Brighton's Palace Pier is officially the fifth most visited free attraction in the country.

Official figures release by VisitEngland showed that only the British Museum, National Gallery, Tate Modern and Natural History Museum attracted more visitors.

The pier attracted 4,5million visitors last year - up 12.5% on 2013.

The pier's general manager AnnMartin said: "We are thrilled.

"We have always been reasonbly high in the list but to come just behind the big guys is fantastic.

"It shows the enduring popularity of piers in general and Brighton Pier in particular.

"We get millions of visitors a year who keep returning, so obviously we are doing something right. 

"And the fact that we are a free attraction - something we are really proud of - no oubt encourages people to keep coming back over and over again."

Visits to free attractions were up 4% overall in 2014. The British Museum marked its seventh consecutive year as the most visited free attraction in England with 6.7 million visitors, followed by the National Gallery (6.4 million visitors, up 6.4% YOY).

The Tate Modern saw an impressive growth of 18.4% to 5.8 million visitors in 2014, but The Imperial War Museum saw the greatest increase on the list, with 915,000 visitors – up 153% YOY due to their reopening in 2014.

Across the country, the most visited free attractions regionally include Brighton Pier, The Library of Birmingham, Ashmolean Museum and Avenham and Miller Park in the North West.

VisitEngland, chief executive James Berresford, said: “It is wonderful that attractions across the country are experiencing an increase in visitor numbers and the benefits are being felt across regions. We know that England has a fantastic range of unique and outstanding product, which generate high levels of satisfaction for visitors.

"Our attractions are core to England’s tourism offer; contributing to economic growth and employment and we are fortunate to have such a wonderful and wide variety available to suit all visitors.”

Tourism Minister Tracey Crouch said: “I'm delighted that more visitors are enjoying England's world-class attractions, especially after English tourism experienced a record-breaking start to the year.

"I'm looking forward to working with the tourism industry to build on this success with the government's new five point plan for tourism - which aims to attract even more tourists to experience our amazing attractions, create great careers, and help local economic growth."