[This is an extension of the Grobius Shortling Web Page
"Castles, Stone Circles, and Ancient Monuments." All the castles listed here have been
personally visited, and any factual errors or wrong-headed opinions are my own fault.
--Grobius Shortling, Feb 1997]
[Many of the images have been reduced to thumbnails to reduce load time, or else they are
referred to with a tag; click them to enlarge.]
- ARUNDEL (Sussex)- Originally a Norman motte-and-bailey, similar to Windsor
(mostly Victorian on ancient remains) now much embellished so as to be a showcase
like Warwick; it's pretty, but it isn't either of those places; there is a unique church in this
town that is half Protestant (Anglican parish church) and half Roman Catholic
cathedral devoted to some saint (Philip Howard?) nobody ever heard of (except that he was an
ancestor of Arundel's lord, the Duke of Norfolk, who happens to be RC); there is a wall or
screen right up the middle of the building in the central aisle!).
- BAMBURGH (Northumberland)- Ancient castle (much reconstructed)
on the North Sea coast; seat of the old Anglo-Saxon kingdom of
Bernicia; impressive skyline; still lived in (apartments); this area of the country gives
one the shivers if you are into Vikings and lost causes and all that great stuff--it all
happened around here--wonderful treachery on an epic basis (the castle on
LINDISFARNE Island is nearby, a nice little bit of reconstruction by Lutyens); there is a great book by
Gordon Honeycombe, an ex-BBC newscaster, called Dragon under the Hill that
covers this subject--inexplicably out of print for years, might not have ever been printed in
- BARNARD (Durham)- Baliol's castle on the River Tees.Very nice keep tower
overlooking the river. The castle is at one corner of a very attractive market town, which
is worth visiting for its own sake, with some fine old mills on the other side of the river
from the castle (although they might have torn these down since I was last there -- they
- BEESTON (Cheshire)- One of the largest castles in
England (by acreage); perched on a high crag; very impressive, but few buildings remain;
why it was built so massively is rather problematical, since even though it dominates, it is
not very strategic in location--probably a very ambitious and devious local land baron was
up to something unsavory. This would have made a great refuge for a gang of bandits
(like Carreg Cennan in Wales). Across the valley you can see the towers of a privately-owned
Victorian castle (Peckforton ), a monumental effort of a different sort. Beeston is a great castle
to take a dog to (see footnote).
- BERKELEY (Gloucestershire)- Attractive, lived-in castle with a very grim history--
Edward II got impaled here, and they still show off the dungeon it happened in; the castle is
intact, except for a large gap in the wall that Cromwell (who destroyed most of the old private
baronial castles in England) had done as a penalty as opposed to total 'slighting', and which gave
them a nice view of the sunset over the Severn -- an insider deal, since the Berkeleys have
a history of betrayal that goes back a long time and they made some sort of arrangement--
sue me if that's libel! The architect (a good one) came up with the 'Berkeley Arch', a very
attractive variation of the Ogee, a kind of triangular arrangement (it has been imitated on
- BERWICK-UPON-TWEED- The most impressive fortified town in England; medieval
remains largely incorporated into a railway station, but the glory is the Elizabethan ramparts
and the bridges; a lovely site, with great golf courses, that has been fought over by the
English & Scots for hundreds of years--in fact Berwick is north of the Tweed River, the
natural boundary with Scotland, because of one of those contretemps--the border now runs
just north of the golf course.
- BODIAM (Sussex)- Attractive moated castle; complete on the outside
(because of Lord Curzon's restoration), but a mere shell inside; run by the National Trust,
which means trussed, so one couldn't do a Disney on this place, which it cries out for.
- BOLSOVER (Derby)- 17th-century 'sham' built on an old site; the
keep tower is a marvellous folly for the Earl to play King Arthur
in; there is also an indoor riding rink that is unique in England; this place is out
of the way, but I'll give it the HIGHEST recommendation (right up there with
Richmond, Tower of London, Dover, etc.); every room in the keep has a sit-in fireplace.
