England – the land of the wordsmiths, the Queen, and of course, high-tea. For centuries, the country has served as a backdrop for authors to set their masterpieces in. And that hasn’t changed today, making you want to visit the country all the more.
If you are a bibliophile, you would want to visit these places made famous by books. Here’s a list of 7 places to help you channel the literary greats!
1. Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Railway Station
For: Harry Potter fans, fans of fantasy literature, and every muggle looking for a little bit of magic in their lives.
If you ever waited for your letter from Hogwarts (even after you crossed the magical age of 11) a visit to King’s Cross station would definitely be on your bucket list. And while you won’t be able to get through the barrier to get on to the Hogwarts Express, you could get a photo-op with a luggage cart at Platform 9 ¾.
Here’s an interesting tidbit: This installation was placed after the popularity of the Harry Potter series soared!
Don’t feel too bad once the picture has been taken and you have to return your scarf adorned in the colours of your Hogwarts house (the Sorting Hat may not have sorted you, but Pottermore did). Make yourself feel better by taking awalk around the corner and entering a cosy little store that is reminiscent of Ollivanders. You can buy wands, feather quills, and even a pack of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans (cross your fingers that you don’t get the ear wax flavour).
How to get there: If you have just landed in London’s Heathrow Airport, you can either take a cab to the railway station which is in North London or you could use the London Underground, get on to the Piccadilly line and get down at the King’s Cross stop.
2. 221B Baker Street
For: Fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective protagonist and fans of the countless television and movie spin-offs.
So, officially, this famous address lies between 237 and 241 Baker Street, technically making it 239. But it does carry the plaque of 221B and is the reimagined home of, arguably, the world’s most famous detective.
There is an entry fee of £10 that you will have to pay, but this fee gives you access to the entire house, which includes handwritten notes about cases, life-size figurines, and of course the souvenir shop.
How to get there: Getting there is a bit of a mystery. From the time you reach Baker Street, you will be met with a mysterious sign of a hand pointing to no direction in particular. You will also see this sign and the words 221B at various storefronts. The stores have names such as ‘Dry Cleaner to Sherlock Holmes’. So, getting there will require a bit of logical deduction. But it isn’t too difficult, it’s what you would call – elementary.
3. Shakespeare’s Globe
For: He who doth be a fan of the Bard, theatre enthusiasts, and those who are looking to soak in some Elizabethan culture.
“And let us on your imaginary forces work”. This line from the prologue of Henry V is exactly what Shakespeare’s Globe does to you when you enter. Yes, the entry fee is slightly steep at £13, but it is worth it. You can catch a play being performed or you could take a tour of the theatre which makes you feel like you are walking through the Elizabethan age.
Don’t want to pay? No problem. There is no entry fee for the souvenir shop, so feel free to indulge to your heart’s content!
How to get there: You can get to the theatre on foot from The Millennium Footbridge. You could also hire a cycle from any of the public bike racks. Alternatively, you could take the London Underground and depending on which line you are planning to take, you can get down at Blackfriars, Mansion House, London Bridge, Southwark, or St Paul’s. The Globe is only a 15-minute walk from any of these stations.
For: Also for fans of the Bard and literature enthusiasts.
Stratford-upon-Avon is popular since it is Shakespeare’s birthplace. It is extremely crowded, but if you can stand the crowds, it’s worth it. You can also visit Anne Hathaway’s (his wife, not the actress) cottage which is close by.
How to get there: You can take a train from London Marylebone to Stratford-upon-Avon. The journey will take you approximately 2 hours. If you book a train ticket in advance, you could end up saving some money as well!
For: Fans of Jane Austen and those who would like to experience Regency England.
Ah, Regency England. A time (if you are a Jane Austen fan) to look back at with a sense of pride and hold no prejudice against the foibles of man.
That disastrous pun aside, Bath was made famous by Jane Austen in her novels ‘Northanger Abbey’ and ‘Persuasion’. In fact, Bath was also her home for a few years towards the end of the eighteenth century.
If you are a fan of Austen, her books, the movies and television shows that told and re-told her stories to a captive audience, or her contribution to literature at a time when it wasn’t quite considered proper for a lady to write, then you should pay a visit to the Jane Austen Centre in Bath.
The centre is situated in an original Georgian townhouse and has costumed tour guides to take you around. There is also a specially commissioned wax statue of the famous author herself, created by a renowned FBI forensic artist and a costume designer who has taken home both a BAFTA and an Emmy for costume design.
After the tour, you can enjoy a quintessential English tea at the Regency Tea Room and shop for some memorabilia at the gift shop.
If you want to know what it is truly like to live in Regency England, you can also buy tickets for costume balls hosted by the centre. While the price is steep and may go up to £70, it includes a pre-dance workshop, evening entertainment, and a sumptuous two-course buffet.
How to get there: From London, you can take a train to Bath. A single train ticket starts from around £98.40 and the average travel time is an hour and a half. However, if you book your tickets in advance and make use of promotional offers, you could get a ticket as low as £14!
6. Whitby, Yorkshire
For: Fans of one of literature’s oldest vampire – Count Dracula, as well as fans of gothic and horror novels, movies, and television shows.
You are probably reading this and scoffing because Count Dracula’s castle was in Transylvania. And you are right. But here is something only true Dracula fans will know. The seaside town of Whitby was the inspiration behind Dracula. And ever since, this Northern Yorkshire town has maintained its gothic façade in terms of its architecture.
Its gothic ruins and churches surrounded by swooping bats which inspired Bram Stoker, continue to inspire hundreds of people who descend to Whitby for the Goth Weekend and in October for the Bram Stoker Film Festival.
How to get there: The fastest way to get to Whitby (without turning into a bat) from London is by flight. This journey will take you around an hour. You can also go by train or bus. These are slightly longer journeys and will take you 5 hours or 9 hours, respectively.
7. Pillars of Hercules
For: People in love with Dickens’ portrayal of England, and fans of modern day writers such as Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, and Julian Barnes.
You may be wondering why a pub has made this list. It’s because it was made famous by Charles Dickens in his book ‘A Tale of Two Cities’. Today, it draws some of London’s literary elite, and up-and-coming writers and critics looking for the same inspiration that hit Dickens (granted it was a tavern when Dickens used to visit it and not the pub it is now).
You can also unwind at this quiet pub with some beer and think of how your next novel will inspire people to visit the pub more often.
How to get there: The pub is located in Soho and you can get there by train or by bus.
There are so many more places that your favourite authors have made famous. In fact, if you haven’t planned your annual vacation yet and are an avid reader, you should consider doing a literary tour of England!
Of course, the travel can at times be stressful and put a damper on your holiday, so make sure you have the right travel insurance. After all, protecting yourself while travelling is what Sherlock Holmes would call, elementary.