Best UK castles to visit
As chosen by Anna Tims of the Guardian, the My Time Rewards blog explores the top ten castles in the UK.
1. Bodiam Castle, East Sussex, England
Bodiam Castle is a 14th-century moated castle near Robertsbridge in East Sussex, England. It was built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, a former knight of Edward III, with the permission of Richard II. Open all year round and well worth a visit.
Interesting fact: In 1829 the owner sold the castle and 24 acres (10 ha) of the surrounding land to John ‘Mad Jack’ Fuller for just £3,000 (£220,000 as of 2008).
2. Caernarfon Castle, Gwynedd, Wales
Caernarfon Castle is a medieval fortress in Caernarfon, Gwynedd, north-west Wales cared for by Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service. The current building dates back to the 13th century, when King Edward started replacing the previous 11th century motte-and-bailey castle.
Interesting fact: In 1911, Caernarfon Castle was used for the investiture of the Prince of Wales, and again in 1969 for Prince Charles.
3. Conwy Castle, Wales
Conwy Castle is a medieval fortification in Conwy, on the north coast of Wales. This is another castle built by Edward I, during his conquest of Wales, between 1283 and 1289.
Interesting fact: Richard II used the castle as a stronghold when evading his rival Henry Bolingbroke (later to become Henry IV).
4. Corfe Castle, Dorset, England
Corfe Castle is a fortification standing above the village of the same name on the Isle of Purbeck in the English county of Dorset. Built by William the Conqueror, the castle dates back to the 11th century.
Interesting fact: During restoration work in the 1980′s, an “appearance” door was found in the keep, designed for Henry I. The National Trust claims that this indicates that the castle would have been one of the most important in England at the time.
5. Dunstanburgh Castle, England
Dunstanburgh Castle is the largest in Northumberland and the site shows traces of much earlier occupation before the erection of the castle was started in 1313 by the Earl of Lancaster.
Interesting Fact: Recent evidence suggests that the site of the castle was occupied in prehistoric times: however, the principal remains date from the 14th century.
6. Framlingham Castle, England
Framlingham Castle is a magnificent 12th century fortress with a long and colourful past which makes a fascinating family day out in Suffolk. It’s open daily 10am – 6pm.
Interesting fact: During the Second World War, Framlingham Castle was used by the British military as part of the regional defences against a potential German invasion.
7. Hedingham Castle, Essex, England
The 900 year old Norman keep of Hedingham Castle stands in 160 acres of landscaped gardens and woodland where the Lindsay family, descendants of the original owners, the De Veres, still live.
Interesting fact: The castle was besieged twice, in 1216 and 1217, during the dispute between King John, rebel barons, and the French prince. Both sieges were successful.
8. Kenilworth Castle, England
Enjoy a great day out in Warwickshire at Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Garden. One of the largest historic attractions in the West Midlands, enjoy exploring the spectacular ruins.
Interesting fact: The castle was the subject of the six-month long Siege of Kenilworth in 1266, believed to be the longest siege in English history, and formed a base for Lancastrian operations in the Wars of the Roses.
9. Linlithgow, West Lothian, Scotland
Linlithgow Palace was one of the principal residences of the monarchs of Scotland in the 15th and 16th centuries. The magnificent ruins of Linlithgow Palace are set in a park beside a loch.
Interesting fact: The Palace is said to be haunted by the spectre of Mary of Guise, mother to Mary, Queen of Scots.
10. Ludlow Castle, Shropshire, England
Ludlow Castle stands prominently on high ground, able to resist attack from would be invaders from over the Welsh border. You can take a virtual tour of the castle on the website, or visit it within the historic market town of Ludlow.
Interesting fact: The castle was a major base in the Wars of the Roses and was taken by the Lancastrians in 1459 but back in York hands in 1461.
other castles to visit
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