21 Best Castles in England That Will Take Your Breath Away!

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Hey there, history buffs and castle enthusiasts! Did you know that England once boasted over four thousand castles? Surprisingly, while many have vanished into thin air, more than 800 medieval castles still proudly stand across the English landscape today. Some may show their age, while others stand proudly preserved, each telling tales of the island’s rich and wild past. These majestic fortresses aren’t just relics; they’re your tickets to a day filled with adventure. So, grab your bucket list and let’s dive into the best castles in England you should visit.

famous English castles

Whether you’re a history buff or just someone seeking an unforgettable day out, these British castles offer something extraordinary for everyone.

 

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21 Best Castles in England to visit

Having lived in England for over 14 years, we’ve been fortunate to explore romantic ruins and fully mounted fortresses. Leveraging both guided tours and the freedom of our trusty car, we’ve unearthed some true treasures. Here, we are excited to share our firsthand experience and insider tips. These are the best 21 castles in England you absolutely need to visit.

 

Best Castles in England to visit in London

1. Windsor Castle

best castles in England: Windsor Castle is one of the best castles in England because it’s the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world.

Windsor Castle, located within the English county of Berkshire, was the main residence of Queen Elizabeth II until she died in 2022. Now, it’s the ownership of King Charles, but he doesn’t live there.

 

No visit to London would be complete without a visit to Windsor Castle. But why should you care about this old castle? Well, first, it’s old: it’s the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. Can you believe it? It’s been around for almost 1,000 years, built by the legendary William the Conqueror. Originally it was a wooden mottle and bailey fortress and took 16 years to complete.

 

Over the centuries, Windsor Castle got a makeover. Henry III turned it into a luxurious home, and Edward III took it to the next level. He rebuilt and turned it from a military fortification into a beautiful Gothic palace fit for royalty. Since then, Windsor Castle has been home to 40 monarchs. It’s even the final resting place of 11 kings and queens.

best castles in England to visit: Windsor Castle is one of the best castles in England to visit because the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world was the main residence of Queen Elizabeth II until she died in 2022.

Windsor Castle has stood strong – through thick and thin. It has seen it all wars and was nearly toasted in fire. Today, it is one of the hottest spots in England, attracting tourists like bees to honey.

 

Take a guided tour of the castle and see its opulent Semi-State Rooms and State Apartments full of Rococo, Gothic and Baroque furnishings. Don’t miss the 15th-century St George’s Chapel: it’s basically a masterpiece of Gothic architecture.

 

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Catch the iconic Changing of the Guards ceremony and see Queen Mary’s Doll House. Last, but not least, take a stroll down the Long Walk for some killer castle views.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • Remember that Windsor Castle isn’t open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The opening times vary during the season. Also, because it is a working royal palace, sometimes the entire castle or the State Apartments are not open at short notice. Check Windsor Castle’s official website for more information to avoid disappointment.
  • Generally, you can visit Windsor Castle between 10 am and 3 pm during winter or until 4 pm during the peak season. Also, St George’s Chapel is open for visits only on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
  • Entry tickets to Windsor Castle for adults cost £30 online or £33 at the gate as of March 2024. If you visit Windsor Castle with kids (5-7), expect to pay £15 online or £19.50 (18-24) for young people.

 

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2. Tower of London

The Tower of London has been a prison for four queens of England. 

The Tower of London, a symbol of the nation, is steeped in dark history.

 

When it comes to the best castles in England to visit, the Tower of London takes the crown. Why, do you ask? This castle, proudly standing by the River Thames, boasts almost 1,000 years of fascinating history. It’s the symbol of monarchy; it was also home to the Royal Mint and even had its own mini zoo!

But this royal residence and a fighting structure has also got a darker side. It’s a place where some queens got locked up. Sadly, unlucky three of them ended up losing their heads.

Tower of London prison

The Tower of London has been a prison for four queens of England.

 

Fast forward to today, the Tower of London still attracts the crowds. The Crown Jewels are a major draw – give yourself an hour to view them. And don’t forget to say hello to the Tower’s official mascots, the London Ravens.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • The Tower of London welcomes visitors daily from 9 am until 5.30 pm. The last slot is at 3.30 pm as of March 2024. Opening hours may vary on Mondays and Sundays during the low season.
  • Entry tickets to the Tower of London cost £34.80 for adults and £17.40 for children aged 5 to 15.

