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Castles in England dominate the landscape of the country, offering a treasure chest of history for you to uncover!
England is said to be home to over 4,000 castles, littered across the coast and countryside. Our selection of the best castles in England serves as reminders of the country’s turbulent past, as well as excellent days out with the family.
From the castle that’s home to the country’s Crown Jewels to the romantic ruins that tower Devon’s countryside. These English castles are sure to impress!
Continue reading to discover the best castles in England…
The castle is classed as a Grade I listed building and is currently owned by the Duke of Norfolk, however, it enjoys an extensive history that dates all the way back to 1067! It has been well looked after over the years and makes for a beautiful day out with plenty to do.
During a visit here, you’ll be amazed by the magnificent architecture, including the prominent motte! Be sure to explore the castle’s interior, where its staterooms and the stunning Fitzalan Chapel take centre stage.
Don’t forget to explore the gardens, where you can soak up the gorgeous landscaping. The Tea Terrace rests within the gardens and serves up a range of hot and cold beverages for you to enjoy. Alternatively, head to the Castle Coffee Shop to tuck into a range of cakes, sandwiches and biscuits.
Sporting a show-stopping exterior and walkway, Bodiam Castle is another fantastic addition to this collection of castles in England and is one of the most beautiful castles in the UK. The 14th-century monument is home to a wealth of intriguing features, including spiral staircases and a portcullis.
The castle is open to the public, so you can walk across the moat and into the fortress, pausing on the way to admire the carps and ducks splashing about in the water. Once inside the castle, you can look forward to exploring the courtyard, the remains of the screen passage, the great hall and more!
A wealth of events take place in the courtyard too, making it ideal for a family visit. From archery and stocks to storytelling and medieval characters, you’ll be very entertained here.
The castle’s grounds welcome dogs, so you can embark on a walk with your canine companion around the castle’s stunning setting. Afterwards, treat yourself to a snack at Castle View Café.
Portchester Castle rests on the city of Portsmouth’s harbour. The site is packed with history, from being a Roman fortress to a prisoner-of-war camp during the Napoleonic Wars.
Nowadays, the ruined castle is owned by English Heritage and makes for a fantastic family day out. After spending time exploring the once-glorious ruins of the outer and inner baileys, why not enjoy a tour of the castle’s keep? Here, you’ll find fascinating exhibitions alongside rooftop views.
Several events take place at Portchester Castle throughout the year, including exhibitions detailing the vital history of the Caribbean and Haitian prisoners who once lived within the fortress walls.
Next on our list of the best castles in England is a real-life fairytale castle, Bolsover Castle. The castle dates back to the 11th century when it was founded by one of William the Conqueror’s knights. It’s since been turned into a grand family home and enjoys extravagant, Gothic architecture throughout.
On a day out, spend some time admiring the wealth of beautiful artwork on display around the castle, including the eye-catching ceiling mural of the Ascension of Christ. Afterwards, soak up the beautiful surroundings on a walk along the castle walls and through the Fountain Garden.
Another highlight of Bolsover Castle is its array of events on offer, from spooky ghost tours to intimate carol concerts. If you’re visiting with little ones, a range of child-friendly activities take place on a regular basis and a castle-themed play area also rests on site.
These distinctive ruins in North Yorkshire should be at the top of a history lover’s itinerary when visiting the region. Currently run by English Heritage, Middleham Castle was once a glorious fortress and the childhood home of Richard III.
A visit to Middleham Castle is a breath-taking experience, thanks to its ruined architecture being surprisingly well maintained, with the keep’s exterior and the gatehouse retaining most of their structure.
When visiting the castle, be amazed by the amazing vistas of Wensleydale from the viewing platform before heading down to the picnic area to tuck into an alfresco lunch. The grounds are dog-friendly, too, so you can bring your pooch along to this historic delight!
Windsor Castle, on the outskirts of London, is the next stop on this list of English Castles to visit. This fortress is very special, as it’s the oldest castle in England as well as being a royal residence.
This castle is bound to dazzle you with its beauty whilst providing you with ample to do during a visit. Golden decór, show-stopping murals, Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House and St George’s Chapel are just a few of the memorable highlights here.
If you make it to the castle before 11 am, head to the front where the Changing of the Guard ceremony will take place. Afterwards, treat yourself to a royal brunch at the Undercroft Café; what will you tuck into, a blackcurrant Macaroon or Victoria Sponge cake?
The romantic ruins of Berry Pomeroy Castle were bound to make this list of castles in England to visit. With its history going back as far as the 15th century, the castle has seen a lot in its time! From its beginning as an Elizabethan mansion to its abandonment, discover it all during a tour of the grounds.
