Domestic admissions to England’s visitor attractions rose by 5% in 2009 according to a study by VisitEngland. The tourism body said that all categories showed growth last year with historic houses & castles topping the bill with a 12% increase followed by gardens, which grew by 10%. In a departure from recent years, visits to paid attractions increased by 7% - at a notably stronger rate than free attractions which were up by +3%. The organisation said the increases were down to a preference for people to holiday closer to home, the so-called staycation phenomenon. Nine out of ten of England’s top free attractions were either a museum or art gallery with the British Museum maintaining its top spot with just fewer than 5.6 million visitors. London’s National Gallery, Tate Modern, Natural History Museum and Science Museum followed closely behind. Regional museums also featured in the top twenty free attractions including the Merseyside Maritime Museum, National Railway Museum (Yorkshire), Museums Sheffield: Millennium Gallery and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. The Tower of London topped the paid for category with 2.4 million visits. Other attractions featured in the top ten include, St Paul’s Cathedral, Windermere Lake Cruises, Chester Zoo, London Zoo and the Eden Project.