England is famous for its castles and some have become famous themselves. Sometimes their fame comes from their royal residents, such as Windsor Castle. Other times you may recognize them from the silver screen. Indeed Highclere featured in Downton Abbey and Alnwick Castle.
However you know them there’s something magical about seeing these majestic architectural beauties in the autumnal months when the leaves begin to fall and the countryside becomes a burnished carpet of reds, golds, and yellows. You just know that with millennia of English behind each turret or wall there will be a myriad of tantalizing tales and royal gossip.
Just to the west of London lies the world’s oldest and largest inhabited castle, having been a royal residence for around 950 years. First developed the Conqueror in the 11th century, Windsor Castle is regularly used by the Queen as a weekend retreat, as well as hosting state occasions and royal weddings.
The Round Tower dominates the skyline and sits atop the oldest part of the castle while it is the spiritual home of the Order of the Garter – an order of chivalry dating back to the reign.
An imposing fortress in the heart of the Midlands, Castle provides a taste of medieval English life. Pass beneath the castle’s impressive portcullis, wander along its ramparts, take in archery exhibitions and explore 64 acres of landscaped gardens. Children can venture back through time or book into the Castle Dungeon to unravel some of the secrets with the help of live actors and spine-tingling special effects.
Initially a medieval palace, Highclere was transformed in the mid-19th century. The architectural mind behind the Houses of Parliament in London.
Alongside tours of its many rooms, including those used as the staterooms. Visitors can explore gardens dating back to the 13th century and 1,000 acres of stunning parkland, designed by the renowned landscape gardener, Capability Brown. The castle is home to the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, whose family have lived there since 1679, and also houses a unique display of Egyptian antiquities celebrating the 5th Earl of Carnarvon’s role in the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun. This year, the castle will also host special autumn and winter tours, including Real Lives and Film Sets and Christmas at Highclere.
The impressive Alnwick Castle was home to the Duke of Northumberland’s family, the Percys, for over 700 years and in its time has acted as a military outpost, a teaching college, and a family home over the centuries. Another castle with its origins in the Norman period.