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Cancelling English Heritage membership

The year after we got married, Christopher and I went on holiday via York to Hadrian’s Wall, and came back home via the Scottish Borders and the Lake District. We didn’t have a lot of money, as buying and furnishing our flat was taking up all our cash, so my parents very kindly gave us some spending money. We spent some of that on a good dinner in York (he always did like his food!), and some on entrance fees to various abbeys, castles and forts. After a few days, we worked out that it would be much more cost effective to spend the rest of the holiday money on buying a joint membership of English Heritage, so that we could get in everywhere free.

We kept up an annual English Heritage membership thereafter. It was great when I was learning to drive, as there are lots of places in their custody within about an hour of here – I would drive us somewhere on a Sunday morning, we’d have a picnic and potter round a castle, Roman ruin, or long barrow, then Chris would drive us home. He always refused to join the National Trust, and in fact used to get quite het up when visiting their stately homes, muttering about “inherited privilege chunner chunner”, but English Heritage sites tend to be much more ruinous, so somehow were less offensive to his egalitarian sensibilities! We tried to have one holiday a year pottering around somewhere in the UK, visiting English Heritage sites that were new to us. The year before he died we took a week off work over Easter, and visited eleven English Heritage properties in one week! We really got our money’s worth out of the membership that year.

After Chris died, I changed the membership from joint to just my name. I thought at first that I might continue to visit the sites, and that it would be an incentive to get out of the house and do something at the weekends. But since I have been widowed, I haven’t gone to a single EH property. All the ones close to me are ones we visited regularly together, including when he was having chemotherapy, when we went to our favourite ruin, Witley Court. I really haven’t felt up to going out for a drive on my own at the weekend (and I don’t like driving anyway) and then dealing with a load of memories when I got to my destination.

So I have reluctantly decided to completely cancel my English Heritage membership. It was a sad thing to do after eighteen years or so of interesting visits, but there’s no point in wasting money on something I’m simply not using. The cheery woman on the membership phone line wanted to know my reason for cancelling my subscription. From the change in tone in her voice when I told her, I don’t think she had a tick box for “widowed and unwilling to go visiting on one’s own and stirring up memories”.

My sister is coming up to stay for a few days next month. She is a member of the National Trust, and I’ve asked her to look up some interesting NT properties nearby that we can go and visit. Those should be “safe”, as I’m unlikely to have visited them with Christopher…….

{ 2 } Comments

  1. David A | 21 July 2012 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Croome Park ( is one of the nearest NT properties, and we visit it a lot – though largely because it provides long tiring walks for children! Brockhampton (, Hanbury Hall and Packwood House (, also spring to mind…

  2. Gillian | 21 July 2012 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    Love the photos! We went to Croome with my sister and her boyfriend when Chris was ill, so I’ll rule that out for now. But the others sound like definite maybes!