Welcome to the land of fairytale castles and intriguing history – South West England. With its rolling hills, rugged coastline, and charming countryside, this region is home to some of the most awe-inspiring castles in the world. From medieval fortresses to grand country houses, each castle tells a unique story that reflects its rich heritage. In this blog post, we’ll take you on a journey through the top 22 best castles in South West England. So get ready to be swept away by their beauty and immerse yourself in centuries-old tales of royalty, war, love and legend!
Best Castle in South West England – Top 22
1. Windsor Castle (Berkshire)
Windsor Castle in Berkshire is a true gem of South West England and an iconic symbol of British heritage. As the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world, it has served as a royal residence for over 900 years.
The castle boasts stunning architecture that reflects its rich history, from medieval fortifications to grand baroque interiors. Visitors can explore the State Apartments, and St George’s Chapel, and even witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony.
One of Windsor Castle’s most impressive features is Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House – a miniature palace complete with working electricity and running water! It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1924 for Queen Mary and contains exquisite works of art.
Aside from being a tourist attraction, Windsor Castle remains a functioning royal palace where Her Majesty The Queen spends many weekends throughout the year. It truly is an awe-inspiring sight that should not be missed when visiting South West England.
2. Corfe Castle (Dorset)
Corfe Castle in Dorset is a medieval fortress that sits atop a hill and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The castle has an intriguing history, with its roots dating back to the 11th century when it was constructed by William the Conqueror.
During the English Civil War, Corfe Castle played a significant role as it was held for King Charles I. However, after a long siege in 1646, Parliamentarian forces finally captured and dismantled much of the castle’s fortifications.
Today visitors can explore what remains of this once-great fortress, including parts of the outer walls and ruins from various periods throughout its history. There are also regular events hosted at Corfe Castle such as falconry displays and reenactments which bring its rich past to life.
A visit to Corfe Castle is not complete without taking in some of its stunning surroundings such as the nearby Swanage Railway or exploring one of Dorset’s many charming villages like Studland or Tyneham.
3. Tintagel Castle (Cornwall)
Tintagel Castle in Cornwall is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves history, legends and stunning views. Perched on the rugged coastline of Cornwall, this castle has been linked to King Arthur’s legend for centuries. The breathtaking ruins of Tintagel Castle leave visitors in awe as they explore the remnants of what was once a thriving settlement.
The castle boasts dramatic ruins that provide insight into its rich history and cultural significance. From its strategic location atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea to its fascinating architecture, Tintagel Castle offers an unforgettable experience for all those who visit it.
One of the highlights of visiting Tintagel Castle is admiring the panoramic views from atop its cliffs. Gazing across miles of jagged coastline with nothing but blue waters stretching out before you make one feel like they are standing on top of the world.
Despite being steeped in legend and mystery, there is much more to discover about Tintagel Castle than just King Arthur’s legacy. Its unique setting amidst beautiful Cornish scenery creates an immersive atmosphere that transports visitors back through time and allows them to indulge their imagination.
For those looking for a truly magical experience filled with wonder and inspiration, no trip to southwest England would be complete without exploring the captivating beauty that is Tintagel Castle.
4. Pendennis Castle (Cornwall)
Located in the charming town of Falmouth, Cornwall, Pendennis Castle is a magnificent piece of Tudor military architecture. Built by Henry VIII as part of his coastal defences against invasion from France and Spain, this castle provides an insight into England’s rich history.
Visitors can explore the castle’s gun platforms which are strategically placed on top of cliffs overlooking the sea. They can also witness demonstrations of Tudor artillery firing and learn about the castle’s role during World War I and II.
Pendennis Castle has been carefully preserved over time to ensure its historical significance remains intact for future generations to appreciate. It offers panoramic vistas across Falmouth Bay, showcasing stunning views that take visitors back in time to when it was constructed.
The castle features interactive exhibits where visitors can immerse themselves in live-action displays and scenes depicting life at Pendennis throughout various eras. The site also includes a cafe offering refreshments while taking in breathtaking views over Falmouth Bay.
Pendennis Castle is one of Cornwall’s most significant historic landmarks that shouldn’t be missed by anyone who appreciates English history or simply wants to experience a remarkable piece of architecture set amidst stunning surroundings.
5. Berry Pomeroy Castle (Devon)
Nestled in the heart of Devon’s countryside, Berry Pomeroy Castle is a captivating sight to behold. Built in the 15th century by the Pomeroy family, this medieval fortress has since been abandoned and left to ruin.
