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Is an English Heritage Membership Worth it?

A Comprehensive review of English Heritage Membership

Article & prices updated 11 May 2024

If you’re reading this article, it’s possible that you’re already considering buying an English Heritage membership but maybe need to know that little bit more before purchasing.

So, we’ve put together a full review of what to expect with an English Heritage membership and how much it’s going to cost.

However, if you’re short on time and just want to know whether an English Heritage membership is worth it, you can jump straight to our conclusion here.

For those of you wanting to discover more about the benefits of joining English Heritage, then this guide is for you.  We’ll cover details from locations and activities through to membership options and costs.

So, without further ado, let’s crack on.

A large imposing castle built of stone on top of a cliff
Dover Castle, Kent

Who are English Heritage and why do they offer membership?

English Heritage can trace its roots back as far as 1882, when the then ‘Office of Works’ started to amass a collection of some of England’s most striking historical buildings and monuments.

Fast forward to the present day, and after many changes along the way, English Heritage is now a national charity which cares for over 400 historic monuments, palaces, houses, castles, abbeys, industrial sites, Roman forts and deserted medieval villages.

English Heritage also run the notable ‘Blue Plaque Scheme’ in London, with over 900 plaques across the city (which I’m sure is worth its own article at some point in the future…!)

With a simple vision of helping people experience the story of England, the charity works hard to bring history to life and makes sites as accessible as possible.

And it is obviously doing a great job, with over 4.2 million people visiting sites across England over the 2021/22 season.

English Heritage membership is a big part of the charity and is designed to make exploring its 400+ sites both super easy and affordable. 

The money raised through membership fees helps both conserve our history and ensure that it is kept open for visitors to enjoy for generations to come.

In fact, membership is so popular that it’s worth understanding why so many people join.

How many members does English Heritage have?

English Heritage has almost 1.2 million members (reference: English Heritage annual report 2021/22).

That is around 1.8% of the UK’s entire population, which is pretty good going considering all the other temptations we have when it comes to spending money.

So, what is it that attracts so many people to sign up for an English Heritage membership each year?

Well, let’s dig into the detail…

A stone wall between England and Scotland called Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland

What does an English Heritage membership include?

First and foremost, an English Heritage membership gives you free entry to over 400 historic places.

And that’s pretty fantastic in its own right.

However, that’s not all.

In addition to free entry across English Heritage sites, members also benefit from the following:

  • An English Heritage handbook which provides all the information and inspiration you need to find your next site to visit.
  • Free or reduced entry prices on 100’s of events run by English Heritage.
  • Free parking across all English Heritage sites, so no need to download a payment app or search for loose change in the footwell of your car.
  • A Members’ magazine packed full of ideas on how to make the most of your English Heritage membership, what’s new to English Heritage, insights into what goes on behind the scenes, and best of all, it’s delivered to your door for free.
  • A Members’ e-newsletter outlining events, special offers and seasonal articles about the work that the organisation is doing in your area.
  • Kids go free! Up to six children can accompany every adult member (as part of a family group) and enjoy free admission to English Heritage attractions.
  • Free or discounted admission at hundreds of associated attractions across the UK, including CADW, Historic Scotland, OPW and Manx Heritage. To help, we’ve listed out some of the best deals below:
  1. Wales: You get half-price admission to CADW sites during your first year of membership.  This then becomes free admission after your first renewal of your membership.
  1. Scotland: Historic Scotland look after sites north of the border and there are over 70 places that you can visit and enjoy half-price admission during your first year of membership. You then get free admission to Historic Scotland sites after your first renewal of your membership.
  1. Ireland: OPW look after over 40 historic Irish sites and your English Heritage membership grants you free entry to them all.
  1. Isle of Man: With your English Heritage membership you can enjoy free entry to all Manx National Heritage attractions.

Click here to find out more details about English Heritage Associated Attractions

How much is an English Heritage membership?

When it comes to purchasing an English Heritage membership, there are different options available depending on what you’re looking for.

