An Englishman’s home is his castle, or so they say. But with the summer holidays fast approaching, venturing out to have fun inside someone else’s castle is a great learning experience for adults and kids alike!
Quick Move Now looks at the best five castles to visit this summer.
Dover Castle, Kent
Perched spectacularly above the White Cliffs of Dover, this castle has protected English shores from invasion for 20 centuries. There are plenty of attractions to keep everyone occupied, with Operation Dynamo: Rescue from Dunkirk the latest exhibit to open to visitors. You can explore the dark secret wartime tunnels, with a recreation of the Dunkirk evacuation, complete with dramatic projections of swooping Spitfires and real film footage. An enjoyable contrast to the hardship of war can be found in the Great Tower, where costumed actors help reenact life as it was at the court of King Henry II. There are events taking place at the castle throughout the holidays.
Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire
These castle ruins and Elizabethan gardens are best known as the home of Queen Elizabeth I’s great love, Robert Dudley. The garden itself lay unloved for over 400 years, but has now been authentically recreated – with an aviary and marble fountain – to allow visitors to follow in royal footsteps. Costumed character days throughout the year help bring Elizabethan times to life, while children’s audio tours also provide a great tool for youngsters to get an understanding of the castle’s 900 year history. Over the summer a grand medieval joust, as well as a royals and rebels challenge and siege exhibition all ensure there is plenty to keep everyone occupied.
Dartmouth Castle, Cornwall
For more than 600 years, this castle has guarded the narrow entrance to the Dart Estuary and it offers fabulous views out to sea. The castle saw action during the Civil War and continued to be used right up until World War II. You can visit the updated Victorian Old Battery, with its heavy guns, guardrooms and maze of passages to explore, and marvel at a dramatic film recreation of Victorian gun-firing. You can make a day of your visit by including a river boat trip from the town quay, right up to the castle, or enjoy one of the many coastal and woodland walks around the grounds. Throughout the summer the ‘Dartmouth Through the Ages’ events will see costumed characters wow visitors with firepower displays, storytelling and children’s drills.
Scarborough Castle, Yorkshire
Starting life as an iron age fort, this castle enjoys a dramatic location and an even more dramatic 2,500 year history. It was fought over during the English Civil War and came under attack during World War I. Live action events throughout the summer will help bring the history of the castle to life. The Master Gunner’s House now serves as an exhibition and tea room and is well worth a visit before you head home.
Tintagel Castle, Cornwall
This castle is the place of legends. It is said to be the birthplace of King Arthur and visitors can learn more about its history as they wander through the ruins. It is set on the rugged north Cornwall coast and offers fantastic sea views. You can also visit Merlin’s cave and climb the rugged trail across to the island. Archaeology week and the family summer trail, as well as storytelling events, help bring the history of this iconic castle to life. If the sun ever comes out you can also enjoy building sandcastles on the nearby beach. The castle is also featured in the tale of Tristan and Isolde.
So, if you need a break from your own castle this summer, why not venture out and explore some of the other centuries old buildings around England. You can find more details of all these castles, plus many more, by visiting www.english-heritage.org.uk