Love culture and art? Then get your mitts on a National Art Pass this summer, and go exploring! Explore hundreds of museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, and Must-see museums, art galleries and historic places in London; providing you with all the weekend inspiration you need. I’ve just bought my dad an Art Pass for Father’s Day and I can’t wait to give it to him. He is a big culture vulture and loves wandering art galleries and historical buildings.
The pass gives you discounted entry to 64 galleries, museums and historic houses in London alone — plus free entry to more than 225 sites across the UK — this really is THE art membership card to own. The pass costs £62 annually and just £46.50 if you pay by Direct Debit. Get your National Art Pass today and enjoy a further £5 off by quoting the code SAVEFIVE.* And if you’re quick, for the rest of June, they have a special offer on for summer for only £10! Here are my favourite UK destinations to visit with the National Art Pass this summer:
1. Kensington Palace is birthplace and childhood home of Queen Victoria. The elegant 17th-century palace lies in the heart of Kensington, surrounded by gardens and tucked away from the bustle of the high street.
The palace reopened in 2012 after a £12-million renovation project, and its rooms reveal the dramatic stories of three centuries of royal life. The Queen’s State Apartments are a series of cosy intimate rooms created for Queen Mary II and her husband King William III, who bought the palace in the late 17th century and commissioned Sir Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor to transform it into their home. The magnificent King’s Staircase, decorated with scenes of George I’s court, leads into the imposing King’s Apartments, where courtiers and visitors were received by the monarch. A further series of rooms is devoted to Queen Victoria. She was born and grew up in the palace, and it was here that she first found out she was to be Queen, and where she met her future husband, Albert. Later, in the 20th century, princesses Margaret and Diana both spent time living at the Palace and it is currently the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, Prince Harry of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.
2. Cardiff Castle is one of Wales’s greatest heritage sites, a medieval fortress and Gothic Revival mansion boasting almost 2,000 years of history.
Archaeological surveys suggest that the Cardiff Castle site was first used by Roman legions as early as AD54, following the defeat of the Silures. Around AD1100 the Normans appropriated the site for the construction of a stronghold, and more recently Lord Bute – Britain’s richest man in 1868 – commissioned architect William Burges to transform the castle into a Neo-Gothic palace.
3. Yorkshire Sculpture Park includes over 60 sculptures by internationally-acclaimed artists in the beautiful grounds of the historic Bretton Estate, making YSP one of the world’s leading outdoor art galleries.
Work by internationally acclaimed artists, including Elisabeth Frink, Andy Goldsworthy, Henry Moore and James Turrell. With a vibrant programme of temporary exhibitions, dynamic events and activities, and pioneering education and community work, each season offers something new to discover. Yorkshire Sculpture Park was awarded the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2014 for its bold artistic vision, consistently delivered at the highest level.
4. Ham House – Ham House’s beautiful grounds include the photogenic Cherry Garden, while the walnut and chestnut trees in the outer courtyard are home to an exotic flock of green parakeets.
Rich in history and atmosphere, Ham was largely the vision of Elizabeth Murray, the Duchess of Lauderdale (later the Countess of Dysart), who played an important role in the machinations of the English Civil War and later the restoration of the monarchy. The house is one of the most haunted in Britain; it was subject to a year long investigation by the Ghost Club which recorded a number of phenomena that remain ‘unexplained’. Visitors attest to sightings of the Duchess of Lauderdale and her dog, which is reported to have been seen running down the corridors – despite the fact no dogs are allowed in the building. It is also said that the aroma of the sweet Virginia pipe tobacco that the Duke smoked after meals can be detected in the dining room.
5. Painshill Park – Painshill was created between 1738 and 1773 and is now a wonderland covering 158 acres, featuring a crystal grotto, a romantic ruined abbey, a magical Gothic temple and a Turkish tent.
Inspired by Renaissance art and a Grand Tour visit to Italy, the Honourable Charles Hamilton created his ‘garden of moods’ between 1738 and 1773. Painshill is now a wonderland covering 158 acres, featuring a crystal grotto (open at selected times), a romantic ruined abbey, a magical Gothic temple, a Turkish tent and the exotic Gothic tower. The ornamental pleasure grounds, vineyard, plantings and Plant Heritage (NCCPG) National Collection of North American trees and shrubs, offer seasonal interest.
Tempted? Go on, buy yours here for only £10.
*I was gifted the National Art Pass as part of this collaboration.