 

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Best Castles in England to visit in the south of London

 

3. Bodiam Castle

best castles in England to visit: Bodiam Castle is one of the best castles in England to visit because, according to military historian Cathcart King, Bodiam Castle is the most complete surviving example of a quadrangular castle.

Bodiam Castle may be smaller than other fortifications, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in character and beauty.

 

If you’re on the hunt for the most beautiful castles to visit in the Southern England, check out Bodiam Castle in East Sussex. This 14th-century castle, surrounded by water, stands proudly like a character from a fairytale. Its dramatic setting, remote location and charming medieval vibes make it an irresistible destination. And don’t forget to pack a picnic – there is no better spot to enjoy it than on the grass, soaking in the castle’s gorgeous views.

 

Back in the day, Bodiam Castle was the home and fortress of a knight under King Edward III. He built it as his stronghold, protecting against the French invaders. While time has taken its toll on the castle’s interior, its exterior still impresses. Picture yourself strolling through the courtyard, gazing up at the towering walls. Discover unique features such as murder holes and gun loops for sighting and firing. And here’s a fascinating bit: did you know Bodiam Castle has a 600-year-old metal castle door, possibly one of the oldest in England?

 

It isn’t just a pretty face.

Bodiam Castle England

And get this – Bodiam Castle is also famous for its unique design and circular towers. According to military historian Cathcart King, Bodiam Castle is the most complete surviving example of a quadrangular castle. Even though it isn’t as intact as it once was, this popular National Trust attraction remains one of the best examples of a moated castle.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • You can visit Bodiam Castle every day between 10 am – 5pm until 27th October 2024 (or until 3.30 pm afterwards).
  • Ticket prices for Bodiam Castle vary throughout the year – check their official website. Parking and entry fees for Bodiam Castle are free for National Trust Members. Non-members pay £4 for parking as of March 2024.

 

FUN FACT:

Did you know Bodiam Castle is a bat hotspot? Yes, this castle is home to one of the most important bat roosts in the UK. Sometimes, parts of the castle might be off-limits. Why? Because when the bat pups are learning to spread their wings, they need some privacy. So, keep an eye out for closures during certain times of the year.

 

4. Arundel Castle

Arundel Castle

Arundel Castle, sitting proudly on the West Sussex hill, overlooking the scenic River Arun.

 

This fortified castle in the heart of Sussex has quite the story behind it. The first Earl of Arundel and a cousin of William the Conqueror, Roger de Montgomery built a mottle-and-bailey castle around 1067. The castle underwent many renovations and also damage throughout its long history. It earns a reputation for one of the bloodiest histories among English castles.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. Despite its medieval vibes, much of what you see at Arundel Castle is relatively new. After the English Civil War, the fortress underwent some serious renovations. The result? Thanks to some fancy reconstruction in Gothic style, Arundel Castle is today an excellent example of the great work of Victorian England.

best castles in England: Arundel Castle is one of the best castles in England because it earns a reputation for one of the bloodiest histories among English castles. It's also one of the top attractions on the southern coast.

And did we mention that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert spent a few days at Arundel Castle? Talk about royal approval, right?

 

Even though Arundel Castle is the family home to the Duke of Norfolk, it’s open to the public. So, take an opportunity to explore the fortress on your own. See its beautiful flowery gardens, rare paintings and gorgeously preserved rooms. Lose yourself in the past, enjoy stunning views of the South Downs National Park and marvel at the skills of falconers. Afterwards, don’t miss the chance to visit the prettiest village in West Sussex. Trust us, charming Amberley is definitely worth exploring.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • Remember – Arundel Castle is not open on Monday, except on bank holidays and in August. The castle and its gardens are open from 28t March 2024 until 3rd November 2024.
  • The entry ticket to Arundel Castle, gardens, and bedrooms costs £29 for adults and £12 for children. If you want to visit only Arundel Castle Gardens, expect to pay £15 as of March 2024. You can explore Fitzalan Chapel, Keep and Gardens from 10 am and the castle rooms from 12 noon until 5 pm.

 

5. Hever Castle in England

castles in England: Hever Castle is one of the best castles in England because in the past, Hever Castle was a childhood home of Henry VIII’s second wife – Anne Boleyn. Today, opulent Hever Castle with Tudor additions is one of the best medieval castles in England. It has stunning gardens, Tudor portraits, tapestries and offers beautiful views of Hever Lake.

If you find yourself in the South East of England, be sure to add Hever Castle to your must-visit list. This castle isn’t just any old fortress – one of England’s most influential families once called this place home.

