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Castles and more castles

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New Mexico
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Castles and more castles

I have found so much helpful information on the London Forum, I am hoping the travel experts here can give me some suggestions.

My husband and I are taking our daughters and their husbands to England at the end of April. Both of our sons-in-law know very little British history, but have been enthusiastic about doing all the things that the rest of us would like to do, such as side-trips to Bath and Brighton, Stonehenge and Avebury. Absolutely the only thing either of them have specifically requested is to visit, in their words, a "real castle".....I suspect one with dungeons and a few left over prisoners chained to the wall is what they really have in mind. Do you have any suggestions for castles that could be visited and enjoyed on a day trip from London? We had wondered if Leeds, Warwick or Dover would fit the bill, and how long it would take to get there and back. Any information or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Detroit, Michigan
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1. Re: Castles and more castles

Right in London, I would definitely plan on Tower of London. And, for guys, I would think Dover Castle would fit the bill more so than Leeds Castle and Warwick Castle. Although, Warwick Castle isn't a bad choice, I think Dover Castle is more a "guys" castle. Besides being a "real" castle, it also has the WWII Secret War Tunnels underneath it.

Edinburgh Castle is a really good one, but a bit far.

Redlands, California
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2. Re: Castles and more castles

Windsor Castle is a very quick trip out of London, also. The fact that it is still used as a residence of the queen is pretty cool, too. Another castle that is still used as a residence is Arundel Castle.

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3. Re: Castles and more castles

The Tower of London is the easiest and best - lots of death and mayhem, blood and guts. The 'Beefeaters'' tours are full of corpses and mutilations. The Tower doesn't have the Bloody Tower by accident.

Leeds Castle is lovely but now a US owned conference centre. Dover Castle majors on its World War II contribution and Warwick Castle is a theme park though a good one. Windsor Castle is a rather gentle royal residence (why did they build a castle under a flight path?).

How old are these boys?

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4. Re: Castles and more castles

Leeds, Warwick and Dover.

Yes, you've hit the right ones there.

With the new Javelin trains running in the South East, Dover Castle is now much quicker to get to than in the past. An impressive stronghold with views over the English Channel to France complete with miles of underground tunnels dating from the Napoleonic Wars to WWII. Downside is there isn't too much in the town. Leeds Castle is a bit prim and proper, a conference centre in many respects, lovely from the outside but a place for board meetings within. If you don't mind a two hour train journey from London Marylebone then I think Warwick Castle will be your best bet. A fortress with a dungeon full of prisoners chained to the wall, courtesy of Madame Tussauds, ghosts, jousting, battlements, torchure chamber, etc, the usual stuff!! Just what your sons in law would like.

Canterbury, United...
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5. Re: Castles and more castles

Dover Castle is great for medieval history, especially as King Henry II's chambers have just been sumptuously recreated plus the WW2 history of the tunnels. There is also a Roman lighthouse and Saxon church on the site too. Train from St Pancras to Dover Priory station takes about an hour.

Two fantastic ruined castles not to be dismissed are Rochester (about 40 mins from either St Pancras or Victoria stations) and Bodiam (bit difficult to get to by public transport).

More info on these 3 are on www.english-heritage.org.uk. English Heritage castles tend to have cheaper admission fees and more history than the more tourist-orientated ones already suggested but another good touristy one is Hever Castle.

Hampshire, United...
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6. Re: Castles and more castles

Being pedantic, would the Tower of London qualify as a 'real castle'? I think not, but would suggest it's a must-see for your sons-in-law. I don't think Leeds Castle would suit them, but agree with the suggestions of Dover Castle and surprisingly, Warwick Castle. Normally that's a castle we might recommend for families with young children, but because it's geared up for families, it is actually a lot of fun - and oh, it has a 'real' ghost tower (rolling of eyes, here) If you like actors jumping out at you, then it's fun. But they'll be able to try on helmets and the such like. Also, they have lots of special events going on eg falconry, sieges, rat-catchers, that sort of thing. Dover Castle is quite awesome, given it's set on the cliffs, and is a good, solid castle. Kind of a 'man's castle' if that makes sense! (Leeds castle and Hever Castle would be a 'woman's castle' as comparison)

BayB0y - Bodiam and Rochester crossed my mind too, but thought as they're mostly just ruins, rather than 'interactive' in the way Warwick and Dover are, I just have the feeling the OP's family might prefer the entertainment aspects laid on with the history of the other two castles.

Edited: 22 February 2010, 22:52
Auckland Region...
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7. Re: Castles and more castles

From a tourists point of view Warwick Castle is amazing to visit, going with your daughters and sons in law will make for a delightful fun day. There is so much to do there, for example trying archery, climbing to the tops of towers, putting on suits of armour and interactive displays and heaps more!!!

Windsor is my personal favourite, from a middle aged female point of view, but Warwick especially for the young men is worth the journey.


West London
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8. Re: Castles and more castles

Personally I'd prefer Warwick Castle over Dover Castle, partly because it was owned by a single family rather than the government so it seems more personal, somehow. It looks exactly what a castle should look like. If you can get there when any special events are going on, then so much the better.

Although for proper castles, you'd need to go to the World Heritage ones in north Wales, e.g. Caernarfon, Conwy, etc. But that couldn't be a day trip, so you'd have to stay for a night in Liverpool or Llandudno



If you look at the above photo of Conwy, you'll see that it's almost often deserted which makes it better.

And while in London, go for a meal and a drink at The Cittie of York pub, and imagine Robin Hood swinging from the rafters :-)


New Mexico
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9. Re: Castles and more castles

Thank you for all your responses! Yes, we had already planned on visiting the Tower, since I am the only one who has ever been there before, and that was many years ago. I am hoping that it will fill some of the blood and gore quotient for my sons-in-law. (One is in his mid-20's, the other is in his 30's !)

I'm afraid that we'll have to put some of the suggestions on our list to do at another time because of time constraints, so it is sounding to me as though Dover and Warwick would be the most likely options. henneth mentioned Javelin trains running to the South East: how would I go about finding information about those schedules? And how long would it take us to get to Warwick, and what would the train route look like? I appreciate any help.

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10. Re: Castles and more castles

As there are four of you don't forget to use the 2 for 1 entrance ticket offer to Dover Castle. Use the savings to pay for the more expensive fast train?