So, here is a breakdown of the different English Heritage memberships available, how much they cost and who they are most suitable for.

Individual English Heritage membership

Individual membership of English Heritage is for one person and can be purchased for yourself or as a gift. The pricing for individual membership in 2023 is as follows:

  • Adult (26+): £72.00 a year or £6.00 a month.
  • Senior (65 +): £66.00 a year or £5.50 a month.
  • Young adult / student (18-25 years / with a valid NUS card): £42.00 a year or £3.50 a month.
  • Junior (under 18s): Although there is no Junior membership, up to 6 under 18’s can visit for free when accompanied by an adult and within the same family group.

Note that the monthly cost is for a 12-month duration payable via Direct Debit, and monthly payments are not available on gift memberships.

Joint English Heritage membership

A joint membership is ideal for couples who love visiting historic sites together. As long as you both live at the same address, you can both get a membership for a slightly cheaper price than two individual memberships.

  • Joint adult (18+): £126.00 a year or £10.50 a month.
  • Adult & senior (one adult under 65 years and one senior over 65 years): £111.00 a year or £9.25 a month.
  • Joint senior (two adults both over 65 years): £99.00 a year or £8.25 a month.

As with individual memberships, monthly payments are not available on a gift membership.

Family English Heritage membership

A family membership option is also available. There are two options available depending on your individual setup:

  • Family of 1 adult and up to 6 children: £72.00 a year or £6.00 a month.
  • Family of 2 adults and up to 12 children: £126.00 a year or £10.50 a month.  This membership requires both adults to live at the same address.

As with all English Heritage memberships, monthly payments are not available on a gift membership.

Lifetime English Heritage membership

The most expensive English Heritage membership is a lifetime membership.

A lifetime membership is a one-off payment that gets you life membership of English Heritage.  All Lifetime memberships are available to purchase as a gift.

  • Individual adult (18+ years): A one-time payment of £1,725.
  • Individual senior (65+ years): A one-time payment of £1,400.
  • Joint adult (both 18+ years): A one-time payment of £2,250.
  • Joint senior (both 65+ years): A one-time payment of £1,800.

For joint adult & senior memberships, both adults must live at the same address.  Monthly Direct Debit payments are not available on lifetime English Heritage memberships.

What are the financial benefits of joining English Heritage?

Now that you know the costs of both annual and lifetime membership with English Heritage, let’s look at some of the associated savings you can expect to make.

First off, if you’re not a member of English Heritage, the best way to make any saving on a ticket is to book in advance via the English Heritage website.  By doing so you can expect to save around 10% on the ticket price compared to what you’d pay if you rocked up at the gate.

English Heritage also charge different day rates depending on the time of year that you are visiting. 

For example, a site in a touristy location is going to be most expensive to visit on a weekend during the summer, and conversely, cheaper mid-week during off-peak periods.

However, day ticket prices can be quite steep for non-members, with Dover Castle (for example), charging up to £29.00 / adult on a Saturday in August.

At Stonehenge, it is even pricier to buy a ticket on the day, with rates hitting £31 / adult at peak times.

If you put that into perspective, that’s round 42% of the total annual cost of an individual membership.

So, you would only need to visit 2 additional properties through a whole year to actually start seeing savings if you purchased an annual membership.

And with over 400 places to visit, you’re spoilt for choice.

So, from a financial perspective, if you are planning to visit at least three English Heritage site, an annual membership is certainly worth it.

The ruins of a stone building called Whitby Abbey
Whitby Abbey, North Yorkshire

But is an English Heritage membership really worth it?

Looking at the benefits your get as a member, plus the financial savings that you can make if you plan to visit at least 3 places during a 12-month period, I would suggest that an English Heritage membership is definitely worth it.

And don’t forget, you can give it a go for a year at a time, and even pay monthly via Direct Debit, which is typically only a few pounds more than a single meal deal at a supermarket.

However, you may be wondering whether there are enough sites to visit in a year that are within striking distance of where you live to make a membership worthwhile.

