English Heritage sees record visitor numbers at various sites in 2022

English Heritage prepare for opening at half term in February. Furniture getting a refresh in the Great Tower at Dover Castle - contact the Press Office for full press release. Picture by Jim Holden/English Heritage

Several English Heritage sites saw a record numbers of visitors in 2022, the charity has said.

Tintagel Castle in Cornwall and Whitby Abbey in Yorkshire were among the 10 sites to see their highest visitor numbers last year.

Following the end of Covid restrictions, 2022 also saw the charity hit a total membership of almost 1.2 million – its highest level.

Conservators work at Eltham Palace in London Credit: Jim Holden/English Heritage/PA

Despite record numbers at some locations, the total number of visits across all English Heritage sites sat at 5.3 million for 2022, failing to break the 2017 record of 6.5 million.

Linked to the legend of King Arthur, Tintagel visitors were up 5% compared to 2021 while Whitby Abbey, inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, saw a 25% increase in patrons compared to 2021.

The site of Tintagel, which has been inhabited since the late Roman period, entered popular mythology when 12th century chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth claimed the mythical leader was conceived there.

Richard, Earl of Cornwall is thought to have been inspired by this account in the history of the kings of Britain, Historia Regum Britanniae, to start building a castle there in the 1230s.

Meanwhile, last year marked the 125th anniversary of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula.

In the 1897 book, the abbey is the location where the count is believed to have come ashore and it is referenced in the journal of female protagonist Mina Harker.

St Mawes Castle’s guns are cleaned Credit: Emily Whitfield-Wick/PA

Visitors also headed to Corbridge Roman Town, former supply base for the army, to mark Hadrian’s Wall’s 1,900th anniversary, which saw visitors increase by 4% compared to 2021.

Kate Mavor, chief executive of English Heritage, said: “Last year was a year of recovery for English Heritage, with domestic tourism once again picking up to pre-pandemic levels and, in many cases, exceeding it.

“Many of our most recognisable attractions enjoyed their best-ever years in 2022, which is a clear indication that homegrown tourism is flourishing once again in areas such as Cornwall and Yorkshire.”

“However, it is notable that many of our smaller sites, situated away from traditional tourist destinations, have also reported record years.”

Yarmouth Castle on the Isle of Wight and Okehampton Castle in Devon reported their best years in 2022, up 28% and 14% in terms of visitors, respectively, on 2021.

Completing the 10 sites with record numbers were Marble Hill, Clifford’s Tower, Boscobel, Mount Grace Priory and Wrest Park.

English Heritage staff prepare for half-term opening in the Great Tower at Dover Castle Credit: Jim Holden/English Heritage/PA

Meanwhile, other sites at Kenilworth, Richmond, Portland and Pickering enjoyed their best visitor numbers in a decade.

In 2023, English Heritage said a new museum off the coast of England at Lindisfarne Priory will open in mid-February.

It will feature recent excavations on Holy Island and a monument dedicated to St Cuthbert.