English Civil War Battlefields and English Civil War Sites

If you’re looking to explore English Civil War battlefields and English Civil War sites and want to find the best places to view English Civil War history then you can explore our interactive map above or navigate further by using the links below.

There’s an initial selection of interesting English Civil War battlefields and English Civil War sites and you can plan some fantastic things to see on your trips. Once you’ve explored the list of English Civil War sites and selected those you wish to visit you can use our itinerary planner tool to plan your trip and then print off a free pocket guidebook. This indispensible holiday guide will help you make the most of your time exploring English Civil War sites.

Our database of English Civil War historic sites is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. Remember, if you know of other English Civil War battlefields and English Civil War sites, remains or ruins, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by visiting our upload page.

English Civil War: Site Index

Photo by Chris. P (cc)

Arundel Castle

Originally built in the 11th Century, Arundel Castle is the historic home of the Dukes of Norfolk. Besieged twice during the English Civil War, it is one of many interesting English Civil War battlefields.

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Arundel Castle is the historic home of the Dukes of Norfolk and has been occupied by their line for over 850 years. Amongst the dynasties to have inhabited Arundel Castle was the highly influential Howard family whose number included Catherine Howard, wife of Henry VIII.

The first structure on the Arundel Castle site was built in the 11th Century by the Normans after the invasion of William the Conqueror, with the earthworks and first buildings completed by 1070 AD. Work continued during the reign of King Henry II and further renovations were undertaken over the following centuries.

During the English Civil War, Arundel Castle was besieged twice - first by the Royalists who successfully captured the site and then by the Parliamentarians.

A significant restoration project took place in the latter half of the 19th century and this ensured that Arundel remained a property of some note.

Today, Arundel Castle sits amongst 40 acres of eye-catching grounds and gardens and is home to an impressive array of priceless artwork, furniture, sculptures and tapestries. The displays on site include possessions of Mary, Queen of Scots, as well as collections from the Duke of Norfolk.

There are also a number of special events hosted at Arundel Castle throughout the year, details of which can be seen on the official website.

Photo by lizjones112 (cc)

Ashby Castle

Ashby Castle was a Royalist stronghold during the English Civil War which was largely destroyed. The pretty ruins make it one of the most picturesque English Civil War sites.

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Ashby Castle or ‘Ashby de la Zouch’ is a twelfth century manor house turned castle, the ruins of which can be seen in Leicestershire. Originally constructed during Norman times, Ashby Castle was the property of the Zouch family until the end of the fourteenth century.

Expanded and renovated, Ashby Castle achieved the transition from a stately home to a castle in the fifteenth century, after which it was the site of several royal visits from the likes of Henry VII and Charles I. Amongst its additions during this time, Ashby Castle gained the imposing 24-metre high Hastings Tower, built by Lord Hastings.

The demise of Ashby Castle occurred following the English Civil War. During the war, the castle had served as a Royalist base, but in 1646 it was taken by the Parliamentarians and subsequently fell into disuse. Ashby Castle would later inspire Sir Walter Scott, who set certain jousting scenes from his nineteenth century novel Ivanhoe at the site.

Visitors to Ashby Castle can immerse themselves in the site’s history, from enjoying entertaining audio tours and exploring its sunken gardens to embarking on tours of its underground passageways.

Photo by brianac37 (cc)

Aston Hall

Aston Hall is an imposing Jacobean mansion house in Birmingham, which now operates as a museum.

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Aston Hall is an imposing Jacobean historic mansion house in Aston, Birmingham, which now operates as a museum.

Built between 1618 and 1635, it was designed by John Thorpe and was an active residence until the late 19th century when it was sold and fell into disuse before being restored and opened to the public in the 20th century. In 1643, during the English Civil War, Aston Hall was severely damaged after an attack by Parliamentary troops - with some of the damage still evident.

Today visitors to Aston Hall can view luxurious interiors from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, including the magnificent Long Gallery. The grand state rooms showcase the history of Aston and the role its former residents played in history - including the English Civil War - as well as the times when the Hall played host to royalty.

Photo by antmoose (cc)

Banqueting House

One of the most important English Civil War sites, Banqueting House in Whitehall is famous as the site of the execution of King Charles I.

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The Banqueting House in Whitehall, near Horseguards Parade, is the only complete building of the Palace of Whitehall to remain standing. The original Palace of Whitehall was acquired from Cardinal Wolsey by Henry VIII and was a royal residence until James I came to the throne in 1603.

The Banqueting House was built for state occasions and, after the installation of grand ceiling panels, the Banqueting House became a reception area for greeting foreign dignitaries.

