Top 25 Castles in the UK
UK, renowned for its tea, rainy weather, and iconic red double-decker buses, is also a trove of historical treasures. Venture beyond the typical tourist trail and immerse yourself in the enchanting world of the best castles the country has to offer. From medieval fortresses to Victorian marvels, each castle unfolds a unique chapter of UK’s rich history.
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Castles in the UK
1. Bodiam Castle
Built in the 14th century by a British soldier turned wealthy landowner, Bodiam Castle stands as an iconic quadrangular castle surrounded by misty moats and imposing stone towers. While parts of the interior have succumbed to time, the exterior remains a stunning relic, making it one of the UK’s best castles.
2. Bamburgh Castle
Perched on a rocky plateau overlooking the Northumberland coastline, Bamburgh Castle spans nine acres and boasts a history dating back to 10,000 BC. The Victorian-era structure, home to the Armstrong family, offers visitors 14 public rooms, artifacts, and captivating coastal views.
3. Warwick Castle
Originally constructed in 1068, Warwick Castle has evolved into a medieval attraction. Situated on a sandstone bluff by the River Avon, this stone fortress witnessed refortifications during the Hundred Years War. Today, it provides an immersive experience with entertaining stories and live historical reenactments.
4. Lindisfarne Castle
Rising from a basalt outcrop on Holy Island, Lindisfarne Castle has transformed from a Tudor fort to an Edwardian holiday home. The castle’s 16th-century vaulted passages, wood-paneled rooms, and Gothic elements make it a fascinating blend of history and architectural transformation.
5. Raby Castle
Dating back to the 14th century, Raby Castle features medieval towers, turrets, and walls set amidst 200 acres of parkland. The castle’s interiors showcase Gothic vaulted ceilings, regency and Victorian influences, and rooms like the Octagon Drawing Room, transporting visitors through centuries of opulence.
6. Bolsover Castle
A 17th-century marvel in Derbyshire, Bolsover Castle offers spectacular views and lavishly preserved rooms. The Little Castle, romantic ruined terrace range, and medieval-style exterior with turrets make it a captivating destination. Explore the Fountain Garden and the restored wall walk for panoramic views.
7. Tower of London
A fortress, royal palace, and infamous prison, the Tower of London stands as an imposing structure with a history spanning centuries. Home to the Crown Jewels and captivating tales, this iconic castle offers various tours, including spooky Twilight Tours for after-hours access to its historic attractions.
8. Dover Castle
Designated a military headquarters during World War I, Dover Castle boasts 2,000 years of history. Explore the Great Tower, medieval interiors, and underground hospital. Witness gun drills, descend into secret medieval tunnels, and discover the oldest surviving lighthouse in the country.
9. Windsor Castle
Covering 5 hectares of land, Windsor Castle, the oldest occupied castle in the world, has been a royal residence since the 11th century. Visitors can witness the Changing of the Guards, explore St George’s Chapel, and stroll along the Long Walk. The castle remains a working residence for the British monarch.
10. St Michael’s Mount
Situated 500 meters from the mainland in Mount’s Bay, St Michael’s Mount is a tidal island accessible via a causeway. The castle, dating back to the 12th century, has served as a priory, fortress, and private home. Visitors can explore the castle’s history, sub-tropical gardens, and enjoy the island’s unique charm.
11. Leeds Castle
Surrounded by parkland and gardens, Leeds Castle rises majestically from its moat. Once a Norman stronghold, the castle has been a royal residence, palace, and Georgian mansion. Visitors can navigate the castle maze, witness falconry displays, and explore the Bird of Prey Center.
12. Arundel Castle
Rooted in more than a millennium of history, Arundel Castle overlooks the River Arun. Home to the Duke of Norfolk, the castle showcases priceless art, antique china, and armor. Visitors can explore the walled gardens, Organic Kitchen Garden, and enjoy a guided tour.
13. Highcliffe Castle
Built between 1831 and 1836, Highcliffe Castle remains a spectacular sight despite fires and renovations. Nestled on the Romantic and Picturesque style, the castle offers guided tours, tearooms, and a stroll through its grounds and nearby beach.
14. Highclere Castle
With a history dating back to the 12th century, Highclere Castle served various purposes, including a hospital during World War I. The castle, famous as the setting for Downton Abbey, welcomes visitors to explore its gardens, parkland, and experience the charm of this iconic English castle.
