There are hundreds of castles in England, each with its own special charm and appeal. The following are a few we think should be on everyone’s must-see list.
Arundel Castle is impressive in size and is more modern in appearance than most other castles in England. The 1,000 year-old castle was originally of Norman construction, but has been added to over the years, most recently by Queen Victoria (1819 – 1901). Today the grand castle is home to extravagant furniture, artwork, tapestries, stained glass, china, clocks, sculptures, armor, and beautiful well-kept gardens. Arundel Castle is open from 21st March to 2nd November 2008 – Tuesday to Sunday inclusive, and closed Mondays (except August Mondays and Bank Holiday Mondays.)
Tel: +44 (0)1903 882173
The legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table surrounds the ruins of this castle. Built around 1240 by Earl Richard of Cornwall, Tintagel Castle’s ruins sit atop a high slate cliff overlooking the ocean. The castle’s history dates back before medieval times to the fifth century according to the discovery of Saxon and Norman pottery. A beach lies at the foot of the castle, which gives entrance to Merlin’s Cave lying underneath the rock wall. Open: daily, closed Dec 25, 26 and Jan 1
Tower of London
In the 11th century, William the Conqueror built a wooden fortress on this site to protect the entrance to London. Over the last 900 years other monarchies have added to and rebuilt it to give us the magnificent structure seen today. It has been a treasury, armory, a royal residence, and has also been a prison for enemies of the crown. The Tower of London is filled with beautiful paintings and décor that are truly British. A full day is recommended to see the entire castle as well as the Crown Jewels, Chapel of St. John, Queen’s House, the towers, Traitor’s Gate and the nearby Tower Bridge which is often confused with London Bridge. Open: Mar. through Oct. 9am – 6pm Mon – Sat, 10am – 6pm Sun; Nov. through Feb. 9am – 5pm Mon – Sat, 10am – 5pm Sun. Seasonal Closure: Dec. 25 – Jan. 1
Tower Hill, London
Tel: 0171-709 0765
Warwick Castle (pronounced “warik”) is a beautifully preserved historical monument. The castle has changed ownership many times throughout history and has been added to and fortified by its many different owners. Over many years, Warwick’s structure gradually changed from wood to stone, resulting in the beautiful building we see today. The castle offers displays of armor, towers and ramparts, dungeons, the Great Hall, state rooms, Caesar’s Tower, a gatehouse and more. This castle is definitely worth adding to your list of places to visit. Open: Apr. 1 through Oct. 31 10am – 6pm daily; Nov. 1 through Mar. 31 10am – 6pm daily, closed Christmas Day.
Built by William the Conqueror in 1070 to protect the western side of London, Windsor Castle is the oldest continuously inhabited house of royalty in England. It is still used as an occasional residence to royalty including Queen Elizabeth II. The construction of the castle took place over many centuries. It was originally built of wood, but over the years has been added to and made stronger under several monarchies. Open: Apr. through Oct. 10am – 5:30pm daily; Nov. through Mar. 10am – 4:30pm. Seasonal Closure: Dec. 25 – Jan. 1
York Castle, also known as Clifford’s Tower, is one of the main attractions in York and dates back to Roman times. The tower that still stands high on the hill is the keep of the castle, which used to surround it. Most of the rooms in the castle are in ruins, but there continue to be interesting features that are still standing. Clifford’s Tower is part of the York Castle Museum, which is at the foot of the hill, and is housed in what used to be two prisons. When visiting the castle, it is impossible to avoid the charm of the rest of the town, which has retained many of its medieval features. The protective wall that surrounds the town, the pubs, streets, markets and churches are reflective of the history of the city of York. In order to get a complete experience when visiting the castle, it is important to take in and enjoy the city of York. Open: Apr. through Oct. 9:30am – 5:30pm Monday – Saturday, 10am – 5:30pm Sunday; Nov. through Mar. 9:30am – 4pm Monday – Sat, 10am – 4pm Sunday
York, North Yorkshire
Skipton Castle, one of the best preserved medieval castles in England, was built more than 900 years ago. Visitors to Skipton are able to visit the complete castle including the Banqueting Hall, kitchen, dungeon and watchtower. Skipton Castle is open daily from 10am (Sunday 12 noon), except for 25 December. Last admission is at 6pm (October – February 4pm).
Skipton Castle, Skipton, North
Yorkshire BD23 1AW
Tel: +44 1756 792442
Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, is located in Woodstock, just 8 miles from Oxford. This baroque palace is situated on 2100 acres of park lands landscaped by “Capability” Brown. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful grounds as well as the gorgeous palace, a masterpiece of baroque architecture. In the palace, you can see the beautifully decorated staterooms and tapestries, as well as a special viewing of ‘Blenheim Palace: The Untold Story’, a new state-of the-art visitor experience, and a special exhibit on Winston Churchill. The Palace was was a gift to the First Duke of Marlborough, the military commander who skillfully led the allied forces into battle on 13th August 1704 at Blindheim (Blenheim). The palace and formal gardens are open from 16th February to 14th December 2008. They are open daily until 2nd November, and from 5th November to 14th December, they are open Wednesday to Sunday inclusive. The park is open daily (except Christmas Day.)
Oxfordshire OX20 1PX
Tel: +44 0 1993 811091
Designed by Sir John Vanbrugh in 1699, Castle Howard took over 100 years to complete. Today its dramatic spaces are filled with magnificent collections gathered by successive generations of the Howard family. Nearly destroyed by a fire in 1940, restoration of the castle continues to this day. Visiting this castle and the extensive, well manicured grounds, is truly a wonderful experience. Castle Howard offers art exhibits and events year round. Be sure to visit the website for more information. The House is open 1st March to 2nd November, and 29th November to 21st December from 11.00am daily, with last admissions at 4.00pm. The Gardens and Adventure Playground is open daily all year (except Christmas Day) from 10.00am until 6.30pm (dusk in winter.) Last admission is 4.30pm.
North Yorkshire YO60 7DA
Tel: +44 (0)1653 648 444.