A Journey Through Time: Exploring 10 Medieval Castles in England
By Oscar Davis
In the heart of England, where lush green landscapes meet ancient history, lies a trail to castles that takes travelers on a journey through time.
Armed with a passion for history and a desire to delve into the mystical world of knights and kings, I set off on an adventure last June to visit ten remarkable medieval castles scattered across the English countryside.
To get to England, I took the flag carrier, British Airways, which offered a nonstop flight from my home in Toronto.
Warwick Castle – A Fortress of Legends
My journey began at Warwick Castle, an impressive fortress that stands tall against the test of time.
As I stepped within its massive stone walls, I was instantly transported back to the medieval era. During a guided tour, I discovered the tales of valor and chivalry that once echoed within these walls, imagining knights in shining armor and brave damsels in distress. The castle’s towers offer breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, reminding me of the power and grandeur of its bygone inhabitants.
Tower of London – The Royal Guardian
Next on the list was the famous Tower of London, which has guarded the River Thames for centuries. Once a royal residence, it later became a prison and a place of executions. Within its chilling walls, the stories of Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey, and countless others come to life. It’s actually not one but many towers in a complex.
I walked through the White Tower, marveling at the Crown Jewels, and stood in awe of the historical artifacts displayed within the castle’s walls, bearing witness to England’s tumultuous past.
Dover Castle – The Key to England
Perched atop the white cliffs of Dover, Dover Castle holds the title of “The Key to England.” This strategic fortress protected the realm from invaders, offering breathtaking views of the English Channel.
Exploring the secret wartime tunnels within the cliffs, I got a glimpse of the bravery and resilience of the people during World War II, making me appreciate Dover Castle’s historical significance.
Bodiam Castle – A Fairytale Fortress
Nestled amidst the tranquil surroundings of East Sussex, Bodiam Castle is the epitome of a fairytale fortress. Surrounded by a picturesque moat, this castle exudes a dreamlike quality. As I crossed the drawbridge and entered its majestic courtyard, I felt like a character in a storybook.
The beauty of the castle’s well-preserved interior, complete with a medieval great hall and grand chambers, left me enchanted.
Alnwick Castle – Hogwarts in Reality
Alnwick Castle, famously known as the filming location for parts of the Harry Potter series, greeted me with a magical ambiance. As I wandered through the opulent State Rooms, and the sprawling gardens, and even took part in a broomstick flying lesson, I couldn’t help but feel a childlike excitement that only a place so rich in history and fantasy can evoke.
Caernarfon Castle – The Conqueror’s Fortress
Venturing into Wales, I arrived at Caernarfon Castle, a fortress built by Edward I to cement his conquest of Wales. The grandiosity of the castle’s architecture reflects the king’s ambition and desire to leave a lasting impression. The imposing Eagle Tower stands tall, overseeing the town below. The rugged landscape surrounding the castle serves as a reminder of the struggles faced by the Welsh during those tumultuous times.
Conwy Castle – A Stone Sentinel
A short distance away lies Conwy Castle, another of Edward I’s architectural marvels. Set against a stunning backdrop of Snowdonia, Conwy Castle boasts incredible views of the estuary. I climb the towers and walk the castle walls, imagining the knights who once patrolled these very ramparts, vigilant in their duty to protect the realm.
Hedingham Castle – The Normans’ Legacy
Hedingham Castle, tucked away in the Essex countryside, is a lesser-known gem with a rich history. Originally built by the Normans, the castle has witnessed centuries of change. As I explored its well-preserved keep and surrounding grounds, I was captivated by its simplicity and elegance, offering a unique glimpse into medieval life.
Durham Castle – A UNESCO Gem
The final stop on my journey brought me to Durham Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a striking example of Norman architecture. Connected to the Durham Cathedral via a charming courtyard, this castle served as a palace for the Prince-Bishops of Durham. The awe-inspiring Romanesque architecture and the captivating River Wear below combine to create a truly unforgettable experience.
As I concluded my journey through time, I was left with a profound appreciation for England’s medieval history and the architectural wonders that have withstood the test of time. Each castle to this day tells a unique story of bravery, ambition, and the resilience of the people who shaped the nation’s identity.
Oscar Davis is a freelance writer who now lives in Toronto, Canada.