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Travel and Things To Do

Unveiling the Top 10 Most Accessible Heritage Sites in the UK

Emily Trix Carver

Emily Carhan

18th April, 2024

The Most Accessible Heritage Sites in Britain Title

Heritage sites across the UK, such as ancient ruins, majestic palaces and tranquil cathedrals, are not only pivotal in preserving national history and culture, but they also serve as crucial educational resources and tourist attractions. Whether you’re visiting for a school trip, research or a family holiday, everyone regardless of disability should have the opportunity to learn about Britain’s rich and varied heritage. 

In 2023, English heritage sites saw a significant rise in family visits, with over 550,000 families visiting, highlighting a 54% increase over the last decade. While it is encouraging to see the public engaged with heritage sites, many are still dissuaded from attending due to a lack of accessibility. 

Online searches for accessibility have increased by 88.7% in the last 5 years, demonstrating a growing global interest in creating a better, more accessible world. With this movement, we have seen momentum in pushing awareness and efforts to make these sites accessible to everyone, including those with disabilities. To mark our new Heritage Collection, we’ve delved into the accessibility of the most popular British Heritage sights, here’s what we found.

Accessibility factors

To discover the top 10 most accessible heritage sites, we combed through thousands of reviews on tourism sites for mentions of accessibility-related keywords. Mentions of keywords such as "accessible," "wheelchair," "busy," "accessible toilets," and "Blue Badge parking" were counted for each attraction. The counts were compiled and analysed alongside Euan’s Guide ratings to assess and compare the accessibility of each heritage site.

Notable factors that contribute to accessibility ratings:

  • The overall accessibility of the site
  • If the attraction is free of charge or offers a level of concessions for people with disabilities and their carers
  • Ramps or lifts for those who use wheelchairs, mobility scooters and other mobility aids
  • Number of disabled toilets
  • Number of disabled parking spaces
  • Hoist availability
  • Number of staff with disability awareness training
  • Whether the attraction clearly and correctly offers accessibility information on its website

Top Accessible Heritage Sites in the UK

To define our Accessibility Heritage Sites Table, we reviewed data and reviews from TripAdvisor and Euan’s Guide to create a metric system to rank 43 Heritage Sites from best to worst. 

Do you see your favourite Heritage Site in the top 10?

RankAttractionAccessibility Score
1Lincoln Castle1250
2Mount Stuart1156
3Lancaster Castle1149
4Ely Cathedral1145
5Wells Cathedral1141
6Lincoln Cathedral1140
7Hatfield House1126
8Hardwick Hall1120
9Chester Cathedral1114
10Durham Cathedral1113
Lincoln Castle is the number one most accessible site in Britain

Least Accessible Heritage Sites in the UK

Out of the 43 Heritage Sites reviewed, here are the sites with the worst accessibility. We were surprised to see that Britain’s most famous historical site was found to be the least accessible.

Some visitors have highlighted the difficulties for wheelchair users during their visit: 

“We borrowed a wheelchair for my mother to get from the back of the palace through the gardens to the exit. Unfortunately we were then told we couldn't take the wheelchair around the palace to the royal mews, which we also had tickets for. It was sorted eventually but wasted a lot of time waiting for 'approval'.” - Helen, Poole

Buckingham Palace rated one of the least accessible sites in Britain
RankAttractionAccessibility Score
1Buckingham Palace336
2Warwick Castle489
3Westminster Abbey668
4Tower of London784
6Bath Abbey886
7Blenheim Place919
8Lyme Park927
9Highclere Castle935
10Osborne House948

Best Region For Accessible Heritage Sites

We look to the East Coast for Britain’s most accessible heritage site, in Lincolnshire. Lincoln tops the leaderboard with two highly accessible attractions; Lincoln Castle and Lincoln Cathedral. This suggests that Lincoln is a particularly accessible location for visitors seeking heritage sites.

DPR - The Most Accessible Heritage Sites in Britain_v01_Info 03.jpg

Best Types of Heritage Sites for Accessibility

When it comes to finding an accessible day out filled with Britain’s richest history, you may want to begin your search with cathedrals. According to our research, cathedrals are the most common type of heritage site on our leaderboard with five cathedrals making the list. 