To see my site page for this building, click
a tour (warning, it is a very large file).
- BROUGHAM (Cumbria)- One of Lady Clifford's castles; Lady Clifford was a 17th C eccentric who restored several medieval castles just after the Restoration, when medieval castles went out of fashion; these are rather impressive fortresses (originally) that had some rich-lady embellishments added on, such as fancy stonework and flushing privies.
- BROUGH (Cumbria)- Another one of Lady Clifford's castles; more
ruined than the others (including Appleby, still lived in, and Bowes,
neither of which have I been in). The original site was a Roman fortress -- this
was the Frontier back then, and the local natives were the Brigantes (where
the word Brigands comes from), Apache territory.
- CAMBER (Sussex)- A strictly military castle built by Henry VIII as a defense against the
French. It was designed for artillery, hence has a very low profile and thick walls, and large lobes to provide
a full range of fire (the pointed arrow-head bastions of later artillery forts had not been developed yet).
- CANTERBURY (Kent)- Only the empty shell of the square Norman keep remains (along with about half of the town wall); an earlier motte is nearby. The
keep, from what is left, looks rather attractive.
- CARISBROOKE (Isle of Wight)- Large castle with additions from all
periods (Roman to 17th C); Norman shell keep on a motte; Charles I
was imprisoned here by the Roundheads; the castle chapel is dedicated to
ST CHARLES THE MARTYR (as far as I know the only person that was ever
sainted by the Anglican Church, well by a faction--see Arundel for the RC
equivalent, that Howard person).
- CASTLE RISING (Norfolk)- A beautiful Norman keep surrounded by
massive earthworks; this is in an area famous for its wonderful skies, but
King's Lynn, nearby, is a depressed and depressing place (full of 'going out of
business sale' shoe stores); this was a castle that a powerful lady (Queen Isabella) was
exiled to after she had connived in the murder of her husband Edward II, so it has some
nice embellishments that wouldn't normally be expected in a backwater like this--she had
to be kept appeased; King's Lynn, by the way, has one of those one-way street patterns
that make it almost impossible to get out of the place once you are in it.
- CHESTER- Not much left (now county offices); excellent town walls; this
is a RED stone place, which for some reason is impressive; the tower on the NW
side of the town walls, well-preserved, is where Charles I observed his army being
devastated in one of the critical battles of the Civil War.
- CONISBOROUGH (Yorkshire)- Nice tall octagonal keep tower in a grim
industrial area; KNARESBOROUGH is another one of this type ['borough' and 'burgh'
are interesting suffixes in that they can mean both 'rock'--German/Anglo-Saxon
Berg--and boro, as in a population center; you also have the 'caster/chester' places,
standing for the Latin word castra, or camp, for the old Roman places that were
fortified; on the other hand, the practical Saxons just called Aquae Sulis (waters
of the goddess Sula) Bath and left it at that].
- CORFE (Dorset)- The grand old lady of the Island of Purbeck; this is
the quintessential castle; you have to read the account of the famous siege that
occurred in the Civil War; this was the most famous, and almost last, of the
great hold-outs of a medieval castle against 'modern' artillery, etc.--great stuff;
this is a fantastic ruin and you can feel the great strength of the people who were
involved in its final days just by looking at it--an epic battle, even if it had no historical
importance (I'd love to see a 'Braveheart' or 'Zulu' type movie based on this).
- DONNINGTON (Berks)- Just the gatehouse left, prominently displayed
at the top of a steep hill; the castle had a memorable and heroic seige
during the Civil War (not as fun as Corfe, far more bloody, but classic); this is
horse-racing country, so I'm sure both sides took time out during the siege to
do the right thing and make a wager or two.