Despite its dilapidated state, Berry Pomeroy Castle exudes an eerie beauty that has captured the imaginations of locals and visitors alike. It is said that ghostly apparitions haunt its walls, including two young women who met tragic fates within its confines.
Legend has it that one of these women was Margaret Pomeroy, who was imprisoned and starved to death by her jealous sister. Her spirit is said to wander through the castle as a white lady.
Visitors can explore the castle ruins at their leisure, admiring its Gothic architecture and enjoying panoramic views of Dartmoor National Park from atop its tower. A visit to Berry Pomeroy Castle promises an unforgettable experience steeped in history and myth.
6. Dunster Castle (Somerset)
Dunster Castle is a Norman castle located in the quaint town of Dunster, Somerset. It’s not just a fortress, but it also features beautiful gardens that are worth exploring. The castle has been around since the 11th century and showcases glimpses into history through its architecture and artefacts.
The castle played an essential role during medieval times when it was used as a garrison to protect against invaders from Wales. Few castles can compare to Dunster Castle in terms of historical significance and beauty.
One of the highlights of visiting Dunster Castle is strolling through its stunning gardens filled with vibrant flowers, lush greenery, and charming water features. The gardens provide visitors with breathtaking views over Exmoor National Park, making for an unforgettable experience.
Inside the castle walls, visitors can explore various rooms with period furnishings that showcase what life was like centuries ago. One room even displays ancient weaponry such as swords and spears once used by soldiers stationed at the castle.
Dunster Castle is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history or seeking natural beauty combined with architectural splendour.
7. Powderham Castle (Devon)
Powderham Castle is a grand country house that’s located just outside of Exeter, and it’s one of the most impressive castles in South West England. The castle has a rich history dating back to 1390 when Sir Philip Courtenay began construction on the site.
Today, Powderham Castle serves as the ancestral home of the Earl of Devon and boasts some truly beautiful grounds. Visitors can take guided tours of the property and explore its stunning gardens, which have been beautifully cultivated over centuries.
The castle itself is also open for visitors to explore, with many rooms featuring period furniture and artwork. The dining room is particularly impressive, with its long table seating up to 60 people – perfect for hosting a banquet fit for royalty.
One highlight of visiting Powderham Castle is getting up close with some rare animals at their onsite deer park. With over 600 acres to roam around in safety; it’s an experience not to be missed by animal lovers.
Powderham Castle offers an unforgettable experience that will transport you back through time while showcasing Devon’s beauty at every turn – whether it’s exploring inside or wandering around its picturesque grounds that stretch down towards River Exe estuary where seals are often seen basking in the sun on mud banks during low tide!
8. Okehampton Castle (Devon)
Okehampton Castle, located on the northern edge of Dartmoor in Devon, is a fascinating castle ruin that offers an insight into its medieval past. The remains of this ancient fortress reflect its rich history and are set amidst scenic surroundings.
Built during the Norman Conquest, Okehampton Castle played a significant role in defending England from invaders. Over the centuries, it underwent various modifications and upgrades to serve as a residence for local lords and nobles.
Despite being in ruins now, the castle still exudes grandeur and charm with remnants of walls, towers and gatehouses. Visitors can explore the site’s history by walking through different areas such as the Great Hall or Chapel.
Apart from exploring the castle ruins themselves, visitors can also enjoy stunning views of Dartmoor National Park. In addition to admiring the scenery and architecture at Okehampton Castle, there are plenty of nearby hiking trails to enjoy too.
Okehampton Castle is an excellent place for those who love history or just want to soak up some beautiful countryside scenery while learning about England’s medieval past.
9. Restormel Castle (Cornwall)
Restormel Castle, situated near the town of Lostwithiel in Cornwall, is a stunning example of medieval castle architecture. The circular fortress dates back to the 13th century and was built by Edmund Earl of Cornwall.
One of the most striking features of Restormel Castle is its location; it sits atop a mound overlooking picturesque countryside views, making for an impressive sight. Visitors can wander around the ruins and marvel at how well-preserved they are after centuries.
The castle’s walls have survived nearly intact over time, providing insights into medieval construction techniques that were used to fortify strongholds against enemy attacks.
The interior includes various chambers where visitors can imagine what life must have been like for those who once lived within these walls. There are also several secret passages to explore!