Make your way into the castle via its domineering defensive Gatehouse, before exploring the remains of the Great Hall, the ovens of the 17th-century kitchens and the quaint courtyard. You can enhance your exploration with a fascinating audio tour, too.
The castle’s grounds enjoy access to a range of woodland walks, including the John Musgrave Trail. After exploring the trails, treat yourself to a delicious treat at the on-site Castle Café.
A beautiful ruin, Nunney Castle is another wonderful castle to visit in England. The moated monument dates to the 1370s, when it was built by knight John de la Mare.
When visiting Nunney Castle, you’ll not only be delighted by its charming surroundings but you’ll be surprised at how well-preserved it is, despite being over 650 years old! It’s open every day during daylight hours, so you can admire this gem up close whenever you like.
The Nunney Street Fayre runs annually nearby and often has stalls dotted around and within the castle’s grounds. During this time, entertainment, music and delicious treats can be enjoyed amidst Nunney Castle’s pretty scenery.
Tucked away in the West Midlands, between Wolverhampton and Birmingham is the historic gem of Dudley Castle. This set of ruins has made this list of English castles to visit due to it being a brilliant day out for all the family.
The castle itself has somewhat of a vague history, with historians unsure over whether the castle dates to 1070 or 700 AD. Despite its mysterious beginnings, there is a wealth of fascinating architecture for you to discover here. The Tudor gatehouse and the Norman motte are a couple of the castle’s most striking features.
The castle benefits from being on the grounds of the Dudley Zoological Gardens, giving kids of all ages plenty to enjoy here. From being able to spot an array of wonderful animals, such as baboons and flamingos to enjoying the rides in the funfair; you’ll rarely be bored here.
Kendal Castle is another delightful addition to this ranking of the best castles in England. It enjoys elevated views over the Cumbrian town of the same name.
The 13th-century castle is now a romantic ruin, however, Visit Kendal offers visitors access to the Kendal Castle Audio Trail, helping to bring the ruins back to life. With the audio trail, you’ll be transported back in time to the castle’s heyday whilst also being pointed in the direction of bird-watching opportunities.
After completing the trail, settle down on the ruin’s surrounding lawns and enjoy a picnic accompanied by picturesque views.
Perched in 11th place in this list of English Castles to visit is Farleigh Hungerford Castle. A fascinating landmark, the castle was home to the Hungerford family, which included Sir Thomas Hungerford, the First Speaker of the House of Commons.
Nowadays the castle’s owned by English Heritage and visitors can meander along the same halls as the Hungerfords. You can even find the family yourself by wandering down the castle crypt!
The two tours are the most striking structures on the castle grounds, and you can look forward to climbing up five flights of spiral stairs to the top. Alternatively, head through the gorgeous garden to the chapel for a moment of peace and quiet.
Want to step back in time to the Saxon era? Then Lydford Castle should be at the top of your list of castles in England to visit! It’s free of charge, making it a great place for an accessible, historic pit stop.
The ruin is set within the remains of a Saxon town, which you can explore with the handy accompaniment of an audio tour. The tour will take you on a guided walk amidst the castle’s grounds and back in time by 1,000 years.
After learning of the castle’s ties to William the Conqueror and its time as an 18th-century prison, head over to the nearby pub of the Castle Inn for a tasty meal.
Visit Warwick Castle and experience more than 1,100 years of history, uncovering stories of great battles and ancient myths.
Our 13th English castle is a medieval piece of architecture, originally built by William the Conqueror in 1068. Today, visitors to the county town of Warwickshire can explore the castle’s collection of shows and attractions, as well as 64 acres of beautiful grounds and gardens.
Attractions at the castle include The Kingmaker, which is a walk-through experience. This experience takes you on a journey through preparations for battle in medieval England! Those with children will enjoy the Horrible Histories Maze and the Princess Tower.
To the exterior of the castle, a number of performances can be enjoyed, including The Bowman, Winter Birds of Prey and War of the Roses Live.
Overlooking a natural harbour, this Northumberland castle was utilised as a base for the Tudor navy, which was engaged in supporting operations against the Scots.
Today, however, this is a magical spot and is a fine example of an Edwardian holiday home. Admire the work of the young architect, Edin Lutyens before exploring Gertrude Jekyll’s enchanting walled garden.
Please note: Parking is one mile away from the castle, stout footwear is recommended and there are no toilet facilities at the castle.
You can hop on a boat or still over across the causeway during low tide to visit the jewel in Cornwall’s crown. Enjoy a seamless blend of modern life with thousands of years of history at this castle in Cornwall!
The oldest building of the castle dates back to the 12th century. Be sure to marvel at the architecture and unpeel the legend of Jack the Giant Killer!
On a summer afternoon, explore the subtropical terraced garden and soak up the views across Mount’s Bay.
