Hello explorersaurs! We recently went on the loveliest day trip to Arundel Castle – just a twenty minute drive away from our house in Brighton. We enjoyed walking through the gardens and taking in the scenery so much that I wanted to write a round-up all about the most insta-worthy castles across England that we all need to visit. During this whole awkward semi-quarantine time it’s a great way to get exploring more of the areas around our home, and adventure further into our own country. Most also have grounds that make social distancing easy, and usually there are gorgeous towns/villages surrounding them that add to the charm. Let’s get into it!!
Arundel Castle – West Sussex
Nestled in the town of Arundel, Arundel Castle is a restored medieval castle. It has a whole load of history across the Royals, civil war, sporting and film sets. It’s definitely worth looking into if that’s your jam because the history goes on and on, and a lot of the rooms (/apartments) within the castle are hundreds of years old and stand as they were in the day. It’s also home to the castle gardens which has been open for more of the social distancing period we’re in. The architecture and flowers are just so gorgeous and it’s well worth a walk around. There’s approximately 38739378744847383 photo spots and we definitely made the most of them! So very obsessed, we can’t wait to go back!
The town of Arundel is pretty small, and has a whole bunch of waterside pubs and cafes, including tons of outside eating spaces to help social distance. There are also watersports along some of the river and loads of other things to see; I had the best aero brownie in a bakery here and I’ve been thinking about it ever since haha!) There’s a whole load of parking if you’re driving up, and some smaller hotels in the town if you would need to stay. You can book tickets online for £15 for castle and garden entry, or £10 for just the garden entry.
There is also a beautiful castle called Cawdray Castle which is about 30 minutes from Arundel Castle. It’s so worth popping in the car to also squeeze in the Cawdray ruins – huge, striking ruins of an old tudor manor house, with history with Henry the eighth and Elizabeth the first.
Leeds Castle – Maidstone, Kent
Leeds Castle dubs itself the “loveliest castle in the world” – whilst a massive claim it is bloody beautiful. We visited here back in Autumn last year and were taking aback by all the grounds, colours, lakes and things to do. There are so many outdoor activities you can do here including mini golf, a maze, and walking through all the grounds. There are also cafes with outdoor seating and play areas for kids – it’s a great one for families! (Jack slipped into the water during our mini golf game and it was the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time!) They have seasonal events including gorgeous Christmas markets – whilst we will probably need to wait for safer times for them to reopen, they looked gorgeous! There are lots of hotels in Maidstone and apartments you can stay in in the grounds of the castle.
The castle itself is built over a lake, and was first constructed in 1119. So many of the rooms stand still in history with all the old decorations and information dotted around. (The library room gave me feelings!) It has a history of being a military post, owned by Henry the 8th and used to house his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and has also been a film set for more recent works. You can buy tickets for £27 per ticket, which whilst on the pricer scale allows you access for free for 15 months following. It also gives you access to all the grounds, gardens, mazes and activities. (Some things like mini golf is a pound or so extra, but really affordable.)
Warwick Castle – Warwick
This beauty is set right next to the River Avon in Warwick, and has walking routes along the river and through the castle. The grounds are stunning and events run here throughout the year; falconry shows and reinactments. The castle is older than most countries and has a medieval history running through royalty. Tickets for Warwick all access public areas of Warwick Castle costs £20 in advance online.
St Michael’s Mount – Cornwall
This castle is it’s own little island off the coast of Marazion in Cornwall. I am absolutely obsessed and it’s at the top of my list to visit! You can get to the island by boat or by foot over the path – which is submerged under water at high tide. You can book tickets to visit the castle or the garden terrace – steep tiered gardens surrounded by the castle scenery and blue waters. It’s so unique and so worth a visit! You can book tickets online for £11.50 per adult for castle entry, and £8.50 for garden entry. (They also have package and family offers.)
Windsor Castle – Windsor, Berkshire
Windsor castle is one of the first that really comes to mind when thinking about English Royals, with a whole bunch of them choosing to get married here and the resting place for some of the most famous Royals in history. It’s the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world and is the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II. Standard adult tickets cost £23.50, and if you ask them to treat your ticket purchase as a donation you get to visit the site for a year for free.
Highcliffe Castle – Dorset
How beautiful is this one? Highcliffe Castle is based in the cliffs of Dorset, and was built in the 1830s. This is another one that’s great for the whole family with events running through the year and loads of options for kids. They have workshops, fairs, and concerts – including jazz music which is just an all round winner really! It’s also close to the beach and immersed in history. You can get tickets here for £7 for an adult day ticket.
Clifford’s Tower – York
This one is a just a little one sat on a hill in York, but it is gorgeous! The whole city of York is well worth a visit when up North in the UK (my birthplace too hehe!) with so much history, gorgeous cobbled streets and some amazing bars, cafes and shops. The tower is the largest remaining part of York Castle – with other ruins dotted around the city, including the city walls you can (and should), walk around. You get some gorgeous views over the city walking up the tower, and you can get tickets for £6.50 per adult, which includes a small donation to keep the tower going.