20 Most Beautiful Historic Castles in England That You Must Visit

Looking to visit the best castles in England? I live in the UK for a decade now, and I have managed to visit a few of the best castles in England. I would highly recommend including them on your itinerary around the UK. Some of these has become museums and event venue for weddings and other special occasions.

While the rest of Europe also boasts a plethora of iconic structures, the historic castles in England would give one a glimpse of the bittersweet yet grandeur history of the British Isles. These English castles are one of the main attractions that many tourists visit due to their rich history, elegance and grandeur.

Read More: Beautiful Castles and Palaces to Visit in the UK (England, Scotland and Wales)

The Most Beautiful Historic Castles in England

1. Arundel Castle

Proudly standing in the middle of a lush forest in West Sussex, Arundel Castle brings one to a hidden paradise set on a hilly landscape above the rest of the placid county. Reaching the grounds of one of the best castles and gardens in England gives one relief upon enjoying the splendid view of the South Downs and River Arun from above.

Arundel Castle
Arundel Castle in West Sussex

Having been tested by time since 1067, some of its first features still remain to this day despite being reconstructed several times, making it one of the best-kept castles in England in the present times.

2. Dover Castle

Following the path of the Castle Hill Road either by car or by train will take one to Dover Castle which gives tourists a complete package more than just a visit to one of the best castles in the south of England.

Dover Castle
Dover Castle in Dover, Kent

From a shopping spree to a delightful food trip, the castle is laudable to be part of the long list of the best castles in England for families. Getting inside the walls of Dover Castle, the entire family can enjoy such as the Great Tower, Operation Dynamo, Underground Hospital, and Secret Wartime Tunnels.

I wrote another article about Best Things to Do in Kent (UK), I encourage you to read it to see more of this historical county.

3. Devizes Castle

With its history dating back to the grandiose 11th century, Devizes Castle had witnessed the many passing of thrones from generation to another even getting a chance to be the official residence of the royal family for some quiet time. First built around 1080, the original castle only lasted for more than a century before it was rebuilt in 1113.

Several years have passed and the current standing castle was laid on the foundation of the remains of the first castle resembling the structure of a Windsor Castle making it a standout of the best medieval castles in England.  

4. Bolton Castle

Situated in the Wensleydale town in Yorkshire, Bolton Castle accommodates a wide range of visitors from families to students and history buffs but its real trademark can be pointed out among the best castles in England to get married to many English and foreign couples preferring a marriage ceremony in this fascinating castle.

Bolton Castle
Bolton Castle, North Yorkshire
wfmillar / Bolton Castle, at Castle Bolton (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Having been a remarkable site of educational trips and historic tours, the castle provides an ecstatic blend of senses which entice one’s eyes, ears, and tongue at the same time. Today, one of the best-ruined castles of England is in the good hands of Lord Bolton.

Read More: Best Things To Do in York for a Fun Weekend Break

5. Appleby Castle

Fifteen miles from the English Lake District is all it takes for one to reach the Appleby Castle in the middle of the Eden Valley along the shores of the roaming River of Eden in Cumbria. Recommended by many as one of the best Norman castles to visit in England, the castle surely does not disappoint its visitors with several offerings that come in one place.

Appleby Castle
Appleby Castle, Appleby-in-Westmorland
Photo credit: Simon Ledingham

Chosen by then Lady Anne Clifford as her official residence in the 1700s, the present structure now hosts several events ranging from wedding ceremonies, private celebrations, business conferences, and film screenings to sports leagues.

If you are interested to visit here, I wrote an article about the best things to do in Lake District.

6. Nunney Castle

Open as long as the sun shines its way through the deep moats of its walls, Nunney Castle belongs to the exclusive directory of the best free castles in England awaiting visitors with almost a tight budget on hand with picturesque sights and attractions which transpire the castle’s long history.

Nunney Castle
Nunney Castle, Frome
Photo credit: Ian Alexander

Serving as a defensive feat of a soldier coming off a battle from afar, the royal structure was built by John de la Mare in 1973, a symbol of modesty by all means. In the present day, the castle serves as a perfect spot for family bonding events.

7. Alnwick Castle

Residing in one of the best castles and manor houses in England for over seven centuries is the Percy Family who still lives inside the walls of the royal residence and has been a mute witness of several unfortunate events of the kingdom including treason charges, land and property loss, rebellion, revolution, political dismay, economic rubble and increasing social pressures among many.

Alnwick Castle
Alnwick Castle, Northumberland

Hailed as one of the best castles in Northern England, Alnwick Castle presents a wide range of doing all day. Children can engage in fun-filled activities such as dress-ups, craft making, medieval games and armour explorations.

8. Spofforth Castle

Spofforth Castle
Spofforth Castle, North Yorkshire
Photo credit: TJBlackwell

Having established their supremacy in Northern England, the Percy’s claims the Spofforth Castle as their main seat until the late times of the 14th century. The castle plays a significant role in the history of the UK which serves as the site where the rebel barons halted the Magna Carta in 1215.

Visitors can stroll around the castle in all seasons but the trip does not end here as iconic sites are an hour away from the castle’s vicinity.

9. Dudley Castle

Dudley Castle may be a common site for ghost haunting in the Midland but its haunting beauty can take one’s fear away upon entering the historical site known as one of the best historic castles in England which makes up a page or more in books and archives of the English history.

