History and Heritage • Visit Preston
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Preston Guild City

History and Heritage

History and Heritage

Preston Cenotaph in the foreground, with buildings in the background.

Uncover Preston's rich history and heritage...

However you enjoy spending your spare time, Preston has plenty history and heritage to feed curious minds.

As the heart of Lancashire, Preston has many stories to tell. Built on nearly 1,000 years of history, the city has seen evidence of a Roman road and even the presence of Vikings - with the Cuerdale Hoard being discovered nearby.

Preston's name is derived from Old English meaning "Priest's settlement", or "Priest's Town", a name given to the settlement by Angles. From here, the town became a market town, an industrial town, and became the birthplace and home of many revolutionary people. Famous Prestonians include historical figures, such as Richard Arkwright and Edith Rigby, as well as current high achievers, such as Andrew Flintoff and Nick Park.

Preston was officially granted city status in 2002 and continues to grow. However, its history and heritage still remains strong. 

For more of Preston's history and heritage see Preston's History.

Galleries and museums

Combine art and culture with Preston's history and heritage for a fulfilling day out. The city is home to a number of galleries and museums, all of which tell fascinating stories of Preston's many historical periods.

The Harris Museum & Art Gallery

Explore Preston's history and heritage by visiting the city centre's Harris Museum & Art Gallery. The museum, art gallery, and library was officially built in 1893 and hosts changing exhibitions, workshops, and events. The museum is even home to an exhibition dedicated specially to Preston's fascinating past.

There's so much to discover inside and outside this iconic Preston building. The venue makes the perfect day out for families and lovers of art and culture. It also makes an exciting visit for residents and visitors wanting to delve deeper into the history of the city. 

Lancashire Infantry Museum

For those with an avid interest in military history, head over to the Lancashire Infantry Museum, located in the Fulwood area of Preston. The museum is home to extensive displays, an archive, and plenty military history to lose yourself in.

Ribble Steam Railway

Located near Preston Dock, the Ribble Steam Railway museum invites you to hop aboard a heritage train ride on one of their working steam trains.

The museum makes a fantastic and interactive day out for all the family, delving into Preston's historical links to steam trains and Preston Dock. See their Diesel Locomotives, Steam Locomotives, miniature railway, and much more. There's plenty to keep you busy.

Church Cottage Museum

On the outskirts of Preston, in Broughton, you'll find the Church Cottage Museum, perfect for curious minds of all ages. 

Step inside this quaint cottage and learn all about the building's history. The cottage's displays tell its story from a Tudor dwelling to a Victorian school room, and all the bits in-between.

South Ribble Art Gallery and Museum

South of Preston, in nearby Leyland, the South Ribble Art Gallery and Museum makes a fascinating visit for history and heritage lovers. Great for all ages, the museum amounts to six centuries of history and hosts changing exhibitions, activities, and workshops as well as historical objects.

Buildings and sights

Surround yourself in Preston's history and heritage with its historical buildings and attractions.

Preston Cenotaph

Within Preston city centre, you'll find the Preston Cenotaph. The Cenotaph is a stunning Grade I listed structure, standing proud in recognition of the men who lost their lives in WWI. Designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, the Cenotaph was restored in 2013 and is an important part of Preston's heritage.

Preston Cenotaph is a must visit for those with an interest in heritage, architecture, and military history. You'll also find the Harris Museum & Art Gallery just some meters away, home to Preston's WWI Roll of Honour and brimming with history.

Deepdale Stadium

Preston North End's Deepdale Stadium is located just outside of the city centre, opposite the scenic Moor Park. The attraction is an important heritage sight for those who are avid football fans and draws in visitors from all around. 

Brimming with history, the stadium is the site of the Dick, Kerr Ladies' first football game and is home to the famous Sir Tom Finney statue.

St Walburge's Church

A short stroll from Preston city centre, St Walburge's Church is a must visit for fans of history, heritage, and architecture. The church opened in 1854 and boasts the tallest spire of any parish church in England. The Roman Catholic Church is a sight to behold from both the outside and the inside.

Regular heritage tours of St Walburge's Church occur weekly. On these tours you can admire and learn about the Grade I listed building - all for free!

Preston Dock

Take a trip to Ashton, not far from the city centre, and stroll around Preston Dock. Once Europe's largest inland dock, the historical dockland was opened in 1892 by Queen Victoria's second son Prince Albert.

The dock makes an ideal day out for both adults and families, with peaceful strolls around the water and plenty scenery and history surrounding it. You'll also find the Ribble Steam Railway Museum, restaurants, Odeon cinema, and shops nearby, making it a great place to spend the whole day.

Samlesbury Hall

Located in Samlesbury, on the outskirts of Preston, Samlesbury Hall is perfect for days out with the family and soaking up some history.

The beautiful half-timbered medieval house was originally a family home, with a history dating all the way back to 1185. Its fascinating and gripping historical stories can be heard and enjoyed through its regular themed tours.