- DOVER (Kent)- Marvellous Norman Castle, with extensive Regency and
Victorian fortifications; Roman lighthouse; large square keep; great
setting on the White Cliffs; high tech 1800 underground defenses built under
the castle, one of the most powerful fortresses in the world before fortresses
became obsolete (yeah, there was the Maginot Line that tried to update the idea
of passive fortification, but we know how effective that was--similarly, Dover was
built to impress, but luckily never had to prove itself as a defense, because any
invaders could simply walk around it).
- DUNSTANBURGH (Northumberland)- Nicely sited castle on the North Sea
coast; very remote location; fairly scant remains, like somebody with very ravaged
teeth; as a footnote, this castle is built on an outlying fragment of the Great Whin Sill
basaltic extrusion that cuts across Britain at this point and on which the most famous part of
Hadrian's Wall is built.
- EYNSFORD (Kent)- A simple wall-around-a-great-hall castle; never amounted
to much but dominated this small out-of-the-way valley (which also has one
of the best-preserved Roman villas, Lullingstone, in the country).
- FARLEIGH HUNGERFORD (Somerset)- A rural Norman castle, once center
of large and rich estates, but in a backwater; pretty big, not a bad place
(but certainly no great fortress); its chapel was the parish church and was more elaborate
than anything else that has survived; half of the outer ward is now a graveyard.
- FARNHAM (Surrey)- A large low motte encased in stone behind the
Bishop's palace; there is an unusual underground chamber that is interesing but
doesn't make a lot of sense.
- FRAMLINGHAM (Suffolk)- A large curtain-wall castle with lots of towers;
rare transitional pattern, with no keep, no concentric defences; at some point a Tudor
designer added fake chimneys to the towers to make the place look as though
it had something inside it (like real buildings)! An impressive facade, but the interior
must have just been a bunch of wattle-and-daub shanties until the manor house was built
- GOODRICH (Hereford)- Hill castle on the Welsh border; quite an
impressive ruin, with great views to the west; classic castle showing several stages
of development in fortification techniques, from central keep to defensive-center
in the gatehouse, with elaborate barbican (outer defencees to a gateway), also impressive
'battering' of the towers and walls, meaning sloping out the lower foundations to make
the structure less vulnerable to undermining (at Goodrich, you have round towers rising out
of square bases--in Scottish tower houses you had squares on top of round bases, for a
different reason: you wanted your upper living quarters to have straight-line walls for the
sake of conveniently arranging furniture, round rooms were a bitch for that).
- GUILDFORD (Surrey)- Small Norman keep; not much left of it; the masonry
patterns (mix of different color stone for pilasters vs. walls) are attractive; executive
types live here and commute to London, so there are always traffic problems.
- HADLEIGH (Essex)- Not much left beyond a couple of towers, but the
setting looking down on the Thames estuary is impressive; Constable did a great
painting of it (or was it Turner?).
- HASTINGS (Kent)- Old Norman castle (one of the first erected after
the Conquest); very scanty remains; the fishermen's net-drying sheds, if
any remain, are more interesting.
- HEDINGHAM (Essex)- Impressive Norman keep (still roofed); not much
else remains; neat carved arch spanning the great hall; a well-built building as far
as its stonework is concerned--nice ashlar (nothing to do with Ann Rice).
- HELMSLEY (Yorkshire)- Medium-size castle much knocked about by
Cromwell; Leona would not approve of the accommodations in the
- KENDAL (Cumbria)- Badly wrecked motte and bailey castle near the
Lake District, which is not really famous for castles (although the Romans built some
great forts there).
- KENILWORTH (Warwick)- A showplace in Elizabethan times, now pretty
much of a wreck; rather disappointing especially after you have read
about its incredible house parties back in Queen Bess's days; the castle-buster
Cromwell did one of his jobs on this [I have always regarded Oliver Cromwell as
a person who did very progressive things in establishing the modern world order, such
as it now exists, whether you like it or not; he was the Chairman Mao of his time and
can't be condemmed for that, but what he did to castles, even though it was a
symbolic point that he had to make to break the feudal system, was unforgiveable
from the standpoint of any person who is a castle fan. After all, apart from the Bastille,
your French Revolutionaires left the castles there pretty much intact and they remained
sacrosanct until the Germans destroyed Coucy, the greatest keep in the world, in WWI,
probably out of spite and not for any military reasons. On the other hand, Napoleon
destroyed most of the Castles of the Rhine, so I guess the Germans were pissed off
and took their revenge 100 plus years later -- I would!].
