From the slightly eccentric to the macabre to the downright bizarre, the British countryside is dotted with off-beat visitor attractions.
With the independence offered by your own car and a good map, you can quickly winkle out the hidden gems, away from the usual circuit of national museums, stately homes and theme parks (wonderful though they are). Many of the attractions in the selection below are the result of individuals’ enthusiasms – collections too esoteric for establishment museums, gardens founded on whimsy or museums built on a lifetime’s dedication. Others derive from offcuts of social history and present windows into other worlds.
Joss Croft, Marketing Director at VisitBritain explains that ‘a touch of quirkiness is part of the British experience and differentiates us’ – it’s a reflection of the national character, with its flair for eccentricity, fascination with history and celebration of the unofficial. ‘Quirkiness extends to the country’s hugely varied range of attractions, building an emotional connection and delivering fantastic days to remember.’
Some of the attractions showcased below are likely not just to stick in the mind, but to make you question your own judgement in finding your curiosity piqued. Whether it’s concrete sheep, the busy-ness of bees, or journeys into the bowels of the earth, you’ve got to admit there’s something oddly fascinating and maybe just a little bit batty too. And that’s no bad thing. After all, as the poet Robert Frost put it, ‘a civilized society is one which tolerates eccentricity to the point of doubtful sanity.’