Even though you can find thousands of castles worldwide, none of them can be compared to the alluring castles built by the British. The castles near London, England, provide a gateway to the past culture and heritage of the British Empire.
The oldest castles near London, England, were constructed during the era of Normans to protect the British empire from naval invaders.
Later, the British also made many castles further inland that were meant to serve as fortifications and as a home for the Royals. Since the beginning, castles around the London area have been integral to British culture.
The construction techniques and architecture of London castles and palaces will take you back to the medieval ages. Those genuinely interested in English heritage and culture must visit these castles.
7 Awe-inspiring Castles Near London
Many castles today are either being restored or decaying slowly. Most of the castles are a few hours from London. There are a lot of castle hotels in the UK too for those who want to stay in a castle near London.
Here are some of the castles to visit near London:
1. Hever Castle
Only an hour’s drive from London is this seventeen centuries-old castle. It has two moats and is heavily fortified. It was constructed back in 1270 and built to be a medieval castle.
Later, it was passed on to one of the most influential families of that time – the Boleyn family and then became the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. Anne Boleyn was one of the most colourful characters in England’s history. Boleyn was the second wife of Henry VIII and mother of Elizabeth I.
Throughout the castle, you can see portraits, furniture, tapestries, and more neatly preserved items. You can even be a witness to Tudor’s possession of the castle.
2. Leeds Castle
Easily accessible from London Victoria, Leeds Castle assures the perfect day out in Kent. This is one of the best castles near London, constructed in the 13th century and flanked on all sides by 500 acres of open green parklands.
It became home to the Royals back in 1270 and was so for over 300 years. Leeds Castle is the destination for various activities all around the year. You can see falconry displays, Segway tours, a dog collar museum, or enjoy the castle. This castle was once home to Catherine of Argon, the first wife of Henry VIII.
When you are visiting Leeds Castle, you must go into the maze. The experience would only be complete if you get lost in the maze and try to find a way out. Moreover, if you can finish the maze, you will be rewarded too. Furthermore, you can also spend time punting in the moat surrounding the castle.
3. Dover Castle
Dover Castle is one of the most iconic castles in England. Just a couple of hour’s drive from London, this castle was the commanding gateway to the English empire for over nine centuries. Hence, it is also known as “The Key to England.”
Located close to the sea, it has always been an outstanding defensive structure for the empire. It was built at the site of a lighthouse back in the 1180s when Henry II was ruling. It was also used for a while to provide residence to those who came to visit England.
However, later, Dover Castle proved itself to be one of the most effective castles in protecting England from foreign enemies. Even during the Second World War, the manor came to good use. The tunnels constructed in the Napoleonic era were used to evacuate British soldiers from Dunkirk.
4. Highclere Castle
One of the most scenic castles in London is the Highclere Castle. Reachable from London in less than a couple of hours, Highclere Castle is a famous filming location.
Even the popular drama series – Downtown Abbey was shot in this location. Julian Fellowes, the one who created the series, had this castle in mind when he wrote the series. However, this Victorian-era castle has a lot more than you can see.
The 5,000-acre estate in West Berkshire is one of the most famous castles near London. This castle is still a residence and is only open to the public for a few days of the year. You will want to know if the castle is available before you visit it.
About a hundred years ago, this castle served as the seat of the 5th earl of Carnarvon – George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert. He was famous for discovering the tomb of Tutankhamun back in 1922. When you visit this castle, you can witness some unique artworks and Egyptian jewellery and learn how George Herbert came to discover the tomb.
5. Windsor Castle
When listing castles to visit in London, you cannot leave out Windsor Castle. It is one of the oldest medieval castles near London, UK. It is the largest and oldest fort in the world and a residence of the Queen of England.
This is a castle near London Bridge, and you can get there in about an hour and a half via car by taking the bridge. Attractions at Windsor Castle include the State Apartments that are furnished with royal artworks, the doll’s house of Queen Mary, and even the private apartments of George IV.
After exploring Windsor Castle, you can also spend a couple of hours walking by the Thames and taking a tour of the renowned Elton College.
6. Hastings Castle
Famous for “The 1066 Story,” the Hasting castle played a prominent role during the battle of Hastings. The castle is now decaying and is being used to show a 20-minute audio-visual program about the origin and history of the castle. Built by the William of Normandy, Hastings Castle was the first Norman castle in the region.
The castle had a turbulent past, and later on, King Henry VIII commissioned the destruction of the church in the castle. Moreover, during the second world war, this castle was bombed heavily. Therefore, a lot of it is in ruins today. Still, it is a place of great historical importance, and the ruins are a popular tourist attraction.
7. The Tower of London
One of the most beautiful castles to see near London is in London itself: The Tower of London. Located on the northern bank of the River Thames, the Tower of London was founded during the Norman conquest. This was erected at the same time as that of Hastings Castle.
This building was used as a residence for the Royals and later converted into a prison. Elizabeth I was The most notable prisoner, who later became the Queen. It is from the Tower of London that the British phrase “send to the tower” was coined.
The tower is an excellent site for those interested to know more about the complexities of the European nation. It is pretty easy to reach, so it should be a part of all London visitor’s itineraries.
The castles near London offer a mesmerising journey through time, filled with tales of royalty, conquest, and intrigue. When visiting these historical landmarks, enhance your experience by staying with AV stays.
Offering exquisite holiday accommodations tailored to your comfort, AV ensures that you immerse yourself in the grandeur of London’s past while enjoying modern luxuries. Stay with AV Stays and make your visit to London an unforgettable adventure.