- Travel and Places
Castles of England
Castles of England and their history
Stalwart fortress of strength, beauty, and history, these are also the homes of families and the pride of countries. They are the stuff of fantasy and fairy tales. Come...let me take you on a journey through the streets and countryside as we visit some of the many castles of England.
The castles covered in this section are: Alnwick Castle, Lindesfarne Castle, Arundel Castle, the two Scotney Castles, Berkeley Castle, Carlisle Castle, and Hever Castle.
Located in Alnwick, Northumberland, England, Alnwick Castle was built immediately following the Norman conquest. The castle was built in 1096 by the Baron of Alnwick to defend against the Scottish invasions. In 1309, it was bought by Baron Henry de Percy and the castle is still owned by the Percy family.
This amazing castle has at one time been home to the Newcastle Church High School for Girls, and since 1981, has been used by St. Cloud State University as a branch campus forming part of their International Study Programme. Today, Alnwick Castle is the residence of the Duke of Northumberland.
Alnwick Castle is also famous for its beautiful gardens with an unusual "tree house" and many beautiful fountains with surprising water displays, including an enchantingly beautiful cascade. The castle has always been a popular attraction, and is well worth a visit. Check out the Alnwick Castle homepage.
Large photo of Alwick Castle above courtesy of Kewing. Smaller hyperlinked photos courtesy of Andy Jamieson, James West, and Ian Knox under a CC license.
Does this castle look familiar to all you Harry Potter fans? It should, since it was the setting for "Hogwarts" in the films.
Tour of the Poison Gardens and Treehouse at Alnwick Castle
Lindisfarne Castle was built atop a crag on the highest point of Holy Island, a whin stone hill called Beblowea. It is located near Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland, England, and was erected between 1570 and 1572 as a defense against Scottish invasions. Not only did the Lindisfarne Castle have to defend itself against the Scottish, but the area was also frequently attacked by Vikings. The Vikings first attacked Britain at Lindisfarne when they massacred the monks of the monastery in 973. Holy Island, on which the castle was built, is only accessible via a causeway during low-tide.
When James VI of Scotland ascended to the English throne in 1603, Lindisfarne Castle lost it's usefulness as a border fortress. At one point in the 18th century, the fortress was overtaken by Jacobite rebels, but soldiers quickly retook the fortress and imprisoned the rebels. However, the Jacobites, dug their way out and escaped.
In 1901, the fortress was bought by Edward Hudson and transformed into a beautiful holiday home, keeping intact the great fireplaces and arched ceilings, along with much of its original architecture.
Want to know more? Visit Lindisfarne Castle National Trust.
The large photo of Lindisfarne Castle above courtesy of Flickr Delusions. Smaller hyperlinked photos courtesy of Ross Harner and Christine Matthews under a CC license.
Arundel Castle looks like something from a medieval fairy tale. Located in West Sussex, England, Arundel Castle was built in 1068 by Roger de Montgomery during the reign of William the Conqueror to defend the River Arun and it's surrounding lands. After Roger de Montgomery died, the castle became the property of King Henry I who left Arundel Castle and the attached land to his second wife Adeliza of Louvain who married William d'Albani II (William d'Aubigny) after the kings death. William created the stone shell on the motte, thus increasing the defense of the castle.
In 1176, William d'Aubigny died and Arundel Castle became the property of King Henry II, who ordered improvements on the castle. Arundel castle was then passed down throughout the ages to several different families, and reverted to the crown several times. The castle has been added to, renovated, and improved until today, where it is the principal seat of the Duke of Norfolk and his family.
The castle has seen its share of tragedies. It was heavily damaged in the English Civil War and then restored in the 18th and 19th centuries. It has been the place of several executions, and one lucky person, the 3rd Duke of Norfolk, escaped his execution because King Henry VIII died the day before the execution of the Duke was to take place.
The 14th Earl of Arundel, known as "the collector" is responsible for the many treasures still at the castle today. The treasures are on display along with possessions of the former inhabitants and royalty.
To learn more about this enchanting castle, visit their homepage at Arundel Castle .
Small hyperlinked photos courtesy of Rib, Ludi Ling and Peter Neal under a CC license.
Scotney Castle is located south-east of Lamberhurst in the valley of the River Bewl in Kent, England. The area is home to Scotney Old Castle, which is on an island in the lake and is believed to have been built sometime near 1378 by Roger Ashburnham. The Scotney New Castle was built in the 1800's by Edward Hussey who uncovered a 100 million year old dinosaur footprint when he quarried the sandstone for the castle. The Scotney Gardens draw visitors as much as the castles themselves.