On 30 January 1649, many spectators gathered to watch the beheading of King Charles I on the balcony of the Banqueting House. A service is held at the Banqueting House every year in January to commemorate this event and visitors can still see the scaffold stage on which the monarch died.

From 1654 until 1658, the Palace of Whitehall was the home of the revolutionary and statesman, Oliver Cromwell. After the restoration of King Charles II to the throne in 1660, the Palace of Whitehall once again became the royal residence and the Banqueting House once again was used for its original purpose.

In 1698, a huge fire burned Whitehall Palace to the ground. Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to convert the Banqueting House into a chapel to replace the one destroyed in the fire.

Visitors can tour Banqueting House and discover its history. An entry ticket includes an audio guide, available in a variety of languages.

Photo by hartjeff12 (cc)

Berkeley Castle

Berkeley Castle was originally built nearly 1,000 years ago, but since then has undergone a number of changes and has been the site of many interesting – and sometimes bloody – events.

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Berkeley Castle has been a feature of the Gloucestershire countryside since the 11th Century. Built by William FitzOsbern in 1067, it was one of many motte-and-bailey castles constructed by the Normans shortly after the Conquest of 1066. Before long it passed into the hands of the Berkeley family and was rebuilt by them in the 12th Century.

In its long history, the castle has witnessed a number of dramatic events. It was the centre of a controversy during a period of civil war in Britain and Normandy known as The Anarchy, when Roger de Berkeley was dispossessed for failing to ally himself with the House of Plantagenet. It was because of this that the castle passed to Robert Fitzharding in 1152, a wealthy burgess of Bristol and supporter of the Plantagenets who founded a new Berkeley line. His descendants still hold the castle now, making it the oldest castle in Britain to be lived in continually by the same family.

Two centuries later, Berkeley Castle was once again a site of intrigue. Early in 1327, Edward II had been deposed by his wife, Queen Isabella, and sent to the castle for imprisonment. On 21st September, Edward was reportedly murdered. No details are known, but popular stories tell a tale of a red hot poker or suffocation. Visitors can still see the cell where the deed is thought to have occurred and might even hear the echoes of Edward’s cries in the 11m-deep dungeon on the anniversary of the event.

Like many major strongholds in England, Berkeley Castle was also caught up in the English Civil War – the parliamentarians laid siege to the castle in 1645 and eventually captured it from the Royalist defenders.

Berkeley Castle’s sombre past can also been seen in the grand Great Hall. It was here that the last court jester in England, Dickie Pearce, died after falling from the Minstrels' gallery. In the adjoining chapel, visitors can see some of the more pleasant aspects of the castle, including painted wooden vaulted ceilings and an illustrated vellum book of Catholic chants.

A walk around the castle also reveals a number of tapestries and paintings by English and Dutch Masters. And outside, the castle has yet more to offer. Its beautiful Elizabethan gardens are home to Elizabeth I's bowling green and a pine that is thought to have originated from a tree at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, where the attempts of Charles Stuart to challenge Hanoverian power in Britain were halted.

Visitors can hear about the history of the castle in full on an hour-long tour that is included in the admission price, and may be treated to special events on bank holidays and during the school holidays. There is also a butterfly house within the grounds, entry to which is included in the ticket price.

Contributed by Siobhan Coskeran

Photo by Charles D P Miller (cc)

Bishop's Waltham Palace

The ruins of the medieval Bishop’s Waltham Palace can be seen in Hampshire. It was destroed during the English Civil War.

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Bishop's Waltham Palace is a medieval castle in Hampshire built in the 12th century, although the current picturesque ruins mostly date from the early 14th century works of the Bishop William Wykeham. In its time, Bishop's Waltham Palace acted as a residence for a series of the Bishops of Winchester and their clergy until it was destroyed during the English Civil War.

Today, the ground floor of Bishop's Waltham Palace is the location of the Bishop's Waltham Town Museum and the site is under the remit of English Heritage.

Photo by Philandthehounds (cc)

Bolsover Castle

Bolsover Castle was once the site of a medieval fortress before its replacement with an ornate 17th century manor house modelled on a small castle. Now run by English Heritage.

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Bolsover Castle near Chesterfield in Derbyshire contains the remains of a 17th century English mansion house, modelled on a medieval castle.

The site where Bolsover Castle now stands once contained a small fortification; however this was dismantled in 1612 by the landowner Charles Cavendish, who began a fresh construction on the site. The main development was intended to reflect a small medieval fortress, and became known as the ‘Little Castle’. Though Charles himself did not live to see the completion of this project, it was continued by his son William – said to be something of a playboy at the time – who completed the scheme along with additional buildings and an ornate riding house.

