Virtual Tours - The New Study Trip
With the Pandemic still very much at the forefront of our lives, UK study trips are unlikely to be a possibility for some time to come. That doesn’t mean that you can’t take your students on a virtual overseas trip to explore some of the best historic and popular landmarks the UK has to offer, all from the comfort of your classroom. We have put together a list of free virtual tours that we hope you, and your students will enjoy!
• British Museum - https://britishmuseum.withgoogle.com/
The British Museum is unique in bringing together under one roof the cultures of the world, spanning continents and oceans. Their Museum of the World, History Connected tour allows you to explore Africa, America, Asia, Europe, and Oceania through the ages. You can choose between several topics and listen to their audio guide on each. A great historic tour to take your students on. There is also a resources page with free PowerPoint and PDF documents to use in the classroom- https://www.britishmuseum.org/learn/schools?_gl=1*1qv4hfh*_ga*MjAxMzY3OTcwMS4xNjE5NDU5NDkw*_ga_08TLB9R8X1*MTYxOTQ1OTQ5MC4xLjEuMTYxOTQ1OTYyNy4w#explore-our-sessions-and-resources
• Buckingham Palace: https://www.royal.uk/virtual-tours-buckingham-palace
Buckingham Palace has served as the official London residence of the UK’s sovereigns since 1837 and today is the administrative headquarters of the Monarch. The virtual tours explore rooms in the Palace such as the Throne Room and the Grand Staircase. With information icons popping up as you move around the rooms, you can find out in detail about different areas and their significance. A great way for students to see some British Culture and learn about the Monarchy.
• Canterbury Cathedral: https://www.canterbury-cathedral.org/visit/information/tour/
Visit some of the iconic rooms in the Cathedral and learn about their history. The stunning architecture and stained-glass windows are a must-see in the Quire and the Nave before admiring the vast views over Canterbury from the Bell Harry Tower. There are also some handy downloads available offering guides and activities for teachers to use- https://www.canterbury-cathedral.org/learning/school-visits/downloads/
• Dover Castle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6154BEyKs0&t=10s
Dover Castle is known as the ‘key to England’ after defending the realm for over nine centuries. Take their 4-minute tour with audio commentary to gain an insight into all the major areas of the Castle and its grounds along with a brief overview of the history. Although experiencing the underground war bunkers with all their smells and sounds may not be possible, the video is a good introduction to the history and stories of the Castle, all of which can be found on the English Heritage website here- https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/dover-castle/history-and-stories/
• Houses of Parliament – London: https://www.parliament.uk/visiting/virtualtour/
The role of Parliament is not always a well-known one. There is a common misconception that either the Queen or the Prime Minister has sovereignty in the UK, but Parliament holds this power making their role in the governing of the UK the most important and significant. The tour itself allows you to look around the Houses and see where discussions and votes will take place. Along the way, there are information points offering insight into some of the history of the building and its relevance. If nothing else, it is worth a look at for the architecture, the mosaic depictions of some Patron Saints, and the tiles on the floor, yes really!
• London 360 Tour: https://360.visitlondon.com/#
This tour is more of an overview of London, which could be a useful introduction for your learners. Starting with a view from the London Eye, you can go on to explore some of the main landmarks such as St Paul's Cathedral, HMS Belfast, and iconic destinations such as Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square. There is a brief information box on each landmark, but these also link to pages giving you in-depth information about the individual landmarks.
• Natural History Museum: https://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/virtual-museum.html
Offering 14 different ways to experience the museum virtually, these tours are not to be missed. You can explore the museum as a whole or focus on certain areas such as the Hintze Hall with the legendary Sir David Attenborough as your tour guide.
• Royal Pavilion- Brighton: https://brightonmuseums.org.uk/royalpavilion/visiting/virtual-tour/
The Royal Pavilion in Brighton is an iconic landmark. On this virtual tour, you can look around a few rooms such as the Banqueting Room and the Red Drawing Room which is not usually available to tour in person. There are also accompanying audio guides, all of which are available in a few different languages if required. The extravagant décor and architecture are a must-see.
• Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre: https://www.shakespearesglobe.com/discover/about-us/virtual-tour/#virtual-tour-online
This open-aired theatre set in the heart of London is one of a kind. The tour allows you to explore the theatre, watch some footage of plays being performed, and learn about its history. Having visited there myself, and stood through a 3-hour play, I can assure you, visiting it through a screen will be just as, if not more enjoyable than taking a trip there whilst avoiding all the leg and neck pain. How people used to enjoy a play like this I do not know! It is possible to watch some previous productions though and it's worth checking out their teaching resources page - https://www.shakespearesglobe.com/learn/teaching-resources/
• Stonehenge: https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/stonehenge/history-and-stories/stonehenge360/
This well-known prehistoric monument is set in Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire. The virtual tour lets you take an up-close look around with information points, either written or video, available in various areas. It is also worth exploring the website for an in-depth history of the landmark, its significance, and what exactly it is.
• The Mary Rose – Portsmouth: https://maryrose.org/virtual-museum/
The history of the Mary Rose is bound to peak your learners interest. Starting with the Tudor history behind the ship, before exploring its significance and the continued conservation efforts, the tour is truly remarkable. You can also discuss some of the theories as to why the Mary Rose sank in the first place and experience original footage and photos of it being raised from the seabed. The website is a hub of information with some bonus activities included.
This is in no way an exhaustive list, but we hope it offers you, and your students a chance to experience a small piece of the UK and its history. There are many more virtual tours out there, not just in the UK but worldwide offering views we may never have had the chance to see without the Pandemic. We are all adapting, so let’s embrace what we have and take our learners on a tour of the world!