Top 10 Castles in England

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England is famous for its castles. In fact, it would be a shame for anyone to visit this lovely country without having gone to visit at least one. Famous castles like the Tower of London and Windsor Castle are certainly worthwhile visits, but if you’re looking for a real glimpse into England’s long and storied past, there are other lesser-known ones (lesser-known to foreigners at least) that are sure to impress.

Top 10 Castles of England

Carlisle Castle

This castle is the perfect example of why castle were built in the first place. Located in Carlisle, Cumbria, this castle is over 900 years old and has been through numerous wars and invasions (primarily from the Scots, as Scotland’s border is very close by). After its wartime use was phased out, the castle enjoyed many years as an administrative building for royal and diplomatic purposes. It is now a museum and is open to the public.

St. Michael’s Mount

Anyone with a sense of fantasy and mystery is sure to love visiting this castle. St. Michael’s Mount sits alone at the very top of a tidal coast island (in Cornwall), and it is reachable by foot only at low tide. The castle is believed to be from the 15th century or slightly older than that.

Skipton Castle

As its name suggests, this well-preserved medieval castle is within the town of Skipton, in North Yorkshire. It has stood for over 900 years at this point, having been constructed in 1090 by the Baron Robert de Romille. Over the years it has seen multiple battles and different owners, but its walls have stood through it all.

Warwick Castle

William the Conqueror built Warwick Castle in 1068 in Warwick, Warwickshire, and in the 15th century it was actually used to keep then-King Edward IV. Imprisoned. The giant structure is incredibly well preserved, and it receives frequent visitors. Many liken it to Windsor Castle.

Bodiam Castle

Built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge (who was knighted by Edward III), there is some mystery to this castle, though not in ways you may think. From looking at it, it appears to be the perfect late-medieval castle with near-perfect defensive capabilities. However, it is said that the castle was only built for show rather than for any protective purposes, and although it is unknown how true this is, the fact that the walls are only a couple of feet thick points to that speculation being correct.

Stokesay Castle

Stokesay Castle is truly unique. At first glance, it hardly even looks like what one would call a “castle.” Upon further examination however, Stokesay is revealed to be an incredibly well preserved manor with large, fortified walls, holdings and a tower. It sits quietly in Stokesay in South Shropshire, and it dates back to the 12th century.

Rochester Castle

Standing on the east bank of the Medway River in Rochester, Kent since the early 1000s, Rochester Castle is considered not just one of the most well preserved castles in England, but among the best throughout the United Kingdom. If you have no fear of heights, you can climb up to the battlements for a fantastic view.

Dover Castle

Dover Castle has been described before as “the key to England”, and this certainly makes sense. It served great defensive purposes in many sieges, largely due to the fact that it is wound high up around some steep hills. What are even more interesting are the secret tunnels running around the property.

Arundel Castle

Located in West Sussex and built in the mid 1000s (under the rule of Edward the Confessor), Arundel Castle is now a beautifully restored medieval castle. It did suffer damage during the English Civil War, but thankfully for today’s history enthusiasts it was expertly restored during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Lincoln Castle

Constructed during the late 11th century by William the Conqueror, Lincoln Castle has a history of being a used as a prison and then law court (the Crown Courts are actually continued to this day). Perhaps what is even more interesting though is the fact that Lincoln Castle was built on the site of a pre-existing fortress, leftover from the Romans’ peak in England. Many parts of the castle are now open to the public as a museum.

Castle Howard

Home to the Howard family for hundreds of years, Castle Howard is not a castle in the traditional sense (it was built after 1500 and was not meant for military purposes), though it does scream “castle” to most people who look at it. That said, it is one of the more marvelous houses in England and has been featured in both TV series and movies.