English Heritage Membership, Should You Bother?

English Heritage Membership CostWe visited Down House the home of Charles Darwin in June 2022 which is an English Heritage owned property. When we arrived, we realised that the cost for two adults was £16.00 each, making our total £32.00. This visit was a quick trip between something else we had planned that day, so £32.00 is quite expensive for what would have been two hours max.

When we got to the ticket desk we were asked if we’d like to take out English Heritage Membership. At the time, we decided that we would at a cost of £120 for the year. But what exactly is English Heritage Membership, what does it include and is it worth it? We’re going to provide as much information as we can, but obviously be aware that prices will change and the way the membership works can change. Everything is accurate at the time of writing, and the opinions we give are ours alone.

Who are the English Heritage?

English Heritage Trust is a charity formed in 1983, which manages over 400 historic monuments, buildings, and places throughout England. Some of the locations they care for and maintain include Stonehenge, Dover Castle, Tintagel Castle, and Hadrian’s Wall. As well as other prehistoric sites, medieval castles, Roman forts, and country houses.

Their aim is to ‘bring the story of England to life for over 10 million people each year’, and they do so with the assistance of volunteers who help to look after each historical treasure. Funding comes from the admission cost to see the monuments, which is why membership is so important to the trust, as it brings in more money and attracts more visitors throughout the year.

What is the English Heritage Membership?

What is the English Heritage MembershipHaving English Heritage memberships means that you have unlimited access to all their sites. When we say unlimited, we mean that you can visit any of the properties or monuments as often as you like within your membership period. In addition to that there is free entry for up to six children who are under 18 (terms and conditions apply).

If you’re driving to the locations and the car park is owned by English Heritage, then you will also enjoy free parking.

This all sounds amazing but there is one slight caveat which we were unaware of and ended up getting caught out when we visited Dover Castle. If there is an event day in any of the locations, then the admission cost is higher and as such you will have a reduced-price entry. That day in Dover Castle was a Pirate event and because of that, we ended up paying another £7.00 each even though we were members.

After you sign up, you will receive a membership pack which includes a member’s magazine, a handbook, and a parking pass. You obviously need to attach the parking pass to your car, so that you always have it available whenever you visit a property. The handbook details all the locations available on your pass, including where it is and the history behind it.

Because members are extra special, there is a member’s week which normally runs in April. This is where special free events are held both onsite and online for members only.

What are the Types of English Heritage Membership Available?

Now you know what membership means, you’ll be intrigued to know what types are available. Currently the options are ‘Family,’ ‘Joint,’ ‘Individual’ and ‘Lifetime’.  So, we’ll detail each type a little more, but again remember that prices will change so it’s important that you check the English Heritage website for up to date information.

Family Membership Cost

Family membership is split into two categories, with one specifically for single parents.

  • Family 1 Adult (Family of one adult and up to 6 children) is £69 for a year.
  • Family 2 Adults (Family of 2 adults and up to 12 children) is £120 for a year.

Adult members must live at the same address and up to 6 kids go free with each adult.

Joint Membership Price

Types of English Heritage MembershipThis is the section for couples, but they also provide options for other types where two people apply.

  • Joint Adult (Two adults aged 18 years +) is £120 for a year.
  • Adult and Senior (One adult under 65 years and one senior over 65 years +) is £108 for a year.
  • Joint Senior (Two adults aged 65 years +) is £96 for a year.

Adult members must live at the same address and up to 6 kids go free with each adult.

Individual Membership Cost

This is applicable for people who are looking for sole membership.

  • Individual Adult (One adult aged 26 years +) is £69 for a year.
  • Senior (One adult aged 65 years +) is £63 for a year.
  • Young Adult / Student (18-25 / with a valid NUS card) is £57 for a year.

Adult members must live at the same address and up to 6 kids go free with each adult.