 

Did you know Hever Castle was the childhood home of none other than Anne Boleyn, the infamous second wife of King Henry VIII? Yep, that’s right – the same Anne who changed the course of English history. While we can’t say for certain if Ann was born here, she grew up in the castle before they sent her off to the Netherlands for her education.

Here is where it gets juicy: After Anne, Hever Castle landed in the hands of another of Henry’s wives. Following their divorce, the castle came into the possession of wife number four – Anne of Cleves. Can you imagine the castle’s gossip back then?

 

Hever Castle is one of the best castles in England to visit, thanks to its royal connections and breathtaking surroundings.

 

Fast forward to today, Hever Castle is now a popular tourist attraction. It’s not hard to see why; it’s got everything – from stunning gardens to serene lakes and mazes. Plus, there is always something exciting happening here. Thrilling tournaments, archery displays, patchwork and quilting exhibitions, there is never a dull moment at Hever Castle.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • Privately-owned Hever Castle is not part of the National Trust of English Heritage.
  • Entry tickets to Hever Castle and its gardens cost £22 online or £24.50 at the gate. As of March 2024, tickets for 2024 are available until November 21, 2024.
  • Hever Castle opens its doors daily at 12 pm, and its gardens welcome visitors from 10.30 am as of March 2024. Remember to check their official website for closures to avoid disappointment.

 

6. Leeds Castle

best castles in England: Leeds Castle is one of the best castles in England to visit because Catherine of Aragon and five other queens call it home throughout history. That's why many people call it “the Ladies Castle”.

You’re wandering through the breathtaking countryside of Kent in Southern England, and suddenly, you stumble upon Leeds Castle. Wait, Leeds? Despite what the name suggests, it’s not in Leeds at all!

 

This impressive moated castle has been through quite a lot, starting as a Norman stronghold, then becoming a royal residence and even a royal palace. Way back in 857 AD, there was a Royal Manor owned by a Saxon royal family. But after the Norman Conquest, they built the first stone castle here. Fast forward to the 13th century, and boom – Leeds Castle became a royal palace for Edward I and his Queen, Eleanor of Castile. And let’s not forget its most famous resident – King Henry VIII. He transformed Leeds Castle for his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.

 

FUN FACT:

Many folks call Leeds Castle the Ladies Castle” since Catherine of Aragon and five other queens call it home throughout history.

 

The last owner of Leeds Castle was Lady Baillie in the 20th century. She said: “Let’s make this place fabulous!” and brought in French interior designers to give the castle a chic makeover. Plus, she set up the Leeds Castle Foundation to care for it. Thanks to her, Leeds Castle is a fairytale dream come true. It’s got stunning towers, beautiful extensive gardens, a lake, a mind-bending maze, and even a secret grotto.

 

Leeds Castle

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • Leeds Castle is open every day during the year except for the 13th of July 2024, the 9th and 10th of November 2024 and Christmas Day.
  • Opening times at Leeds Castle vary, but generally, you can visit it from 10 am – 5 pm (or 6 pm during the peak season). The last entry to the castle grounds and gardens is 2 hours before closing.
  • Entry fee to Leeds Castle for adults costs £31.50 online or £35 at the gate. If you arrive with kids, expect to pay £50 online of £35 at the gate. And here is a fantastic part: you can revisit Leeds Castle for free all year. They also offer other tickets, such as Ultimate Explorer – check them on their official website.

 

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3. Corfe Castle in England

best castles in England: Corfe Castle is one of the best castles in England because it’s among the most romantic ruins in England.

Corfe Castle, a centuries-old fortress, now stands in ruins.

 

When you come across Corfe Castle in Dorset, you’ll quickly realize that it’s among the most romantic ruins in England. Now, you might be thinking – who built this pile of old rocks? It was none other than William the Conqueror in the 11th century. But Corfe Castle wasn’t just any average castle of its time. No, it was one of the first castles constructed at least partially from stone, while others were only mud and wood fortresses.

But Corfe Castle wasn’t just any old castle; it was a key player in England’s history. It survived the English Civil War and was partially destroyed by Parliamentarians in the 17th century. Even though Corfe Castle is now in ruins, it remains one of the best English castles. These charming ruins serve as a portal to a world of treachery and treason, where fallen walls whisper secrets of the past.

