England has some of the most stunning medieval castles in the world. From Arundel Castle to Windsor Castle, these castles are more than just towers and turrets; they also hide secrets, and legendary tales.
In this article, we will take a look at the Best Medieval Castles in England. Whether you are planning a trip with your family, friends, or traveling solo, I strongly recommend you to see these castles.
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10. Arundel Castle
Located 65 miles away from London, Arundel Castle is a grand castle that has served as the seat of the Dukes of Norfolk for over 850 years. The castle, built in 1068, was renovated several times over the years. Notably, in the 19th century, it was converted into a comfortable home with modern amenities like central heat, electricity, and lifts added to receive a visit from Queen Victoria and Albert.
It has been the residence of the Dukes of Norfolk and their ancestors for centuries, making it one of the most well-preserved examples of Norman architecture in England. Arundel Castle has an extensive history, having been besieged during two civil wars: The Anarchy and the English Civil War. With its rich history and stunning architecture, Arundel Castle is undoubtedly one of the best medieval castles in England.
9. Caernarfon Castle
Caernarfon Castle is one of the most impressive medieval castles in England, built by King Edward I of England in the late 13th century. Being the most expensive castle of its time, a large portion of the nation’s yearly earnings was spent on its construction.
It features unique architectural designs, including a drawbridge, portcullises, arrow loops, and spy and murder holes. The castle’s unique design was modelled after the walls of Constantinople and reflects the wealth and taste of King Edward I. The castle has also been recognised with a UNESCO World Heritage Site status. The parapets of Caernarfon Castle offer breathtaking views and are worth visiting.
8. Dover Castle
Dover Castle is one of the most iconic medieval castles in England. Built in the 11th century, it is the largest castle in England and was considered the “key to England” due to its strategic value. Operated by English Heritage, Dover Castle has a history dating back to Roman times and played a significant role in World War II. Initially built by Henry II in 1180, the castle underwent numerous fortifications with the introduction of gunpowder and later conflicts.
Visitors of Dover Castle can explore the remains of a Roman lighthouse, tour the great towers, narrow staircases, and tunnels, as well as explore the extensive grounds. The castle’s steep history, panoramic views, and breathtaking architecture exemplify the beauty and grandeur of medieval England’s castles. It is a perfect tourist attraction for history buffs and visitors who want to experience the medieval era in England.
7. Dunluce Castle
Dunluce Castle is a stunning medieval castle situated in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Originally constructed by the McQuillan family in the 1500s, this castle sits on the edge of a cliff overlooking the North Atlantic Ocean and the Antrim Coast. The castle offers breathtaking views alongside a fascinating history. Visitors can enjoy exploring the castle’s ruins and learning about the legends that surround it.
It is now one of the popular tourist destinations in Ireland and has been featured in numerous movies and television shows. Dunluce Castle has been classified as a scheduled monument and is protected by UK law, ensuring that it remains an integral part of Northern Ireland’s heritage for generations to come.
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6. Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle, located in Edinburgh, Scotland, is an iconic medieval castle that sits atop an extinct volcano. It has a rich history, having been besieged more than 25 times and rebuilt after the Lang Siege from 1571 to 1573. One of the most popular attractions within the castle is the 500-year-old Scottish crown jewels – they comprise of a scepter, a sword, and a crown, are displayed in the castle.
Edinburgh Castle is known for its iconic clock keeper, who fires a gun each day at 1 p.m. as a reminder of time. It’s a popular tourist spot where visitors can explore the castle’s nooks and crannies while enjoying the panoramic views of the neighboring city.
5. Leeds Castle
Leeds Castle is a must-visit medieval castle for anyone traveling to Kent, UK. Constructed by Robert de Crevecoeur in 1119, this castle became a royal palace for King Edward I after being purchased by Eleanor of Castile in 1278. King Henry VIII visited the castle several times and even renovated it for his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.
