Discovering 13 old British castles in England :: Travel Blog

Discovering 13 beautiful and old British castles in England

Medieval Castles in England

England is not only London and if you will decide to have a roundtrip around the country, you will discover that there are a lot of beautiful old medieval castles in Great Britain. In this travel guide, I will show you those castles that I enjoyed the most during my car trip to England.

I love history and I really enjoy reading about old, medieval times. Nowadays we still can find some remains of that old times and England is one of the biggest examples of that. The country is not that huge, but you can find some old castles almost on every corner. In this England travel blog, I will describe the best ones - in my opinion of course. So let's start our travel through the history!

Dover Castle

Dover is located very close to Europe (well, as closest as you can get from England), so in order to protect the country lands, it had to be very fortified. Did you know, that some fortifications have been in this place, near the Dover White Cliffs, since the Iron Age? There are a lot of remains of that, like the Roman lighthouse or a lot of hidden underground tunnels. The Dover was for many centuries the main English port, so it was a strategic place. That's why lords of England decided to build here the Dover Castle.

Dover Castle in England

The history of the Dover Castle in White Cliffs started after the Romans arrived in England and built here two lighthouses and some other fortifications. Ten centuries after that William the Conqueror won here the Battle of Hastings and decided to build the huge line of fortifications which included the old lighthouses, which still can be seen in the current stonework (those Roman lighthouses are only two of few that still survived in the world). 

It's also an interesting thing that beneath the Dover Castle we can find many hidden tunnels, something like a many levels maze. Those tunnels were much expanded during the Napoleonic Wars to hold more than 2000 soldiers. Well, Napoleon never came to England, but those tunnels were used once more during the World War II as a hospital and the command center. The Dover Castle in England is opened for tourists as well as the guided tunnel's entrance.

Bodiam Castle in England

Bodiam Castle

Situated near Robertsbridge in East Sussex, Bodiam Castle is one of the best-known castles in England, mainly because it is located in the middle of a small water reservoir, which looks amazing. Surrounded by the lush greenery and encircled by the iconic moat, Bodiam Castle is a perfect place for photography. It's one of the few truly quadrangular castles.

The Bodiam Castle in England was built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, who was a former knight of Edward III. Its purpose was to defend the lands against French invasion during the Hundred Years' War. The Bodiam Castle was the center of the manor of Bodiam and the home of the Dalyngrigge family. The adult ticket for the entrance costs £9.80.

British Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle is the biggest castle in England and a must-see for every traveler who wants to visit Windsor. Well, it's also the biggest and oldest occupied castle in the world. It was founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th century. Welcome to the family home to British queens and kings for more than 1000 years (it was the home of 39 monarchs) and the place where Her Majesty The Queen spends most of her weekend.

When you will be here, just look for the flag on Castle's Round Tower - if it's the Royal Standard, it means that the Queen residents in the castle and you might even see her. The whole Windsor Castle in England complex is really huge and impressive, so take your camera with you.

There are a lot of things to see and do in the Windsor Castle. There are many beautiful rooms and apartments, Queen Mary's Dolls' House, St George's Chapel... You can even see the guards changing spectacle every Tuesday at 11:00.

Windsor Castle in England

The adult ticket costs £21.20 and while visiting the Windsor Castle in England, prepare to spend here at least 3 hours to see all the interesting places. If you don't have the time or just cannot visit the Windsor Castle, you can always see the virtual 3d rooms exhibition.

St Michels Mount in England

St Michael’s Mount

St Michael’s Mount is a small island located in Mount's Bay, Cornwall, at the south-west end of England. The name St Michael's Mount used to be called Karrek Loos yn Koos, which literally mean the gray rock in a wood. This may means that in medieval times the area wasn't flooded and there were forests around the island.

If you have seen my other article about the Mont Saint-Michel in France, you can see that there are a lot of similarities between both castles. Historically, French building was a Cornish counterpart - they share the same characteristics and conical share, although the St Michael’s Mount is smaller. St Michael’s Mount in England was given to the Benedictine religious order of Mont Saint-Michel by Edward the Confessor in the 11th century.