 

Corfe Castle

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After exploring the castle, hike up to one of the nearby hills for breathtaking fortress views. It’s the perfect ending to your castle adventure.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • Opening times at Corfe Castle vary during the year. Generally, you can visit the castle between 10 am and 5 pm (6pm in the summer).
  • Corfe Castle is a National Trust attraction – its members can visit it for free. Otherwise, an entry ticket for adults costs £12 off-peak or £13 during the peak season. Kids pay £6 during the low season and £6.50 during the peak season as of March 2024.

 

READ MORE:

what to see in Dorset, things to do in Dorset

 

8. Highcliffe Castle

Highcliffe Castle

Highcliffe Castle is a newbie compared to some of its older siblings.

 

You’ve wrapped up your visit to Corfe Castle, and now you’re wondering, “What next?” Well, look no further than the stunning Highcliffe Castle, just an hour’s drive away. But what’s the story behind this castle, you may ask? Let’s break it down for you.

 

Charles Stuart, 1st Baron Stuart de Rothesay, crafted this masterpiece in the early 19th century. He went all in with the Romantic and Picturesque Gothic Revival style, infused with a delightful touch of French craftsmanship. Imagine medieval French masonry sailing across the Channel to find a new home in Highcliffe Castle. With its Grade 1 status and timeless stained glass, you’ve got a castle that looks like it’s been around for centuries.

 

Despite facing a few nasty fires, like a true Phoenix, it has risen from the ashes. Today, Highcliffe Castle stands as beautiful as ever. 

Highcliffe Castle has witnessed it all – from lavish French Empire furnishings to meetings with royalty. Despite facing a few nasty fires, like a true Phoenix, it has risen from the ashes. Today, Highcliffe Castle stands as beautiful as ever.

 

And let’s not overlook those gorgeous gardens, especially delightful during the warmer months. For the adventurous souls, a leisurely stroll to Highcliffe Beach promises breathtaking coastline views.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • Highcliffe Castle opens its doors daily except Fridays and Saturdays, from 10 am until 4 pm, as of March 2024. The castle grounds are open daily, from 7 am until 6.30 pm (November-March) and extend until 7.30 pm (April – October). You can explore Highcliffe Castle grounds until 9 pm in May and September and until 10 pm in June, July and August 2024.
  • Entry tickets for adults to Highcliffe Castle cost £9, £3.20 for children aged 5 – 16, and students pay £8.50. You can also become a member for unlimited visits throughout the year.

 

9. St. Michael’s Mount

best castles in England: St. Michael’s Mount is one of the best castles in England because it lies on a rocky offshore tidal island. You can only reach it by the man-made cobblestone causeway when the tide is low or on the boat.

Did you know monks from Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy originally owned St Michael’s Mount? Today, St Michael’s Mount is a cosy home for the St Aubyn family and a community of islanders.

 

Now, why is St. Michael’s Mount so special? First, this rocky island, crowned by a medieval church and castle, looks like something out of a fairy tale. And get this – this pretty castle has a stunning subtropical terraced garden and legends so wild they’ll make your hair stand on end. St. Michael’s Mount has been a monastery, a fortress, and even a hotspot for pilgrims seeking spiritual comfort. Talk about a castle with a career change.

 

Now, let’s talk location. This isn’t your average castle perched on a hill. Oh no, this beauty sits proudly on a rocky offshore island and getting there is half the adventure. When the tide is low, you can stroll to the island on a man-made cobblestone causeway. When the water rises, watch out, hop on a small boat and cruise your way to the island in style.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • Remember Michael’s Mount closes for the winter, and it might even bail on you if the weather’s not playing nice. Can’t blame it, though; who wants to deal with rain and wind? So, if you’re planning a visit, keep an eye on the forecast.
  • Michael’s Mount is a National Trust attraction, and its members have free entry. But don’t forget to book your free timed ticket on their website. Otherwise, adults pay £15 for the castle, £11 for the garden or £26 for a combination ticket as of March 2024. If you visit with children (5-7 years), expect to pay £7.50 for a castle, £6.50 for its garden or £14 for a combination ticket.
  • Don’t forget to check out opening times on their St. Michael’s Mount website to avoid disappointment. Generally, you cannot visit it on Saturdays and also its garden on Sundays. Also, you can visit St. Michael’s Mount Gardens only between the 1st of May and the 30th of August 2024 between 9.45 am and 3.45 pm.

 

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If you plan to visit St. Michael’s Mount by boat, plan ahead of time because access by boat is available only a few days each month.