Nowadays, Leeds Castle is known as ‘The Loveliest Castle in the World’ and is a popular destination for visitors. You can spend the day exploring the castle, getting lost in the maze, playing a round of golf, and even visiting the dog collar museum! Perfect for a fun day out with family or a romantic getaway.
4. Tintagel Castle
Tintagel Castle, located in Cornwall, England, is a castle with a rich history that dates back to Roman Britain. The castle was built on the orders of Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall, brother of the King of England, during the 13th century. It is linked to the King Arthur legend and is said to have been the birthplace of King Arthur.
The castle was designed to recreate the setting of the Camelot legend. Tintagel Castle has served as a residence for many powerful figures throughout the centuries, including Richard of Cornwall himself. Today, visitors can explore the ruins of the castle while taking in breathtaking views of the sea and the surrounding landscape. It is truly a must-visit destination for anyone who loves history and the legend of King Arthur.
3. Tower of London Castle
The Tower of London is one of the most iconic castles in England and has stood for over 1000 years, guarding the English crown jewels. The castle was constructed in 1078 CE by William the Conqueror and is located on the north bank of the River Thames. Throughout its history, the Tower of London has served various purposes, from being a defensive castle to a currency mint and jail.
Its main attraction is the White Tower, which is located in the center of the complex and is a popular tourist spot. Visitors can explore the castle’s history and discover the fascinating stories associated with it. The Tower of London is undeniably one of the best medieval castles to visit in England and should be on any traveler’s bucket list.
2. Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle, originally built during 1068 by William the Conqueror, is one of the most well-known medieval castles in England. It was fortified with stone and served as a stronghold during the Hundred Years War. In 1978, the Tussauds Group purchased and opened it to the public, turning it into a major tourist attraction.
Visitors can explore the castle and watch as historical events are brought to life by actors. If you are traveling from London to Warwick Castle, day tours are available to make travel arrangements smooth and easy. The castle features architecture, exhibits, and activities that will be delightful and insightful for all history buffs.
1. Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle, located about an hour west of London, is one of the most impressive castles to visit in England. The castle was originally built in the 11th century and has been home to many monarchs over the years. Today, it serves as one of the official residences of Queen Elizabeth II and is used for both state and private entertaining.
Windsor Castle is not only the oldest but also the largest inhabited castle in the world, covering an area of approximately 13 acres. Visitors to the castle can explore the castle’s highlights, including the State Apartments and Queen Mary’s dolls house, which are popular with tourists. If you’re looking for a fascinating piece of medieval history, a visit to Windsor Castle is a must-see.
Best time for visiting medieval castles?
The best time of year to visit medieval castles in England depends on personal preference and the specific castle. Some castles may have seasonal opening hours or events, so it is best to check ahead of time. Generally, the summer months (June to August) are popular for castle visits due to longer daylight hours and warmer weather.
However, spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) can offer smaller crowds and cooler temperatures. Winter (December to February) may have limited castle access due to maintenance or restoration work, but can provide a unique and atmospheric experience with festive events and decorations.
Are all medieval castles open to the public?
No, not all medieval castles in England are open to the public. Some castles may be privately owned or used for government and military purposes. It is recommended to check the website or contact the castle beforehand to see if it is open to visitors and if there are any admission fees or restrictions.
How were medieval castles built?
Medieval castles were typically built using stone, timber, and mortar. The construction process involved laying foundations and then building up walls and towers, often with a moat or other defensive features around the base. As the walls were constructed, they were fortified with battlements and other defensive structures.
Many castles also featured courtyards or keep buildings inside the walls for added protection. Medieval castles in England are typically characterized by architecture and design elements such as thick stone walls, narrow windows, and crenellated battlements for defense. They often feature large keeps or towers, as well as drawbridges and moats for added protection.
England is a land of castles and stunning history. The medieval era has given us some of the most beautiful castles in the world, cherished and preserved for generations to come. If you plan on exploring England or just looking for inspiration on where to travel to next, these ten castles will sure grab your attention!
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