Which Castles to see?

Oct 16th, 2000, 07:23 AM
  #1  
melanie
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Which Castles to see?

If you were to recommend a castle in England or Wales, which would it be? Because of its history, architecture, atmosphere, something else?
We are travelling in September, have about a week to spend in the country, and generally don't like tourist-trap types of places.
 
Oct 16th, 2000, 07:37 AM
  #2  
Alana
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Melanie!

Go to Warwick Castle!! It's beautiful and out of the way! Hever Castle is also nice, out of the way, but small - this is where Anne Boleyn was born/raised! I love Windsor Castle and Hampton Court - but Warwick was my favorite. Not that big, but really great atmosphere.

I have never been to Wales.. sorry.
 
Oct 16th, 2000, 07:53 AM
  #3  
pat
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Melanie,
I admit that Warwick is nice, but if you have a car hired, don't leave Wales out. It has the most castles in the uk proportion to the population. Going to North Wales, you will feel that you are traveling aboard, from the language and culture. I recommend Conwy and Caernefon (check sp?). The latter one is great and splendid, and it was the place where Prince Charles became the Prince of Wales.
 
Oct 16th, 2000, 07:54 AM
  #4  
Dave
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Melanie,

My favorite non-touristy castle is Caerphilly, about 30mi north of Cardiff in Southern Wales. I believe this is the largest non-Royal castle in the UK. Regardless, it is very impressive, with multiple lines of defense, dual moats, and a vast array of fortifications. Don't expect fine tapestries and antique furniture, though.

There are many other castles in Wales that are in various states of repair, but in general are less-visited and less regulated than the most famous English castles. My second-favorite Welsh castle is Dolwyddelan, in the Conwy Valley of Snowdonia. Little more than a small stone keep, it is not easy to find but has wonderful views. I like it primarily for its historical significance. Unlike most famous castles in Wales, this one was not built by the English, but by a Welsh prince. The builder, Llewellyn Fawr (the Great) was said to have been born in the valley below.

A couple of great little English castles that are off the main routes are Castle Rising, north of King's Lynn (near The Wash) and Bodiam in the Southeast of England. Again, both are unrestored shells, but both are also very scenic.

I hope you don't plan to totally write off the touristy castles. I think the best-restored (and most visited) is Warwick, with its waxwork displays and real-life period characters. Windsor and Leeds are also impressive, but in my mind both share the crowds of Warwick, without quite matching the enjoyment.

Dave
 
Oct 16th, 2000, 08:00 AM
  #5  
Dave
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PS: If you do go to Warwick, arrive early. It is definitely NOT "out of the way". In fact, I believe it is one of the most visited sites outside of London. Crowds shouldn't be as bad in September as in mid-summer, but I visited in late May and it was definitely bustling.

Also, it's quite possible to visit Wales by rail/bus, although a rental car is useful. (I too recommend Conwy - the Castle is quite impressive and the town is even more so.)

Dave
 
Oct 16th, 2000, 10:23 AM
  #6  
lent
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I agree with the above suggestions and add Caltle Harlech in Wales. It's perched high, and has an intact village beside it. It was impressive.
 
Oct 16th, 2000, 01:36 PM
  #7  
Anastazia
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WARWICK is the oldest miedeval castle in England. And also, Leeds castle is the largest and england most exquisite
 
Oct 17th, 2000, 04:48 AM
  #8  
Dave
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Anastazia,

Not to flame, but are you sure of your facts? I don't have any dates at hand, but I strongly suspect that the White Tower (London) and Pevensey (and probably quite a few others) are both older than Warwick . Pevensey was originally a Roman Fort of the Saxon Shore which was converted into a Norman Castle by William the Conqueror almost as soon as he first landed. (I'm not including the many Motte-and-Bailey type castles which were built immediately after the conquest, since you might not consider those "medieval"). Warwick was arguably one of the most influential of medieval English Castles, but I don't think it's the oldest.

I visited Leeds Castle three years ago and, unless there have been significant additions to the fortifications since then, it is not particularly large. Warwick, Dover, the Tower of London, and Carlisle are PROBABLY all larger.

This is of course not including Welsh and Scottish castles, several of which are enormous.

Dave
 
Oct 17th, 2000, 05:10 AM
  #9  
Terry
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Melanie, I too am crazy for old castles. DO NOT MISS Warwick Castle!!One of the best I have ever seen, lots of atmosphere, Don't miss the Red Knight and the Rat Catcher. This is not a tourist trap castle (These folks look and act authentic) but since it is such a nice one has lots of visitors. There is also a tower ruin from around 1067AD or so. Great tours of the inside of the castle, altogether a memorable experience.