Nowadays the oldest buildings on the island are dated to the 12th century. While visiting the castle you must remember, that sometimes it's accessible from the land on foot, and sometimes you will have to take a boat - it depends on the sea level.

Arundel Castle

Arundel Castle is located in West Sussex and it is one of the largest complete and inhabited castles in England, lied on the 40 acres. It was built by Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Arundel in 1067. Nowadays the castle is a seat and home of the 18th century family of Duke of Norfolk and the Earl Marshal of England.

Arundel Castle in England

Unfortunately, many parts of the castle were destroyed during the English Civil War and rebuilt in Gothic-style between the 18th and 19th centuries. Still, a lot of original features such as Barbican, gatehouse, Bevis Tower survived. During your visit in the Arundel Castle in England, you can see a lot of preserved interiors with beautiful furniture (from the beautiful Regency library through to the Armoury and Barons’ Hall) or rare collection of paintings by Van Dyck, Canaletto or Gainsborough. There are also beautiful gardens. You can also see a beautiful panorama of the West Sussex and Arun river from the one of the Arundel Castle's oldest 30-foot tall Norman Motte.

You can recognize Arundel Castle in England from the movies and TV shows as Doctor Who, The Madness of King George or the Young Victoria.

Tower of London

Tower of London

The official name of Tower of London in England is Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London. You can find the castle on the north bank of the Thames river in the central part of the city. It was built during the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. The Tower of London was used as a prison from 1100 to 1952 and was a symbol of the London new ruling elite oppression.

During 12th and 13th centuries, the castle was expanded and its general layout established at the end of the 13th century. From that time, besides being a prison, the Tower of London was used for many different purposes: as an armory, menagerie, treasury, public record office, home of the Royal Mint, and home of the Crown Jewels of England. many people were held here as prisoners, for example, Elizabeth I (before she became queen), Elizabeth Throckmorton or Sir Walter Raleigh.

The Tower of London is a very famous and probably the most-visited castle in England, mostly because of its location. So if you visit only London and don't have time to travel across the country, you can at least visit this one castle to feel the English history.

Bamburgh Castle in England

Bamburgh Castle

Bamburgh Castle is one of the most iconic Northumberland buildings. It's a relatively new structure, which was built (well, restored) during the 18th and 19th centuries by the famous industrialist Lord Amstrong. But this was not the beginning of the Bamburgh Castle history, as it started much earlier, as the castle was destroyed by Edward IV during the Wars of the Roses.

In the Bamburgh Castle, we can visit 14 public rooms that have more than 2000 different artifacts like porcelain, furniture, artwork, and armor.

Raby Castle

Built in Country Durham in England, Raby Castle is an awesome castle surrounded by a huge 200 acres deer park. It was built in the 14th century by 3rd Baron Neville de Raby, named John Neville. The mother of kings Rickard III and Edward IV was born here. In the 16th century, after failed Rising of the North, Raby Castle was taken into royal custody.

Raby Castle in England. Source: PJMarriott / Wikipedia.

After one century, the castle was bought by Sir Henry Vane the Elder who added here a Gothic-style entrance hall as well as the drawing room. The Vane family was also the Dukes of Cleveland in the 19th century and the Raby Castle is still a private home of that family. Nowadays the castle is famous because of the works by old masters and portraits. It's opened for public only on a seasonal basis. In 2018 the Raby castle is opened from 24th March until 30th September.

Warwick Castle in England

Warwick Castle

Another medieval castle that was originally built by William the Conqueror in 1068. Warwick Castle is located in the county town of Warwickshire, England and it's situated near the Avon river. Originally the castle was made of wood but was rebuilt in the 12th century and made of stone. It was expanded again in the 14th century during the Hundred Years War and from that time it's one of the most recognizable examples of the 14th-century military architecture.

In 1604 the Warwick Castle in England was bought from James I by Sir Fulke Greville, who converted the castle from the stronghold into the country house. Warwick Castle was owned by the Greville family until the end of the 20th century when it was bought by the Tussauds Group. Nowadays the castle is a great tourist attraction and one of the most beautiful British castles. The entrance fee for an adult costs £14.55. For those who have more money, there is a possibility to sleep inside the castle inside beautiful medieval-style rooms.