 

10. Herstmonceux Castle

best castles to visit in England: Herstmonceux Castle is one of the best castles to visit because it's one of the oldest brick buildings still standing in England.

This red-bricked wonder from the 15th century is not your average stone fortress. That’s right, this bad boy stands out with its flashy red brick design, making it one of the oldest brick buildings still standing in England. And get this, the moated castle has never been in a battle or siege. Why, do you ask? It’s because Herstmonceux Castle was originally a classy manor house.

Once you’re done touring the castle grounds, explore its themed gardens and meadows. Stroll through its lush flowery gardens, each corner telling its own story. After exploring the castle grounds, don’t miss the opportunity to wander along the woodland trail. They offer stunning views of the castle nestled in the East Sussex countryside.

Herstmonceux Castle gardens

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • Herstmonceux Castle typically closes during the winter season and reopens after May 1st, 2024. For the most accurate and up-to-date information on opening times – visit their official website. The gardens and grounds are saturated due to the heavy rainfall this winter. They hope they will dry out by opening day.
  • Once opened, adult tickets to Herstmonceux Castle will cost £8 and £3.50 for children (aged 4-17).

 

11. Dover Castle

Dover Castle

Dover is famous for many reasons, and Dover Castle is one of them.

 

This fortress by the sea isn’t just big; it’s one of the largest in England and ranks high among the best castles in England. Over the centuries, Dover Castle has protected the southeastern shores like a guardian angel. This 11th-century hillside castle was one of the most important fortresses in the country because it kept an eye on the English Channel.

When you visit this castle wonderland, get ready for a treat. Explore Henry II’s private chamber, climb the Great Tower for epic views and see the secret wartime tunnels. And guess what? There’s even an Underground Hospital hiding down there, along with some secret medieval tunnels. You might even find some Roman ruins while exploring.

But that’s not all – this area has over 2,000 years of history. You can find a Roman lighthouse here– one of only three survivors still standing in the world.

 

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Pair your Dover Castle adventure with a trip to the famous white cliffs. Double the fun, double the views.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • Dover Castle is open daily between 10 am and 5 pm, with longer hours until 6 pm in July and August.
  • Dover Castle tickets for adults cost £25.40 on the day or £20.90 if you book in advance. Kids pay £15.40 on the day or £12.79 for an advance online ticket as of March 2024. Remember to book online by 8.45 am on the day of your visit to get a 15% discount.
  • English Heritage members don’t pay entry fees to Dover Castle as of March 2024.

 

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12. Totnes and Berry Pomeroy Castle

Berry Pomeroy

Berry Pomeroy © britainexpress

 

Totnes and Berry Pomeroy Castle are like dreamy postcards from South Devon. If you find yourself in Devon, both fortresses promise an excellent day out. 900-year-old Totnes Castle, with its fancy curtain wall, screams Norman history in the coolest way. And Berry Pomeroy Castle? Well, let’s just say it’s got a spooky reputation – it’s known as one of England’s most haunted castles!

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • Berry Pomeroy Castle is open between 10 am and 5 pm until the end of September, and until 4 pm in October 2024. Afterwards, the castle is open on Saturdays and Sundays from November until 4pm, as of March 2024.
  • English Heritage members can visit Berry Pomeroy Castle for free. Otherwise, tickets for Berry Pomeroy Castle cost £6.80 for adults or £3.60 for kids as of March 2024.
  • Totnes Castle is also an English Heritage site and its members can also visit it for free. This motte-and-bailey castle has the same opening hours as Berry Pomeroy Castle. Tickets to Totnes Castle cost £5.90 for adults or £3.10 for kids as of March 2024.

 

13. Cowdray Castle

Cowdray Ruins - one of the best castles in England

You absolutely can’t skip Cowdray Castle just east of Midhurst in West Sussex, Southern England. This charming ruin was once one of England’s finest buildings. They may not be your typical castle, but let us tell you, it’s still one of the most impressive English Tudor houses around.

 

Cowdray park and ruins

Absorb some English history at Cowdray Castle.

 

This fortified manor house, dating back hundreds of years, has seen some royal action. Both King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I visited it many years ago. However, a devastating fire in the 18th century left it in ruins. Today, you can only wander around Cowdray Park and enjoy breathtaking views of these ruins. Let your imagination run wild and picture how grand it was. And after you’ve explored Cowdray Castle, why not check out nearby Petworth House, Arundel or Amberley Castle? They are all just a short drive away.

