This summarises the tour of Castles that we have visited – starting south of London in Kent and working clockwise ...
Each of the castles has a very different history – some are ruins, some restored, some refurbished, some family homes – while each is open for us to see in its way – we can cross the centuries ....
... walk where the Recorders for the Domesday Book would have walked, seen where the great artists of the day would have painted from, seen history depicted as it would have unfolded ...
... imagine dragons breathing fire, fairies at the bottom of the garden ...
|Our starting point in the County of|
Kent is shown
However Great Britain and Ireland has so much history and we are fortunate that it is recorded in our castles, mansions, churches, cathedrals, monuments, museums, archaeological sites, great parks, ancient forests, crumbling shoreline ....
Each county and area has a great deal on show – here is a reminder of the 23 we have visited, with some extra photos:
South East England:
Lullingstone Castle, Kent – a property held by the same family for 20 generations, for which the present heir mapped out his future there when he was kidnapped and held hostage in the Columbian jungle. The World Garden is Hart Dyke’s treasure trove of plants from each part of the globe.
There is a Roman Villa and a Medieval Church within the confines of the village and estate.
|An Oast House in Kent|
Scotney Castle, Kent showcases two castles – the ruin and the new. The National Trust maintains and runs the site – there are beautiful grounds, with stunning views.
There’s a dinosaur’s footprint in the quarry garden below the new house, while the National Trust record their work in three blogs – the Castle Estate, the 19th century restoration of the Walled Gardens and the Scotney Garden...
Dover Castle, Kent – the ‘Gateway to England’; fortified from Roman times, with particular emphasis from William the Conqueror’s reign onwards 1066 – to its refurbishment and restoration in the 21st century.
|A village sign -|
Alfriston has an interesting past
Herstmonceux Castle, Sussex – a brick-built Tudor castle, which after World War II became the home to the Royal Observatory Greenwich, before being purchased by Queen’s University, Ontario as an overseas International Study Centre.
Beautiful grounds, Elizabethan walled gardens ... in 1066 land – Pevensey Bay, the Battle of Hastings field and Norman Conquest history is nearby.
Knepp Castle, West Sussex - an example of a very early motte castle (a ruin); a new castellated Gothick mansion, which the present owners, in the 21st C, are turning the clock back to early land management –
|The South Downs Way|
- i.e. hands-on custodial and guardianship of the landscape, letting nature run free as it would have in Domesday times.
Cornwall (West Country)
Pendennis Castle, Falmouth, Cornwall – one of Henry VIII’s Device Forts – a well preserved coastal defence castle; there’s also the National Maritime Museum nearby. On display at the Castle by English Heritage are George Butterworth’s wartime cartoons.
|The sculptor Barbara Hepworth's tools|
as she left them
Tintagel Castle, Cornwall – a cascading ruin on the cliff’s edge – holding the haunting tale of King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table while Merlin’s Cave can be accessed at sea level.
An added bonus is the custard millionaire’s indoor attraction nearby: King Arthur’s Great Hall, which has featured in many a film, and tv programme. The stained glass windows, created by a pupil of William Morris, throw kaleidoscope colours onto the round table with its granite thrones recreating the legend of Arthur and his knights.
|St Ives Bay - over which the Tate looks|
Cornwall also offers much including St Ives with the Barbara Hepworth museum and gardens, the Tate Gallery, the Eden Project and the lost Gardens of Heligan.
West England (Bristol – Oxford area)
|The Ridgeway - Uffington Castle ring|
fort in the distance on the left
South Wales and West Wales
Usk Castle, Monmouth, south east Wales – a ruin, which has been modified into a private residence.
|St David's Cathedral, west Wales|
However the estate surrounding what remains of the castle offers a place for weddings, horse riding, archery, walks – including the River Usk trail – an idyllic setting for many events.
|The Red Kite - the symbol of|
Manorbier Castle, Pembrokeshire, West Wales is a feudal castle, which despite being a ruin is relatively intact; it offers a unique insight into feudal life in the Middle Ages.
Oystermouth Castle, Pembrokeshire on the Gower peninsula in west wales – a fine example, despite being a ruin, to understand the complexities of a fortress castle
|The Old Court House, Ruthin,|
Denbighshire, built in 1401, following
Owen Glendower's attack on the town
Welsh Borders - Herefordshire
Croft Castle, Herefordshire – an estate now reflecting the transfer of power in the intervening 1,000 years from Domesday times, lying as it does within the Welsh borders.