In 1634 Bolsover Castle hosted a visit by Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria and William continued to be a supporter of the King during the English Civil War. However, this support did not bode well for Bolsover Castle, which was captured and partially demolished by the Parliamentarians. William, who fled into exile during the war, returned in around 1660 and undertook repairs to the estate.

After William’s death Bolsover Castle did not take pride of place among the Cavendish estates and his successors failed to maintain much of the site. By the 19th century most of Bolsover Castle had fallen into ruin, though the Little Castle remained, used as a vicarage.

Today, visitors to Bolsover Castle can enjoy a number of interesting sites and activities, including the intricate decorations of the Little Castle and the fascinating riding house. Bolsover Castle also contains a number of audio visual displays and activities for children – in fact, there are a number of special events days at Bolsover, you can view a list on the official site. The castle grounds are also well worth seeing, offering great views of the local area and excellent picnicking opportunities!

Photo by Andrew Gatt (cc)

Broughton Castle

Situated on the border of Oxfordshire, Broughton Castle is surrounded by a three acre moat, and set amongst the scenic parkland of Broughton park.

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Broughton Castle in Oxfordshire is a medieval fortified manor house surrounded by a three acre moat and set amongst scenic parkland.

In actual fact, Broughton is more a fortified manor house than a castle, and has been the family seat of the Fiennes family (who hold the title Lord and Lady Saye and Sele) since the 14th century. The castle received its name from Sir John de Broughton, who built the castle around 1300AD. It was subsequently sold to Bishop Wykeham of Winchester in 1377 who ranked among Britain’s most powerful figures at the time. One of Wykeham’s descendants married into the Fiennes family, in whose hands the castle still rests today. The castle underwent a significant re-build in the second half of the 16th century, leaving us largely with the structure which can be seen today.

Among the most important historical events to occur at Broughton Castle took place during English Civil War when to the head of household, William Fiennes, was strongly opposed to Charles I. William refused to take the Oath of Allegiance to the King, and Broughton became a key meeting place for those set against him. William raised a regiment to fight during the Civil War, and he and his four sons all fought at the Battle of Edgehill. Following this clash, Broughton Castle fell under siege and was captured. Later in the conflict, William actually opposed the execution of Charles I, and stepped away from public office as a result of the execution, a fact which earned him a pardon from Charles II after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.

Today Broughton Castle is a mixture of beautiful parkland, striking buildings and the three streams which allowed the construction of a large moat.

The house itself is magnificent - the Great Hall has an impressive display of arms and armour from the English Civil War, as well as from the Fiennes family tree. The Oak Room is panelled, as the name suggests, with oak from floor to ceiling, whilst the Queen Ann room commemorates the visit of James I's wife, Queen Ann of Denmark, in 1604. The King's Chamber was used by James I and Edward VII. The oldest section of the castle is the dining room, and passageway. The passageways contain vaulted ceilings, and there is a staircase which leads to the rare 14th century chapel. The garden is also well worth a look, with its curiously designed box hedging.

Contributed by Chris Reid

Photo by Historvius

Broxmouth Park

One of the English Civil War battlefields in Scotland, Broxmouth Park is the site of the 1650 Battle of Dunbar, where Oliver Cromwell led his troops to victory over a Scottish Royalist army.

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Broxmouth Park is home to an historic Georgian mansion and is also the site of the Battle of Dunbar, fought in 1650, where Oliver Cromwell led his troops to victory over a Royalist Scottish army.

After the execution of Charles I in 1649, Scotland declared loyalty to his son, Charles II. The English dispatched an army to Scotland and, after weeks of manoeuvring and futile negotiations, the two sides met at Dunbar. Although initially in the stronger position, the Scottish redeployed their forces allowing Cromwell to take advantage of the tactical situation and engineer a Parliamentarian victory. It was claimed that as many as 3,000 Scots lost their lives, and many more died later as prisoners during forced marches and imprisonment.

Broxmouth Park also is the site where Sir WIlliam Douglas's gravestone lies after he was killed in the battle.

Broxmouth House itself was built for the Duke of Roxburghe in the late 18th century. Queen Victoria visited Broxmouth House in 1878 and planted a cedar tree in the grounds. She also had an iron staircase built at the back of Broxmouth House to look over the grounds, the site of the famous battle and Cromwell's Mount – from where the general directed his victory.

