With a long history of building castles, stately homes and grand houses, it’s no wonder that many of these wonderful buildings have fallen to ruin. In some cases, that’s just made them even more beautiful than they originally were, so if you’ve found yourself without plans and are wondering where to go this weekend in the UK, book a train ticket and take a trip to see one of these fantastic ruins.
St Luke’s, Liverpool
St Luke’s Church - more commonly referred to by locals as the bombed-out church - is one of the most iconic sights in Liverpool city. The grand church was badly damaged on May 6th 1941, during the “May Blitz”, a seven-night assault on Liverpool that left the city devastated. The church was hit by an incendiary device that caused a fire, leaving the building a roofless shell with only its external walls left standing. It was left as a memorial to the city’s war-dead, and it was designated as a Grade II-listed building in 1952.
The bombed-out church plays host to many events including theatre, dance and arts festivals, and it now also has a bar on the premises. The public can explore the church at their own pace during one of its many open days, or you can grab a drink at the bar and simply soak up the surroundings. Make a weekend of it by enjoying a Liverpool city break by train. There’s plenty of things to see and do to fill a jam-packed weekend, from buzzing bars to cultural experiences at the Tate Liverpool art gallery.
St Peter’s Seminary
If you’re visiting Scotland’s largest city and looking to get away from the hustle and bustle, a trip to St Peter’s Seminary is one of the best walks near Glasgow you can hope for. Hop on a train from Glasgow to Cardross and in just 35-minutes, you’ll be introduced to one of Scotland’s finest listed buildings.
St Peter’s is a former Roman Catholic seminary that was designed in 1958 by the architecture firm Gillespie, Kidd and Coia. It’s one of just 42 post-war buildings in Scotland that’s been designated as a Category A listed building, and it’s been described as a modern “building of world significance” by DOCOMOMO, the international architecture conservation organisation.
Unlike many church buildings, the seminary was built in a modern brutalist style, and it won the Royal Institute of British Architects gold medal. Unfortunately, it was only used as a training centre for priests for 14 years and has since fallen into disrepair. After several efforts to save the church over the years, it’s now in the hands of the Kilmahew Education Trust, which hope to make it a hub for the community. The site isn’t officially open for visits from the public at this time, but it’s long been a favourite of urban explorers.
Have you booked a romantic break in Norfolk? Make it extra special with the addition of a visit to one of the most beautiful ruins in the country, Burgh Castle. You can find it in the village of the same name on the stunning Norfolk Coast, and the ruins are one of several Roman forts along the ‘Saxon Shore’ between the Solent and the Wash. These forts were defensive strongholds against raiders coming from the sea and were important strategic bases for the Romans. The fort at Burgh Castle is rectangular and roughly 205m by 100m, with three of the walls, still standing.
The site is free to visit and open to the public at all hours. Why not make your visit part of a quiet day out in the countryside by following some of the Angles Way, a long-distance trail from Great Yarmouth to Thetford that runs through Burgh Castle fort. Round the day off with dinner on the Great Yarmouth seafront watching the sunset over the water.
Whether you live in the capital or are there for a weekend break, the Verulamium in St Albans makes a great day out near London. Just 20 minutes on a train from London and you’ll be transported back thousands of years to the Roman town of Verulamium, which was located at the site of modern-day St Albans.
The town was one of the largest in Roman Britain and there are many ruins throughout St Albans reminding you of the town’s historic past. When wandering around the town, you’ll come across parts of the city wall, a hypocaust, and the Roman theatre which is thought to be the only one of it’s kind in the UK, with a stage rather than an amphitheatre. You’ll be able to see the city walls at any time of the day or night, and the theatre is open for daily visits throughout the year. You can also visit the Verulamium Museum, which features recreations of everyday Roman life, and some of the biggest and best Roman mosaics outside of the Mediterranean.
You can even experience incredible ruins without leaving London. St-Dunstan-in-the-East is a beautiful ruined church with a colourful past. It was terribly damaged in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and had a new spire built by Christopher Wren. However, the church was again badly damaged during the Blitz, when it was bombed in 1941. The tower, steeple, and north and south walls are the only parts of the church still standing today. It was turned into a public park by the city council in 1967 and has become a favourite place for City workers to eat their lunch in peace. You can join them for lunch, a coffee break or even an evening picnic, as the park is open daily from 8 am until 7 pm or dusk (whichever is earlier).
Capel HebronNestled at the foot of the highest point in Wales, Capel Hebron near Snowdonia is one of the most beautiful ruins on this list, by virtue of its idyllic location. This chapel was built in 1833, a few miles away from the town of Llanberis. From the mid-1900s, however, families started to leave the area and the chapel fell into ruin. It can be reached by taking a hike up the Llanberis Path to Mount Snowdon or taking the mountain railway to Hebron station. There are also 11 medieval huts further up the valley from the ruined chapel, sitting below Halfway station.
In the far north of Scotland, in the West Highland region of Assynt, you’ll find the ruined Ardvreck Castle. Built in the 16th century by the MacLeods of Assynt to protect their lands from rival clans, the castle has seen many battles over the years. Over the years, however, it’s fallen into disrepair and ruin which somehow only makes it all the more beautiful, particularly when you consider the backdrop it’s set against. It provides ample photo opportunities, with jutting mountains all around and Loch Assynt in the foreground. You might even spot a stag wandering into the shot.
Getting there by train
Whichever ruins you’re visiting, Avanti West Coast can take you there. You can book any train journey through our Journey Planner, even if the stations and services aren’t run by Avanti West Coast. So get planning your trip, and enjoy some of the most wonderful ruins the country has to offer!