Amberley village and Amberley castle

 

14. Tintagel Castle

Tintagel Castle

If you are all about myths and tales, plan your trip to Tintagel Castle in North Cornwall. These 800-year-old ruins aren’t just dramatic – they are practically celebrities in the world of King Arthur legends. Can you believe it?

Believe it or not, this beautiful place has ties dating back to the Roman Empire. Yes, they found some ancient stuff here. While some folks come here because they believe this is the birthplace of King Arthur, others visit it for stunning clifftop views. Cross the cool footbridge, wander around the 13th-century ruins, and learn all those juicy Arthurian legends and tales.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • Tintagel Castle welcomes visitors daily between 10 am and 6 pm (5pm if it’s a Bank Holiday).
  • Tintagel Castle is also an English Heritage site, and members can visit it for free. If you are not a member, adults pay £14.50 and children £8.60 for an advance online ticket as of March 2024. Otherwise, tickets cost £17.20 for adults and £10.40 at the gate (if available).
  • Remember to pre-book your ticket to Tintagel Castle during the peak times as they often sell out.

 

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Best Castles in England to visit in the north of London

 

15. Sudeley Castle

best castles in England: Sudeley Castle is one of the best castles in England because it was once a magnet for royalty – even King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn once graced its halls. Later, it became home to Henry’s sixth wife, Catherine Parr.

Looking for a perfect mix of history and natural beauty? Then, Sudeley Castle is your ultimate go-to spot! What makes Sudeley Castle so extraordinary? This hidden gem tucked away in the Cotswolds has some serious royal connections. Back in the day, this castle was like a magnet for royalty – even King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn once graced its halls. Later, it became home to Henry’s sixth wife, Catherine Parr.

 

Sudeley Castle Cotswolds

Now, here’s the kicker: Sudeley Castle isn’t just a pretty facade – it holds a unique title. It’s the only private castle in England with a queen buried on its ground. Yes, you read that right – Queen Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s lucky number six, rests in peace in the castle’s chapel. You can even pay your respects at her final resting place in the chapel.

 

That’s why Sudeley Castle is one of the best castles in England to visit.

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After your castle exploration, check out charming villages nearby in the Cotswolds. Who knows what other hidden gems you will discover in the Cotswolds.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • Sudeley Castle is open daily from 19th March 2024 until 3rd November 2024. The castle gardens open at 10 am and Sudeley Castle at 11 am as of March 2024.
  • The last admission is at 3 pm, and the castle closes at 4 pm. Entry ticket to Sudeley Castle costs £22 for adults and £10 for children as of March 2024.

 

READ MORE:

Cotswolds best places to visit

 

16. Colchester Castle

best castles in England: Colchester Castle is one of the best castles in England because it stands on the foundations of the Roman Temple of Claudius. This fortress also houses precious artefacts dating back a whopping 2,500 years.

Ever heard of Colchester Castle? It’s one of the top heritage attractions in Essex, steep in history.

 

Let us tell you why Colchester Castle rocks the castle world. It isn’t just any fortress; it was the first of the great keeps and the biggest Norman Keep in Europe. But Colchester Castle isn’t just big – it’s a time machine.

Back in the day, Colchester was Britain’s First City and the first capital of Roman Britain. And guess what? The Normans, those crafty builders, decided to build a castle on the foundations of the Roman Temple of Claudius. This temple was one of the most famous buildings and the largest temple of its kind in Roman Britain. Talk about history on top of history.

Colchester fortress

William the Conqueror himself ordered the construction of Colchester Castle. The Normans didn’t go shopping for new materials; they recycled bricks and stones from the Roman ruins. Talk about sustainable practices, right?

 

THE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Now, let’s talk about architecture and what is inside. Colchester Castle houses precious artefacts dating back a whopping 2,500 years. You can spot Roman relics and unique displays that will make your jaw drop. But the surprises don’t stop there.
  • Colchester Castle has some seriously impressive features, like corner towers and its massive staircase. Let’s just say it’s not your average flight of stairs, but the biggest spiral staircase in all of Britain, measuring a whopping 5 metres across. According to Wikipedia, it also has the largest area of any medieval tower built in Britain or Europe. It is one and a half times the size of the ground floor of the White Tower in London. Fascinating, right? Also, don’t forget to peek into the prison cells – you never know what secrets they might hold.