Photo by LHOON (cc)

Castle Keep

Castle Keep in Newcastle upon Tyne is one of the city’s most famous attractions and one of the best preserved Norman fortifications in the country.

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Castle Keep in Newcastle upon Tyne is a partially restored Norman fortification and one of the best preserved of its kind in Britain.

Built at a key strategic location, the site of Castle Keep has been occupied for almost 2,000 years with the Romans first fortifying the site in the mid-2nd century AD. Indeed the remains of this Roman fort, Pons Aelius, have been excavated and a few elements are visible close to Castle Keep. Following the fall of the Empire, the site came into use as an Anglo-Saxon Christian burial ground.

After the Norman invasion the site was refortified by Robert Curthose, eldest son of William the Conqueror. This fortification was called the ‘new’ castle upon the Tyne – later lending its name to the city which grew up around it.

The stone structure we see today was built by King Henry II in the late 12th century and was modified further over the next hundred years; in particular a barbican known as the ‘Black Gate’ was added to the in the reign of Henry III. However, by the 14th century the Castle Keep became largely militarily redundant due to the new, wider fortifications built around the town.

Though it was briefly refortified during the English Civil War - and was the last Royalist stronghold in the city – it would never again serve in a military capacity and was used as a prison for some time after. Restoration work during the 19th and 20th centuries returned much of the castle from a ruinous state and it now serves as a popular visitors attraction.

As well as exploring the Castle Keep – including the remains of the former prison chambers – visitors can get a great view of the surrounding area from the top of the fortification.

Photo by Robert Brook (cc)

Corfe Castle

Corfe Castle is the stunning ruin of a castle which has been everything from a royal residence to a military stronghold and even a prison.

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Corfe Castle is the stunning ruin of a castle which has been everything from a royal residence to a military stronghold and even a prison.

The current incarnation of Corfe Castle was built by William the Conqueror in around 1066, although even before this, the site was of great historical importance, Indeed, it is said that King Edward the Martyr was murdered here in a plot to position Ethelred "the Unready" as monarch.

Corfe Castle would be expanded and altered over the coming centuries, especially in the 12th to 13th centuries under King John. Not only did this monarch further fortify the castle, he also used it as a prison and even a home. Sold by Elizabeth I in 1572, Corfe Castle became the grand private home, first to Sir Christopher Hatton and which was bought by Sir John Bankes in 1635.

The demise of Corfe Castle and the cause of its current ruined state came with the English Civil War. Having survived one siege in 1643, it would fall to another only three years later, then being demolished by the Parliamentarians.

Today, Corfe Castle is open to the public under the remit of the National Trust.

Photo by brianac37 (cc)

Dudley Castle

Dudley Castle is a ruined Norman motte and bailey castle which is now open to visitors and also hosts the popular Dudley Zoo within its grounds.

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Dudley Castle is a ruined Norman motte and bailey castle which is now open to visitors and also hosts the popular Dudley Zoo within its grounds.

Originally built in the 11th century it was constructed by Ansculf de Picquigny, one of the followers of William the Conqueror. It was rebuilt over the centuries, particularly in the mid-16th century when under the ownership of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, and a key player in the politics of the time. Dudley was beheaded for his attempt to set Lady Jane Grey on the throne after the death of Edward VI.

Dudley’s son, Robert was a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I and the queen visited Dudley Castle in 1575.

The castle was held by the Royalists during the English Civil War and was besieged by Parliamentarian troops in 1644 and 1646 before it was surrendered on May 13, 1646. As with many Royalist strongholds of the time, the Parliamentarian forces later ordered the castle to be slighted, leaving much of the castle in ruins.

In 1750 a fire raged through the complex, finally gutting the once-magnificent palace. Never rebuilt, Dudley Castle became the picturesque ruin which we see today.

Today the castle forms part of Dudley Zoo and a visitors centre within the grounds contains more about the history of the site.

Edgehill Battlefield

Edgehill Battlefield was the location of the first major engagement of the English Civil War, which took place on 23rd October 1642 in Warwickshire, England.

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Edgehill Battlefield was the location of the first major engagement of the English Civil War and thus stands as the location of a crucial turning point in English history.

The battle itself came about after King Charles I and Parliament became locked in an increasingly dangerous political struggle for supremacy. By the summer of 1642 both sides were raising armies and Charles soon started to lead his forces towards London, in the hope of achieving a quick, decisive victory.

A Parliamentary army led by the Earl of Essex was sent to block the King, though both sides seemed to have little intelligence on the whereabouts of the other. Indeed, it was almost by accident that the two forces blundered into each other at Edge Hill in southern Warwickshire and the resulting battle was fought on 23rd October 1642, largely ending in a costly and bloody stalemate.