Lifetime Membership

Lifetime membership gives you access to all the English Heritage properties forever, which is perfect if you simply enjoy spending time seeing historical sites.

  • Individual Adult (One adult aged 18 years +) is £1,650 for life.
  • Senior (One adult aged 65 years +) is £1,350 for life.
  • Joint Adult (Two adults aged 18 years +) is £2,160 for life.
  • Joint Senior (Two adults aged 65 years +) is £1,730 for life.

Adult members must live at the same address and up to 6 kids go free with each adult.

As you can see there is pretty much an option for everyone and when you consider how much the single cost of admission is to one of the properties, an annual membership is incredibly reasonable. This is the reason we took out a membership on the day we visited Down House, because we ended up going to another property afterwards and have since been to two more which makes up for the initial cost.

Overseas Visitors Pass

Overseas Visitors PassIf you’re not from the UK, but you’re travelling around and thinking of visiting a number of English Heritage sites, then an Overseas Visitors Pass would be a great option for you. It works based on days rather than attractions, so you can choose a 9 or 16 consecutive day pass. You simply book it online and collect the pass from any of the English Heritage sites. To do that you need to bring a copy of your confirmation email, proof of overseas residency and the credit card you used to make the payment. It is valid for over 100 attractions including the popular Stonehenge and Dover Castle.

Pass prices as of June 2022 are as follows.

  • 1 Adult 9 days £45                          16 days £53
  • 2 Adults 9 days £79                        16 days £90
  • Family 9 days £90                           16 days £100

The family pass is valid for two adults and up to four other family members living at the same address and under 18 years of age.

What Do You Do When You Arrive at a Property?

Within your welcome pack you will have received membership cards for the English Heritage. When you arrive at the attraction, simply head to the ticket office, and show them your card/s. If there is a parking charge, then make sure you have your English Heritage parking badge on display. In both cases you should receive a receipt to prove that you’ve provided the information showing you’re on the membership scheme.

Associated Attractions in England

When you take out an English Heritage membership, not only will you enjoy free access to their properties, but also 2 for 1 or discounted entry into a raft of other attractions throughout England. This includes some of our favourites, Bletchley Park, Canterbury Cathedral, Warwick Castle and JORVIK Viking Centre. It’s always handy to keep the membership book in your car so you can quickly look through if you’re heading to a specific area for the day.

Is an Annual Membership with the English Heritage Worth the Cost?

english heritage vs national trust membershipThis isn’t an easy one to answer because it will depend on a number of factors. To start off with, head over to the English Heritage site and look at their properties within a reasonable travelling distance from your home. Did you find many and are there any you’d want to visit? This is the biggest issue we have found since taking out the annual membership, because there aren’t many decent locations nearby our home and as such we’d have to travel and stay over night somewhere which adds to our costs. Because of this we haven’t found it as worthwhile as alternative passes such as the National Trust.

Also, you will find that more of the historic monuments with English Heritage tend to be ruins, which is great if you like seeing sections of castle and not the full thing. We personally prefer stately homes, and as such the English Heritage membership wouldn’t be something we would do on an annual basis.

So why would you bother paying for membership? Because when you see the increasing costs of a day out, the annual membership cost isn’t really that bad, and it provides you and the kids with a place to go when you’re getting fed up with being at home. The more places you visit and the more times you go, the more worthwhile the annual fee. Some monuments are so big that it can take more than one visit to truly appreciate their history.

Then you have the educational element, because the English Heritage aim to bring history to life and make it fun for kids. They aim to inspire children by making education more practical, so it’s not simply words written on boards.

The crux of it is, how much will you use the membership pass throughout the year? We enjoy doing a road trip around the UK every year, so this is a perfect option for us as we can head to areas of the country which have a lot of attractions nearby. By doing this we will reduce our overall costs each day and probably end up seeing and doing more.

If you end up buying the pass and visiting any of the attractions then please let us know by tagging us on Instagram, we love to see what you’re all up to.