- LAUNCETON (Cornwall)- Shell keep on a conical mound; rather odd
looking with a tower within a tower; nice market town near Bodmin
Moor; the carved granite church is amazing. The founder of the Quakers (Fox) was
imprisoned here for a time in the gatehouse -- very crude accommodation for someone
of his importance, but of course he wasn't considered important back then.
- LEWES (Sussex)- Rather nice shell keep, with towers, keeping watch
over its picturesque town (Thomas Paine lived here once, and he is now
a 'famous son', as much as they probably couldn't abide him then); a lot of this castle
was actually built of chalk, the most abundant local material, which has always struck
me as fascinating--where you have big deposits of it, you can cut it up into large
blocks that are just as solid as stone as long as you put some facing on it that will
retard erosion of the surface areas.
- LINCOLN- Another big Norman castle, built within an old Roman city;
pretty good as a castle, but the cathedral nearby is incredible and quite
overshadows the castle (where they used to hold public executions by
projecting the gibbet over a cliff and hanging the victims by tossing them off
the castle wall).
- LINDISFARNE- This is a picturesque jewel of a castle
built as an Edwardian house by Sir Edwin Lutyens (a great architect, well, one of my
favorites) in the bare bones of an artillery fort built in the short reign of Edward VI on a
plug of volcanic rock jutting up from the flat isand of the same name. Have never been inside
it because of odd access hours -- you can get stranded on the island when the tide is in,
and the tide does not always suit with National Trust hours of opening, then when it all works
out, there are a horde of tourists trying to cram into this tiny place. It's well worth the trip
just to walk all around this site, and admire oddities like the overturned boats that have been
converted into sheds. Like all small islands, this place is distinctively atmospheric.
- LUDLOW (Shropshire)- Dominates this superb Welsh border town; it
all fits together, and so do the great pubs; perfect town to see, but is probably
- MIDDLEHAM (Yorkshire)- Elaborate Norman castle, with a large square
keep tower; extensive remains, but very ruinous. Richard III owned this later on.
- MINSTER LOVELL (Oxford)- If any place should be haunted, this ruin
should be (by the wicked lord of the manor, who was a crony of Richard III, a rapist,
and a spy--he ended up hiding in a secret room in the cellar here with the posse out
to get him, and starved to death because the servant who was supplying him got
arrested--at least so the legends say); the place is melancholy enough, because of
its ruinous state, but must have been quite pleasant once; dogs, anyway, don't feel
any ghostly presence and are far more interested in searching out the lairs of dozens
of moles that inhabit this riverside site; as a human, I'm more likely to say that the
excessive number of moles indicates something supernatural connected with Lord
Lovell's underground activities. [I have been taken to task on this one by a member of
the Richard III society, who canonize him; in my view he was analogous to Richard
Nixon, not as bad as his enemies say, but not that good either. Lovell was a Gordon
- NORHAM (Northumberland)- A much battered and often embattled castle,
right on the Scottish border; no fancy great halls here -- this was a working
garrison for most of its life, and it has some wicked gun/arrow loops, but
also lots of scars on the walls -- this is not a place you would have wanted
to be posted to as a soldier in times of war (in peace you would have been
bored silly, because there is no nearby town).
- NORWICH (Norfolk)- Norman keep reconstructed in the 18th C as a museum;
couldn't care less, there are more interesting things in the center of town.