Framlingham Castle in England

Framlingham Castle

Framlingham Castle was originally built in 1148 but did not stand too long - was destroyed 25 years later, in 1173 by Henry II during the unsuccessful revolt. On the same place, Earl of Norfolk constructed another huge castle with 13 towers and high walls. It did not help, because the Framlingham Castle was taken again, this time in 1216 by King John. Soon the castle became abandoned.

Framlingham Castle fell into ruin until the 16th century, where it was given in 1636 to Pembroke College. During that time all internal buildings were removed and the only single small house was constructed inside. The castle never regained its former glory.

There is a legend that says that sometimes strange noises can be heard from the downstairs rooms like disturbed screams or children's playing voices while nobody's there.

Highclere Castle in England

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle is a beautiful castle in the Jacobethan style located in Hampshire, England, less than 10 kilometers south of the city of Newbury. It was designed by an architect Charles Barry (castle) and Capability Brown (2000ha gardens). The Highclere Castle is the country seat of the Earl of Carnarvon.

Notice: Highclere castle is opened for public only for about 60 days a year. To check when you can visit the castle, see this link. An adult ticket costs from £7 (gardens only) to £23 (castle, gardens, and exhibition).

Highclere Castle can be seen in the British comedy series with Hugh Laurie called Jeeves and Wooster. It was also the main location in the movie Downton Abbey.

Leeds Castle in England

Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle is located about 8 kilometers southeast of Maidstone in Kent, England near the Len river. The castle was built as a Norman stronghold in 1119 by Robert de Crevecoeur in stone after the old wooden castle was demolished.

During the reign of the King Edward I the Leeds Castle became his favorite residence. 300 years later the Catherine of Aragon, wife of Henry VIII, used to live here. Castle was constantly rebuilt and expanded and the current form was created in the 19th century. Leeds Castle is opened to the public since 1976.

Highcliffe Castle

Situated near the cliffs at Highcliffe in Dorset, England, Highcliffe Castle is a beautiful Gothic Revival style castle built in 1831 by Charles Stuart, who was the 1st Baron Stuart de Rothesay. The design of the castle was created by an architect William Donthorne, who used a large carved Medieval stonework that was salvaged from the ruined Benedictine Abbey of St Peter from Normandy in France.

Highcliffe Castle in England

The Highcliffe Castle is opened from Sunday to Thursday from 10:30 to 17:00. Opening hours on Friday and Saturday may vary depending on the fact if there is a wedding that day, so it's better to call the castle if you want to visit it during that days. Entry to the grounds is free, but you will have to pay for the parking if you are coming here by car.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed my travel blog article about discovering 13 old British castles in England. Great Britain has a lot of great castles and if you know more awesome buildings, just let me know and I will add them to this list. If you have any questions about castles in England, just let me know in the comments section.

Wojciech Kuźma

Hey there! My name is Wojtek and I am very happy that you came to my travel blog. I've been traveling the world for a few good years now and I still want more.

On my website I describe the adventures that have happened to me, you will also find here a collection of valuable tips for tourists and travelers. If you liked this article, be sure to leave a comment and read some more!


4.78 | 9 votes
Comments: 5
  •   21th May 2018, 14:34

    A great article. Just in the summer I plan to visit at least a few of these castles. This text was translated automatically. Original text is below: Świetny artykuł. Akurat w wakacje planuję zwiedzić chociaż kilka z tych zamków.

  •   22th May 2018, 10:52

    I have already visited the Dover Castle. I have the rest in my plans :) This text was translated automatically. Original text is below: Zamek w Dover już zwiedziłam. Resztę mam dopiero w planach :)

  •   6th June 2018, 10:50

    Wow, this list is just awesome... I love those old British castles in England... Bodiam Castle, Dover Castle, Windsor Castle, Arundel Castle... All of them are great! Hope to visit them one day. Thanks!

  •   20th June 2018, 16:49

    Great castles list in England! Very nice travel blog, good luck with the further writing.

  •   25th June 2018, 16:29

    Beautiful old castles in England, I must see and photograph them :-) This text was translated automatically. Original text is below: Przepiękne stare zamki w Anglii, koniecznie muszę je zobaczyć i sfotografować :-)

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