
- 3 Buckingham Palace, London
- 4 St Paul’s Cathedral
- 5 Tower Bridge
- 6 Trafalgar Square
- 7 Piccadilly Circus
- 8 The Tower Of London
- 9 Westminster Abbey
- 10 Windsor Castle
- 11 Stonehenge
- 12 King’s College Chapel Cambridge
- 13 Gold Hill Shaftesbury
- 14 Cheddar Gorge
- 15 Royal Crescent, Bath
- 16 Wells Cathedral
- 17 The Iron Bridge, Ironbridge Gorge, Shropshire
- 18 Hampton Court
- 19 Gloucester Cathedral
- 20 Chester Eastgate Clock
- 21 The Shard, London
- 22 Avebury
- 23 Liverpool Cathedral
- 24 Clifton Suspension Bridge , Bristol
- 25 Canterbury Cathedral
- 26 York Minster
25 Famous Landmarks In England
Big Ben & The Houses Of Parliament, London
We begin with probably the most recognised landmark in England, the Elizabeth Tower of the Houses of Parliament, more commonly known as Big Ben, which is the name of the bell in the clock tower. The 96-metre (315 feet) high tower has been undergoing its biggest restoration since its completion in 1859. It has been clad in scaffolding since 2017, and when it is finally revealed in all its glory, you might notice a small, subtle difference – the clock dials will be their original colour, blue, for the first time in a century or more.
See also: 50 Famous Buildings In London
Buckingham Palace, London
There aren’t many more famous landmarks in England than the Queen’s official London residence, Buckingham Palace. Many visitors make a beeline for it to watch the Changing of the Guard ceremony, a free peek at the pomp and pageantry that surrounds the British Royal Family. The State Rooms of the Palace are also open to visitors ten weeks a year, and there are plans to open the Gardens at the rear of the Palace in the near future as well. The area around the Palace is off limits to buses, so you’ll need to make a short but very enjoyable walk through one of the Royal Parks or along The Mall to get there.
St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s is another of the top few most famous London landmarks, the symbol of London’s rebirth after the 1666 Great Fire and also the city’s spirit of resilience as it survived the London Blitz. Its great dome still dominates the western end of the City of London, and provides an outstanding viewpoint to survey the ever-changing cityscape. Don’t miss the interior, Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpiece, with its lavish golden arches and sculpture the high point of English Baroque.
See also: The Best Churches In London To Visit
Tower Bridge is undoubtedly the best-known of the Thames bridges in London, spanning the river close to the Tower of London. Its design – a combined suspension and bascule bridge – is unique, with a central section that can be raised allowing tall vessels to pass through. It’s also something of a Victorian Gothic fantasy, like a castle with spires and turrets on a river, straight out of a fairytale. The excellent Tower Bridge Experience takes you behind the scenes to show you how it all works and the view from the top.
The most popular of many squares in London, Trafalgar Square is right in the centre of London, a few metres from the plaque from which distances from the city are measured. It’s a traditional gathering place for concerts and protests, and is home to several of the most famous landmarks in London. These include the National Gallery, St Martin in the Fields Church, Sir Edwin Landseer’s bronze lions and Nelson’s Column surveying the whole endlessly busy scene from high above.
Piccadilly Circus is a busy junction between two of the most famous streets in London, Shaftesbury Avenue and Piccadilly. It’s a popular gathering place, especially among tourists, beneath two well-known landmarks of London – the winged figure of Anteros (often mistakenly called Eros) on the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain and the giant plasma screens constantly playing adverts and short films.
The Tower Of London
The oldest of the famous landmarks in London, the Tower of London was built in the immediate aftermath of the Norman Conquest of 1066. The formidable central White Tower was completed in 1078, the keep of the whole Castle complex, with outer walls added subsequently. One of the great icons of London, it’s home to the Beefeaters, or Yeomen Warders, ceremonial palace guards and tour guides. Tower of London highlights include the simple St John’s Chapel in the White Tower and the Crown Jewels.