The five most accessible cathedrals are:

  • Ely
  • Wells
  • Lincoln 
  • Chester
  • Durham
DPR - The Most Accessible Heritage Sites in Britain_v01_Info 04.jpg

Challenges and Opportunities

While everyone should be able to enjoy the UK's rich heritage and history, many heritage sites may not be as accessible as you'd hope. There are 16 million people in the UK living with a disability (that’s 1 in 4), and it’s important that everyone has an equal opportunity to access educational resources. However, balancing accessibility with historical preservation is a complex task. These sites were often built long before the concept of accessibility was introduced. Features like narrow doorways, steep staircases, and uneven floors are difficult for those with wheelchairs or mobility aids to navigate and often feature in these period properties.


It wasn’t until the 2010 Equality Act that privately owned listed buildings were required to make 'reasonable adjustments' to buildings to enable disabled access, so change is still happening. Adding modern accessibility features without compromising the historical integrity of these places often requires innovative solutions. This could include installing removable ramps, integrating discreet lifts, and using subtle guide systems. What's more, when it comes to finding accessibility information online, a 2022 report from VocalEyes showed that 19% of museums and heritage sites surveyed had no online access information in both 2018 and 2022, showing no improvement.

The challenge for heritage sites introducing accessibility is more complex than it may be for your average attraction such as an aquarium or art gallery. It's crucial to maintain the aesthetic and historical authenticity of the site while making it accessible. This usually involves using materials and building techniques that are consistent with the historical period of the site, which can be both difficult and expensive.

There may be additional challenges depending on the nature of the heritage site. For example, a castle turret that features an original and preserved staircase. It is important to prevent loss or damage to the decorative surfaces and historical interiors, so a lift providing direct access to the turret may not be achievable. Official guidance states that a lift car must be large enough to hold any type of wheelchair (measuring around 2000mm by 1400mm), so this requirement may not always be achievable for every space.


The first recommendation in taking steps to make sites more accessible is to hire a disability access consultant and to take on feedback from visitors with disabilities. It is best to conduct a full audit of the site to assess potential issues and flag recommended opportunities for change. By involving people with disabilities early in the planning process for new projects or renovations, potential issues can be addressed from the start, embedding accessibility into the structure of these heritage sites.

Curators and historians working at the sites may also consider introducing programmes or events that can make the site more inclusive. For example, introducing adapted tours or augmented reality (AR) technology with additional visual or auditory aides that bring the history to life, even if not every part of the space is physically accessible.

Lastly, the biggest opportunity to improve accessibility requires no building work or expensive renovations. By offering comprehensive training on inclusive practice to staff, you can anticipate and support the needs of visitors who have a disability or are neurodivergent and may need appropriate accommodations. Being informed is centric to providing an excellent experience for all people, regardless of disability or mobility limitations.

Planning your trip

If you plan to visit some of the UK’s most popular heritage sites this summer, we recommend checking the venue’s accessibility information prior, to avoid disappointment. Additionally, you can check out Euan’s Guide for great recommendations with accessibility in mind.

The full table of accessible heritage sites in the UK

1Lincoln Castle
2Mount Stuart
3Lancaster Castle
4Ely Cathedral
5Wells Cathedral
6Lincoln Cathedral
7Hatfield House
8Hardwick Hall
9Chester Cathedral
10Durham Cathedral
11Arundel Castle
12Castle Howard
13Montacute House
14Dunster Castle
15Hampton Court Palace
16Sudeley Castle
17Somerleyton Hall
18Worcester Cathedral
19Wentworth Woodhouse
20Blickling Hall
21Llancaiach Fawr Manor
22Norton Conyers
24Burghley House
24Lacock Abbey
25Longleat House
26Kenwood House
27St. George's Chapel
28Norwich Cathedral
28Woburn Abbey
29Winchester Cathedral
30Lanhydrock House and Garden
31Houses of Parliament
32Dover Castle
33Royal Pavilion
34Osborne House
35Highclere Castle
36Lyme Park
37Blenheim Palace
38Bath Abbey
40Tower of London
41Westminster Abbey
42Warwick Castle
43Buckingham Palace

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