Claimed to be the loveliest castle in the world is Leeds Castle in Kent. Situated across two islands on a magnificent lake, this English castle is a unique visit.
The castle has a vast history. It has been a Norman stronghold, the private property of medieval queens and a royal palace for Henry VII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. As well as a 20th-century retreat for the famous!
Today, you can explore the Gatehouse Exhibition to uncover each key stage of development and admire a collection of artefacts. Those visiting with children can find a wealth of attractions, including Adventure Golf, The Maze and the Knights’ Stronghold Playground.
For something more leisurely, you can admire the 500 acres of gardens and parkland, including the Culpeper Garden, the Princess Alexandra Gardens and the Lady Baillie Mediterranean Garden Terraces.
This 1,000-years-old fortress is a must-see during any London outing. Inside the Tower of London on Channel 5 has recently brought the castle into focus, however, it’s an iconic landmark that’s been around for over 1,000 years!
When exploring the UNESCO World Heritage site, why not embark on a Yeoman Warder tour? During a tour, you can look forward to exploring Tower Green, the Crown Jewels Exhibition and the White Tower’s Royal Armouries collections.
You can also explore the Tower of London at your own leisure by wandering along the defensive inner battlements and up the huge towers dotted throughout the site.
Don’t forget to pay the Tower of London’s famous ravens a visit! Or, enjoy a spot of dark history at the Torture at the Tower exhibition. Once you’ve finished exploring the site, two cafés are on hand with refreshments!
Want to enjoy a day out at one of these castles in England that’s filled with coastal views and over 900 years of history? A visit to Dover Castle is a must, thanks to its extensive past of being an Iron Age hillfort, Medieval castle, a WWI military headquarters and a hot spot for WWII secret tunnels.
You can actually explore the secret wartime tunnels during a visit here, with the underpasses weaving through the White Cliffs of Dover and featuring interactive exhibits for you to enjoy. Alternatively, head in the opposite direction by climbing the Great Tower, where you can be transported to the Medieval era.
Be sure to venture to the Roman lighthouse, which is the only one of its kind in England! Afterwards, why not embark on a walk along the cliffs?
A mixture between a Tudor fortress and a Georgian workhouse, Framlingham Castle is amidst the wonderfully unique castles to visit in England. The 12th-century castle was once home to Mary Tudor, and you can walk in her footsteps during an exploration of the grounds.
A must-try activity at Framlingham Castle is the Wall Walk. Not only does the walk boast elevated views over Suffolk‘s gorgeous countryside, but it’s packed with history! During the walk, see if you can spot all the historic chimneys dotted along the walls and peak through the arrowslits.
After the walk, head into the workhouse, the only building remaining inside the castle keep today. Here, you can be immersed in an exhibit showcasing the castle’s journey from a prosperous landmark to a ruin.
A picnic on the sprawling green is the perfect way to end a visit here. You can bring your own lunch or treat yourself to a cake from the castle’s café.
Spofforth Castle, once the seat of the Percy Family, is now a picturesque ruin for you to explore during a North Yorkshire getaway. The castle has had an eventful history, including a colossal fire in the 15th century.
The ruins once consisted of a chapel, a great hall and several chambers. It was truly a sight to behold, being perched above Spofforth and offering its inhabitants elevated views over the village.
The castle enjoys free entry and rests near a car park, so it’s easily reached. Thanks to the castle being dog-friendly, you can also come here with your canine companion during a hike along the Spofforth and Follifoot Circular.
Once you’ve uncovered this historic gem, why not head down to The Castle Inn and tuck into some traditional pub fare?
One of the major English castles to visit is the imposing fortress of Calshot Castle. The castle was built by Henry VIII in 1539 to be an artillery fort to defend England’s south coast with.
Much like Dover Castle, Calshot Castle also became a base for military activity during the World Wars. The castle was used as an RAF base during both wars.
These days, the castle is part of the Calshot Activities Centre and is owned by English Heritage. During a visit, you can climb the circular castle keep up to the top and enjoy glorious views of the Isle of Wight!
The castle also hosts seasonal, family-friendly events where the little ones can enjoy a variety of activities!
Last but not least on our guide to English castles is Pontefract Castle, a historic fortress in West Yorkshire, which played a vital role in English history. Its royal connections and role in politics make it an important cultural site, while its ruins, ghostly legends, and ongoing restoration efforts captivate visitors.
Offering free entry, this is an ideal spot to visit for a cheap family day out. Spend time exploring the castle grounds, learning about its role in Shakespeare’s works, visiting the gift shop and treating yourself to a treat at the on-site café.
Impressed by our castles in England guide? Stay in your very own fortress and explore this marvellous range of castle rentals in the UK! Alternatively, use our England travel guide to uncover even more English historical gems.
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