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Top 10 Medieval Castles in England

England is a land of medieval castles, and each of them has a deep history. During the Medieval Period, from the 5th century to the 15th century, the country experienced a lot of political dramas, wars, and family feuds. And with the end of this period, the Eastern Roman Empire fell out, and the Renaissance began. It is known as the Dark Age for the cultural and economic deterioration, and historians comparatively don’t know much about this period. Even many important records that would have told a lot about history didn’t survive. However, one thing that we can still experience from the medieval period is ‘Medieval Castles’.

Medieval Castles were built to get extra protection during wars. Originally, they were designed using simple wood on a hill and surrounded by a ditch. The hills increased difficulty while attacking and conquering the castle by adding height to it. However, they were constructed using stones to enhance the castle’s strength even more. Even some are found on the edge of the cliff to increase the visibility of the surroundings. These castles were once the symbol of power and prestige but now stand as monuments with a historical touch.

Do you want to visit Medieval Castles in England? Here is a list of 10 castles that have remained almost the same since the medieval period and are open to the public.

List of Medieval Castles in England

1. Arundel Castle:

Arundel Castle, One of the top Medieval Castles
Arundel Castle”, by Nilfanion, is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Arundel Castle was established by Roger de Montgomery in the year 1068 in West Sussex as a home of the Duke of Norfolk family. This medieval castle remained with the family for more than 400 years and passed from generation to generation. The castle didn’t get any renovation throughout the time, and visitors used to complain about its dark, cold, and unfriendly architecture.

Later in 1876, Queen Victoria visited the castle, and its renovation process started. The new apartment block was built, and the castle is decorated lavishly. It got a friendly reception and suites of rooms were built. Today, the Dukes of Norfolk are still the real owners of castles, and the current dukedom is held by the Earl Marshal of England, the 18th Duke. Now, most parts of the castle and grounds are open to the public.

2. Warwick Castle:

Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle”, by Peter K Burian, is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Warwick Castle was built in 1068 by William the Conqueror. It is located at a cliff of river Avon. The original structure of the castle was wooden and was rebuilt using stones in the 12th century to increase its longevity. It was traditionally the home of the Earl’s of Warwick and remained their home until 25 years ago. During that time, it was also used as a prison. Now, the Warwick castles contain weapons and armour of the medieval age and welcome visitors to experience the darker side of medieval England.

3. Leeds Castle:

Leeds Castle
Leeds Castle”, by Karen Roe, is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Leeds Castle was built in 1119 in Southeast England and was renovated in the 9th century. It is famous as one of the first stone structures built in England, and Robert De Crevecoeur is credited for its design. Earlier, it was constructed as the family’s house and remained with them till 1278. Later, Queen Eleanor of Castile, the wife of Edward I, bought it and invested a lot in its enhancement.

The castle was not destroyed during the civil war and was used as an arsenal and prison. Throughout the time, the castle’s ownership changed, and the last known private owner of the castle was Lady Baillie. She died in the castle in 1974, and then later in 1976, it opened for visitors. More than half a million people visit this medieval castle each year.

4. Stokesay Castle:

Stokesay Castle
Stokesay Castle”, by Tony Grist, is licensed under CC0 1.0

Stokesay Castle is located in Shropshire and is famous as one of the best-preserved medieval castles in England. It has the same 13th-century initial structure built by Laurence De Ludlow. The castle became a popular spot for tourists, and in 1908, it was opened for paying visitors. In the late 1980s, its current owner died, leaving for the organisation. Now, the castle is protected under UK law as a scheduled monument and Grade I listed building. Under it, the castle has got an English Heritage makeover.

5. Tower of London:

Tower of London
Tower of London”, by David Stanley, is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Tower of London is located in the centre of London and is famous for its complex design. It is surrounded by two concentric rings on the walls and a moat. It was originally built by William the Conqueror in 1078 to serve fortress, prison, and royal palace purposes. But with time, a zoo, armoury, royal mint, public records office, and observatory are built in it. Since 1303, it has been displayed for tourists to see.

6. Alnwick Castle:

Alnwick Castle
Alnwick Castle”, by Mario Sánchez Prada, is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Alnwick Castle is another medieval castle located in Northeast England that gets over 800,000 visitors every year. The first part of the castle was built in 1096. It is still described as the strongest castle of all time. It changed its owners several times, and the first longest ownership was by Henry Percy, the first Baron Percy from 1273 to 1314. He changed its fortress to the English-Scottish border. However, the construction was going on, he died, and his son continued the work.

The modern construction of the castle was done while keeping military and residential requirements in mind. It still has the most extensive, opulent, and theatrical designs of that period. Now, the castle serves as the home of the Duke and has been used as a set for many famous TV shows and films, like Robin Hood, Two Harry Potter films, and more.

7. Windsor Castle:

Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle”, by Mike McBey, is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Windsor castle is another part of medieval castles in England list and is famous as the world’s largest and longest inhabited castle. Originally, it was built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century and has changed its appearance many times due to several renovation works. The castle’s floor space is about 484,000sq/feet, including several homes, a church, and a royal palace.

8. Dover Castle:

Dover Castle
Dover Castle”, by DeFacto, is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Dover Castle is called the Key of England and is located at the white cliffs of Dover. It is one of the castles that played an important role in England’s defences for centuries. Also, it has many secret tunnels that were used for WWII as a command post for Allied forces.

This castle was built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century and was modified for a few next centuries to prepare it for defensive purposes. Today, the castle is a part of English Heritage and has become a famous tourist attraction.

9. Bodiam Castle:

Bodiam Castle
Bodiam Castle”, by Pilgrimsoldier, is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Bodiam Castle is one of the other famous medieval castles built-in 1392 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge to solve the defensive purpose. Many stories revolve around the reason for its construction, but research has proved the castle has thick walls and was used for defence only. This castle was constructed in one phase and still has the same architecture. Its owners changed many times, and now it comes under the National Trust.

10. Caernarfon Castle:

Caernarfon Castle
Caernarfon Castle”, by bvi4092, is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Caernarfon Castle was designed using modest timber and earthwork from the 11th century to 1283. Edward I got his heart on the castle, and he began making the castle livelier by replacing the existing structure with stones. At that time, the Caerfarnon was transformed into the administrative centre of North Wales, and this castle became a part of this transformation to help establish English rules in Wales. The castle’s exterior was completed here, but the interior and king’s gate were never finished.

Until the Mid-15th century, the owners of the castle changed many times. And later, in the late 15th century, the castle finally fell into disrepair. It was held by Royalties during the English Civil war and plagued many times by parliamentarians. It was the last time the castle became a part of the battle and then went into state renovation.

The Medieval era was the golden age of building castles. It is amazing to witness that some of the medieval castles still exist and tourists can explore them whenever they visit England. So, whenever planning a trip to England, don’t forget to visit these castles and enhance your vision and knowledge about English landscapes of that bygone age.

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