- NOTTINGHAM (Notts)- Norman keep reconstructed in the 19th C as a museum;
nice pub partly in a cave under the castle hill. Could have this castle confused with
NORWICH--and also COLCHESTER, which I haven't been in--all three are now fairly
substantial provincial museums rebuilt at various times to meet the needs
of whatever they are museuming; there are lots of Robin Hood things in this
area, even if he never existed -- why not take advantage of a good thing?
- ODIHAM (Hampshire)- King John's favorite castle, hidden away in the
woods and now very badly ruined. It has an octagonal keep, which is very rare, if not
unique. It withstood a famous siege, defended by only 12 men.
- OKEHAMPTON (Devon)- More like a big hunting lodge than a castle; nice
setting in the woods near Dartmoor, but that part of Dartmoor is not really accessible
because the Ministry of Defence is always practicing bombardment there (got halfway
to Brown Willhay Tor once, then had to huddle for a miserable hour in a sheep
cote while the red flags were up, in pouring rain -- with only a piece of bread and cheese
and my cousin's awful playing on a ukelele -- I have a small 'bomb' casing, now used as
a candleholder, as a souvenir of that horrible experience).
- OLD SARUM (Wilts)- Scanty remains of the Norman castle before
Salisbury was relocated down to the valley; the original city here was very squished
up into a tiny area--one third castle, one third cathedral/monastery, and only one
third left for the populace--the latter were already living in Salisbury long before the
barons and ecclesiastics caught on and moved likewise, but by then there was no
need for a town castle, so Salisbury is one of the few medieval cities that doesn't
have any fortification at all.
- OLD WARDOUR (Wilts)- Late medieval hexagonal building with very
advanced and decorative features for its time (based on an Italian
model, Castello Monte, I think); badly ruined in the Civil War but
enough remains to impress; has a gazebo, the only one I've ever seen dating this
far back; a non-strategic place, so very comfortably fitted out as a country
retreat (that didn't save it from Cromwell, though).
- ORFORD (Suffolk)- Hexagonal keep, still roofed, in the dunes; nice
fishing/yachting town nearby; great fish & chips there; since it is not really a strategic
castle, the implication is that it was built by Henry III (or was it II?) as a vacation
hangout like Balmoral -- it is a beautiful building for its time.
- PENDENNIS (Cornwall)- Very large 16th-18th C artillery fort; famous for
a siege/battle in the Cromwellian wars; core is one of those Henry VIII
castles, which are not really castles (with lordly accommodations), but military
outposts, with thick walls and no amenities (they are OK now, with bare stone rooms,
but must have been stuffy and smelly places when they were crammed full of hammocks).
The outer fortifications around the headland are awesome in extent and strength.
- PENRITH (Cumbria)- A mere red shell on the edge of the Lake District, fenced in
near the railway station (call this a castle?).
- PEVENSEY (Sussex)- Norman castle built into the remains of Anderida, a
major fort in Roman times that was overwhelmed in the Anglo-Saxon invasion;
interesting update is the disguised machine-gun posts hidden in the ruins that
were set up in the early 1940s in case Hitler invaded; this site has been prime
invasion territory since the days of Julius Caesar--amazing that the old Roman
walls have survived since those days (however, they are 10-or-so-feet thick). Also
the Roman garrison must have been drunk, or missing on one of the Little Caesar
rebellions when local generals were trying to usurp the Empire, for a band of German
pirates to have taken the place so easily -- but with great slaughter of the locals who
had taken refuge there.
- PEVERIL (Derby)- Main fortress of the Peak District; imposing setting,
quite a panting climb to get up to it; there is a large cave underneath, but it
doesn't look like the fortifiers took advantage of it.
- PORTCHESTER (Hampshire)- A Norman castle, with large square keep,
sitting in the corner of an almost-intact Roman fortress; this was probably the major
defensive center of the Roman British Empire (after all it's the Portsmouth area, which
has always been the main defense of the underbelly of England and the traditional home
of the British navy even in Roman times -- it really is a magnificent harbor), but
nobody bothered to attack it, because it didn't matter strategically, being a military base,
and invaders are more into attacking civilian areas than they are going to go at the
established military bases (that's why the Romans lost, because their legions were
stuck in places like this, they had a military attitude; this fortification was a total
waste of effort for both the Romans and the Normans and that's why it is well preserved
-- why bother to attack it when one can go around it?