A National Trust Property – open to the public and hosting many events. Ancient way-marked walks along tree-lined avenues.
|The Malvern Hills, England|
Eastnor Castle, Ledbury, Herefordshire – a sham castellated mansion dating from the 19th century (1812 – 1820) – still family owned.
There are magnificent collections of armour, tapestries and paintings on show, while the grounds offer a Rope Walk within magnificent parkland.
|Skara Brae, a neolithic settlement, located|
in the Bay of Skaill, Isles of Orkney
|A Pipe Major playing the|
Great Highland Bagpipe
Inverary Castle, Argyll, west Scotland – a family home ensuring that the recording of Scottish history through the ages is not forgotten.
Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire, east Scotland – modernised by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria into a white granite castellated cosy mansion in the 1850s.
Venlaw Castle Hotel, Peebles, in the Scottish borders – now a hotel, which is considered to be an excellent example of the Scottish Baronial style of mansion. The hotel sits within the Tweed valley offering magnificent walks and fishing sites.
I have also written about Stirling Castle - its skeletons and the forensic analysis to find out who they were; and on its history
Raby Castle, County Durham – one of the finest medieval Castles in England – beautifully restored to showcase their treasures ...
|The Staffordshire Moorlands Cup.|
A similar one is owned by the Duke of
Northumberland and kept at Alnwick.
The cups detail Hadrian's Wall.
... Meissen porcelain, tapestries, furnishings and paintings; while the gardens are a site to behold; the Coach House charts the history of coaches, carriages and their trappings.
Warkworth Castle, Northumberland – formerly a Percy family favourite castle before their allegiances took them to reside at Alnwick Castle.
Warkworth Castle is a scheduled monument, a nationally important historic building and an archaeological site, with a Grade 1 listed building status. Its Keep is magnificent.
Alnwick Castle – the present Duke and Duchess of Northumberland have turned their ‘home’ into a national heritage site, including the magnificent Poison Garden – not included in my A – Z .... but well worth a visit (see my Hotspur, the Duchess and the Poison Garden post)
|Statue depicting Robin Hood|
Nottingham Castle, Nottinghamshire – historically very interesting, though the castle is a ruin, however the legend of Robin Hood, the Sheriff of Nottingham and Sherwood Forest remain to entertain..
Little remains of the Castle but the Gate House was renovated by the Victorians to hold its unique museum and art collections.
Then there is the added bonus of a trip to ‘Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem’ pub in the caves under the castle!
|Lincoln - 16th century: High Bridge|
Grimsthorpe Castle, Lincolnshire – an estate that has been forward thinking since the 19th century, which continues to this day – there is a lot to offer the visitor here.
The house showcases tapestries, paintings, coronation robes and plate – a veritable treasure trove of historic artefacts – all set within beautiful grounds.
|Gainsborough's 'Mr and Mrs Andrews' (1748/49) is in|
the National Portrait Gallery - showing the Suffolk
landscape at that time.
Framlingham Castle, Suffolk - an original Norman Castle much altered over time, now owned by English Heritage and run as a tourist attraction.
It is possible to see the transitions that the Castle has gone through, while the Poorhouse would give a historical insight into changes in our thinking of dealing with women, the poor and disabled.
|Hampton Court Palace -|
decorative brick chimneys
Home Counties (London area)
Queen’s Castle, commonly known as Windsor Castle, Berkshire, West London – THE CASTLE of Great Britain with an incredible history, over 1,000 years.
|Enniscorthy Castle, Co Wexford|
Eire – south east Ireland
Johnstown Castle, Wexford, Eire – a machicolated family mansion set in beautiful gardens; with an agricultural museum recording Irish rural history
Zee End of the North, South, East and West twenty three Castles that I have posted about for this A – Z Challenge this year .. here endeth this ABC series of British Castles.
Many thanks for all your comments – I have really appreciated everyone.
Bob Scotney posted on the town of Yarm and its Castle - it is a fascinating read
and while I'm at it - his Z Castle - is for the Z plan Castle ...
Also Bob's Castles give some added history and include many hauntings enhancing the rich fabric each estate.
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