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Top 10 English Heritage castles

By English Heritage

Published on 6 min read


Best British castles

English Heritage protects and preserves some amazing historical buildings across the country. They asked their Facebook fans for their favourite British castles for a great day out. Here’s the 10 best English Heritage castles to visit with the whole family.

1. Dover Castle, Kent

Standing high above the White Cliffs, Dover Castle has guarded our shores for over 900 years. You need a whole day, maybe two to uncover everything Dover Castle has to offer, from meeting medieval royalty in the Great Tower to exploring deep underground in the Wartime Tunnels.

“Time travel castle! My imagination was sent into overdrive. Secret tunnels, medieval banquets, beautiful chapels all in one place.”

“My favourite castle is Dover because we love pretending to be medieval knights and then straight onto secret WWII operations all in a day!”

“Eight hours of pure pleasure and not a minute unfilled. Best day ever for all ages. Not to be missed.”

Dover Castle

Dover Castle

2. Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire

One of the most spectacular castle ruins in the country, Kenilworth is best known as the scene of a royal romance between Elizabeth I and her favourite Robert Dudley. It’s that romance which has captures imaginations as visitors explore the evocative ruins while the kids become ‘king of the castle’ for a day.

“You can lose yourself in your imagination, transporting yourself back in time – imagining the glitz and glamour of a queen’s visit.”

“I wonder what this was? What did that look like? I wonder if the Queen was the last person to look out of that window. So thought inspiring.”

“Hours of things to see and do along with beautiful heritage for my children to learn from and admire.”

Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth Castle

3. Tintagel Castle, Cornwall

A place of mystery where the legend of King Arthur was born. Picture yourself as a knight of the round table while exploring the ruins!

“My favourite castle is Tintagel Castle. The kids loved the walk up,the ruins. The King Arthur film was great, and also Merlin’s Cave.”

“Visited here as a child and was fascinated at the thought of being at Camelot! The epic walk up the old steps. I would love to take my family.”

“I love the atmosphere at Tintagel. Whatever the weather, it never fails to disappoint. From paddling to exploring, it’s got it all!”

Tintagel Castle

Tintagel Castle

4. Carisbrooke Castle, Isle of Wight

This fairytale castle is perhaps most famous as the royal prison of Charles I, and the story of his failed escape – ending up with being wedged between the window bars – has intrigued many visitors! It’s not just past residents that fascinate at Carisbrooke though; the famous donkeys who operate the tread wheel in the Elizabethan wheelhouse prove very popular!

“Our family had a brilliant day at this castle our little boy loved dressing up as a knight. We also really enjoyed seeing Jill the donkey.”

“It has everything. Royalty tried to escape, royalty stayed there. It’s mystical and yet solid. And it has donkeys!”

Carisbrooke Castle

Carisbrooke Castle

5. Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland

The dramatic ruins of Dunstanburgh have witnessed plenty of action of the years, including fierce fighting during the Wars of the Roses. Now they stand on a remote headland, with beautiful views from the surrounding coastline.

“The coastal walk to the castle followed by the vast site to explore makes this one to return to over again. Atmospheric, stunning, a must!”

“A wonderful kipper lunch in Craster followed by a lovely walk along the coast to Dunstanburgh Castle, history and marvellous views. Perfect.”

Dunstanburgh Castle

Dunstanburgh Castle

6. Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire

Sir William Cavendish used Bolsover as his party palace in the 17th century, and it’s easy to see why. Today you can enjoy beautiful views over the countryside, pretend to be a knight as you explore the ruins and see horses put on dazzling displays in the Riding House.

“I love Bolsover Castle so much, it has stunning scenery, wonderful extensive grounds, and awesome buildings to lose yourself in the past!”

“I get to be a knight and I love the gift shop.” (4 year old visitor)

 Bolsover Castle

Bolsover Castle

7. Beeston Castle and Woodland Park, Cheshire

Beeston is famous for its spectacular views over eight counties on a clear day! But that’s not the only reason for a visit – there are beautiful woodlands to explore, wildlife trails for the kids and the chance to hunt down the lost treasure of Richard II…

“The setting is gorgeous, with wonderful woodland walks and plenty to explore. The castle itself is beautiful with an amazing view.”

Beeston Castle and Woodland Park

views from Beeston Castle and Woodland Park

8. Warkworth Castle, Northumberland

Once home to the powerful Percy family, Warkworth was and remains one of the largest and most impressive fortresses in North East England. It was once home to ‘Harry Hotspur’, hero of many Border ballads and the bane of Scots raiders.

“My favourite castle is Warkworth because it is everything a castle should be; fortress, home, and (still to me) a sanctuary. I’d live here.”

“The ruins allow you to appreciate what an impressive presence it has been for hundreds of years, but still lets your imagination run wild.”

Warkworth Castle

Warkworth Castle

9. Framlingham Castle, Suffolk

This magnificent fortress has a long and colourful past, home to Mary Tudor before she became Queen, used as a prison for enemies of the monarch in the 16th century, and later on, used as a Poorhouse. There’s now plenty of history to explore, games and interactive activities for younger visitors and beautiful views to enjoy from the wall walk.

“My family love the castle because you have a true adventure when you visit. You can imagine living here when it was a working castle.”

Framlingham Castle

Framlingham Castle

10. Portchester Castle, Hampshire

From the top of the mighty keep at Portchester Castle you can see right out over the harbour, and imagine the castle standing guard over the Solent for hundreds of years. Now you can discover the story of the castle in the exhibition, and the walled grounds make for a perfect spot for a picnic.

“I love Portchester castle, and spend at least a day a month within the grounds and visit the keep at least twice a year. It’s just beautiful.”

“With a history going back almost 2000 years this place is special amongst British castles. If it could talk imagine the tales it would tell.”

Portchester Castle 

Portchester Castle

To discover more great English Heritage castles visit English Heritage.

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