England’s best hidden castles to visit from ancient ruins to haunted royal home

The coronation of King Charles III is set to take place this weekend and plenty of Brits are bound to be feeling royally excited. Many will have booked days off work which, combined with the Bank Holiday, means a long stretch of free time to spend as you like.

Some Brits will head down to London to watch the procession and all its pomp and circumstance at Westminster Abbey.

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Others would prefer to avoid the crowds, but still celebrate like a King or Queen.

If you're feeling inspired, you could get a touch of the royal treatment with a trip to some of the UK's most gorgeous castles and palaces – and we're not just talking about the world-famous landmarks like Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle.

In fact, digital marketing agency Tank has revealed the best hidden gems amongst England’s castles to visit over bank holiday weekend.

You can drive over to the historical monuments to walk in the shoes of past royalty.

We’d also recommend packing a picnic stuffed with Victoria sponge cake, coronation chicken sandwiches and even Queen Mother’s chocolate cake to celebrate in the gardens or surrounding countryside.

Hever Castle in Kent was crowned as the biggest hidden gem amongst English castles.

This stunning 14th Century castle was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn and so is perfect for history buffs (or fans of theatre show Six).

It’s stuffed with incredible panelled furniture, tapestries, antiques and Tudor portraits – plus it has two books owned by Anne bearing her signature.

The castle was restored in the 20th Century so is pristine, and perfect for kids as it has a moat and crenellations. Oh, and it’s said to be haunted!

There are also large, landscaped gardens and on the Kings Coronation children are invited to decorate a crown or shield and get their faces painted.

A gun salute will also fire at 2.30pm on May 6.

Arundel Castle in West Sussex came in second place – Arundel dates back to 1067 and the Normans, but was restored in the 1870s and 90s in the gorgeous Victorian Gothic style.

The castle contains rare paintings, tapestries and furniture – and it looks straight out of a fairy tale with its long outdoor walkways, old wood doors and drawings and great hall.

Plus there are capes and shields for children to get all dressed up in.

Bewcastle Castle in Cumbria completed the top three.

This incredible ruin differs from the top two castles because it is no longer in use.

Newcastle was built at the border of England after being annexed from Scotland and adapted from a Roman fort after 1066.

In 1173 it was destroyed and the visible remains you can visit were rebuilt in 1361. The castle remains a fascinating piece of English history.

The top 10 hidden gems of English castles:

  1. Hever Castle, Edenbridge, Kent
  2. Arundel Castle, Arundel, West Sussex
  3. Bewcastle Castle, Bewcastle, Cumbria
  4. 9Berkeley Castle, Berkeley, Gloucestershire
  5. Elsdon Castle, Elsdon, Northumberland
  6. Goodrich Castle, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire
  7. Walmer Castle, Deal, Kent
  8. Old Wardour Castle, Tisbury, Wiltshire
  9. Raby Castle, Darlington, County Durham
  10. Leeds Castle, Maidstone, Kent

Elizabeth Rhodes, founding director of Swain Architecture, said: "Castles always bring various stages of history to life.

"Almost all have been changed or added to at various times, which gives them differing styles of architecture across the same building or the same site, as their purpose and fate evolved.

"The most famous castles are often busy on bank holiday weekends but, by deliberately seeking out ones that most people are unaware of, you then have a chance to explore them properly and soak up their history.”

The castles in the list range from perfectly intact buildings to ruins – so do your research and choose the one that most suits your weekend first.

Many are owned by organisations like English Heritage or the National Trust while others are private homes that the public can visit so they may incur a charge or you might need membership.

We'd advise checking the castle's website before you do to see.

Others are completely free and accessible to everyone.

Tank’s founder and director Trevor Palmer, adds:"As an agency, we’re fascinated by heritage and old buildings in particular, the history behind them and their architectural details.

"The coronation weekend is the perfect time to visit those that are less well-known, as well as the usual choices."


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