The British Isles are dotted with royal abodes past and present courtesy of more than 1,000 years of monarchy (bar a Cromwellian hiccup).
CLC World has picked some of the most iconic and interesting castles in the land – you can even stay in some of them.
One of the largest and most important castles in Scotland, Stirling Castle sits atop a large crag. Surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs, it has a strong defensive position and has been an important fortification since it was built.
Before the union with England, Stirling Castle was one of the more popular Scottish royal residences, as well as a fortress. Mary, Queen of Scots was crowned there in 1542. There have been at least eight sieges of Stirling Castle, the last being in 1746, when Bonnie Prince Charlie unsuccessfully tried to take the castle.
Hever Castle in Kent was the childhood home of Henry VIIIs infamous second wife, Anne Boleyn. With more than 700 years of history, Hever Castle has many stories to tell. The original medieval defensive castle, with its gatehouse and walled bailey, was built in 1270. In the 15th and 16th centuries, it was the home of one of the most powerful families in the country, the Boleyns, who added the Tudor dwelling within the walls.
There are mazes, a military museum, Japanese Tea Garden, boating on the lake, beautiful gardens and more to explore there.
Hever Castle has fantastic events over the coming months.
Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. Founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, it has since been the home of 39 monarchs. Today The Queen spends most of her private weekends at the Castle. It is said to be her favourite residence.
The 900-year-old walls dominate the riverside town of Windsor. The State Apartments, Queen Mary’s Doll’s house (not your ordinary doll’s house) and St George’s Chapel are some of the highlights.
Only 30 minutes outside London, Windsor Castle is a lovely place to escape the bustle of city life.
Pembroke Castle in Wales also dates from the late 11th century and has outstanding views from the top across Milford Haven. Pembroke is the only castle in Britain to be built over a natural cavern, a large cave known as the Wogan. Historically, it’s important for the fact that Harri Tudur, who became Henry VII and was the first of the Tudor line of monarchs, was born there in 1457 reputedly in the tower now known as the Henry VII Tower.
After years of laying in ruin, plundered for stone by the locals, and a subject of many Romantic paintings, in the 1880s Pembroke Castle was leased by the antiquarian J. R. Cobb who restored part of the castle. In 1928, local landowner Major-General Sir Ivor Philipps, bought the castle and restored it to its former glory.
Pembroke Castle is only 15miles from a CLC World Club Resort, Haven Court.
Pendennis Castle is a mighty fortress built by Henry VIII to defend England against invasion. Set on a headland at Falmouth, with breathtaking views out to sea, the castle has defended Cornwall since Tudor times and played a vital role during the two World Wars.
Follow the tunnels down to Half Moon Battery and discover the underground magazine where ammunition was stored during the Second World War. In 1943, the battery had a staff of 99, of which 36 were on the guns, with the remainder on searchlights and position-finding cells or employed in communications.
Pendennis Castle is an exciting day out for all the family. Why not stay at CLC Trenython Manor, only 32 miles away, and enjoy more of this interesting and beautiful part of the country.
Warwick Castle’s history starts over 1,100 years ago when a Saxon army, led by the eldest daughter of King Alfred the Great, the warrior Princess Ethelfleda ordered the building of a ‘burh’ or a fortified earthen rampart to protect the new town of Warwick from Danish attack.
Thanks to another invader, William the Conqueror, in 1068 a wooden motte and bailey castle was built as a means of holding the area and securing his lines of supply. Nowadays, you can visit the Castle Dungeon and be taken on a gruesome trip through 300 years of the castle’s history, take a tour of the castle’s state rooms and stand in awe of the Warwick Castle trebuchet, the largest siege machine in the world.
For family fun, Warwick castle is hard to beat.
In the heart of Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh Castle will capture your imagination and the scenery is breathtaking. With a rich history as a royal residence, military garrison, prison and fortress, it is alive with many exciting tales. When you climb Castle Hill, you will walk in the footsteps of soldiers, kings and queens – and even the odd pirate or two.
Pirates and prisoners of war were once held in the dark, cramped vaults below Crown Square. Today, a recreation of the vaults as they would have looked around 1800 offers a glimpse into the grim way of life.
Make the Castle part of a day trip to Edinburgh when you stay at CLC Duchally Country Estate in the Perthshire countryside, only an hour away.
When you picture a medieval castle, it’s Bodiam you’ll see. Set in a wide moat with bridge, portcullis and drawbridge, it’s every child’s setting for a fairy tale adventure. Built in 1385, it fell into ruin in the 18th century.
The interior remains ruined, but the stunning exterior set in lush countryside makes it an Instagram-able castle, well worth the visit to East Sussex.
Originally built in the late 3rd century, Portchester Castle in Hampshire is an impressive and well preserved example of the ‘Saxon shore’ forts. The castle’s commanding location has made it a major factor in the Solent’s defences for hundreds of years.
The ruins of the later medieval castle remain within the walls. The castle held court for a number of kings and queens but was latterly used as a prison, enemy soldiers during the Napoleonic wars were among the last to be housed there.
Now famed as a Harry Potter location, Alnwick Castle has stood since the 11th century and was crucial during the border wars with Scotland. The second largest occupied castle in Britain after Windsor Castle, it is home to the 12th Duke of Northumberland.
A fabulous day out for the family, there are state room tours, broomstick training (essential if you’re not a muggle) and Have-a-Go archery as well as many of the castle’s areas to explore.