Places to see in England Part 1. (South East England)

Hello Everyone!

I am now set to do some traveling to England this summer (May/June) and am looking for places of interest. The current plans of the group (four 20somethings) are to stay a week in different parts of the country. This is the first time visiting for one of the group and lived there for 13 years. We will have a car for transportation and would like to see as many of the places as we can.

We are interested in doing a lot of sightseeing and trying to absorb the culture. Our primary focus is going to be on historical sites but we are really interested in all of the different aspects of the country.

For our first part we are going to be staying Canterbury and focusing in South West England.

We will be spending a lot of time in Canterbury for the wonderful cathedral as well as I just love the town itself. We will of course be hitting Dover Castle.

Any Dopers out there have suggestions on places to see?


Does London count as SE England? Because there’s more to see in London and its suburbs that in any other part of England.

My mistake Giles, I should have been clarified that. This does not include London. We will be going south first, then north (through leeds and Scotland) then to Wales and the south west, and then back into London. This part is just for the south east side that is outside of London.

I wouldn’t recommend exploring the South West from Canterbury, as it’s in the South East. Are you in a muddle, and if so, which part of the country are you actually looking for recommendations on?

If you’re interested in Naval History, there’s Portsmouth. All in one location, you can see HMS Victory (Nelsons Flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar), HMS Warrior (First iron hulled warship. Even before US ironclads), the remains of the Mary Rose (one of Henry VIIIs warships) and various museums on said ships. Nearby is Fort Nelson, an eighteenth century fort that is now part of the Royal Armoury facilities. Also in Portsmouth, you can always take the chunnel to Northern France for a look at England from the outside. There are ferries to the channel islands like the Isle of Man. There’s the Royal Armored Corps Museum in Bovington. If you like tanks, it’s the place for you.

I’m afraid that’s all I know of for South East England.

Forgot The Links

OK, now I see that “West” was an isolated typo. I don’t know much about Kent, but East and West Sussex have plenty of cool stuff to see, especially along the coast. There’s Hastings, where the famous battle occurred; Brighton, with a cool alternative scene, tacky pier, and the amazingly sumptuous folly that is the Pavilion; the faded Victorian gentility of Bognor Regis; the Medieval city of Chichester with its magnificent Norman cathedral; the fantastically restored Fishbourne Roman villa; the beautiful and fascinating village of Bosham (where my family is from) that was subject to Viking raids, and was where King Canute failed to stop the tide, with its Anglo Saxon church - made out of bits of Fishbourne villa - that was “corrected” by the Normans when they added to it, that houses King Canute’s daughter.

Inland is the Weald and Downland open air museum, with a fine assortment of ancient houses that were moved there, that give you a genuine view of how life was lived by ordinary folk, hundreds of years ago.

Also look out for Martello Towers along the coast, put up to repel the Napoleonic invasion that never happened.

Then on to Portsmouth, as mentioned.

That’s all I can think of at the moment.

South and East of London- less visited by US tourists but excellent places:

Leeds Castle




Bluebell Railway

Bodiam Castle is a fine, genuine medieval moated castle on the same lines as Leeds Castle.

Corfe Castle is a very nice ruined castle with a picturesque village alongside. Very popular with tourists, even if overpriced.

These are great suggestions so far! Please keep them coming!

I am trying to go through the different sites!

Hypno-Toad - Going to see the Mary Rose and the articles that were recovered was something I am really looking forward to!

jjimm - Both Bodiam and The Pavilion look amazing! I am planning on going to Hastings as well as Battle, the site where the battle actually took place and King Harrod actually fell.

pjen - Sandwich Kent was not on the list but it will be now. An excellent find.

Crusoe - Corfe Castle - I can see why it is so popular, look at the panoramic views. Yet another thing to add to the list of things to try and see.

Speaking up for Bosham again, the church there is the very one where King Harold went to prayer just before he was defeated, and consequently it is on the Bayeux Tapestry. It’s also the church where I was baptised, and so will be on the Jjimm Tapestry when my time comes…

Bosham is indeed a lovely place.

