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The Insider’s Guide to The National Lottery Open Week - History's Mysteries

From castles to palaces, priories and historic houses, this year’s National Lottery Open Week offers an array of venues and attractions perfect for digging into the past.

Explore some of history’s mysteries to discover stories from years gone by and why some of the UK’s finest buildings look like they do. Don’t forget to use your National Lottery ticket or Scratchcard (digital or physical) to redeem special offers this Open Week.

A man (Erfyl Parry) inside the Cardiff Castle
Erfyl Parry at Cardiff Castle, Wales

1. Cardiff Castle

Location: Cardiff, Wales

Open Week offer:
Half price tickets - 21st to 25th March 2022

Insider’s fact: The iconic clock tower was built in the late 1800s for the 3rd Marquess of Bute and contains some of the most elaborately decorated rooms in the whole Castle. Although it was originally intended as a Victorian bachelor pad for the young Marquess to enjoy, he was married before the suite of rooms was finished.

Insider’s tip:
Be sure to book on to one of the regular guided House Tours to see open-air Romanesque Roof Garden, a private space for the 3rd Marquess of Bute to spend time in relaxation and contemplation.

People walking in front of the Tower of London
Tower of London by ©Historic Royal Palaces

2. Tower of London

Location: London

Open Week offer: 10% discount on retail and catering – 19th to 27th March

Insider’s fact:
In 1483, the two princes, Edward and Richard – the sons of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville – disappeared at the Tower of London and what became of them remains a mystery to this day. Nearly 200 years later, in 1674, workmen who were demolishing what remained of the royal palace, were astonished to find a wooden chest containing two skeletons beneath the foundations. The skeletons were deemed to be the bones of children.

Insider’s tip:
Keep an eye out for the 13 galvanised wire sculptures by artist Kendra Haste which nod to when the Tower housed a menagerie of exotic animals. The sculptures are displayed near to the places where the original animals were kept at The Tower.

The St Nicholas Priory monastery in Devon
St Nicholas Priory, Devon

3. St Nicholas Priory

Location: Exeter, Devon,

Open Week offer: Free entry and guidebook - 19th and 20th March 2022

Insider’s fact:
In 1536, following the dissolution of the monasteries, the King’s Men tried to remove the crucifix in the church of St Nicholas Priory but were rebuffed by a group of local women. The women were arrested and sent to jail but once the job of removing the crucifix had been completed, the King’s Men requested they be released from prison.

Insider’s tip:
Download the new Hidden Exeter walking app to find out more about this chapter in the Priory’s history.

A fiel and at the end the Royal Falkland Palace.
Royal Falkland Palace, Scotland

4. Falkland Palace

Location: Falkland, Fife, Scotland

Open Week Offer: Free entry – 19th to 27th March

Insider’s fact:
The ceiling in the Chapel was painted especially for a visit from Charles I in 1633. It features fleur-de-lis which symbolise France, as well as thistles for Scotland and roses for England. A century earlier, the Palace was a favourite of Mary, Queen of Scots, who would visit it to pursue falconry, hunting and a spot of tennis.

Insider’s tip:
Make sure to visit the Palace’s tennis court – built in 1539 it’s now the oldest surviving real tennis court in the world.

A woman (Rosie Holmes) in front of Hampton Court Palace
Rosie Holmes at Hampton Court Palace, London

4. Hampton Court Palace

Location: London

Open Week Offer:
Free Garden Entry – 19th – 20th March and 10% discount on retail and catering – 19th to 27th March

Insider’s fact:
To this day, stories persist that the ghosts of Jane Seymour and Catherine Howard, both wives of Henry VIII, haunt Hampton Court Palace. Plus, there are said to have been numerous sightings of the ‘Grey Lady’, otherwise known as Sybil Penn, who was servant to four Tudor monarchs and a wet nurse to Edward IV but unfortunately died in 1562 after catching smallpox. The Victorians were big fans of ghostly tales and in fact, in the early 1900s, the best-selling postcards at Hampton Court Palace were those depicting spectres.

Insider’s tip:
Hampton Court Gardens include 60 acres of spectacular formal gardens and 750 acres of parkland, all set within a loop of the River Thames. Be sure to save time to visit the world's oldest puzzle maze, a record-breaking grape vine, three National Plant Collections and a huge variety of wildlife, including the descendants of Henry VIII’s deer herd.

Explore the full list National Lottery Open Week offers at

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