6 December 2022
Perhaps due to the abundance of historical battles in the area, Sussex is home to many amazing and beautiful castles which now make excellent visitor attractions for children and adults alike.
Fun fact: There is a town called Battle which sits on the historic site of the Battle of Hastings and which was also, quite appropriately, famous for making gunpowder.
Peruse our list below to find ten of the best castles for children in Sussex.
This castle, perched atop a cliff and overlooking the town of the same name, looks like something straight from the pages of an epic fairytale. There are friendly tour guides on-hand to inform and spark enthusiasm among the visitors, children and adults alike. The castle itself dates back to 1067 and is very well-preserved, with extensive repair work and remodelling having been undertaken over the centuries, and the gardens are nothing short of stunning when in bloom.
There are various events held throughout the year and it is a great location to view some knightly combat, with tournaments and jousting, and cheering on your favourite!
There is family fun in abundance waiting for you at the Herstmonceux Castle Estate. This beautiful red-brick castle, which is notable for being one of the oldest red-brick buildings still standing in the UK, is set in acres of sprawling woodland and beautifully tended gardens. There is also a rope maze and a tree swing for the kiddos to play on in the castle grounds.
Troupes of battle reenactors and entertainers are usually on hand to help give the castle an authentically old-world feel and all kinds of events are available for the whole family to participate in and enjoy.
As one of the most popular attractions near the site of the Battle of Hastings, Bodiam Castle never fails to capture the imagination of the visitors. Storytellers are on hand to weave tales of enchantment, chivalry and dragons which will have the younger children enthralled and inspired in equal measure. There is a mediaeval armour display and experts are present to explain how it all worked, and the chance to be transported to another age by exploring the castle rooms and towers, imagining how life must have been back then for the inhabitants.
This castle occupied an important strategic point where the River Ouse splits the South Downs hills and was originally called Bray Castle. Lewes Castle sits atop a man made hill overlooking the town of Lewes and the views are spectacular. It is a great place to spend a day with the family and there is a museum and on-site cinema which shows films explaining some of the history of the area.
Welcome to the first ever Norman castle in Britain. It perches precariously atop a cliff overlooking the English channel and some of it has fallen victim to erosion over the years, falling into the sea below. Unsurprisingly, Hastings Castle is predominantly concerned with telling the story of the Battle of Hastings, and this is explained well from the inside of a mediaeval siege tent in the castle grounds, where a video tells the story of 1066 until the present day. For sheer historical context and some spectacular views, this castle is definitely worth a visit.
When you visit this castle, English Heritage invites you to “Step into England’s History”. This is because William the Conqueror landed his army here in 1066. Pevensey is a fun castle to explore and there are more modern elements as well, including World War II cannon and pillboxes which were added to the castle to defend the English coastline from attack.
This tower castle is referred to as Rye Castle or Ypres Tower and was previously called Baddings Tower. It is thought the castle was used as a prison and it has some excellent museum exhibits including mediaeval pottery, embroidery and artifacts which will be sure to interest the kids.
Camber Castle is an old artillery fort and is only reachable on foot, with the nearest parking area around a mile away in the town of Rye. This is worth bearing in mind if you have small children/infants. There are guided tours that showcase the interior of the castle but these must be pre-booked, otherwise you can enjoy viewing the castle from the outside.
While this isn’t strictly speaking a castle, we felt that we could take a little poetic license for the home of Rudyard Kipling, one of England’s literary greats. The gardens and surrounding countryside are stunning and we can see where Kipling received much of his inspiration. Maybe your family can be inspired by this lovely location as well.
Although it isn’t a castle but a great house, we felt that Petworth House and Park deserved a place on this list due to the plethora of incredible artwork residing within its walls. The opulence and luxurious decor matches top European palaces like Versailles and is sure to capture the imagination. There is also a deer park in the grounds and a pleasure garden to explore.