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Opinion Requested on Southeast Castles in Order of Personal Preference

Opinion Requested on Southeast Castles in Order of Personal Preference

Jun 19th, 2013, 02:08 PM
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Opinion Requested on Southeast Castles in Order of Personal Preference

I know each one has a unique historical significance, but from a typical tourist standpoint, which ones did you find the most enjoyable? Please list them in order from most favorite to least favorite and explain why. Curious if the opinions will vary or have a lot of similarities among different people.

Arundel Castle
Hever Castle
Dover Castle
Leeds Castle--(from previous poster replies I think I know where this one will land but I will leave it in the mix anyway).
Rochester Castle

I may be missing some but let's start with this list.
europeannovice is offline  
Jun 19th, 2013, 02:15 PM
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mmm - this question is harder to answer than it looks but here goes:

Arundel - went a long time ago - didn't make a huge impression.

Hever - we used to live about 20 mins away so we went quite a few times. Very interesting and terrific gardens.

Dover - never been [oh, the shame! and we lived in Kent for 15 years].

Leeds - if you strike it at the right time ie when the roses are out, it's superb. we had a tour of the interior which was moderately interesting, but it's the gardens and the setting which are most impressive.

Rochester - i used to go there to work ,but, well you've guessed haven't you, I never got to the castle.

why are you restricting yourself to castles? some of the most interesting places are more like stately homes - Penshurst, Chiddingstone, Knole, Chartwell - would all be on my list.
annhig is offline  
Jun 19th, 2013, 02:28 PM
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The stately homes and gardens are definitely on my list but I didn't want to mix everything in all at once so I limited this post to castles only. I should start one for stately homes too but let's see how the responses are for this one first. Chartwell is a definite for sure and so is Petworth and Ightham Mote.

When you live near something why is it you tend not to go see it. It happens so often. You know you can go there at any time but somehow don't manage to get there while others travel far to see it. Funny--isn't it? Unless you have relatives coming to visit you then sometimes you do get there along with them.
europeannovice is offline  
Jun 19th, 2013, 09:32 PM
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Why are you interested in castles? For most castleophiles, SE England is a pretty arid region to go castle-hunting.

In British English, the term is generally understood to mean a fortified building/barracks complex, actually designed and once used for military purposes. There are a handful of stately homes that have inherited the word "castle" from their ancestors, but have never had any military use.

Dover castle is the classic real castle. In one way or another, it's defended us (or failed to) from the foreign hordes we're surrounded by for not much short of 2,000 years. It's entirely about warfare (though, like any decent castle, it's got a proper chapel so fighters can be prepared for the next world and receive the Church's rites on their death). If castles are what you want, Wales is where they proliferate, but Dover's as good as you'll find in England.

Arundel is a hokey Victorian rebuild of a fortress that hardly even saw a pike wielded in anger, and whose owners scarcely set foot in it in the last 1,000 years. It's as devoid of history as it is of architectural or horticultural interest, and its attached cathedral was (quite unEnglishly) built all at once, in the 19th century to look like one of those French horrors, and is Catholic anyway. Unticks just about every box you can think of for being worth visiting.

Hever's a stately home with a moat, a few connections with Anne Boleyn and a wholly misleading name. It was built as a conventional house and ought to be prosecuted under the Trade Descriptions Act for passing itself off as a castle. As stately homes go, fine - and it's got nice gardens. But hasn't everyone?

Rochester's little more than a keep, surrounded by a huge wall. It defends (and often hasn't) a crucial strategic spot for stopping damn foreigners from occupying London and if you're interested in castle-ology, it's extremely well documented and very important indeed in the history of castle-building by English kings and their attendant clergy. If you're not, fuggedaboutit. No gardens, no romantic tales of ambitious young floozies, no minor Renoirs on the drawing room walls. Just several thousand tons of military architecture.

We've hammered Leeds Castle to death here. It was a real castle, it does look pretty from some angles, it does (like most of Britain's other houses) have a nice garden. As a location for a sales conference, outstanding. But as a place to visit, it's vacuous. It's an excellent example of a real fighting castle tastefully converted into a comfortable posh git's mansion for gracious peacetime living. But SE England is stuffed with nice mansions. Most of the others have got things worth looking at.
flanneruk is offline  
Jun 21st, 2013, 03:25 PM
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While we would love to tour Wales one day and see more of Scotland too, we are sticking with the South East England this time. We are eager to see the "castles" and stately homes in that region along with other things the region has to offer--Chatham Dockyards for one, Port Lympne maybe etc. etc.