As well as the building's visually-stunning exterior, you can also explore the interior, the grounds, and its numerous attractions. Things to do and see include the Bee Heritage Centre, children's play area, wafflery, and the Samlesbury Hall restaurant.

Hoghton Tower

Located on the outskirts of Preston, in Hoghton, Hoghton Tower is a haven for history and heritage lovers of all ages. 

The Grade I listed building's history dates all the way back to 1109. Not only is its architecture and interior something to behold, there are also gardens to stroll through and views of Lancashire to admire. The tower also hosts a variety of events for adults, children, and families throughout the year and has a tea room to relax in when the exploring is over.

Parks and gardens

See what wonders you can uncover in Preston's historical parks and gardens.

Winckley Square Gardens

A charming green space in the heart of Preston city centre, Winckley Square Gardens create a peaceful and scenic retreat surrounded by history. The gardens were originally created in 1801 as private plots owned by residents of the square.

Winckley Square Gardens are a must visit for visitors of all ages with a hankering for history. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the Sir Robert Peel statue and the many plaques around the gardens. These markers and plaques unveil a little bit more of the square's fascinating past as you go.

If you're looking for even more intriguing history and stories, the gardens and its surrounding buildings also feature in many self-guided city walks. The Friends of Winckley Square also run regular free heritage walk and talks around Winckley Square and its gardens.

Avenham & Miller Parks

Conveniently located in Preston city centre, Avenham & Miller Parks conceal an abundance of historical sights and picturesque views.

Created during the 1860s, the parks are home to features such as the Grade II listed belvedere, the Boer War Memorial, the Earl of Derby statue, and the ornate Grade II listed fountain.

The parks hold plenty to discover for lovers of the outdoors, heritage, and history. For those looking for a family day out, there's also a children's play area, the Pavilion Cafe, and plenty places for kids to run free and burn some energy.

Moor Park

Preston's Grade II* listed Moor Park is the city's oldest and largest parkland. The park is conveniently located near the city centre and opposite the Deepdale Stadium.

Originally common land, derived from the Royal Forest in 1235, the park has an abundance of historical stories to tell. Wander the many paths and admire its green space, decorative gardens, and the observatory.

If you're looking for a family day out then Moor Park is the place to go. The park's Rosemary on the Park Cafe also makes a great visit for everyone. This dog-friendly cafe is perfect for a bite to eat, a refreshing drink, or a sweet treat.

Haslam Park

Sitting alongside the Lancaster Canal, Haslam Park has many historical sights to discover inside. The Edwardian park makes a picturesque day out, with Grade II listed gates and an old drinking fountain to admire.

Haslam Park is perfect for history enthusiasts and outdoor lovers, suiting all kinds of visitors and those who love to explore.

Ashton Park

Located near Preston Dock, in Ashton, Ashton Park is home to the grand Ashton House and offers large green spaces and a scenic day out. The park dates back to 1810 and is home to peace gardens, an old drinking fountain, and the stunning Ashton House building.

Ashton Park is a must visit for lovers of architecture and the outdoors. The park is also ideal for families, due to its children's play area and open spaces.

Grange Park

Situated to the East of Preston, Grange Park makes a great place for peaceful strolls and is the site of the former Ribbleton House - an old Victorian manor house. Explore the ruins of the grand building as well as the gardens and winding paths surrounding it.

Grange Park is ideal for those interested in old buildings and Victorian history. The children's play area and formal gardens also make it a memorable visit for families.

Heritage walks and trails

Dig deeper into the history and heritage of Preston by embarking on one of the many Walks and Tours available around the city.

From historic battles and blue plaques to statues, monuments, and historical figures; whatever your interests, the city holds much to be discovered for both adults and children.

Map addresses for Preston History and Heritage

  • The Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Market Square, Preston, PR1 2PP.
  • Lancashire Infantry Museum, Fulwood Barracks, Fulwood, Preston, PR2 8AA.
  • Ribble Steam Railway, Chain Caul Road, Preston, PR2 2PD.
  • Church Cottage Museum, Church Lane, Preston, PR3 5LD.
  • South Ribble Museum, The Old Grammar School, Church Road, Leyland, PR25 3FJ.
  • Preston Flag Market, Lancaster Road, Preston, PR1 1HT.
  • Deepdale Stadium, Sir Tom Finney Way, Preston, PR1 6RU.
  • Church of St Walburge, Weston Street, Preston, PR2 2QE.
  • Preston Riversway Docks, Navigation Way, Ashton-on-Ribble, Preston, PR2 2YP.
  • Samlesbury Hall, Preston New Road, Samlesbury, Preston, PR5 0UP.
  • Hoghton Tower, Hoghton, Nr Preston, PR5 0SH.
  • Winckley Square, Preston, PR1 3JJ.
  • Avenham & Miller Parks, South Meadow Lane, Preston, PR1 8JT
  • Moor Park, Preston, PR1 6AS.
  • Haslam Park, Bristow Avenue, Preston, PR2 1JE.
  • Ashton Park, Pedders Lane, Ashton, Preston, PR2 1HL.
  • Grange Park, Preston, PR2 6QW.