Restormel Castle is one of those hidden gems in South West England that deserves more attention from visitors seeking historical landmarks with breathtaking views. It’s worth visiting if you’re interested in learning about medieval history or just want to take some beautiful photos!
10. St. Mawes Castle (Cornwall)
St. Mawes Castle, located in the charming coastal village of St. Mawes in Cornwall, is a magnificent artillery fort that served as an important coastal defence during times of war. Built by Henry VIII to defend against potential attacks from the French and Spanish navies, this castle showcases impressive Tudor military architecture.
One of the most striking features of St. Mawes Castle is its stunning location overlooking the picturesque Fal Estuary. Visitors can take in breathtaking views while exploring its various rooms and passageways that have been well-preserved over time.
Inside the castle, visitors can discover an array of fascinating exhibits showcasing weapons and artefacts used during Tudor times. The castle’s history comes alive through interactive displays and informative panels that offer insights into life on this strategic outpost.
For those interested in military history or just looking for a unique day out along Cornwall’s coast, St. Mawes Castle is certainly worth a visit. With its commanding position above the estuary and impressive architectural details throughout, it offers a glimpse into England’s past as one of Europe’s great naval powers – all while enjoying some truly spectacular views!
11. Launceston Castle (Cornwall)
Launceston Castle is a magnificent Norman castle located in the town of Launceston, Cornwall. The castle boasts an imposing keep that stands tall and strong today, providing visitors with an insight into medieval architecture and history.
The panoramic views of the surrounding countryside from Launceston Castle are breathtaking. From this vantage point atop a hill overlooking the town, it’s easy to see why this location was chosen for such a defensive fortress.
Visitors can explore the castle grounds on foot, taking in all its historic features and admiring its sturdy walls and towers. The remains of its once-great gatehouse still stand as a testament to its former grandeur.
The impressive keep is undoubtedly one of the most interesting parts of Launceston Castle. Built in the 12th century by Richard de Redvers, it has stood through many battles throughout history with some fascinating stories behind each defense strategy used during those times.
A visit to Launceston Castle offers visitors not only stunning views but also a glimpse into Norman military life over eight centuries ago.
12. Dartmouth Castle (Devon)
Dartmouth Castle in Devon is a majestic fortress that has stood the test of time. Positioned at the mouth of the River Dart, this picturesque castle offers breathtaking views and a rich maritime history.
The castle was built in the 14th century to protect Dartmouth from French naval attacks during the Hundred Years’ War. Over time, it evolved into an artillery fort and played a crucial role in defending England against the Spanish Armada.
Visitors can explore its many features including gunpowder magazines, medieval tunnels, cannons and more. The castle also has several interactive exhibits that showcase its fascinating history.
One of the highlights of visiting Dartmouth Castle is undoubtedly taking in its stunning location overlooking one of England’s most beautiful harbours. Its strategic position on top of a cliff provides sweeping vistas across the water towards Kingswear Village.
Whether you’re interested in military architecture or just want to soak up some spectacular views, Dartmouth Castle is not to be missed when exploring South West England’s castles!
13. Lydford Castle (Devon)
Lydford Castle in Devon is a must-visit for history buffs and castle enthusiasts. Situated in the quaint village of Lydford, this ancient castle boasts remnants of a Norman tower that reflects its medieval past.
The castle was constructed by William I as part of his campaign to establish control over England following the Norman Conquest. It served as an important defensive structure during its heyday and witnessed several battles throughout history.
Today, visitors can explore the ruins of this impressive fortress and marvel at its architecture while taking in breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. The ruins are set against a charming backdrop that offers peace and tranquillity.
Visitors can also learn about the fascinating history behind Lydford Castle and how it has evolved over time through informative exhibits on site. So make sure you add Lydford Castle to your itinerary when exploring South West England!
14. Totnes Castle (Devon)
Totnes Castle in Devon is a stunning medieval castle that sits atop a hill, offering breathtaking views of the River Dart and the town below. The castle was built in the 11th century by Juhel, a Norman baron, to secure his foothold in England after William the Conqueror’s conquest.
Today, visitors can explore the remains of this impressive motte-and-bailey castle and take in the panoramic views from its vantage point. The site also includes an exhibition on local history and archaeology.
The castle played an important role during the English Civil War when it was held by Royalist forces before being captured by Parliamentarian troops. Its strategic position made it an ideal location for defending against attacks.
Visitors can climb up to the top of Totnes Castle’s keep for even more spectacular views of Devon’s rolling countryside. From here, you can see as far as Dartmoor National Park on clear days.
