7. Alnwick Castle
Alnwick castle is the second-largest inhabited castle in England after Queen Elizabeth II’s residence, Windsor Castle. It was built during the 11th Century, and it has been home to the Percy family for the better part of 700 years. The Duke and Duchess live in a section of the castle, while the rest is open to the public for seven months of the year. It has been refurbished and renovated several times throughout its long history, and it also houses one of the finest art collections to be found anywhere in England. The castle’s exterior also doubled up as the exterior of Hogwarts School in the Harry Potter movies.
6. Leeds Castle
Leeds castle exemplifies what people think of when they imagine an English castle in their heads. It’s completely intact and surrounded by a large moat. Although its name might lead you to think that it’s located in or near the city of Leeds, the castle is actually located many hundreds of miles south in the county of Kent. It was first constructed in the 12th Century during the reign of Henry I, and has been a royal residence for much of its 900-year history. Olive Wilson Filmer, Lady Baillie, inherited the castle in the early 1900s, and established the foundation that now runs it as a tourist destination following her death in 1974.
5. Arundel Castle
This magnificent castle is the seat of the Duke of Norfolk, and can be found in West Sussex in the south of England. Arundel’s interior is particularly impressive – it’s incredibly well-preserved and adorned with rare paintings, tapestries and furnishings. The Dukes of Norfolk have lived in the castle for 850 years, but it almost wasn’t the case, because it was nearly destroyed during the English Civil War in the 17th Century. Nowadays, much of the castle is open to the public, with particular highlights being the estate’s 14th Century chapel and numerous breath-taking rooms.
4. Bamburgh Castle
Located on the shores of the county of Northumberland, Bamburgh castle was actually built on top of a volcanic outcrop that lies on the coastline. Its origins date all the way back to the 4th Century, but the core of the castle that can be seen today was built by the Normans in the 11th Century. The castle’s keep is believed to have been commissioned by King Henry II. In 1894, the castle was purchased by the Victorian industrialist, William Armstrong, who set about restoring it. It is the Armstrong family home to this very day, but 16 of the castle’s rooms are open to visitors. Many of these rooms have been converted into exhibition halls, and contain many artifacts, with a highlight being the 7th Century Bamburgh Sword.
3. Warwick Castle
The first Norman king of England, William the Conqueror, had this castle built on a bend in the River Avon back in 1068. It has undergone numerous structural changes, including the additions of towers and a redesigned residential building, in the time since. Warwick castle was originally wooden, but it was rebuilt in stone during the 12th Century. Two centuries later, during the Hundred Years War, the façade that faces the town of Warwick was completely refortified. It is considered one of the finest examples of 14th Century military architecture in existence today. Warwick castle was owned by the Greville family until 1978 before it was bought by a leisure company.
2. Bodiam Castle
Bodiam castle can be found in East Sussex, and is considered to be one of the best examples of a medieval fortress still in existence today. It was built during the 14th Century, and features soaring towers and battlements, as well as a forbidding portcullis and moat. It’s highly unusual for extant English castles to still have flooded moats around them, because most have long since been drained. Sadly, the castle’s interior lies in ruins because it was dismantled during the English Civil War in order to prevent the enemy from being able to use it. It was purchased by a philanthropist during the 19th Century to save it from demolition, before being passed on to the British public during the early 20th Century.
1. Windsor Castle
Windsor castle is often called the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the entire world. It’s one of the official residences of Queen Elizabeth II, who spends many weeks of the year at the castle and uses it to entertain politicians and royalty, among other distinguished guests. Although the castle’s history dates back to the 9th Century, the earliest surviving building on the site dates back to 1154. It survived a prolonged siege during the 13th Century, and was used as a royal court by Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. Much of the castle is open to the public today.