Which area to base our stay in England??

Sep 12th, 2008, 06:55 AM
  #1  
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Which area to base our stay in England??

My husband and I are returning to England for our 2nd time this coming March (2009). We previously stayed in London and have seen most of the sites there before and really would like to rent a house/flat/cottage somewhere else this time.

We need ideas of what area of England to stay in?

It will be for 1 week, 2 adults, and we want somewhat of a central location that we can do day trips from. We are interested in seeing historical sites (castles, museums, quaint villages and such, particularly Tudor time period.) I would think that it should have adequate public transportation too as I don't think we will rent a car. That may change though. We really want an area that will occupy our week and not be a big city.

Any ideas of where to base our stay would be most appreciated!!

Thank you.

Jhstubbs is offline  
Sep 12th, 2008, 07:11 AM
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though i think most Fodorites will suggest places like the Cotswolds or the Lake District i will suggest Kent - southeastern England as this area, called the Garden of England for good reason, has so many diverse things to see and do in a very compact area.

It also has a great train system to reach practically anything of interest. Tudor? Ann Bolyene lived in Hever Castle and there are so many neat castles - Dover Castle, Hever, Leeds Castle, etc. and Canterbury and its stunning cathedral. Get a B&B near a train station (trains in this area still serve many rural small towns) - Rye is a great old town to base in IMO
PalenQ is offline  
Sep 12th, 2008, 07:17 AM
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You have lots of great choices. I'm not so sure of the Tudor stuff, someone who is more an architectural buff than I am should be able to help with that.

If you don't want to stray too far from London, the area in Kent and East Sussex is chock-full of wonderful gardens, estates, castles. We stayed in Tenterden last time and it was a great base. Nice town with good restaurants, pubs, etc. and in the middle of things. We've also stayed near Rye, again good, and Sevenoaks, which has good rail links.

We've only been to Suffolk once, but I fell in love with it. Our base was just outside Bury St. Edmunds and, again, it was good. You might want to be closer to the sea, we really liked Southwold.

The Cotswolds are very popular, you can find lots of information on this site about places to stay there. Our preference is Chipping Campden.

We've never stayed in Shropshire, but it's down for visit after next. We've driven through on our way to Wales and I think Shrewsbury would be a great place to base yourselves.

And, of course, there is Yorkshire, we really liked the North Yorkshire Moors. We used Pickering as our base, although I think some of the other towns around there might be more picturesque.

I'm sure you'll get lots of great advice.
rickmav is offline  
Sep 12th, 2008, 07:20 AM
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Does Rye have a train station to lots of these locations?
Jhstubbs is offline  
Sep 12th, 2008, 07:30 AM
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Rye has a train station - but it's on a branch line.

Rye is also tiny. Pretty, but tiny and over-run with trippers in the summer.
Cholmondley_Warner is offline  
Sep 12th, 2008, 07:31 AM
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Yes it does - within an hour or less of anything in Kent i'd think and a wonderful old town.

Visit Rye - The Official Rye Tourism & Local Business Website
When you're in need of a treat or want to escape the pressures of modern life, come to Rye in the East Sussex countryside, in the south east of England. ...
www.visitrye.co.uk

the map on the Rye Tourist Office web site pinpoints the train station - right in town
PalenQ is offline  
Sep 12th, 2008, 07:39 AM
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Kent is really a hopeless base for anyone wanting to do daytrips round England. It' a pleasant enough place in its own right - but gettng anywhere else in Britain from it is awful. Except for Essex (of which the least said the better), you either have to round or through London for most of England, or deal with the very poor east-west road network south of the Thames if you restict your travels to England's very southern bit.

Rye has trains to London and practically nowhere else.

I hate to say this, but as a base for day trips, the area from Oxford, through the Cotswolds, to Birmingham area almost can't be beat: it's the middle of England and is just about the only part of the country, apart from London, you can use as a base for day trips to practically anywhere.

Actually, the very best base is arguably London, on which road, rail and air networks are centred. But you've ruled that out.

If you really do mean buildings dating between 1485-1603 the heaviest concentration is Oxford: there are practically no Tudor buildings in London, for example. Are you really so concerned with precisely those 118 years?
flanneruk is online now  
Sep 12th, 2008, 07:56 AM
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Incidentally, before we all start racking our brains:

- there's a fair amount of Great and almost Great Tudor Buildings around the place - like Hampton Court, King's College Cambridge and Little Moreton Hall, Cheshire
- there's also a few pleasant Tudor-dominated small towns, like Shrewsbury or Ludlow
- and there are a few pleasant towns with half-timbered buildings that are actually Victorian, like Chester and Stratford on Avon.

These three different kinds of places don't necessarily sit side by side. Which are you after?
flanneruk is online now  
Sep 12th, 2008, 08:05 AM
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Tudor is just an era - there are Tudor-era bldgs all over the country. What sorts of things do you mean? Bldgs actually associated w/ the Tudor monarchs - or just old bldgs?

Kent is full of castles/gardens/tudor era stuff -- but is is really REALLY hard to meander easily by public transport. Getting from point A to point B is possible in some places - but seeing the sites - not easy at all.

But that really applies to most rural areas of England. If you want a country cottage for a week, you'll really want a car in most places. I'd recommend the Cotswolds. Yes - perhaps a cliche but it is very central and close to places like Oxford, Bath, South Wales, Stratford, Warwick and a hundred other sites. But you'd definitely want a car.

Another area to consider would be North Yorkshire - you have York, the Moors, several dissolved abbeys/monasteries, the Dales, Castle Howard, beautiful sea coast towns. You could get around a bit by public transport - but driving would be much easier.