Dudley Castle
Dudley Castle, Black Country, West Midlands

While the ghost walks have become the trademark of the castle, there are more exhilarating activities offered in its courtyard including re-enactment plays, children’s events, and bird exhibits.

If you want to explore what’s around the area, I wrote an article to show you more of the best things to do in the Black Country, West Midlands.

10. Leeds Castle

Remaining unfathomable for exactly nine centuries and counting, the most beautiful castle in England even regarded as the loveliest castle in the world continues to impress tourists from around the world.

Leeds Castle
Leeds Castle, Kent

Occupying 500 acres of land in Kent, the parkland and gardens enclosing the castle are perfect for outdoor activities while the structures linked to the castle can be used as holiday cottages and for weddings, conferences, and banquets.

11. Bamburgh Castle

Captivating numerous tourists from across the globe, the castles in England surely are the main highlights of UK trips but Northumberland castles take pride in showcasing another look of castles which surpasses people’s expectations.

Among the many best Norman castles in England, the Bamburgh Castle is the finest of them all even existing during the times of the Anglo-Saxons. Watching over the horrifying stories of blood-filled rebellion, magical myths, and millionaire benefactors, Bamburgh might be the castle everyone is looking for.

12. Ludlow Castle

Ludlow Castle
Ludlow Castle, Ludlow, Staffordshire

Dating back to as early as 1066, the early beginnings of the Ludlow Castle can be seen with few of its original parts still remaining today. Its strategic location on top between the Teme and Corve rivers gives it an edge for resistance against Welsh invaders back then.

As time passes by, many visitors have stepped into the castle grounds through student trips, wedding ceremonies, events, castle shops, diners and hotels made possible through the innovations in one of the best castles to visit in England.

13. Highclere Castle

Before anyone gets to watch the Downton Abbey series in September 2019, one might take a chance to get an exclusive look at what’s going to be shown on the screens firsthand. As seen in Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle lands a spot on the best castles and manor houses in England with its exceptional grandeur tested through time.

Currently housing the 8th Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, the visitors can get a glimpse of royal life with tours available leading to the staterooms, gardens and the park through special trip reservations.

14. Marlborough Castle

Stood in 1086 by William the Conqueror, the Marlborough Castle had undergone several reconstructions and fortifications for the sake of protecting this iconic treasure of the history of England making it fit for the title of one of the 10 best castles to visit in England.

Visitors can now take a trip to this castle by getting into Marlborough College which had made extensive efforts to preserve the original loveliness of the castle.

15. Warkworth Castle

As early as 1139, the first stone buildings of Warkworth were erected along with its motte and bailey by Henry, Duke of Northumberland. It only takes less than two decades for the structure to be regarded as a castle and manor by Henry II.

Annual celebrations are held on the grounds and hermitage of one of the best castles in England with the main highlights focusing on the knight’s tournament and medieval myths and legends season.

16. Dunstanburgh Castle

Sitting remotely on the coast of Northumberland, Dunstanburgh Castle remains to be a huge contender for the top ten best castles in England with its astounding scenery which provides tourists a mesmerizing moment to remember.

Once there, do not miss the many high-end attractions around the castle grounds including the grand twin-towered keep, spectacular ruins along the shorelines, the well-polished coastal walk towards the castle and the Craster Kippers.

17. Lincoln Castle

Home of the original 1215 Magna Carta, Lincoln Castle had watched kings and convicts walk in its halls ever since it was first founded in 1068. More than a symbol of might and seat of justice in the past, the castle now serves as a primary tourist attraction at the present among the many castles in England.

There are endless sights and sceneries to get excited about here including the medieval wall walk, Victorian prison, heritage skills centre, guided tours and many more.

18. Lancaster Castle

With its dark history being prominently known among many historians, the bright side of Lancaster Castle goes beyond its awe-inspiring structures and interiors which are highly acclaimed by many visitors at the present times.

Along with the best castles and palaces in England, Lancaster is a must in everyone’s travel itinerary when taking a trip around England to grasp the rich history of the English people. I wrote another blog post discussing some things to do in Lincolnshire.

19. Durham Castle

Presently being managed by Durham University, the Durham Castle is recognized as one of the UK UNESCO World Heritage Sites for its unquestioning historical significance in England even before being part of the college campus.

Today, the castle is transformed into a museum to store a wide collection of various artefacts and crafts not limited to fine arts, decorative arts, architecture, stained glass, arms and armour.    

20. Tattershall Castle

One of the celebrated structures in the history of England is the Tattershall Castle which presents medieval influences on the verge of modernity at present times. Different parts of the castle were built in different time periods which blended well to produce such a stunning masterpiece.

I hope that these iconic English castles inspired you to visit them when you travel around England. Make sure to include at least one of them in your UK itinerary.

The Best Castles in England - Arundel Castle


Ryazan Tristram EverythingZany Author Bio

Ryazan Tristram

Travel Writer & Photographer

Ryazan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism and Hotel Management. She also has more than 10 years of work experience gained from working in the hotel and travel sectors in Asia and Europe. Her work has been featured and published on Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Discovery Channel, World Travel Guide, MSN, CNBC, GMA, Daily Mail UK, Lonely Planet and many more. She is currently living in the UK as a dual citizen (British – Filipina). Join her in travelling around the UK and beyond with a mission to promote sustainable tourism and share travel guides, travel tips, foodies, history and culture.

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