The clash which took place at Edgehill battlefield remains one of the largest and most significant battles of the English Civil War and was the first time the armies of Parliament and the King formally deployed opposite each other; it irretrievably signalled the start of a long and bloody conflict.

Since the 1940s, for decades the core of this battlefield had been inaccessible to the public, but a recent and major archaeological survey - being the first of its kind in England - has revealed evidence finally establishing the true locations for key actions and where the armies actually took their positions.

These modern insights now confirm that the local footpaths, rights of way, and permissive paths which are available to the public have a much closer relationship with the events of the day.

Visitors to the site can gain an understanding of the battlefield by walking a number of routes around the area, though most of the battlefield itself is either private agricultural land or under Ministry of Defence ownership. This means that much of the area is inaccessible to the public.

A dedicated website illustrates the new deployment positions and available rights of way across the battlefield and gives some useful suggestions for walking routes around the site.

Photo by pmorgan67 (cc)

Goodrich Castle

Goodrich Castle is a picturesque Norman ruin in Herefordshire that was the site of a bitter siege during the English Civil War. One of many scenic English Civil War sites.

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Goodrich Castle in Herefordshire is one of the most picturesque medieval ruins in the UK. Standing at the peak of a scenic woodland hilltop, this Norman fortification has attracted tourists to view its ethereal remains since the 18th century.

The first recorded structure to be built on the Goodrich Castle site was constructed in the late 11th century by an Anglo-Saxon thegn who retained his lands after the Norman Conquest. However, it is believed that the site may have been used as a fortification for far longer.

The original wooden structure was replaced by a stone fort in the mid-12th century and the living quarters and fortifications of Goodrich Castle were extended over the next 100 years.

Goodrich Castle is perhaps best known for the part it played during the English Civil War, when it became the focus of a bitter siege between Royalist and Parliamentarian forces. Occupied by a Royalist garrison at the start of the war, Goodrich Castle was used as a base for attacks on Parliamentarian positions in the local area.

As the war turned however, Parliamentarian forces targeted Goodrich and a siege began in 1646. After building trenches and utilising the famous ‘Roaring Meg’ mortar, the Parliamentarians began to wreak heavy damage upon Goodrich Castle and the defending garrison was forced to surrender.

After the war, although Goodrich Castle was not destroyed, it was intentionally damaged to ensure it could no longer serve as a stronghold.

By the late 18th century, Goodrich Castle was seen as a idyllic ruin and was therefore never fully restored.

Today the Goodrich Castle site is run by English Heritage and visitors can wander through the ruins and even see the infamous ‘Roaring Meg’ mortar, which was moved to the site by Herefordshire Council. An audio tour is available and the views from the castle are a must-see.

The visitor's centre also contains information about the history of Goodrich Castle and artefacts from the site. Various special events are also held at Goodrich throughout the year, check the official website for further information.

Photo by Dave602 (cc)

Helmsley Castle

Helmsley Castle was a 12th century castle in York and the site of a dramatic siege during the English Civil War.

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Helmsley Castle was a large medieval fortress and mansion, the ruins of which are located in the town of Helmsley, Yorkshire. Initially built as a timber construction by the influential baron and military man Walter l’Espec in 1120, it was converted to stone by his nephew, Robert de Roos and further expanded over the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

Today, the remains of Helmsley Castle rise out of Yorkshire’s dramatic landscape, seemingly on a wave of ditches and banks, which would have served to increase its defensive capabilities. In fact, Helmsley Castle managed to endure a massive attack by the Parliamentarians during the English Civil War. The Royalists held Helmsley for a staggering three months, and the castle only fell when their food and supplies ran dry.

Following the Parliamentarian occupation of Helmsley Castle, its new owner, Sir Thomas Fairfax, chose to give it to his daughter and thus the site was spared destruction. The only parts of the castle which were removed were its defensive structures.

Managed by English Heritage, who also renovated it, Helmsley Castle is now open to the public, who can enjoy its grandeur and learn about its history via audio guides and exhibitions. There are several Civil War displays, looking at the castles military history and featuring an original cannonball.

Photo by i_am_markh (cc)

Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth Castle is a former medieval stronghold and royal palace, most famed as the home of Elizabeth’s beloved Robert Dudley.

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Kenilworth Castle is a former medieval stronghold and royal palace, most famed as the home of Elizabeth’s beloved Robert Dudley.

It was King Henry I's treasurer, Geoffrey de Clinton, who built the vast Norman keep of Kenilworth Castle in the 1120s which can still be seen there today.