 

So, why is Colchester Castle one of the best castles in England? Because it has epic history, you can see the Temple foundations and uncover the secrets of Roman Colchester here.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • You can visit Colchester Castle every day between 10 am – 5pm or from 11 am on Sunday.
  • A ticket to Colchester Castle for an adult costs £12.75, and a student pays £8.50 as of March 2024. Entry fee for one child (aged 4-16) costs £7.50, and you pay £3.75 for all additional children as of March 2024. And the best part? You don’t need to book your tickets in advance.

 

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17. Framlingham Castle

best castles to visit in England: Framlingham Castle was the site of a crucial moment in English history when Mary Tudor was proclaimed Queen of England. That’s why Framlingham Castle is one of the best castles to visit in England if you are a history lover.

Framlingham Castle might not be the first castle that comes to mind when you think of famous British Castles, but it’s a hidden gem you absolutely don’t want to miss.

 

Firstly, did you know Framlingham Castle in the Suffolk countryside has a rich and colourful past? Now, you might recognize it from Ed Sheeran’s song Castle on the Hill. But this fortress is not only famous for its musical connections.

 

Did you know Framlingham Castle played a significant role during the Tudor period? It was the site of a crucial moment in English history when Mary Tudor was proclaimed Queen of England. That’s why Framlingham Castle is one of the best castles to visit in England if you are a history lover.

Once you’re there, you can explore the historic workhouse and climb up those 10-metre-high defensive walls. Here, you can get a closer look at the beautifully preserved Tudor chimneys. And did we mention the views of the surrounding countryside? They are simply breathtaking.

 

Framlingham Castle

Afterwards, walk the castle’s ramparts and enjoy educational events held during the school holidays. And if you are feeling adventurous, stroll through the Framlingham Mere nature reserve nearby. The paths might get a bit muddy after rainfall, but the views of the castle from down there are absolutely stunning.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • Opening times at  Framlingham Castle vary during the year – check their official website. The castle usually welcomes visitors daily between 10 am and 6 pm during the peak season.
  • Framlingham Castle is an English Heritage attraction – and members can visit it for free. If you are not a member, expect to pay £11.30 for an online advance ticket for adults and £6.80 for kids. You can also buy your tickets at the gate: adult ticket costs £13.60, and kids pay £8.10 as of March 2024.

 

18. Warwick Castle

best castles in England: Warwick Castle is one of the main attractions in Central England. This over 956-year-old fortress is an iconic symbol of the town and ranks among the best castles you can visit in England.

It’s easy to see why Warwick Castle is one of the main attractions in Central England. This over 956-year-old fortress is an iconic symbol of the town and ranks among the best castles you can visit in England. Sure, it might have a more commercial vibe when compared to other castles, but trust us, it’s worth every penny.

Now let’s hop into our time-travelling machine and zoom back to 1068. The oldest surviving structure is the still-standing mound from William the Conqueror’s era. While his earlier wooden structure has vanished, the stone beauty you can see today dates back to the 12th century.

the stone beauty you can see today dates back to the 12th century.

Throughout its thousand-year history, Warwick Castle has witnessed numerous owners and has survived various attacks, sieges, and even a fire.

 

Today, Warwick Castle is more than just a pretty face. One of the best medieval castles in England offers all sorts of cool events and exhibitions year-round to keep you entertained. It’s also a paradise for kids, with captivating archery displays and thrilling bird shows featuring eagles. And did you know they have jaw-dropping attractions like the world’s largest working catapult and the spine-tingling Castle Dungeon? And, if that is not enough, there is even a brand new Horrible Histories Maze.

Warwick Castle - one of the best castles in England to visit

Did we mention you can stay overnight within the castle walls? Image waking up here – it’s like a dream come true for any castle enthusiast. So, whether you are coming from Stratford-upon-Avon, Birmingham or even London, Warwick Castle promises an unforgettable journey back in time.

 

BUY YOUR TICKETS AND EXPLORE GORGEOUS WARWICK CASTLE:

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • Warwick Castle  is open from 10 am until 4 pm or 5 pm every day, with closing times varying throughout the year. Check their official website for details to avoid disappointment.
  • Expect to pay £39 for an adult ticket or £22 if you book in advance (as of March 2024). A Warwick annual pass costs £49 per person, and if you stay overnight, you pay £35 for an adult (as of March 2024).

 

READ MORE:What to do in Warwick in England. One day in Warwick

 

19. Bamburgh Castle

Bamburgh Northumberland

If you are anywhere near Northern England, you absolutely must check out gorgeous Bamburgh Castle. Wondering why? Let us tell you.

