On our honeymoon, Matt and I castled ourselves out with day trips from Paris to both Versailles and then 4 different chateaux in the Loire Valley. As for England, I’ve been to London once and only visited Windsor Castle but there were so many that I missed out on (and I’m not even looking at the ones in other parts of the UK!). Here are a few that I would hit up next time I find myself within their vicinity. (So, you know, in a looooong time)
Highclere Castle because it’s the site of the most amazing TV show in the world: Downton Abbey. Aside from being able to pretend that I`m Lady Crawley I would really want to come here just to tour the Estate.
The entire estate is 600 acres with three lakes on the grounds and 56 century old Lebanese cedars and of course the gorgeous Gothic revival castle itself. When the estate is open to the public during the summer you can take tours of the house and gardens and the Egyption exhibition on display there.
Bodium Castle is a picturebook example of a quadrangular moated castle from the Middle Ages. Even though Medieval castles can tend to be a bit boring because they have less of the opulence of Renaissance castles, I think this one would be a good one to see for its architecture. Plus you can get a good sense of castle life in the Middle Ages which was much harsher than it is made out to be in books and movies.
Can you even mention UK castles without talking about Buckingham Palace, the official residence of the monarchy with its famously photographed balcony for greeting crowds of people in both celebration and crisis? I guess you can, since it’s a Palace and not a castle, but let’s just go with it. If you go you can see the changing of the guard (which, if we’re being honest, is not as cool as the one on Parliament Hill in Ottawa) and tour the state rooms and gardens.
This summer, in honour of the Diamond Jubilee, the diamond diadem (or crown) that the Queen is shown wearing in Commonwealth stamps, bills, and coins is going to be on display at the palace.
Warwick Castle is cool because it’s a party castle. It was built by the infamous William the Conqueror in 1068 and was expanded over the centuries. Today there are tonnes of fun things to do there. They put on regular jousting matches, ghost tours, and there’s a haunted house in the castle dungeon. And you can see the world’s largest trebuchet. Okay, so the whole thing is kind of a hokey amusement park more than a historic castle and definitely for kids. . . no wonder I want to go!