Totnes Castle is one of Devon’s most iconic landmarks and offers visitors a glimpse into England’s rich history while providing some truly unforgettable views.
15. Exeter Castle (Devon)
Exeter Castle, also known as Rougemont Castle, is a significant historical landmark situated in the heart of Exeter. This castle showcases an impressive blend of Norman and medieval architecture that reflects its rich history spanning back to the 11th century.
The castle’s keep was built by William the Conqueror in 1068 as part of his strategy to solidify Norman rule over England. Later on, it served as a prison and courthouse during Tudor times.
Visitors can explore the remains of the castle’s gatehouse and tower, which offer glimpses into its impressive past. The castle grounds also provide scenic views across the Exeter city centre.
Today, parts of this ancient fortress are used for events such as weddings and conferences. Visitors can enjoy guided tours or attend music concerts held within the walls of this historic monument.
Exeter Castle is a must-visit location for anyone interested in British history or architecture. Its unique combination of Norman and medieval styles makes it stand out from other castles in South West England.
16. Bickleigh Castle (Devon)
Bickleigh Castle in Devon is a fortified manor house that dates back to the 14th century. The castle sits on the banks of the River Exe and offers visitors a unique setting for weddings, events, and accommodation.
The castle features stunning medieval architecture with its crenellated walls, towers, and gatehouse. Visitors can enjoy exploring the beautiful gardens or take a stroll along the riverbank.
For those who want to stay overnight in this historic castle, there are several rooms available for accommodation. Each room has been decorated with antique furnishings and provides guests with modern amenities such as Wi-Fi and en-suite bathrooms.
Aside from being an ideal wedding venue, Bickleigh Castle hosts various events throughout the year including murder mystery weekends, Christmas fairs, and medieval banquets. These events offer visitors a chance to immerse themselves in history while having fun at the same time.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or simply want to explore one of Devon’s hidden gems, Bickleigh Castle is definitely worth visiting. Its rich history, stunning surroundings and unique offerings of event space and accommodations make it stand out among other castles in South West England.
17. Taunton Castle (Somerset)
Taunton Castle in Somerset stands as a testament to the region’s rich and storied past. What was once a fortified motte-and-bailey castle – built by William the Conqueror following his conquest of England in 1066 – has since been repurposed into the Museum of Somerset.
The fascinating museum offers visitors an opportunity to delve deeper into local history, with exhibits spanning from prehistoric times through to the modern day. Visitors can explore collections detailing everything from the Roman occupation and medieval life to Taunton’s key role during the English Civil War.
Aside from its historical significance, Taunton Castle is also an impressive architectural feat. The keep still remains standing today (albeit with some modifications), offering panoramic views over the town and surrounding countryside.
A visit to Taunton Castle is not only educational but also visually stunning, making it a must-see for anyone interested in learning more about South West England’s fascinating heritage.
18. Berkeley Castle (Gloucestershire)
Located in Gloucestershire, Berkeley Castle is an imposing medieval fortress that has stood the test of time. This castle boasts a rich history and beautiful gardens that will take your breath away.
The castle dates back to the 12th century, and much of it still stands today. Visitors can explore the Great Hall, where King Edward II was murdered in 1327, and see many other fascinating historical artefacts.
In addition to its intriguing past, Berkeley Castle’s gardens are also worth exploring. The stunning landscapes include terraced lawns, herbaceous borders, a lily pond with a fountain, and even a butterfly house!
Berkeley Castle is also known for its annual events such as jousting tournaments and outdoor theatre performances set against the magnificent backdrop of this historic site.
If you’re looking for both beauty and history on your next trip to South West England then be sure not to miss out on visiting Berkeley Castle!
19. Sudeley Castle (Gloucestershire)
Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire is an impressive residence that has won numerous awards for its stunning gardens. The castle has a rich history and notable connections to some of England’s most famous monarchs, including Queen Catherine Parr, who lived here after the death of her husband, King Henry VIII.
The castle features beautiful architecture from different periods, such as Tudor and Victorian styles. Visitors can explore the magnificent rooms with historical artefacts on display, including paintings, furniture, and tapestries.
One of the highlights of Sudeley Castle is its award-winning gardens. With over ten individual gardens to explore across 15 acres of land – each one offering something unique – visitors can enjoy everything from traditional English roses to exotic plants from around the world.