 

Let’s turn back the pages of history for a moment. Bamburgh Castle has been standing tall for centuries, keeping watch over the wild Northumberland coastline. Legend has it that it was built on the site of a Celtic fort. Throughout the ages, the fort weathered not-so-friendly Viking attacks, and later, the Normans built a new castle on site. Bamburgh Castle even faced thunderous cannon blasts and underwent a remarkable reconstruction in the 19th century.

Today, Bamburgh Castle ranks among the best castles in England because it’s one of the largest inhabited fortresses in the country. It even holds the title of being the first castle in England to suffer from firepower.

And here’s where things get really juicy – Bamburgh Castle isn’t just famous for its battles and sieges. It also has some fascinating legends swirling around it. Some folks say it is a probable site of Sir Lancelot’s fortress. Whether you believe in knights or not, one thing’s for sure – you won’t regret exploring this gem of North England.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • Bamburgh Castle holds a Grade I listed status, and you can visit every day until November 3rd, 2024. Its doors open at 10 am, and the last entry is at 4.30 pm during the peak season as of March 2024. Check their official website for the latest information to avoid disappointment.
  • Entry fee to Bamburgh Castle costs £17 for adults and £8.50 for children as of March 2024.

 

20. Lindisfarne Castle

Why is Lindisfarne Castle is one of the best castles in England, do you ask? Besides being an attractive fortress with a fascinating history, it is also stunning. Lindisfarne Castle stands out because when the tide rolls in, this fortress gets cut off from the mainland and becomes an island. Pretty cool, right?

Lindisfarne Castle stands out because when the tide rolls in, this fortress gets cut off from the mainland and becomes an island. Pretty cool, right?

Lindisfarne Castle proudly stands on the Holy Island in Northumberland, in the far north of England. You can only reach it via its causeway. But timing is key for your visit – you don’t want to get stuck!

 

Now, let’s say something about its history. This place has seen it all through thousands of years: Viking raids, Scottish invasions, you name it. They all had their eyes on this vulnerable border area between Scotland and England. There used to be a monastery there, but Henry VIII had other plans during the Reformation.

And get this – even though Lindisfarne Castle looks like a medieval fortress, it’s actually a 20th-century restoration of a Tudor fort. This picturesque fort got a glam makeover fit for a king in the 19th century. Now, it’s under the watchful eye of the National Trust.

 

TIPS:

  • After soaking in all that history, chill on the beach and enjoy the coastal vibes.
  • Combine your visit to Lindisfarne Castle with the nearby Bamburgh Castle.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • Entry fee to Lindisfarne Castle costs £10 for adults or £5 for children as of March 2024.
  • Opening times to Lindisfarne Castle change according to the tide times. The National Trust flag flies only when Lindisfarne Castle is open.

 

21. Alnwick Castle

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One of the first castles in England without a square keep – Alnwick Castle.

 

Alnwick Castle also steals the spotlight as one of the best British castles. Let us tell you, it isn’t just for Harry Potter and Downtown Abbey enthusiasts – it’s got a whole lot more to offer.

The castle dates back to the 11th century to the Norman era when it was built to keep the northern border of England safe. Imagine, it started as a humble motte and bailey fortress back in the day. Fast forward to today, it has been renovated and remodelled numerous times. Today, this Grade I listed building is the home of the 12th Duke of Northumberland and the Percy family.

 

Did you know Alnwick Castle is the second largest inhabited castle in England? This massive fortress has beautifully decorated State Rooms. They are home to the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland. Alnwick Castle also has extensive grounds and a fine art collection that could make any museum jealous. And if you are into special exhibitions, explore Alnwick’s three towers packed with relics from Ancient Egypt and frescoes from Pompeii.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • Unfortunately Alnwick Castle is not open during the winter. You can explore it only after 29th March 2024. The opening times are usually from 10 am until 5 pm, as of March 2024.
  • Entry ticket to Alnwick Castle for adults costs £50 online or £22.80 at the gate. Children pay £10.80 online or £12 at the gate as of March 2024. They also offer passes; valid for 12 months if you plan to revisit Alnwick Castle.

 

BUY YOUR TICKET AND EXPLORE ALNWICK CASTLE – one of the best castles in England: 

 

Now you know what are the best castles in England!

Did we miss anything? What is your favourite English fortress? Please let us know in the comments below.

top best castles in England

 

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Last updated: 27/03/2024


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