If you follow us on Twitter, then you will be well aware of our obsession with castles (we even coined #CastleOfTheWeek). Standing as shining symbols of strength, wealth and status; castles were the strongholds that once held the powers of the realm. Built as both fortresses and residences alike, they stood as beacons of authority and were the centre of rural and urban life for centuries.
Their imposing presence never fails to stir patriotic emotion. We gaze in sheer wonder at the buildings that have withstood the elements, human attack, and ultimately the test of time. With walls as thick as the stories they house, these structures represent the change of times.
As many are still standing, and lovingly restored, we are able to fully indulge our national curiosity with these wonderful buildings. And so, without further ado, here are our top picks of the nation’s finest castles!
If you find yourself driving north up the M1, turn around, you’ve gone too far. Leeds Castle is actually in Maidstone.
There has been a fortress on the site of the current building since 1119. In 1519, King Henry VIII transformed the castle for his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. The castle, as it stands today, dates mostly from the 19th century and is built on islands in a lake formed by the River Len in Kent.
Interesting Fact! – The name ‘Leeds’ originates from the name of a chief minister of King Ethelbert IV (856-860) called Ledian.
Oh Warwick you beaut: We went for the day this summer, but ending up staying two. Then Annabelle went back a month later. So we are BIG fans.
Warwick Castle is a medieval structure developed from an original built by William the Conqueror in 1068. The original wooden motte and bailey castle was rebuilt in stone in the 12th Century, and the castle served as a stronghold until the early 17th Century.
Interesting Fact! – Warwick Castle has had more than 35 different owners since it was built by Henry II.
Harlech. Weathered and gorgeous!
Harlech Castle, located in North Wales, is a medieval fortification, constructed atop a spur of rock close to the Irish Sea. Harlech was built by Edward I during his invasion of Wales between 1282-89.
Interesting Fact! – The original building, built by Edward I, cost the substantial figure of £8,190.
Surrounded by a moat. Every Lord’s dream!
Bodiam Castle is a 14th Century moated castle in East Sussex. It was built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge during the Hundred Years War as defence against the French.
Interesting Fact! – Bodiam Castle has no keep. Its various chambers are built around the outer defensive walls and inner courts.
Wouldn’t mind taking out a long lease on Hever… (It’s also almost worth getting married for…if you can afford the 20k fee)
Hever Castle began life as a country house and from 1462-1539 it was the seat of the Boleyn family. It later came into the possession of King Henry VIII’s fourth wife, Anne of Cleves.
Interesting Fact! – It took 2 years and 800 workmen to dig out the 38-acre lake in Hever Castle’s Park.
Annabelle’s second love is Dover Castle…her first is Anne Boleyn.
Dover Castle is a medieval castle in Dover. Founded in the 12th century, the fortress has been described as the “Key to England” as it’s defences sit on the white cliffs of Dover, visible to all ships travelling across the English Channel.
Interesting Fact! – Dover Castle houses the remains of a Roman lighthouse, and is the largest concentric fortress in Europe.
Being a northern lass, Jenna used to love visiting Bodium as a kid.
Close to the village of Bodelwyddan, sits Bodelwyddan Castle. The castle was built around 1460 by the Humphreys family of Anglesey as a manor house. Its most important association was with the Williams-Wynn family, which extended for around 200 years from 1690.
Interesting Fact! – There have been many reports of ghost sightings at the castle, including that of a soldier in one of the galleries.
Look at that keep, the white brick… ToL is truly the sexiest of castles.
Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress, commonly known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the bank of the River Thames, England. It was founded towards the end of 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England, with the White Tower being built by William the Conqueror.
Interesting Fact! – The last prisoners in the Tower of London were the Kray twins. They were held for failing to report for national service.
Thinking of taking a break to this place. Beach…Castle…Sunsets…
The location of Bambugh Castle was previously home to a fort of native Britons, and may have been the capital of the British kingdom in the region. The Normans built a new castle on the site, which forms the core of the present building.
Interesting Fact! – During the Second World War, the Royal Navy corvette HMS Bamborough Castle was named after it.
Conwy Castle is a medieval fortification in Conwy. Built by Edward I, it was constructed as a wider project to create the walled town of Conwy. Over the next few centuries, the castle played an important part in several wars.
Interesting Fact! – It has eight towers and a high curtain wall forming a rectangle shape.