Whether you are a tourist or just looking for a great outing from the capital, we have round up the 7 best Castles near London to go and explore.
If there’s one thing you can bet on when reading a fairy tale, it’s that somewhere in there, you will find a castle.
Castles have been heavily romanticized over the years, and they are steeped in history. Each castle, or its remains, has a story to tell. Whereas you can find castles located all over the globe, many would agree that right here in the UK, we have some of the most stunning, historical, and fascinating castles in the world.
If you find yourself visiting London, you certainly won’t be short of tourist attractions to visit. Most of London’s most iconic landmarks and attractions, however, can all be viewed in one day.
So, what do you see for the remainder of your trip? Well, if you have a soft spot for castles, we strongly recommend that you head further afield and check out as many of the following castles near London as you can manage.
Here’s a look at 7 of the best castles near London, that you simply must check out.
When you think of Dover, you no doubt think of the white cliffs. It turns out, though, that Dover has so much more to offer than impressive-looking cliffs, and no we aren’t talking about Dover Sole, which in itself is a delicious fish. No, what we’re talking about is arguably one of Britain’s most picturesque castles.
It’s not just any castle we’re talking about, though. Oh no. The castle in question is one of the oldest surviving castles in England, and is none other than Dover Castle.
For many centuries now, this castle has proudly and prominently been keeping a watchful eye over the English Channel. As a result, the castle is commonly referred to as the Key of England.
Back in 1066, William the Conqueror actually burned this castle when he invaded.
The castle is located around 90 miles from the capital and is made up of an impressive collection of complex moats, buildings, forts and walls. But, it wasn’t just the Battle of Hastings that this castle can be remembered for, either. During World War 2, the underground tunnels located under the castle were actually used as air-raid shelters as well as a hospital to treat those injured as a result of the conflict.
Those of you with a taste for film and TV may also recognise the castle, as it has been featured in movies and series such as The Other Boleyn Girl and Doctor Who, to name but a few.
The second must-see on our list of the best castles near London to visit looks to be in a much better state of repair and a bit more ‘modern’. Remember how we mentioned that Dover Castle was featured on TV and film? Well, it turns out that Highclere Castle also wanted a piece of the action, and as a result, it should be familiar to those of you who are fans of Downton Abbey.
That’s right, Highclere Castle is where the series, and now movie, was filmed. You’d be forgiven for mistaking this castle for an abbey or a stately home, but take it from us, it is indeed a castle.
It was also recorded in the ancient Domesday Book, even though the castle located there now isn’t all that old, especially compared with some castles on our list today.
Since the 17th century, this magnificent castle has been a stately home to the Earls of Carnarvon. Because of its popularity, the castle is only open at select times, so your trip will need to be planned in advance. As you will know if you’ve watched the TV show, the castle itself is in wonderful condition and is maintained to the very highest of standards.
The gardens and woodland alone are worth a trip before even setting foot in the building! A definite must-see. Plus, let’s be honest, who of us hasn’t fantasised about being invited over for tea by the Crawleys?
Third on our list, we have Hever Castle. This castle is located roughly one hour from London by car and is much more traditionally castle-like in appearance when compared with the previous castle on our list.
Hever Castle is surrounded by not one, but two moats and is one of the more fortified castles in the country. This medieval castle is a perfect example of medieval architecture and was constructed back in 1270, so it has a rich and storied history behind it.
Over the years, it has been owned by some hugely influential families, including the Boleyn family. It was, therefore, the home in which Anne Boleyn grew up in. Anne, of course, was the second wife of Tudor Monarch Henry VIII and was the mother of Elizabeth the 1st.
Scattered throughout the castle you will find a variety of family portraits, tapestries, and medieval furniture, the likes of which you likely won’t have seen anywhere else before. Just be sure to have your camera charged up fully so as to snap plenty of pics along the way.
In many ways, one of the best Castles near London to visit is the world-renowned Windsor Castle.
Windsor Castle is the castle that you simply must visit if you happen to be in, or around London! Windsor Castle is the oldest and the largest fort in the entire world!
It also happens to be a residence of none other than Her Majesty the Queen. Located near to London and for many, it being a trip in itself, the castle is a very popular tourist destination, so expect large crowds.
The castle is home to a variety of attractions including State Apartments, Queen Mary’s Doll House, as well as George V private apartment. What makes this an especially popular castle is the fact that, once you’ve finished seeing the sights, you can then explore London and see the Thames, as well as visit Eton College.
Warwick Castle was built by a certain William the Conqueror in 1068, two years after he invaded England and burnt down Dover Castle.
In the 12th century, the castle underwent some renovations and was converted into a stone fortress. With each new ownership, the castle went from strength to strength and became more and more imposing.
For years, the castle stood proud and was home to numerous prisoners. In the 17th century, though, the castle underwent some radical changes and it was converted into a country home.
If you visit the castle in this day and age, though, you will likely be very shocked by what you find. This is because Warwick Castle is now actually a theme park, with a distinct Medieval theme.
Here you can enjoy attractions, learn about the history of the castle, enjoy sword fights and re-enactments, visit the dungeons, and much more besides. If you have young children and you want to gradually introduce them to this country’s rich and storied history, Warwick Castle is certainly well worth a visit.
We just can’t seem to get rid of William the Conqueror being named almost everywhere, and here he is again. Hastings Castle is, of course, synonymous with the 1066 battle, the Battle of Hastings.
The castle was built by William of Normandy (yes, that William) and was actually the very first castle of Norman origin to be built in the region. Now, whereas the other castles on our list of must-visit castles near London are all in fantastic condition and are instantly recognisable as castles, or castles masquerading as stately homes, Hastings Castle is different.
Hastings Castle is now a ruin and is used as a destination to show tourists a 20-minute audio-visual program about the history and the origins of the castle. King Henry VIII also actually commissioned the destruction of the church located within the castle, which saw a majority of the castle laid to waste.
On top of that, during the Second World War, Germany heavily bombed the castle. The castle nowadays is largely in ruins, but it is still an incredibly interesting place to visit, especially during the summer on a nice day, when you can really explore the ruins and take in the sights.
Lastly but in no ways, least on our list of top Castles Near London to visit is a magnificent gem of architecture and engineering. Bodiam Castle is located in East Sussex and is another fine example of what you would expect to see when looking at a Medieval fortress.
Interestingly, it was constructed back in the 14th century as a status symbol. One thing that is instantly apparent when you see the castle, though, is that it has retained much of its initial design from all of these centuries ago.
With high walls, lookout towers, and of course, a moat, this is exactly what you would expect a medieval fort to look like. From the outside at least. Sadly, the interior is in worse shape and is in fact, a ruin. Still, though, it is certainly worth a visit as the views are fantastic.