Westminster Abbey is the nearest thing there is to a national church of England. It’s the venue of royal coronations, some royal weddings and state funerals, and id the burial place of many English monarchs and great figures from British life. This Gothic masterpiece had its finishing touches, including the west front towers, added in the 18th century. It is crammed with British history and visiting Westminster Abbey – especially if you happen to be visiting on a relatively quiet winter weekday – is one of the most rewarding things to do in London.
Windsor Castle, just to the west of Greater London, is the largest Castle in the UK, and the Queen’s regular retreat from London. It started out as a defensive castle built by William the Conqueror in the years after his successful 1066 invasion of England. Over the centuries it became a popular palatial residence for monarchs including Henry VIII. Most of the medieval Castle was remodelled in the 19th century, including the dominant 12th century Round Tower, the highest point in the Castle. St George’s Chapel, in the Lower Ward, is a supreme example of the late Gothic English Perpendicular style (see also King’s College Chapel, Cambridge).
Stonehenge is one of the most iconic landmarks in England, and possibly the most famous prehistoric stone circle in the world. It’s estimated to be around 5,000 years old, and built with great sophistication, so that the sun rises behind the Heel Stone and into the main circle on the summer solstice, June 21st. Recent research strongly suggests that the site may have been partly moved from the Preseli Hills in West Wales, where a monument with exactly the same configurations has been discovered.
King’s College Chapel Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is one of the most famous places in England, and King’s College Chapel easily its best-known landmark. The College – and Chapel – were founded by King Henry VI in the mid-15th century, but progress on the latter was hindered by the Wars of the Roses, during which he was deposed. He intended it to be as magnificent as a Cathedral, and his successors, including Tudor Kings Henry VII and Henry VIII certainly accomplished this. It’s one of the most beautiful churches in England, and up there with the Lady Chapel in Westminster Abbey as one of the high points of the unique English Perpendicular style.
Gold Hill Shaftesbury
Gold Hill is one of the prettiest streets in England, and is well-known to Brits of a certain vintage as the setting for a 1970s TV advert for Hovis bread. A boy pushes his bread-laden bike up the improbably steep cobbled street to the tune of Dvorak’s New World Symphony. The ad agency and director couldn’t find a suitable Yorkshire location, and went with Gold Hill, in Shaftesbury, over 200 miles to the south. It’s British viewers’ favourite TV advert of all time. The street looks exactly the same with its thatched cottages on one side and Abbey ramparts on the other.
One of the finest natural landmarks of England, this winding limestone gorge in the western county of Somerset is the highest in England, its cliffs rising 450 feet. One of the most enjoyable things to do in Cheddar Gorge is to climb it and soak up the views from the clifftops – you can climb both sides. Down below, you can also visit Gough’s Cave, where the unfortunate Cheddar Man, a poor soul who perished painfully 9,000 years ago, was discovered in 1903. A must see if you’re heading for the West Country.
Royal Crescent, Bath
The city of Bath is home to several famous English landmarks, including the Royal Crescent, perhaps the grandest street in England. Royal Crescent is a curve of thirty splendid townhouses designed and built by John Wood the Younger between 1767 and 1775, and it overlooks a vast lawn and Royal Victoria Park below. The Museum at No 1 Royal Crescent gives you a glimpse into life in Bath during its late 18th century Georgian heyday. The Crescent is a very short walk from The Circus, one of the finest squares in Europe.
Wells Cathedral in Somerset is one of the most famous landmarks of England and one of its greatest medieval churches. It’s surrounded by the most complete Cathedral precincts in the country, including the fortified Bishops’ Palace and the Vicar’s Close, one of the best-preserved medieval streets in Europe. The Cathedral itself has a stunning west front, an open -air gallery of outstanding medieval statuary and inside, a striking scissor-arch supporting the central tower.
See also: The Most Underrated Cities In Europe
The Iron Bridge, Ironbridge Gorge, Shropshire
The village of Ironbridge, its Gorge (through which the River Severn flows) and the nearby village of Coalbrookdale are considered one of the cradles of the 18th century Industrial Revolution in England. Abraham Darby refined the technique of smelting iron ore with coke in a blast furnace to produce pig iron in the early 1700s, but died young, aged 39, in 1717. His work was continued by his son, Abraham Darby II and grandson Abraham Darby III, exploiting the area’s coal, limestone and iron ore. The latter was responsible for the Iron Bridge – the world’s first cast-iron bridge – which was completed in 1781.