Kenilworth earned the status of royal castle over the coming centuries and underwent a series of changes, both under the remit of Henry II and under King John, who put into place greater fortifications from 1210 to 1215, solidifying its role as a stronghold. In fact, so impenetrable was Kenilworth Castle by this point that when it underwent a great 6-month siege by Henry III in 1266, its resident rebels only faltered when they ran out of food.

The transformation of Kenilworth Castle from castle to palace came in 14th century, when the Duke of Lancaster, John of Gaunt, made his mark on the site. Thus, Lancastrian kings and Tudors alike both enjoyed time there.

Yet, it was under Elizabeth I that Kenilworth Castle had its heyday. The property of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester from 1563, Kenilworth was something of a token of love in architecture. Dudley, who is renowned as the Queen’s one true love, made extensive changes to the castle to make it fit for his queen and her entourage, doing everything from refitting and remodelling to adding new buildings, all on a lavish scale.

Kenilworth Castle finally met its decline after the English Civil War. Having been under Parliamentarian rule since August 1642, it was condemned to ruin in 1649, if only to save on the costs of maintaining it. Now a magnificent ruin, Kenilworth Castle is open to the public and also offers beautifully recreated Elizabethan gardens.

Photo by Robbo-Man (cc)

Manorbier Castle

Described as the most pleasant spot in Wales, Manorbier is a well preserved medieval castle located on the Welsh coast in Pembrokeshire.

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Nestled in a tranquil spot amidst the Welsh Countryside, Manorbier Castle is a pretty, partially-ruined Norman fortification which overlooks the scenic coastline.

The notable 12th century author and one-time resident of Manorbier, Gerald of Wales, may have been biased when he described the castle as "the pleasantest spot in Wales" - it was his grandfather Odo de Barri who first built Manorbier in the 11th century - yet the well preserved and impressive ruins set amongst a beautiful landscape are well worth a visit.

Odo de Barri was a Norman knight, who was granted land in Wales, including Manorbier, as reward for his assistance in conquering Pembrokeshire. Odo initially built a structure out of earth and timber, but this was replaced by his descendants with the stone structure that remains to this day.

The castle was owned by the de Barri's until eventually ending up in the hands of the monarchy before Queen Elizabeth sold what she described as a "ruinous" castle in 1630. J.R. Cobb, who was a tenant at Manorbier in the late 19th century, was responsible for much of the restoration work. The castle has largely avoided conflict in its history, suffering just two minor assaults. Richard de Barri stormed the castle in 1327 to reclaim his property, and the Parliamentarians also seized the castle during the English Civil War.

Today, Manorbier Castle is located in a beautifully unspoilt corner of Wales and sits atop a hill overlooking the beach. The beauty of Manorbier and its surroundings provide a contrast with its past - as Manorbier under the de Barris would have played an important role in subjugating the Welsh population after the Norman conquest.

Manorbier Castle itself is a basic rectangular-shaped Norman fortress with imposing corner towers, in addition to an impressive gatehouse, attractive gardens and a huge barn. Today, visitors can explore various stairs, towers, rooms and battlements and even the dungeons and hidden passageways which lurk under the fortress. There are also a number of historical displays and life size waxwork figures on display.

Contributed by Chris Reid

Photo by Tim Green (cc)

Pontefract Castle

Originally a Norman structure, Pontefract castle played an increasingly important role in English Royal history for over 500 years. Today it lies in ruins but has much for visitors to enjoy, including its underground dungeons.

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Pontefract Castle was a key strategic military stronghold in Northern England which played a crucial role in many of the country’s most bitter conflicts for over five hundred years.

The land that now houses the remains of one of the most notorious castles in England was given to Ilbert de Lacy soon after the Norman Conquest of 1066AD. While not always finding themselves on the right side of the various power struggles of the period, the Lacy family by and large remained in residence at Pontefract, if sometimes as tenants of the King rather than owners.

During their tenure they continued to improve the castle, upgrading the original motte and bailey structure with a more permanent and larger military fortress which the famous king Edward I described as the “key to the north”.

One of the most infamous moments in Pontefract Castle’s history came in 1399, when Henry IV, a Lancastrian, used it to imprison and murder the deposed king Richard II. With the accession of the Lancastrians to the throne, Pontefract quickly began to hold a key position in the north of England, growing in size and importance whilst other castles nearby dwindled. Pontefract remained a Lancastrian stronghold during the Wars of the Roses.

