An Englishman’s home may be his castle, but you don’t need to travel too far to find some Englishmen for who this is literally true! And the great thing about Britain is that there are no shortage of examples to visit, ideal for any little apprentice knights or princesses you might have in tow. From hauntings to adventures, return to ages past as you explore these monuments, enjoy their grounds and shop in their giftshops. Here are a few to visit this summer.

Dover Castle, Dover

The Key to England

Go big or go home clearly applies at Dover Castle, which is the largest castle in all of England. A prominent wall of defence from the pretty much everyone from the French to the Germans, Dover Castle is exactly what a castle should look like. Used as a backdrop for the movie-adapted musical, Into The Woods, in 2014,  we didn’t get to see the inside of the grand castle in the movie, so any film buffs will enjoy a proper snoop round. Which is possible all year round. Visitors can enjoy the king’s court life as they step into the medieval royal palace in the Great Tower, or else explore the Secret Wartime Tunnels, dug deep into the iconic white cliffs.

Where: Castle Hill, Dover, Kent, CT16 1HU
Website: www.english-heritage.org.uk

Bolsover Castle, Chesterfield

Not so much a Little Castle

From majesty to semi-ruins at Bolsover Castle. The brilliantly preserved and restored architecture of the Little Castle is simply stunning. As is the view, overlooking the Vale of Scarsdale. And for the first time in almost 250 years, guests can now stroll along Bolsover Castle’s newly restored wall walk. From the walk, enjoy a commanding view of the fountain garden below, designed around the statue of Venus – the fun time goddess of love and pleasure as well as panoramic views over Bolsover Castle and the vale. Chill and sip afternoon tea in the canteen, but be careful not to stay too late, it’s spookily haunted.

Where: Castle Street, Bolsover, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, S44 6PR
Website: www.english-heritage.org.uk

Windsor Castle, Windsor

Why wasn't I invited to the Royal Wedding?

The Queen goes mad for a crenelation, or at least she must because the monarch is the world’s most famous castle dweller; Windsor Castle to be precise. The iconic Berkshire edifice, the largest occupied castle in the world, has played residence to monarchs for centuties and The Queen still spends her weekends here. As a popular tourist attraction, it brings visitors from across the globe and gives you a sense of what it is to live in a castle in the modern age. You can even visit St George’s Chapel where the last Royal Wedding took place, it’s like you’re there with Harry and Meghan!

Where: Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 1NJ
Website: www.royalcollection.org.uk

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Sudeley Castle, Cheltenham

War of the Roses

Fun fact: Sudeley Castle, on the edge of the Cotswolds, is the only private castle in England to have a queen buried within the grounds. Katherine Parr was Queen of England and Ireland as the last of King Henry VIII’s various wives and the castle displays the Katherine Parr Exhibition as a tourist attraction. The exhibition contains rare copies of original books written by her, significant as she’s the first queen to have her own work published. The exhibition also features love letters to her fourth husband, Thomas Seymour. While at Sudeley, now home to the Dent-Brocklehurst family, you mustn’t miss The Queen’s Garden, named after the four queens who visited and admired the abundance of roses growing there, or indeed the beautiful pheasantry with beautifully coloured birds that’s part of the castle’s aviary conservation program.

Where: Sudeley Castle & Gardens, Winchcombe, GL54 5JD
Website: www.sudeleycastle.co.uk

Warwick Castle, Warwick

Knights in Shining Armour

Enjoy interactive activities and lavish rooms, climb the towers or admire the gardens at Warwick Castle. The coup de resistance has to be their epic battle reenactment, reliving the War of the Roses and featured every day throughout the summer. It’s live action show with stunt riders, jousting, and special effects. Who doesn’t want to see a knight in shining armour fight for you?

Where: Warwick CV34 4QU
Website: www.warwick-castle.com

Alnwick Castle, Northumberland

That Harry Potter castle

Enjoy broomstick training on the very spot where Harry Potter had his first flying lesson at Alnwick Castle aka Hogwarts. Or else dress up in medieval costume and meet the townsfolk as you experience life in the 14th century, learning the crafting methods of the age. Alnwick celebrates special medieval weeks with interactivity including Knights week, Medieval Life week, and (best of all) Wizarding week, a Potter-filled experience. Don’t forget to look inside the castle itself, the state rooms are an impressive Italian Renaissance style masterpieces and the Percy Family, who own the castle, have collections and archives that have been in their possession for over 700 years.

Where: Alnwick Castle, Alnwick, Northumberland NE66 1NQ
Website: www.alnwickcastle.com

Walmer Castle, Deal

It's Wellington, not Weselton!

As Walmer Castle in Kent you can feel the spirit of one of the nation’s most revered heroes, The Duke of Wellington. The great man spent 23 years at Walmer, which is celebrated with exhibitions about his life story and his battles as well as his time as Prime Minister. The castle also boasts beautiful gardens and the Queen Mother’s garden is stunning, and summer events include theatre performances of Alice in Wonderland with afternoon tea, and a summer garden of music.

Where: Kingsdown Road, Deal, Kent CT14 7LJ
Website: www.english-heritage.org.uk

Lancaster Castle, Lancaster

1,000 years of dark history

The castle tour at Lancaster will take you through tales of witchcraft, religious persecution, crime and punishment throughout the ages dating back to Roman times. Learn the fascinating history of the castle with all its dark twists, or else enjoy an opera performance in their open-air theatre, or a Shakespeare plays or even the world’s first cycling theatre company this summer. If you’re looking for something spookier, the Lancashire Witches Festival in August is well worth a visit.

Where: Castle Park, Lancaster, LA1 1YJ
Website: www.lancastercastle.com

Leeds Castle, Maidstone

Let’s get lost in a maze

It’s the quintessential castle, Leeds Castle (confusingly in Kent) is magnificent. The moated castle, with its gardens and wildlife has something for everyone. Visitors can enjoy family sports activities, get lost in the huge maze (you exit through a mysterious underground grotto) or even spend the night ‘glamping’ for an amazing night out in nature.

Where: Maidstone, Kent, ME17 1PL
Website: www.leeds-castle.com

Ripley Castle, Harrogate

King James I stayed here once

Ripley Castle sits on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales and offers stunning vistas as you walk through the park,  around the castle’s lake, across the waterfall and into the deer park. The nearby Boar’s Head Inn offers accommodation for visitors, giving you even more time to get to know the long history of the Ingelby family, who have owned the property for the last 700 years. There are fun physical activities too, like archery and zorbing while the Walled Gardens are a pleasure all year round.

Where: Ripley Castle, Harrogate HG3 3AY
Website: www.ripleycastle.co.uk

Penshurst Place, Tonbridge

It's not a castle, but close enough

The 14th century castle at Penshurst Place is the birthplace of Elizabethan poet Sir Philip Sidney has been owned by his family for over 460 years, currently being taken care of by another Philip Sidney, the current Viscount De L’Isle. Enjoy hordes of peonies in bloom in summer months while outdoor activities like the maize maze, and woodland trails are great for kids. Its the place to bring your family to spend some time to together and only spitting distance from London.

Where: Penshurst Place, Penshurst, TN11 8DG
Website: www.penshurstplace.com