15. Framlingham Castle
Steeped in history since the 12th century, Framlingham Castle has served as a stronghold, royal dwelling, prison, and workhouse. Visitors can explore the castle interior, walk the ramparts for breathtaking views, and delve into the castle’s exhibition to unravel its rich history.
16. Alnwick Castle
Nestled in the picturesque county of Northumberland, Alnwick Castle boasts a rich history dating back to the Norman era. Known for its stunning architecture and beautifully landscaped gardens, this castle has been a backdrop for various films and television series, including the famous Harry Potter franchise. Delve into centuries of history and immerse yourself in the magic of Alnwick Castle.
17. Hampton Court Palace
Located on the banks of the River Thames, Hampton Court Palace is a magnificent showcase of Tudor and Baroque architecture. Originally built for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in the early 16th century, the palace later became a royal residence for Henry VIII. Wander through the opulent State Apartments, explore the famous Tudor kitchens, and stroll in the exquisite gardens that reflect centuries of royal life.
18. Caernarfon Castle
Venture into the heart of Wales to discover the grandeur of Caernarfon Castle, a medieval fortress built by Edward I in the late 13th century. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its distinctive polygonal towers, played a pivotal role in Welsh history. Marvel at the castle’s strategic design and explore its formidable walls, offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
19. Chatsworth House
While not a traditional castle, Chatsworth House is a stately home in Derbyshire that rivals the grandeur of any fortress. Set amid vast gardens and parkland, this residence has been the seat of the Duke of Devonshire since the 16th century. Admire the architectural splendor, peruse the extensive art collection, and wander through the landscaped grounds that make Chatsworth House a quintessential English estate.
20. Edinburgh Castle
Dominating the skyline of Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh Castle stands as an enduring symbol of the nation’s history. Perched atop Castle Rock, this iconic fortress has witnessed countless events, from royal ceremonies to military conflicts. Explore the Crown Jewels, stroll through the Great Hall, and savor panoramic views of Edinburgh from this historic stronghold.
21. Conwy Castle
Travel to the picturesque town of Conwy in Wales, and you’ll be greeted by the imposing Conwy Castle. Built by Edward I in the late 13th century as part of his “iron ring” of fortifications, this UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts eight massive towers and a well-preserved curtain wall. Walk the battlements and marvel at the strategic genius behind Conwy Castle’s design.
22. Tintagel Castle
Nestled on the clifftops of North Cornwall, Tintagel Castle stands as a captivating historic site. The rugged coastal landscape, characterized by steep slopes, sheer drops, and uneven surfaces, adds an adventurous touch to the visitor experience.
23. Kenilworth Castle
Uncover Tales of Grand Sieges and Royal Intrigues at Kenilworth Castle.
Originally a formidable medieval stronghold, Kenilworth Castle underwent a remarkable transformation into a splendid Elizabethan palace by Robert Dudley, who sought to awe his queen with the opulent residence.
Presently, visitors have the opportunity to delve into the imposing medieval keep, ascend Tudor towers, meander through an exceptional Elizabethan garden, and engage with history in the family-friendly exhibition. Secure the best prices by booking online now and prepare for an extraordinary day of exploration.
24. Portchester Castle
Portchester Castle boasts a dual identity as both a formidable fortification and a residence with a rich royal history dating back to the 3rd century. Utilized by Norman kings during Channel crossings, the castle gained further significance when Richard II erected a palace within its walls.
Additionally, the castle played a crucial role as a rallying point for troops departing from Portsmouth on the expedition that culminated in the historic Battle of Agincourt.
25. Warkworth Castle
Warkworth Castle and Hermitage stand as a uniquely captivating duo among medieval monuments in Britain. Likely arranged in its current configuration around 1200, the castle served as the esteemed dwelling of the influential Percy family from the 14th to the 17th centuries.
In their roles as Earls and later Dukes of Northumberland, the Percys held substantial landownership in northern England, solidifying their prominence. Adjacent to the castle, nestled on the river Coquet’s banks and accessible solely by boat, lie the remnants of a chapel identified as the hermitage, skillfully hewn directly from the cliff rock.
Map of the Castles in the UK
Embark on a journey through time by visiting UK’s top 25 castles. From medieval fortifications to Victorian splendors, each castle narrates a captivating tale of the country’s past. Unleash your inner historian and adventurer as you explore these majestic fortresses, capturing breathtaking views and uncovering ancient secrets. For more great castles in the UK check this website: https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/ and for more great tips for visiting UK check this category: https://govisity.com/category/united-kingdom/