- Cocktails in a WWII air raid shelter
Sip cocktails out of a tin can, a thermos flask or a milk bottle as you party ‘Blitz’ style inside a 1940’s air raid shelter. Located in Soho, Cahoots aims to bring history to life and transport you back in time. Previously the site of an out-of-hours drinking club formed by a bunch of Scottish Officers in 1917, it was later used as an air raid shelter during World War II.
Once you’ve been issued a ticket from the kiosk, make your way down the wooden stairs to a vintage underground carriage. Decked out in fabrics and furnishings that depict the age and manned by staff dressed in character, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a time warp. Work your way through classic rum and gin-based cocktails, alongside sandbags and wartime memorabilia. Sit back and relax as a band plays and your foot taps.
- Discover the Secret Wartime Tunnels of Dover Castle
Dover Castle and the legendary white cliffs contain over 900 years of history that span the Roman period to the Cold War. This year, the secret wartime tunnels have finally opened to visitors. Huge effort has gone into depicting Operation Dynamo, the heroic rescue attempt surrounding the evacuation of Dunkirk. Film footage and special effects will take you back to the era.
The Underground hospital with its authentic visual display details the difficulties of operating under fire. Imagine what it must have been like for both the medical staff and the wounded on the ground. Experience the same sights and smells as you walk around the exhibition.
- Visit the National Cold War Exhibition and the World’s oldest Spitfire
The Royal Air Force Museum in Cosford, Shropshire offers a tantalising glimpse into the history of wartime aircraft, including a Supermarine Spitfire 1 and a Lincoln bomber. Three wartime hangers house over 70 aircraft that plot the history of flying up to the 21st century.
There’s also a National cold War Exhibition chronicling the historic threat of world peace and security in the 20th century. Designed to educate and inform, the exhibition looks at the period from both sides, detailing social and technological advancement during the period.
- Fancy a ‘Wingman flight’ with a Spitfire?
This has got to be a once in a lifetime opportunity, to fly alongside such an iconic plane. Go ahead and book a ‘Warbirds Flight’, at the renowned former RAF airfield in Biggin Hill, Kent. Enjoy the patchwork fields of England with the flash of colour and familiar drone of the Spitfire roaring next to you. If you’d rather keep your feet firmly on the ground, you could always book your opportunity to ‘Sit in the Spitfire’. There is nowhere else in the country that gives you the opportunity to get this close to a working model! With a whole hanger full of airworthy Spitfires to explore, this is a slice of heaven for historic plane enthusiasts.
- The Plymouth Black Friars Distillery Tours
Did you know that the well-loved drink – the gin and tonic, comes from British India, when it was widely consumed to help prevent malaria? The quinine in the tonic water had its benefits apparently! As the Royal Navy grew in size, so did the popularity of Plymouth Gin. A well-known tipple used by the sailors was called a Mahogany – made up of gin and warm black treacle.
If you appreciate a spot of gin, then a 40-minute tour detailing the origins of Plymouth Gin and it’s 200-year-old history with the Royal Navy could be fun. For the connoisseur, a more detailed tour and sampling session may be in order. For the elite gin buff, you can discover how to make it and create your very own tipple using a tried and tested recipe.
- Journey back to World War 1 with ‘War Horse’ in the West End
This is an extraordinary story of a young boy’s bond with his beloved horse Joey. Forced apart by the onset of war, Joey is claimed by the army and shipped to France. Albert, despite being too young to enlist, sets out on a perilous journey to bring him home. This award winning West End show, based on Michael Morpurgo’s novel can’t fail to move you. The spectacular life size puppets, made by the Handspring Puppet Company enable Joey and his fellow horses to burst onto the stage and capture our hearts.
War Horse can be found at the National Theatre, Drury Lane. The West End run is due to end on the 12th March 2016, so if you want to see this extraordinary production, you need to act fast.
- Learn about Britain’s best-kept secret – the code breakers of Bletchley Park
In September 1939, Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire went from being a quiet Victorian Country estate to a top-secret location for M16 and the Government Code and Cypher School. It was also the birthplace to computing and electronic security. The mission for the code breakers was to crack the Nazi codes and ciphers, the most famous being ‘Enigma’. What went on at Bletchley Park helped to ensure the outcome of World War II and paved the way for modern technology today.
Now a world-class museum and heritage site, Bletchley Park makes a great family day out. Take a multimedia guided tour around the original code-breaking huts. Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of Bletchley Park during the war years and view the exhibitions that can be found both in the Mansion and the Visitor Centre. With all kind of activities running throughout the autumn, this promises to make a memorable trip to a secret world that touched us all.
- Travel back in time and come face to face with a ‘Viking’ warrior
The Jorvik Viking Centre in York is a world famous attraction, known for its historic reconstruction of Norse life and its amazing archaeology that has only recently been discovered. Visitors are greeted with the sights and smells of life in and around the streets of the old town ‘Jorvik’, with a number of interesting exhibitions to visit along the way. With audio & video displays bringing the archaeological site to life and plenty of original artefacts to consider, this is a place for all of the family to enjoy.
- Visit Alnwick Castle and follow in the footsteps of the Crawley Family, from the hit drama series ‘Downton Abbey’
There has been some form of fortified castle here in Northumberland for nearly 1000 years. During the middle ages, the castle was used as a military garrison, designed to defend the English border against attack from Scottish forces.
You may have spotted Alnwick Castle, which was used as a location for the Downton Abbey Christmas Special in 2014. Known as ‘Brancaster Castle’ on film, it was hired by Lord Sinderby for the grouse-shooting season. An exhibition has been set up for the public to see first-hand the many costumes, props and photographs relating to the series.
Alnwick Castle is arguably most famous in recent times for featuring as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Scenes from the first two Harry Potter movies were shot here. This autumn, young visitors can learn how to master their broomsticks, with help from resident wizards. They can also dress up as medieval knights and explore the history of the castle. For those looking for a military twist, visit the First World War Exhibition or take a stroll around the Fusiliers Museum and discover a rich history dating back 300 years.
- Visit the most impressive artillery fortification in Britain – Fort George
Commissioned by George II following the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1746, Fort George near Inverness was built as a mighty defensive structure.
Designed to withstand further attacks from the Jacobite rebellion, it came supplied with all kinds of defensive weaponry. Loaded with ammunition from cannon, muskets, bayonets and swords, its 18th century arsenal remains on display today.
Although still a working garrison for the British Army, the site is open to be explored and for the history of this impressive defensive structure to be uncovered.
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