English Heritage sites near me

Thankfully, English Heritage have both a great online database and an app that you can use to find places close to where you live, or where you are visiting on holiday. 

With over 400 places to visit, the map below will help give you a rough indication as to the clusters of English Heritage properties located across England.  As you can see, there is certainly no shortage of places to visit!

Clusters of English Heritage sites. Photo from www.english-heritage.org.uk

The unexpected benefits of an English Heritage membership

Whilst the headline benefits of joining English Heritage are pretty clear, here are some additional bonuses:

  • Less ‘what shall we do today’ moments: With an English Heritage membership, you’re literally spoilt for choice when it comes to finding things to do on a day off.  As such, you’re pretty much guaranteed to find somewhere to visit within an hour’s drive and you’ll certainly feel as if you’re getting the most out of your membership.
  • Easier on the wallet: Whilst we’ve discussed the upfront costs of an English Heritage membership, you’ll almost certainly get a huge ‘feel good’ moment knowing that you don’t need to break out the bank card each time you visit. 

What’s more, you can be a little more spontaneous and if you see a sign pointing you to an attraction, you can simply swing by and visit without having to reconsider your budget.

  • Education, education, education: As I get older I find learning about our history ever more fascinating, and each time I visit an English Heritage site I come away enthralled by the new knowledge that I’ve learnt
  • Conserving the past: English Heritage membership goes a long way to helping look after some of our most important historical sites.  Without such funding, many places would be at risk of degradation and conserving them would be a monumental challenge.

How to cancel an English Heritage membership?

English Heritage know that there may be times when a membership needs to be cancelled and as such, they make it a pretty straightforward process

  1. Get in touch with English Heritage on 0370 333 1182.
  2. Quote your membership number which can be found on your membership card or on your online portal.
  3. Ask them to cancel your membership prior to your renewal date.

How to join English Heritage

If you’ve got this far, I hope that I’ve been able to make a strong case for joining English Heritage!

If you’re ready to select your membership type and join, you can head through to the English Heritage membership page here to get started on your journey to discovering new places, and join over a million like-minded folk.

Once you’re on the membership site, you’ll need to enter a few details about yourself and set up payment online. 

It really is that simple!

So, is an English Heritage membership worth it?

An English Heritage membership is absolutely worth it, no question.  With over 400 sites to visit across England, and 100’s of events throughout the year, you’ll reap the rewards of a membership in no time at all.

So, if you’re ready to start exploring, you can sign up here.

Before you go

Monty’s Guide was designed and built to bring the UK’s best historical and cultural attractions together in one place.

 We’re growing in size week-by-week and we hope that you find lots of really useful listings and resources to help you discover your next day out.

If you know of an attraction which isn’t listed on Monty’s Guide, you can make a recommendation directly to me, Monty.

If you’d like to keep abreast of our latest news, you can sign up to the Monty’s Guide newsletter here.  We treat it as we would want to be treated ourselves, so no spam or bombarding your inbox with nonsense.

And finally, keeping Monty’s Guide fresh, informative and full of great ideas takes a lot of time and money.  Therefore, we work with selected organisations as affiliates, where we may make a small commission on products or services that we review and recommend to visitors of Monty’s Guide.

Long pedestrian bridge between two cliff faces in Cornwall
Tintagel, Cornwall

About the author

Having worked across the heritage and tourism sector for over 10 years, Monty Beaumont is an expert when it comes to discovering new places to visit and great days out for the whole family. 

He has previously worked for the National Trust as a General Manager in Cornwall, coordinated the complex operations of running a castle in Devon and the mastered the intricacies of providing exceptional hospitality and service at some of the finest historic houses in the UK. 

As part of his vision and drive for Monty’s Guide, Monty travels across the country to find new places to visit and explore, and sharing his finding on montysguide.com, which is used by 1,000s of people each week to find their next great day out.

His experience and knowledge of the historic and cultural sector gives him a unique insight into the elements that make tourism and learning so important in our quest to understanding more about our heritage.

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