Other notable events said to have taken place here include the surrender of the castle to the ‘Pilgrimage of Grace’ rebels – who rose up against Henry VIII – as well as being a setting for the infamous liaisons between Henry’s fifth queen, Catherine Howard, and Thomas Culpeper.

During the English Civil War it was the last Royalist fortress to surrender and underwent numerous sieges until Parliament, more specifically Oliver Cromwell, ordered its demolition following Charles I’s execution.

Pontefract has a history rife with famous prisoners – Richard II, James I of Scotland and Charles Duke of Orleans were all imprisoned at different times in one of the castle’s many dungeons. When Edward II crushed his opposition, Thomas of Lancaster was executed here, and throughout the Wars of the Roses many rebels were put to death at the site.

Today Pontefract Castle hold but a shadow of its former glory. Parts of the original motte and bailey wall can still be seen, as can remnants of the chapel. Unfortunately nothing remains of the Great Hall except the cellars underneath.

One of the most fascinating aspects for visitors are the so-called ‘Magazine Tours’ which take people underground to view the castle’s notorious cellars and dungeons, as well as the writing and names scratched onto the walls by the unfortunate prisoners.

Recent excavation at the castle has unearthed many English Civil War items, both domestic and military, from helmets and spurs to spoons and combs. They will eventually be house at the Pontefract Museum.

Contributed by Ros Gammie

Photo by Darren Shilson (cc)

Restormel Castle

Among the many medieval castles listed among the English Civil War sites, Restormel was a thirteenth century castle in Cornwall, the ruins of which are well preserved.

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Restormel Castle was a stone castle defended by a moat and located on a large mound overlooking Cornwall. Its historic ruins, which date back to the late 13th and early 14th century and may have been built by King Edmund, are made up of a dramatic circular stone keep. It is thought that an earlier castle, one originally constructed by Norman conquerors in the 11th century, once stood on the site of Restormel Castle and some aspects of this original castle still remain today.

Initially part of the Manor of Bodardle, Restormel would go on to be owned by Edward, The Black Prince, in the 14th century before it later fell into disuse. In 1644, Restormel Castle found a short reprieve from dereliction as a stronghold in the English Civil War. At this time, it was captured by the Royalist, Sir Richard Grenville.

Today, Restormel Castle is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall and is managed by English Heritage.

Photo by Peter Broster (cc)

Warwick Castle

Built by a king, the seat of a kingmaker and vital stronghold in the Wars of the Roses and the English Civil War, Warwick Castle has played an important role in British history.

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Built by a king, the seat of a kingmaker and vital stronghold in the Wars of the Roses and the English Civil War, Warwick Castle has played an important role in British history.

Saxon Origins
Before Warwick Castle’s existence, the site on which it sits was the location of a Saxon fort built by Alfred the Great’s daughter, Ethelfleda in 914AD. Its aim was as a defence from Danish invaders.

Construction and Change
It was in 1068 that the initial visage of Warwick Castle began to take shape, when its construction was ordered by King William I, better known as William the Conqueror. At this point, it was a wooden motte and bailey construct, eventually to be turned into a stone castle in the 13th century.

In fact, Warwick Castle would undergo centuries of change, some due to altering styles, but others for military reasons or due to necessity such as after a fire in 1871. For example, while its two vast eastern towers date to the 14th and 15th century renovations and the Great Hall to the 14th century much of the interior, such as the State Dining Room, was redone or created in the 18th century.

Vital Stronghold
A major part of what makes Warwick Castle truly exceptional is its story and those of the people and dynasties for which it formed a backdrop. For example, it was owned by the Earl of Warwick Richard Neville, a central character in the Wars of the Roses who history has named the Kingmaker.

It was also at Warwick Castle that Edward IV was held prisoner in 1469 and it was later held by future King Richard III, the Duke of Gloucester in the 1480s. In 1642, Warwick Castle also played its part in the English Civil War, withstanding a Royalist siege.

Warwick Castle Today

The seat of the Earls of Warwick until 1978, Warwick Castle then opened to the public and today offers a range of things to see and do. Visitors can tour the site and its grounds, learning about its history and enjoying its architecture. There are also often children’s activities. A full visit can last around 4-5 hours.

Photo by aurélien (cc)

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle is the oldest occupied castle in the world and the official home of the Queen. It served as a prison during the English Civil War.

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Windsor Castle is the oldest occupied castle in the world. Covering an area of approximately 13 acres, it contains a wide range of interesting features. These include the State Apartments, Queen Mary’s dolls house and the beautiful St George’s Chapel. It is also the burial place of ten monarchs, including Henry VIII and his beloved wife (the one who gave him a son), Jane Seymour.