Hampton Court is one of two – the other being St James’s in central London – surviving Palaces from the portfolio of King Henry VIII. The first part you see is the Tudor wing, given to the King by Cardinal Wolsey in 1529. Much of the Tudor original was destroyed by King William III who was intent of rivalling Louis XIV’s Palace at Versailles. It’s certainly one of the most striking Baroque buildings in Britain, with a splendid formal garden. It’s one of the best-known landmarks in Britain, and a great family day out.
Gloucester is a fairly workaday city but for its wondrous Cathedral, built over 500 years and spanning Romanesque, Gothic and Perpendicular styles. The solid Norman nave is the oldest part of the church, and the 14th century Great East Window the most fascinating, with a rare close-up view of this masterpiece. The intricate fan-vaulted cloisters date from the later Perpendicular period, and many Hogwarts scenes from the first two Harry Potter movies were filmed there.
Chester Eastgate Clock
Chi-chi Chester is home to several fine England landmarks, including the fine late Gothic St Werburgh’s Cathedral, the famous Chester Rows walkways and the circuit of Roman Walls. We’ve gone with the ornate Eastgate Clock, another Chester icon, situated on a footbridge above a shopping street. The clock was added to the bridge in 1899, and commemorates the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. It looks especially beautiful at night, and is supposedly the second most photographed clock in England after Big Ben.
The Shard, London
The Shard of Glass is the highest UK landmark, soaring 310 metres (1,020 feet) above the streets of Southwark, on the South Bank of the Thames. It’s considerably higher than its counterparts across the river Thames in the City of London, and offers a great 72nd floor viewpoint over the whole of London, the Thames estuary and more on a clear day.
Avebury is a gorgeous English country village surrounded by two ancient (possibly 5,000 years-old) stone circles and a ceremonial avenue of stones leading towards the intriguing mound of Silbury Hill to the south. It’s an amazing place, and along with nearby Stonehenge a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the most fascinating British landmarks – try to allow yourself half a day or so to see it all.
Liverpool Anglican Cathedral is the largest church in Britain and the eighth largest in the world. It was built in Gothic Revival style by Giles Gilbert Scott, who also gave the world the K6 red telephone box, and was completed in 1978, years after the architect’s death. I recently returned there 30 years after my previous visit, and was blown away. It’s vast, high and spacious, yet somehow warm and intimate. A friend of ours has a superb view of the Cathedral, on the hill above the city, from 20 miles away in North Wales – even from there it’s a mightily impressive sight. It should be one of the most famous landmarks of England, and hopefully it’ll gain greater recognition in the years ahead.
Clifton Suspension Bridge , Bristol
This awesome suspension bridge is the finest of Bristol landmarks, a stunning work of engineering carrying the B3129 road 101 metres (331 feet) above the river Avon. It was designed by master engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who dies five years before its 1864 opening. It’s the best-known symbol of Bristol, and there are great views from the docks below the river and up on the Clifton side of the Bridge.
Canterbury Cathedral, 70 miles south-east of London, is one of the most important historical places in England, and the mother church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. It owes its status to the mission of St Augustine, who came to Kent in 597 to attempt to convert Saxon king Ethelbert, and set up his headquarters and the first Archbishopric there. In 1170 it was the scene of the murder of one of his successors, Thomas a Becket, which led to the Cathedral becoming one of the major European pilgrimage destinations of the Middle Ages. One of the greatest English landmarks, much of the outstanding church dates from the time of Becket, and the stained glass depicting his martyrdom are a fascinating historical record.
York Minster was founded in the 7th century AD and has grown to become one of the great Gothic cathedrals of Europe. It’s only surpassed in size by Cologne Cathedral in Germany, which was completed in the late 19th century. It’s unique in that it has sections of each of the main periods of English Gothic architecture – Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular. One of the most impressive landmarks in Britain.