Suffolk/Norfolk would be a great area - but again, you'd want a car.

If you really don't want to drive - plan on renting a city flat/house somewhere (York, Oxford, Cambridge, someplace like that) and taking day trips by train/bus from there. But staying in the countryside in a cottage would be better IMO (and usually cheaper) - if you have a car . . . .
janisj is offline  
Sep 12th, 2008, 08:12 AM
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jj - what main attractions in Kent are not reachable by its incredibly dense, for a so-called rural area, by train?

not disputing you but it does not jive with what i think
PalenQ is offline  
Sep 12th, 2008, 08:34 AM
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Most gardens and castles in Kent/East Sussex are not on rail lines. Few are on bus lines. One CAN get to a castle or a garden by public transport. But that will be about the extent of the day's touring. If one has a car - then for instance Hever/Chatworth/ Penshurst Place are very easily done in one day. They are VERY near each other. It would be impossible to do by train and/or bus.

Same w/ Sissinghurst/Scotney Castle/Bodiam. A REALLY easy "3-fer" by car - impossible by bus/train.

So if one wants to see one thing per day and struggle w/ infrequent buses - then sure anything is possible. Practical - not so much.

I think it is unfair to mislead folks re what is doable. Just about anyplace in the UK has some form of public transport - that does not mean one can easily get from place to place out in the countryside.

janisj is offline  
Sep 12th, 2008, 08:39 AM
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Here are sites easily reachable by train from any Kent base practically:

Canterbury, Dover, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Hastings, Battle (1066 Battlefield), Rye, Leeds Castle, Hever Castle, Chilham and Chilham Castle, Broadstairs, Deal and Deal and Walmer Castles, Romney Marsh - all what i would consider the main sites and this is why Kent is so different than other rural areas - trains do go everywhere and i have ridden them to nearly all those places
PalenQ is offline  
Sep 12th, 2008, 08:43 AM
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Yes if you want to see 3 or 4 places a day but all the ones i list are great for the whole day

i guess it depends on what kind of pace you want. Granted cars let you combine more if you're the type where a few hours in a place are sufficient - and in places like the Cotswolds where public transport is so lacking yes, a car is needed but not in Kent IMO

Taxis from the nearest train station is an option even for remote places and all in all much cheaper than renting a car and then having to drive on narrow rurual one lane roads with passing spots on the wrong side of the road.
PalenQ is offline  
Sep 12th, 2008, 08:56 AM
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I guess i am just partial to Kent after spending weeks there each year for a decade when i was taking folks on trips there - most really loved it - anyway here's a thread i and others have contributed to:


http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=35149513
PalenQ is offline  
Sep 12th, 2008, 09:20 AM
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But the OP is going in March. That time of year it's better to stay in a small city with indoor sightseeing options as well as good transportation. Bath comes to mind as well as Oxford. I probably wouldn't chance the north of England in March, but who knows with global warming?

In fact, consider changing your travel dates to later in April or even May. The English countryside is wonderful in the spring.
Mimar is offline  
Sep 12th, 2008, 09:34 AM
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Actually i read into the OP rural when OP does not mention rural and thus a town like Cheltenham Spa, on the edge of the Cotswold Hills could make a great base. Nice city itself and bus links to main Cotswolds places (i have done this from Cheltenham Spa

And Cheltenham Spa has great rail links to places like Bath, Bristol (great old restored docks), Cardiff, Stratford and Warwick all less than two hours by train - investigate a BritRail England pass if doing this and coming to and from London by train IMO
PalenQ is offline  
Sep 12th, 2008, 09:35 AM
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"I probably wouldn't chance the north of England in March"

Why on earth not? It doesn't rain significasntly more in any month than another, and unless the poster is a complete wimp, she's no more likely to freeze to death - or even feel in the slightest bit uncomfortable - going round Speke Hall in March than King's College Chapel.

Lambs are gambolling by March, and leaves are beginning to bud, even in the north of England. The daffs will have been out for yonks and already going over, and the tulips about to come out: this isn't the Arctic wastes of the American midwest.
flanneruk is online now  
Sep 12th, 2008, 09:41 AM
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flanner.uk lives in the Cotswolds and has been a great help to others planning a trip there - like recommending a town with cottages like you like, etc. Janisj is also a tremendous help with questions like yours - she knows more about Britain than most British i would say - thus two great resources with all kinds of info hard to find in guidebooks - so keep posting with questions.
PalenQ is offline  
Sep 12th, 2008, 10:40 AM
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My two cents...York. Two hours from London, Edinburgh, good local bus service to the Moores, Dales, Whitby and you can book day tours to visit an estates or two. If not in York, I would do Kent, another area I like, but for different reasons.
rogeruktm is offline  
Sep 12th, 2008, 11:41 AM
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The problem with NE England - ie based on York - is that, wonderful though it is, there's practically nothing (and I'm not sure it's even 'practically') from the Tudor era anywhere in the area. I can't even think of anything Tudor in York itself.

The Tudors did a fair amount of destruction in the area, but almost nothing they put back survived the destruction and "restorations" of the Victorians. I suppose you could argue that the ruined abbeys in places like Whitby are the relic of the Tudors' dark side - or that the extraordinary superiority of the music in Durham, York and above all Leeds cathedrals to the pappy junk they sing in French or Italian cathedrals is the great relic of the Tudors' genius.

But I suspect that's not what you're looking for. Which is why we need a tighter brief from you
flanneruk is online now  

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