If you want to see what I consider to be the best and most complete castle ruins you must see Conway Castle in Wales. One of the few ruins you can walk thru and get a real feel for what it must have been like to live in one.

Finally, though not a castle, one of the most interesting sights I have seen is St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall, kind of a castle, palace, estate kind of place, surrounded by water when the tide is in, yet your able to walk to it when the tide is out. A great experience - Cornwall is probably my favorite area in England.

The above is based on a 1998 trip that my wife and I took. We drove for 18 days - Cornwall, Wales, The Cotswold's, stayed in Farmhouse B&Bs all the way.
Please feel free to email me if you have additional specific questions.

 
Oct 17th, 2000, 06:43 AM
  #10  
ann
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Leeds is a great castle but even more impressive is the setting. I took a photo of it reflected in the lake that is one of my all time favorite images.
 
Oct 17th, 2000, 09:19 PM
  #11  
steve
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Warwick castle is very impressive. It is a large castle with a lot to see.
I would also recommend that you visit at least one very small castle. I saw several in Scotland. The only one I have visited in England is Nunney Castle - not too far from Stonehenge. Very small, won't take long to see it, but it does give you a feel for what a more local castle was like
 
Oct 18th, 2000, 08:36 AM
  #12  
maggie
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Most castles in England and Wales are not lived in because they are in a ruined state (the old ones that is) but there is a lovely tiny casle in south Wales, not far from Cardiff called Penhow Castle, which although old, is still lived in to this day by one family. What is different about this castle is that it is totally intact (roof on etc) but not modernised, so you can stand in the main bedroom, for example and feel just how cold it was and the guide points out that the only way onto the battlements was through this bedroom! Visions of soldiers trouping through at all hours of the night! You don't see the family. They give you a sort of headset which you walk round with as a guide.
I don't think it's in the same league as the really famous castles, but it's charm lies in the fact that it is still lived in.
 
Oct 18th, 2000, 10:40 AM
  #13  
Mark
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Here's my vote for Warwick Castle and Leeds Castle. Warwick Castle has so many fascinating displays and Leeds Castle is absolutely beautiful and is in an incredible setting. At Leeds Castle, there are beautiful gardens and a delightful aviary. We visited both back in August of 2000 and loved both of them.
 
Oct 18th, 2000, 12:17 PM
  #14  
Dave
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Decide for yourself!

www.castles-of-britain.com
www.castlewales.com

Dave
 
Oct 19th, 2000, 08:12 AM
  #15  
Dick
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My wife and i stayed at Langley Castle. On the border between England and Scotland and very near Hadrian's wall. Built in 1350. The other castles mentioned in the replys are all good ideas, but this one is one of few that are available in which you can stay. It is fantastic. Check out there website. langleycastle.com. Let me know what you think by posting in this area.
 
Oct 20th, 2000, 05:17 AM
  #16  
Melanie
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Thanks to all for your replies. I appreciate the information.
 
Oct 20th, 2000, 05:28 AM
  #17  
William
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I agree with all of the above about Warwick, but I do like Leeds a lot as well. But, do not forget, you do not have to even leave London to see one of the neatest and oldest castles in all of England, and that is the Tower of London. Call me crazy, but every time I go to London, which is often, I always go to the Tower. I love it and always find it so interesting.
 
Oct 20th, 2000, 03:37 PM
  #18  
jodi
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I am no expert on castle visiting but having just returned from a wonderful two weeks in England where we saw several different castles I would have to say Sudely Castle north of Gloucester near the little village of Winchcombe was a favorite of mine. It had romantic and poignant overtones and the lunch we ate there was excellant as well. The garden was lovely and it even had ruins! One other favorite for entirely different reasons was Blenheim outside of Oxford. It was a wonderful trip and we are planning our return already.
 
Oct 20th, 2000, 05:50 PM
  #19  
Jeff
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In England, my favorite castle is definitely Windsor, but there are many that I'd recommend. In Wales, I recommend Conwy, Castle Coch, and Beaumaris.
 
Oct 20th, 2000, 05:58 PM
  #20  
kam
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The Welsh castles are not to be missed! I think my favorite was Raglan although many are larger and more impressive, it just struck something in me. We are planning to go to Northumberland next year and looking forward to seeing Alnwick, Bamburgh, Lindisfarne. There's a good book we bought in Wales called "Visit Britain's Castles". Each of them is slightly different and interesting in its own right.
 

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