- RESTORMEL (Cornwall)- Round castle on a hill; prominent setting
above the main London/Penzance railway line; if you go to the bother of getting to it
(lots of winding back roads), it is well worth seeing, not just for the views from its
walls, but from its garden setting (awesome as it was from the valley floor, the castle
on its own grounds was a Pleasaunce vacation retreat for its masters); the views from
its walls are incredible.
- RICHMOND (Yorkshire)- One of the most attractive town/castle
combinations in England; castle looms above the river; don't expect anything more
on this page--go see it!
- ROCHESTER (Kent)- Gigantic Norman keep; flint construction; nice
small city on the R. Medway; cathedral opposite is the setting for the Dickens
Edwin Drood opium phantasmagoria involving the choir-master; King John undermined
one of the square corners of the keep during a siege, so it was rebuilt as a round turret,
which, believe it or not, was a major advance in castellation.
- RYE (Sussex)- Not really a castle but a tower defending the town (called Ypres Tower);
Rye was always a bourgeois middle-class sort of place, no truck with nobles and such, so
don't expect any grandiose castles here, but just some meat and potatoes defensive arrangements.
- SCARBOROUGH (Yorkshire)- Spectacular promontory setting above the
seaside resort town on the North Sea; how many people know that the Germans
actually bombed this castle from Zeppelins in World War I? It was one of the first air
raids in history even though it wasn't very effective -- in fact it was a joke, little did
people know then what would ultimately result when the technology improved (still, it
would have been fun to see from the promenade--these gigantic airships dropping hand-held bombs
over their sides on an already thoroughly destroyed fortress that had no strategic
value--can't think of any other English castle that was ever subjected to intentional
aerial bombardment, in fact Hitler supposedly forbade his bombers from striking Windsor
(which he wanted to live in), Dover (which he wanted for the SS), or the Tower of
London (where he would have imprisoned Churchill before executing him). [PS, the
movie "Little Voice" was filmed in Scarborough, although the castle doesn't feature.]
- SHERBORNE (Dorset)- There is a Norman castle (pictured) and a manor house
(the latter partly built by Sir Walter Raleigh). The Norman castle is badly ruined, but it has
an interesting gatehouse with large and unusual pyrmadical chimneys.
- SPOFFORTH (Yorkshire)- Ruins of a small castle/manor near Harrogate; just ran
across it being lost on a back road one day after having to come all the way down from
Scotland to find a bank that accepted 5-digit PINS in its ATM [THAT was some vacation,
having discovered that there were no cash machines in all of Scotland (in 1986) -- talk
about vacationing on a shoestring!]. No big deal as a castle, but somebody must have
been proud to own it once.
- ST MAWES (Cornwall)- Very nice small artillery fort of the Henry
VIII period; seems somewhat Caribbean in a way; not very practicable as a fortress, since
it's on the downside of a slope, but it really looks neat.
- STOKESAY (Shropshire)- A fortified manor house, not really a castle;
very pleasant and interesting (not a ruin,
though not lived in); bit of a stuffy place run by old ladies, home-made knitwear for sale. Very
- TATTERSHALL (Lincs)- One of the most incredible masterpieces of
late medieval brickwork in England; there's the massive brick keep, but
not much else anymore; the keep is still roofed; it looks like an institution--a school or
a hospital or an insane asylum--you can admire it, but it ain't pretty.
- TINTAGEL (Cornwall)- Not much of a castle, but the promontory setting
is absolutely incredible; this place should have a Walt Disney castle on it,
but actually the town itself is Disneyish to mawkishness with all the phony
King Arthur stuff; maybe the California coast in the Malibu area is as impressive
as the Cornish coast, but it doesn't have a Tintagel Castle.