The castle also hosts events throughout the year, such as music festivals and exhibitions. And for those looking for a truly unique experience, there are even opportunities to stay overnight in one of their luxurious holiday cottages or glamping tents within the grounds.
In short, Sudeley Castle offers a fascinating glimpse into England’s rich history while providing breathtaking scenery and unforgettable experiences for visitors.
20. Nunney Castle (Somerset)
Nunney Castle in Somerset is a charming castle ruin that takes you back to medieval times. Built in the late 14th century, it was designed to be both an impressive stronghold and a luxurious residence for its owners. The castle’s picturesque setting makes it an ideal spot for photography enthusiasts.
The most prominent feature of Nunney Castle is the surrounding moat, which adds to its romantic appeal. Although the castle has been left in ruins over time, visitors can still admire remnants of the original structure such as the keep and gatehouse.
One unique aspect of this castle is that it has never been involved in any battles or sieges throughout history. This means that its current state is mostly due to natural decay rather than damage from warfare – making it a true glimpse into medieval architecture.
Despite being small compared to some other castles on this list, Nunney Castle remains one of Somerset’s hidden gems and should not be missed by those interested in history or seeking a peaceful escape from modern life.
21. Bishop’s Palace (Somerset)
The Bishop’s Palace in Wells, Somerset is a stunning example of medieval architecture that showcases the grandeur and elegance of the era. The palace boasts beautiful gardens that complement its impressive structure and make it a popular destination for visitors.
One of the most striking features of the Bishop’s Palace is its moat, which adds an extra layer of charm to this already picturesque location. As you wander through the palace grounds, you can’t help but wonder about all those who lived here before us and marvel at their skill in designing such a magnificent structure.
Inside, visitors can explore various rooms filled with period furniture and other fascinating artifacts. From ornate ceilings to intricate woodwork, there’s something for everyone to appreciate at this historic site.
But perhaps what really sets the Bishop’s Palace apart from other castles in southwest England are its beautiful gardens. Whether you’re walking around on your own or taking part in one of the many guided tours available, there are endless opportunities to appreciate nature’s beauty here.
If you’re looking for a unique and unforgettable experience during your trip to southwest England, be sure not to miss out on visiting this remarkable medieval palace – it truly has something special for everyone!
22. Clevedon Court (Somerset)
Clevedon Court is a hidden gem situated in the heart of Somerset. This historic manor house boasts magnificent medieval and Elizabethan architecture that will transport you back in time. The impressive interiors are beautifully preserved, featuring intricate woodwork, stained glass windows, and grand fireplaces.
The picturesque grounds surrounding Clevedon Court are equally as breathtaking as the interior. Take a stroll through the tranquil gardens, admire the stunning views from the terrace or explore the ancient yew trees located on-site.
The manor house has an interesting history dating back to 1086 when it was listed in William the Conqueror’s Domesday Book. It has been owned by various families over centuries including Sir John de Clevedon who gave his name to this beautiful property.
In addition to its rich history and stunning architecture, Clevedon Court hosts many events throughout the year including guided tours, craft fairs and seasonal celebrations such as Christmas markets.
If you’re looking for a unique day out in South West England that blends history with natural beauty, then be sure to add Clevedon Court to your list of must-visit castles!
In summary, South West England boasts an impressive array of castles that offer a glimpse into the region’s rich history and unique architecture. From Windsor Castle to Bishop’s Palace in Wells, each castle has its own distinct personality and charm.
Whether you’re interested in medieval fortresses or grand country houses, there is something for everyone among these remarkable landmarks. So why not take a trip to explore some of the best castles in South West England? Who knows what fascinating stories and stunning scenery await!
FAQs on Best Castle in South West England
1. What is the oldest castle in England?
The oldest castle in England is generally believed to be the Tower of London. It was founded towards the end of 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England. The White Tower, the central keep within the complex, is considered the oldest part of the castle, with construction starting in 1078.
2. What is the most famous castle of the UK in which country is it?
The most famous castle in the UK is arguably Windsor Castle, which is located in Berkshire, England. It serves as an official residence of the British monarch and has been a royal residence for over 900 years. Windsor Castle is renowned for its grandeur, historical significance, and stunning architecture.
3. Where was the original castle in England?
The original castle in England, specifically in the context of the Norman Conquest, is the Tower of London. As mentioned earlier, it was built following the Norman Conquest of 1066 and played a crucial role as a royal residence, fortress, and prison throughout history. The Tower of London is an iconic symbol of English history and stands as a UNESCO World Heritage site.