Scotney Old Castle was once owned by Thomas Darrell, a Catholic (which was an illegal religion at the time), who hid the famous Jesuit Priest Richard Blount. The tower in the south wing contains well hidden priest holes, as the castle was center of activities for Father Richard Blount. The authorities eventually found out the location of Father Blount and came after him. They searched the castle and would possibly have captured him, but a storm blew in miraculously concealing Father Blount as he escaped over the wall and into the moat.
After the death of the last occupant Christopher Hussey, the Castles and grounds became the property of The National Trust in apt fulfillment of his family motto: Vix ea nostra voco ('I scarcely call these things our own').
Learn more at the Scotney Castles page on the National Trust website. Hyperlinked photos courtesy of Richard Croft and Tony Grist.
The Scotney Castles
Berkeley Castle is located in Berkeley, Glouchestershire, England. It was built as a defense against the Welsh by order of King Henry II in 1117 AD. The Keep was completed by Robert Fitzharding, an ancestor of the Berkeley family, in 1153, and has been passed down from generation to generation within the Berkeley family ever since. Berkeley Castle was a true Medieval Keep built with arrow slits, murder holes, barred doors, and other means of defense.
The castle is witness to the imprisonment and murder of King Edward II of England. The means of his demise is unknown, but several stories have circulated through the ages; one of a gruesome murder by way of a red-hot poker shoved into his "backside", and another by way of suffocation.The actual charge was suffocation. The cell where it is assumed he was held is still intact, as well as the adjacent dungeon. Another tragedy is the death of the last Court Jester of England who fell to his death from the Minstrel's Gallery.
Berkeley Castle holds the record of being the oldest home to be continuously inhabited and owned by the same family. The castle was damaged in the English Civil War and while they were allowed to retain ownership, by an Act of Parliament, they were not allowed to repair the damage to the Keep and Outer Bailey. The damage still exists today, but has been partially filled in with a low garden wall for the safety of residents and visitors.
Learn more interesting facts at Berkely Castle .
This video is amazing, and the narrator does an exceptional job of telling the story of King Edward II's murder, and the haunting of the castle.
Carlisle Castle is located in the city of Carlisle, Cumbria, England. The Castle was originally built in 1092 by King William Rufus, and was made of earth and timber. In 1122, King Henry I of England ordered a castle built of stone, and added a keep and defensive walls.
For the next 700 years, the castle went form owner to owner between the English and Scottish, with the Scottish King David being the king who actually finished building the walls and stone keep.
Carlisle Castle was not only a home to the ruler of the lands, but also a prison as demonstrated by carvings made by some of the captives. One famous prisoner was Mary Queen of Scots, held here in 1568.
Another interesting piece of history concerns 'the licking stones'. In 1746, the castle was under siege by the Duke of Cumberland's Hanoverian Army. Bonnie Prince Charlie's Jacobite Garrison tried to hold out against them, but ultimately failed. They were imprisoned in the castle and it is said that the Jacobites, parched with thirst, resorted to licking the stones for moisture.
Visit the Carlisle Castle website for more information.
Hyperlinked photos courtesy of Philip Halling, Sarah Charlesworth, and Stephen McKay under a CC license"
Located in the village of Hever, Kent, England, and constructed in 1270 by William de Hever as a country house. In 1462, the house was converted into a manor by Geoffrey Boleyn, Lord Mayor of the city of London, and became property of the Boleyn family.
Around 1505, Anne Boleyn and her siblings moved into the manor after which she was sent to the Netherlands for an education and then married King Henry VIII in 1533. A short three years later, Henry VIII had Anne and her brother George put to death, and the manor became his property. King Henry VIII then gave the property to his 4th wife, whom he divorced, Anne of Cleves, in 1540.
The property then passed from owner to owner, until it was purchased in 1903 by American millionaire, William Waldorf Astor. William spent a fortune on the property, repairing the castle, which was in a poor state of repair, building a "Tudor village", a large and beautiful garden, a man-made lake which covers 35 acres, and a yew maze, which is well known in the area.
More recently, a splashing water maze and Miniature Exhibit depicting life in early England was added.
Learn more at the Hever Castle homepage.
Hyperlinked photos courtesy of Charlesdrakew.
Map of England with featured castles
Not quite sure where these castles are located within England? Have a look below!
Or if you need directions...go to Google Maps UK.
Which castle would you most like to visit?
Visiting the United Kingdom?
See best the UK has to offer with this enchanting book.