We have seen the Tower of London, Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle, and Doune Castle (DH is a Monty Python fan) on previous trips.

Your descriptions of the properties above are exactly what I was looking for! Thanks so much. I do think we will try to see Dover, Hever and Rochester Castles along with other places and give Leeds and Arundel a miss this time.

Thanks too Annhig--don't want to leave you out.
europeannovice is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2013, 05:54 AM
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no probs, en.

one place that you may like which hasn't been mentioned much here, nor on Vicki's trip report thread is Penshurst Place, near Tonbridge/Tunbridge Wells - it is home to the Sydney/De L'Isle family. ancient house and lovely gardens in a very peaceful village setting with a great pub - what's not to like?

there used to be a great tea-shop too which was ideally placed 1/2 way between our house and Tunbridge Wells so it made a nice stop after a shopping trip.

going with the castle theme, there is also Scotney Castle, but it's really only a folly with a garden, though the garden is lovely.

and if you like rose gardens, Montisfont Abbey has a terrific one.

BTW all this comes with a "government health warning" in that I haven't seen these places for at least 15 years so you'll need to do your research to see if they accord with my recollections.
annhig is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2013, 06:08 AM
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Haven't been to ANY of them but have certainly enjoyed many so-called "stately homes" and on this thread I haven't read much that would tempt me to GO to any of them, either.
Dukey1 is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2013, 06:16 AM
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Bodiam Castle in West Sussex - see http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bodiam-castle/

A C14th castle in a lake. Ruined inside, but a perfect setting in beautiful countryside.
Grindeldoo is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2013, 04:20 PM
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Yes--I forgot to list Bodiam Castle but that is on my list as well.

Penshurst Place is not too far from Hever Castle so if time allows. That is the problem--so much to see and not enough time.

Annhig--Do you remember the name of the tea shop? Wonder if it is still there.

Also forgot to mention Walmer Castle and Deal Castle on my list above.

Per Janisj's suggestion on previous threads of mine we can combine Dover Castle with Deal and Walmer on the same day. However, if we do that and then keep Port Lympne for a separate day, I'm afraid we just won't have time for Scotney, Penshurst, Great Dixter etc. Something has got to give as the saying goes.

That is why I am asking about one vs. the other--if folks have a preference for one or two in particular then we would not want to miss those.
europeannovice is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2013, 04:33 PM
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Montisfont Abbey sounds great but how long do the roses last? I know they bloom in June mostly so do they last throughout the summer? Or only for a couple of week?
europeannovice is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2013, 04:39 PM
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Mottisfont--excuse the typo above.
europeannovice is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2013, 03:08 AM
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Annhig--Do you remember the name of the tea shop? Wonder if it is still there.>>

here we are:


you can't miss it - it's on the corner opposite Penshurst Place. open every day except Mondays. it used to do great teas, but I don't know if they use cornish clotted cream!

as for the roses, peak flowering will be some time in June [in a year like this one, late june] but many varieties are repeat flowering so there should be something to see for most of the summer.

annhig is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2013, 06:21 AM
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Thanks, annhig--I'll add this to my notes and hopefully we can get there.
europeannovice is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2013, 06:27 AM
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e'n - is that the teashop or the roses? [or both?]
annhig is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2013, 06:48 AM
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The thank you was for both.

We are not going this year but I am trying to do my homework for next year. Would love to go in June to see the roses but not sure if we can go then or later on in the summer due to scheduling. And if it is later then the roses will probably not be at their peak if at all. What does bloom in late summer? Are the gardens still worth seeing in late July/August?
europeannovice is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2013, 06:53 AM
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e'n - as i said above, the roses are somewhat weather and season dependent but somewhere like Mottisfont has lots of other attractions as well, so would still be worth visiting.

and most modern roses flower all summer long.
annhig is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2013, 07:21 AM
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good to know the roses flower all summer long.

Here they peak in June and fade away by July and then you have another batch that bloom in September.

Mottisfont looks great but it may be too far west for our trip. My problem right now is scaling back my list rather than adding more
europeannovice is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2013, 07:39 AM
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Don't miss Hever or Chartwell!
LeslieC is offline  

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