- TOTNES (Devon)- Ruins of a classic form of early Norman castle, a shell
keep on a motte (basically a round stone enclosure on the top of an artificial mound,
replacing what had been a wooden palisade originally); whatever other buildings there
might have been were made of wood and did not survive -- it would be interesting to
see a reconstruction of this type of thing, but you are not allowed to 'deface' ancient
monuments this way in England. The town slopes down along a High (or Main) Street from
this edifice in a very attractive manner and is not overwhelmed by suburban growth
beyond the original boundaries the way so many other old towns have been. [Berry
Pomeroy Castle, which is reputedly haunted, is near here; unfortunately, I haven't
- TOWER OF LONDON- The first and best of the stone Norman keeps; for a
900-year-old building, you can't help but be impressed by the quality of its construction;
don't think the Empire State Building will last that long. An interesting point, though, is
that even a tyrant like William the Conqueror built this intimidating building on the edge
of the city of London, not in the center -- Londoners have never, since Roman days,
put up with too much bull; likewise Parliament was built up the river in Westminster,
not in the city itself. The famous Tower Bridge overwhelms the fortress, but is a very
effective backdrop to it (as opposed to those stupid castellated bridges under the
castle in Conway, Wales). Click here for a large (180KB)
- TREMATON (Cornwall)- Just across the border from Plymouth. An attractive
shell keep of the Totnes type, still lived in, and private -- you can only view it from
the outside, where there are gaps in the hedges to view it through, best seen (briefly)
from the train to Penzance just after crossing over Brunel's marvellous Tamar bridge.
- WARKWORTH (Northumberland)- An attractive late keep, still roofed;
interior layout is very ingenious (e.g., stairs down to the wine cellar directly from the Lord's
Solar--designed for maximum comfort, as long as you had plenty of servants); compare
this place with Bolsover, a couple of hundred years later, which also has a livable-in 'keep',
but their mindworlds were different even if their mindsets were the same--Warkworth is Sheriff
of Nottingham, Bolsover is Robin Hood, yet both displayed ostentatious richness. (Click
here for another picture.)
- WARWICK (Warwickshire)- A beautifully preserved Norman motte and bailey castle greatly
expanded and modified over several hundred years. In addition to being a fine medieval mansion, the castle
exhibits several aspects of the history of castellation, ranging from a shell keep on the motte, through very fine
and elaborate flanking towers (especially "Caesar's Tower" -- almost a keep in itself), to a very fine
gatehouse and barbican.
- WINDSOR (Berkshire)- Gigantic palace, mostly Victorian; fine setting along the
Thames; dominates the skyline for miles around; poor QE2 (with her Annus Horribilis, which
sounds like a bad case of the piles) that she has to raise money to repair the recent fire
damage--Versailles is a national treasure in France, Windsor is pretty much a gaudy sham,
like a gilded pork pie. (Shouldn't be so down on it -- the chapel is wonderful, and the towers
are fine.) Interesting how the Royals switch their preferences around: The politically active
ones preferred London (St. James Palace and Whitehall), the inactive ones preferred the
suburbs away from the hurly-burly and away from it all (Kew Gardens, Balmoral, etc.). Present
Queen hates Buckingham Palace and would rather be in Windsor, where there is a very
attractive racetrack, or Sandringham up in East Anglia. I'd settle for Hampton Court, but don't
have that option. There are lots of other places that were Royal Palaces (only somewhat
castellated) -- Richmond, Eltham, Nonesuch, etc. -- but they fell into bad times. She also
has the official use of Holyrood in Edinburgh, but that place is creepy.
- HQMT squirt -- as a contrast to Windsor...in the right way, but Hampton Court is not
a castle, so you can look elsewhere on this web site for it. [Pardon my burp -- was
going to put something else here but forget what it was.]
