English Castles

One feature of the English landscape is the number of old castles. Some of these go back a thousand years; others are more recent.

Barnard Castle - County DurhamIn the northern border regions and along the coastline these were mostly built as defensive fortresses, especially during centuries when there was a seemingly perpetual threat of war. At other times they were built more as statements of power and prestige. Some, once the strongholds of feudal baronies, gradually became business headquarters as well as homes for major landowning families, a kind of equivalent to the corporate headquarters found to day in the City of London.

Castles, like other historic houses, have thrived and declined and thrived again in line with cycles in the national economy over many centuries. Many ancient fortresses are nowadays little more than interesting ruined shells whilst others have been well preserved. Some are in private ownership whilst others are cared for by bodies such as the National Trust and English Heritage. A large proportion are open to visitors, often around the year although in some cases only at specified times. This can depend on other uses of the buildings either as private homes or as businesses such as hotels.

Bowes Castle, County Durham

February 9, 2013

Almost exactly a year ago I wrote a short piece here about Barnard Castle and the Bowes Museum. It occurred to me this morning that, although later last year I visited the nearby village of Bowes and took photos of its castle, I never put any of the the photographs on this Around-England site. So […]

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More Castles of the North [5]

August 15, 2012

Here is the next in our series on historic castles in the North of England. Scarborough Castle from the North Bay Today we have two Yorkshire castles and one in Cumbria sitting between the Lake District and the Eden Valley. Two are preserved ruins in the care of English Heritage while the third in the […]

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Newark on Trent – Castle and River

June 26, 2012

This past weekend I was in Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire. On Monday morning the weather was good enough to go out with the camera so here is a selection of my shots from the hour that I spent around the castle and the river. Newark Castle dates from the 12th century. It was built by the then […]

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Castles of England’s Northern Counties [4]

June 13, 2012

This is the fourth of my current series on the castles of Northern England, this time including one in Cumbria, two in Northumberland and one a bit further south in Lincolnshire – which I know many will say isn’t in the North, but it’s almost there! There are still quite a lot to come. One […]

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Castles of Northern England [3]

May 30, 2012

Here we are with our third fortnightly selection of castles in the North of England. This time they’re spread across four northern counties: Lancashire, North Yorkshire, County Durham and Northumberland. Three of them are still in use with well-preserved buildings while the fourth is largely a majestic ruin without a roof. Each is well worth […]

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Castles of the North (2)

May 16, 2012

Here is our second fortnightly selection of Northern English Castles. Enjoy touring them online, or even better put something in your diary for a real “in the flesh” visit. The picture to the left is of Brougham Castle by the River Eamont in Cumbria, just outside Penrith. This was one of several castles in Cumbria […]

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A Selection of Northern England’s Castles [1]

May 2, 2012

The North of England from coast to coast was once a dangerous place. These borderlands were fought over for centuries and wealthy local families as well powerful barons erected defensive houses, some of which became more like fortress palaces, to protect themselves and their people. Today many of these great structures are open for public […]

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Visit a Northern England Castle – A Mystery Tour

May 1, 2012

Looking for ideas for a day out? The northern half of England has many splendid castles. Here I’ve put together a set of twentyfour, each of which can provide a good day or half-day out. They are spread from north Lincolnshire upwards, and from coast to coast as far as the Scottish border. Some have […]

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Barnard Castle and the Bowes Museum

February 7, 2012

Last weekend we paid an unscheduled visit to Barnard Castle. Our normal pattern when driving over the A66 between Cumbria and County Durham has been to fly past at 60 to 70 miles per hour on the way to or from somewhere or other. This time, however, a glance at the fuel gauge said quite […]

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Some Places to Visit in the Lake District

October 28, 2011

[Updated from a 2008 post]In addition to the lakes themselves there is a wide variety of things to do in the Lake District. There are places to visit ranging from the literary connections of Dove Cottage at Grasmere (home of the poet William Wordsworth) to the practicalities (although also with artistic potential) of the pencil […]

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