The building of Windsor Castle began in the 1070s at the behest of William the Conqueror, with the intent that it was to guard the western approach to London. Since that time, the structure of Windsor Castle has been embellished by many of the monarchs of England and the UK. Notably, in the 1170s, Henry II (the first Plantagenet) rebuilt most of the castle in stone instead of wood, including the round tower and the upper ward, where most monarchs have had their private apartments since the 14th century.

In the mid-fourteenth century, Edward III, who had recently founded the Order of the Garter, built St George’s Hall at Windsor Castle for the use of the knights of this Order. A further addition, St George’s Chapel, was started by Edward IV, but was not finished until the time of Henry VIII. It is here that the ten British monarchs lie buried.

During the English Civil War, Windsor Castle served as a prison and it was to St George’s Chapel that the body of Charles I was brought for burial after his execution. Charles II and George IV (formerly the Prince Regent) made further contributions to the architecture of Windsor Castle in the 1650s and 1820s respectively.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert loved Windsor castle, and Prince Albert died there of typhoid in 1861. Queen Victoria built a mausoleum in the grounds of the castle, Frogmore, where Albert and later Victoria herself were buried.

In the Second World War, Windsor Castle became home to our present Queen, Elizabeth II, and her family, George VI, the (future) Queen Mother and Princess Margaret. It remains a favourite home of Queen Elizabeth, and she spends most of her weekends there. There was a huge fire at the castle in November 1992 which took 15 hours and one and half a million gallons of water to extinguish. It began in the Private Chapel and soon spread to affect approximately one fifth of the area of the castle. It took five years to restore the Castle, and it was finished by the end of 1997.

There are numerous exhibitions and tours at Windsor Castle. In fact, a typical visit can take up to three hours. This site features as one of our Top Ten UK Tourist Attractions.

Photo by By Neil T (cc)

York City Walls

The York City Walls are England’s most intact set of city walls and one of the city’s most popular attractions. They were damaged during the seige of York in the English Civil War.

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The York City Walls are England’s most complete set of city walls and one of the city’s most popular attractions. Made up of structures built at different times of the city’s history, resplendent with four main ornate stone gateways known as “bars” and 34 towers and offering a great way to see the historic sites of York, these walls are an integral part of the city.

Roman Times
The first incarnation of the York City Walls were originally established in 71 AD during Roman times, built to protect the 9th Legion from the locals. This leads some to call them the Roman City Walls, but very little of the Roman walls remain. One structure which can be found is the Multangular Tower, an imposing third century AD ten-sided stone tower located in the gardens of the York Museum.

Anglo Saxons and Vikings
The Romans left Britain in around 400 AD, ushering in the Anglo Saxon age, during which time the exact fate of the York City Walls is unknown. However, there are some records from the time when the Vikings captured York in 866 AD, showing that the walls still existed but were in a bad state of repair. It is thought that the Vikings added to and strengthened the walls, although this too is uncertain.

The Normans and up to the 16th century
Renovated, fortified and extended under the Normans, the York City Walls continued to be added to up to the sixteenth century. Their gateways or “bars” were also used from the mid-thirteenth century onwards as a way to control who came in and out of the city, even as types of medieval toll booths to levy entry fees for non-freemen bringing goods to market.

English Civil War
In 1644, during the English Civil War, the Parliamentarians laid siege to the York City Walls, trying to capture the city from the Royalists. On 16 July 1644, the city fell to the Parliamentarians, but only after severe clashes which caused damage to the walls.

Georgian Times
However, some of the greatest destruction caused to the York City Walls was not committed by act of war, but by administrative action. In the nineteenth century, it was found that the upkeep cost of York’s walls was very high, especially as they were in a bad state of repair. As a result it was decided to demolish parts of the walls.

Amongst other things, both Skeldergate Postern and Micklegate barbican were destroyed, despite the fact that Parliament had not given the requisite permission for this action. Reconstruction was later undertaken to repair many of the demolished sections.

Victorian Additions
The Victorians also made their mark on the York City Walls, adding, amongst other things a further bar (Victoria Bar) and the Robin Hood Tower.

Modern Times and the Gateways
Today, visitors can walk along the York City Walls, which run for some 2.5 miles and enclose the historic part of the city. The main gates to see are Bootham Bar, Monk Bar, Walmgate Bar and Micklegate Bar, all mostly constructed in the fourteenth century with later additions. Micklegate is the most important of the gates, and is the site where Richard, Duke of York was beheaded in 1461 and his head was displayed.