Do you want to feel like a British king or queen? Visiting English castles is the best way to make your dream come true! Many of them are within driving distance of London, so you can easily get to them if you hire a car.
So, pick up a hire car from Europcar Heathrow Airport and get ready for an exciting ride as soon as you arrive. You’ll find citadels built by William the Conqueror, the childhood house of the executed Anne Boleyn, and the favorite residences of Queen Victoria, Henry VIII, and Elizabeth II. A hire car makes it easy to get to any of these places and spend as much time as you want.
So, which castles to visit within driving distance of London? Check out the following locations and start planning an exciting ride!
Located in West Sussex on the River Arun, Arundel Castle is an outstanding building with a thousand years of history. The property built by the Earl of Arundel in 1068 was often hereditary through the female line. It has been home to the Dukes of Norfolk for eight centuries in a row.
The first thing that attracts attention is the unique location of the castle. It stands on an artificial hill and has a deep protective moat around it. At the end of the 19th century, the picturesque building became a country mansion with electricity, central heating, and elevators.
Not only the castle but also the surrounding area is worth your attention. So, wander through the well-kept gardens to admire the beauty of the local nature!
As the largest castle in the country, Dover has guarded the English Channel for centuries. That is why it was nicknamed “The Key to England”. In 1066, William the Conqueror invaded the region and burned down the castle. However, it was later restored.
Located about an hour and a half drive from London, the complex consists of an impressive collection of buildings, walls, and moats. During World War II, the castle served as a bomb shelter and a hospital.
While visiting the castle, you can visit towers and explore mystical dungeons. Dover is the epitome of a typical medieval castle, but its mighty fortifications still remind of the important role it played in the history of Great Britain. By the way, Dover appeared in films and TV shows, in particular, in Doctor Who – Mind of Evil (1971) and the Other Boleyn Girl (2008).
If you like Downton Abbey, then you’ll love Highclere Castle too, because the historical series was filmed there. Erected in the style of the Jacobins of the 17th century, Highclere is a country house for the Earls of Carnarvon. You will definitely not regret it if you decide to visit it!
Highclere Castle is not only about a magnificent historical building, but about luxurious gardens, forests, and chic staterooms. In addition, the former owner of the castle participated in the expedition of Howard Carter, who discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun. So you will find an exhibition of Egyptian antiquities inside the castle as well.
Highclere Castle is one of the finest historical masterpieces you can find in the London area. However, plan your trip ahead of time as it has specific opening hours.
Hever Castle is where Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII, grew up. The king later gave the castle to his fourth wife Anna of Cleves. Hever’s history of ownership is quite interesting, but what you will see inside is worth your attention too.
Located about an hour from the English capital, this 13th-century building is full of luxurious antique furniture that speaks of the castle’s former owners. In addition, it keeps one of the finest collections of Tudor portraits and two prayer books that belonged to the executed Boleyn.
As believed, the castle and the moat around it are teeming with the ghosts of the people tortured there. However, most likely these are just myths, and many travelers seek to explore this unique place.
William the Conqueror began building Warwick Castle in 1068, two years after he invaded England. Then, it turned into an imposing stone fortress.
Towers and fortress walls still remember palace intrigues and famous prisoners. In the 17th century, Warwick became a country house, but now it’s a theme park, reenacting historical events that bring bloody dungeons and medieval sword fights to life.
Built by William the Conqueror in 1066, Windsor Castle dominates the quiet pastoral English countryside. Today it’s both a museum and a royal residence used by Elizabeth II.
The largest functioning castle in the world is within a short driving distance of London. Its huge rooms and halls contain rare collections of works of art. Plus, St George’s Chapel and Queen Mary’s dollhouse are also available for viewing!
Many consider it to be the most beautiful castle in the world. With its lush greenery and intricate maze, this 900-year-old landmark looks truly impressive. The castle belonged to six medieval queens, including the first wife of Henry the Eighth – Catherine of Aragon.
The former royal residence is now a country house. However, not all such mansions can boast of powerful ramparts and towers that seem to reach the clouds. The rooms are full of antique furniture and show off interesting collections, such as a collection of antique dog collars.
Summing it up, the English castles offer an insight into the rich history of Great Britain. Despite their similarities, each offers something special. So, visit at least one of them for a unique experience while in London!