6 December 2022
Getting to know more about history doesn’t have to be boring. There are some great castles that combine information and fun into a very attractive package for family visits. Below are some of the best castles in and around London.
The top of the list has to be the Tower of London with its storied history full of intrigues, daring escape attempts, torture and executions. The tour guides are excellent and irreverent and enjoy dwelling on the macabre aspects. The 32 yeoman warders, nicknamed “Beefeaters”, the liveried guardians of the tower, are an unusual sight and a throwback to another age.
Fun fact: the word “Beefeater” is thought to be derived from the French “Buffetier”. These were the guards of the French King’s food who protected it from tampering and being poisoned.
An absolute wonder, Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. What people think of when they hear the word “Royalty” is embodied in this castle. It is opulently furnished and decorated, and breathtaking in its sheer sense of scale.
There is so much to see and do and the whole family will be exhausted but happy at the end of a day out here.
Fun fact: The late Queen spent the majority of her private weekends at Windsor Castle with her family and royal retinue.
The confusingly named Leeds Castle isn’t actually anywhere near Leeds and is actually in Kent. It bills itself as “The loveliest castle in the world” and that view certainly has some merit. There is so much for the children to do, from one of the best adventure playgrounds in the country to punting on the moat or boarding the castle train for a tour of the grounds. There is also adventure golf, a maze and falconry displays. This is a visit that won't disappoint.
This iconic castle in Hampshire is best known for being the setting for popular TV show Downton Abbey and is a truly stunning location. Highclere is the home to Lord and Lady Carnarvon who hold numerous events throughout the year. There are also guided tours of the castle available for much of the year and the grounds are well worth exploring.
Home to the King and his family, Buckingham Palace is famous around the world. This is where newly-elected Prime Ministers come when they want to form a Government, and many historic meetings have taken place here. It is possible to tour the palace and this is a brilliant chance to get a real glimpse into the working of a Royal household, beyond the tall tales of the tabloid press.
One of the most child-friendly castles on the list, Hever Castle boasts a large Yew maze to get hopelessly lost in, and a water-maze balance challenge, with stones that tilt when stepped on. There is also archery and the chance to paint your own shield, as well as a brilliant and inventive adventure playground, jousting and a military museum. This is before we even mention the tours of the castle itself. A guaranteed action-packed day out, just be sure to bring a towel if you are thinking about trying the water maze, it isn’t as easy as it looks!
Another castle situated within London, Kensington Palace has housed the younger generations of the royal family for the past 300 years, including recently the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their family. The gardens are especially enchanting and there is a lot to see and do for families.
Billing itself as “Britain’s ultimate castle”, Warwick promises much to do for all of the family. There are brilliant falconry and archery displays as well as guided tours of the castle dungeons. Costumed characters are on hand to provide additional immersion for the younger guests and there is also a “Horrible Histories'' maze which includes special effects and obstacles. We are sure you will be lost in the moment and find yourself a-mazed at the experience.
Bodiam Castle looks like something straight out of a child’s drawing of what a castle should look like. A beautiful, sprawling moated castle which transports the visitor to another age. There are also many activities for the children with storytellers sure to enthuse and enrapture and the mediaeval armour display isn’t to be missed. There is a tea-room and a cafe on-site to keep the family going through what should be a busy day of exploring, learning and having fun.
Every day is an event day at Arundel Castle, with costumed characters and talks on all manner of mediaeval castle life sure to enthrall. Witness combat how it would have been done centuries ago and listen to beautiful music performed by talented musicians using a variety of instruments that are considered unusual by today’s standards. Enjoy a tour of this beautiful castle and explore the sprawling grounds.