- YARMOUTH (Isle of Wight)- Small Henry VIII keep; 'piratical' looking
castle in a nice yachting/fishing village; this is the 'nice' end of the island, as opposed to
Cowes and that area (similar to Martha's Vinyard).
- YORK (Yorkshire)- Shell keep on a mound ; extensive town walls; great museum
in a converted prison built on the site of the great hall (this museum contains whole
Edwardian shop fronts and contents thereof and is arranged like 'virtual' street plans, and
in conjunction with the Prison musuem adjacent, with its condemmend cells and
solitary confinement cells and instruments of torture, and the Regimental museum next
door, with its diaramas of WWI trench warfare stuff, almost as good as the gorilla diaramas
in NY's Natural History Museum -- well, put that all together, and it puts Disneyland to
shame in teaching kids what they should know and appreciate -- however, no way
for the computer-literate kids of today -- [Try York's train museum instead -- hell, this has
nothing to do with castles, although it slides into my obsession with old ocean liners: old
trains and train cars, steam engines and Pullmans -- really the best musuem of this sort in
the world is the York Railway Museum, apart maybe from the London Transport museum,
or in a more limited way New York Transit's subway museum.] --- (I think I was somewhat
drunk by the time I got down here -- blah blah!).
Visited, but not described: Amberley, Bramber, Cowdray, Jewel Tower (Westminster),
Christchurch, Winchester, Thetford, Oxford, Oxburgh Hall, Knaresborough, Acton Burnell,
Hever, Deal, Walmer, Sandown, Nunney, Cockermouth (sounds obscene, but Wordsworth was
born in this town), Tilbury Fort, St. Michael's Mount, Star Castle*/Cromwell's Castle/King Charles's Castle (all Isles of Scilly);
various Martello Towers; a bunch of motte-and-baileys with no other remains than the
* This is a small Elizabethan fort that is now part of a hotel; a friend of mine
stayed there and observed the eating habits of a very obese gourmand -- fascinating and revolting
at the same time -- there was somebody like that in a Monty Python movie who exploded in a
English Castles Yet to Be Visited: Allington, Alnwick, Appleby, Ashby-de-la-Zouch
(great name!), Berkhampstead, Berry Pomeroy, Bolton, Bowes, Bungay, Caister, Carlisle, Chipchase, Colchester, Compton, Cooling, Dacre, Dartmouth, Dudley, Dunster, Durham, Egremont, Exeter, Hurst, Kirby Muxloe,
Lancaster, Leeds, Longthorpe Tower, Longtown, Lydford, Maxstoke, Naworth, Newark, Pickering, Prudhoe, Oakham, Raby, Rockingham, Saltwood, Skipton, Tamworth, Tonbridge....
[These are on my want-to-see list. If you have other recommendations or comments,
please let me know. Write to: Grobius]
Many of the castles mentioned on this page have pictures on my web site Keeps and Towers.
Marshmount Castle -- an imaginary English Castle:
[There are surprisingly few English castle links, as compared to Scotland
and Wales, but some individual castle pages are interesting.]
THE TOWER OF LONDON Excellent Virtual Tour ('virtual tour' format is nice)
DUDLEY CASTLE Nice restoration in progress
PEEL CASTLE (Isle of Man) Very nice web page
MARTELLO TOWERS Major web site about a minor but fascinating subject
There is no more
appreciative companion than a dog to take to a castle (small children complain too
much and don't respect your urge to poke around and linger over details). Of course,
it has to be a castle where the dog can be let off the leash -- not one of those National
Trust places where you are confined behind ropes with a hawk-eyed harridan making
sure you don't touch anything. There might be heart-stopping moments when the dog
leaps up on a wall with a 300-foot precipice on the other side (as at Beeston). And it
might be hard to drag it away from the local inhabitants (such as the moles at Minster
Lovell). They love dashing around and are especially enthusiastic about investigating
the Garderobes (privies), which were usually little dead-end passages in the walls with
a stone toilet seat and a shaft dropping down to the outer ditch or moat.
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