If you go to Portsmouth/Southampton then the Isle of Wight is well worth a visit - it has a slightly old-fashioned genteel kind of feel to it, in the seaside resorts of Ventnor and Shanklin. Also on the island, Osborne House is a lovely Italian-style place once owned by Queen Victoria, which sometimes hosts open-air concerts in the grounds.

I’d class Corfe Castle as more like the southwest, but it is well worth a visit - and that goes for the village of the same name as well as the castle. Just down the road from there is Studland which is a very nice beach.

Actually, the Battle of Hastings did not occur at Hastings, but at what is now the town of Battle (seriously). There’s a guided tour around the site, and a semi-interesting abbey to see. Hastings, however, has some cool stuff, including a “Smuggler’s Caves” tourist attraction, some great small-shop shopping, and the best fish and chips in the world.

As you will be travelling by a car, you could try a drive along the A272, which passes through some of England’s loveliest countryside, alongside the South Downs in Sussex and Hampshire. A Dutch man liked the road so much he wrote a book about it. It’s a great drive, and it passes close by Arundel, the Weald and Downland museum, and several other sights mentioned above.

Having explored London and the South East perhaps you could make your way to York, where not only do you have York Minster, but also Viking and Roman historical sites and the National Railway Museum, as well as the city of York itself with its many restaurants, good pubs and very friendly people (but I guess I would say that being a Yorkshireman)
Will take about 31/2 hours via the M1 or A1

Hey I’m from Kent - specifically The Weald - which is the area to west of Kent, east of Tunbridge Wells, and full of fantastically quaint little villages and towns, each with their own unique character and history, ancient woods and sheep - well worth a days drive through if you have the time.

Kent and East Sussex are also some of the only wine producing areas in the UK, and if you’re interested in that, most vineyards offer tours and tastings. Staying with booze, Kent is also where (traditionally at least) the hops for England’s fantastic beers were grown - the Museum of Kent Life in Maidstone is good if you’re interested in the social and agricultural history of the area and Shepherd Neame in Faversham (9 miles from Canterbury) is the England’s oldest brewery (est. 1698) and offer tours.

The north coast of Kent has many fishing villages and Victorian resort towns, of particular note Whitstable (with it’s famous oysters) and Broadstairs (with it’s Dickens connection). Probably best to steer clear of Margate however.

Around Canterbury there’s also Rochester, with a fantastic castle and also more Dickens stuff, and Chatham, with it’s Historic Royal Dockyards, and birthplace of the Chav :dubious: .

On the south coast, in addition to Hastings and Battle, Dover Castle is well worth a look. Rye, on the Romney Marshes is an ancient medieval town and one of the Cinque Ports (of which there are more than five), key to defending England from the French at various times - the south east of England is littered with old fortifications dating from the middle ages to WWII.


Make that ‘the south east of England is littered with old fortifications dating from pre-Roman times to WWII.’


I also want to recommend Rye:

It’s a charming little town, built on a lump of a hill overlooking the Marshes and, at a distance, the Channel. Full of black and white Tudor buildings, Georgian homes, and steep cobblestone streets. It’s worth a visit to see Lamb House, the last home of Henry James, and also E.F. Benson (who wrote the Mapp and Lucia novels I take my username from; many of the stories are set in “Tilling,” = Rye).

Thank you everyone for the responses! These are all great places that I would have been sad to miss!

Colophon - I am not sure if we are going to make it over to the Isle of Wight but the Osborne house does look lovely.

Happy Clam - We are planning on hitting Battle. I am thinking we will just dedicate one day to the battle of Hastings. Starting in Bosham and then going to Battle, and then Hastings.

Usram - Where can I get on A272? We will have a car.
Hop Along** - We will be dedicating an entire week from York. That posting will come soon!

Oswald Bastable - We are not big wine drinkers but will most likely be hitting the distilleries in Scotland though. Rochester looks like a great find. I think we will add that to the list. We are planning on hitting Dover Castle. I went there last time and spent almost an entire day there at the castle and the underground tunnels. A great place for medieval history and World War 2 history.

Miss Mapp - Rye looks rather nice and it looks exactly like towns we want to hit. Full of beautiful scenery , architecture and history. Thank you to both you and Oswald Bastable for recommending it.