England has the most wonderful array of castles and stately homes for LTR guests to explore and a huge variety of architectural styles to marvel at. Many of the original castles were defensive fortifications and few of these survive. One such survivor, is Bamburgh Castle, on the coast of Northumberland which is a magnificent example.
The most famous English castles are probably those further south, with Windsor Castle being the one most people think of, especially as it can be spied from their aeroplane as they land at Heathrow. The Queen’s residence, which dates back to William the Conqueror is well worth a visit. Also worth a visit is the quite similar looking Warwick Castle, which overlooks the River Avon, although this has a more ‘Disney’ quality to it, which kids certainly love. There are castles situated on their own small islands like St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall or some with huge moats like Leeds Castle in Kent which dates back to 1119. Many castles, like the Duke of Norfolk’s Arundel Castle in West Sussex, were built in the medieval times but have been heavily restored and some like the Duke of Northumberland’s Alnwick Castle have been renovated and restored a number of times. Many have been damaged by fire over the centuries, including Windsor Castle only very recently. The lucky ones get returned to their former glory.
In later times, it became popular to build homes which really looked like houses but with a bit of castellation thrown in and some turrets added. They were then called castles, as this has a slightly grander sound to it than a house. Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire springs to mind. Some castles have amazing histories and were involved in Cromwellian battles and endless aristocratic intrigues, whilst others were built by newly ennobled men of trade who wanted to establish their place in society. Many castles have been made famous by their occupants marrying Royalty like Hever Castle, home of Anne Boleyn or Bolton Castle where Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisoned in 1568.
LTR does not have many English castles where guests can hire the whole castle for exclusive use as most are busy venues for events, weddings or open to the public. Belvoir Castle, the home of the Duke of Rutland is one property which is so huge it is possible for guests to stay there and not really be aware of other events going on. Although most, we consider not private enough for our guests to feel like they have the run of the estate or are truly ‘king of the castle’. However, we love to arrange private visits to these properties and luckily have a large number of wonderful country manor houses, where we can arrange fully staffed accommodation and a high level of privacy and service.
The setting of some English castles has been slightly spoilt by the development of the surrounding countryside but they are still fascinating to visit. Many are filled with glorious artwork and fabulous furniture collected by successive generations on their ‘grand tour’ of Europe. Some are gothic and filled with rather heavy wood panelling and carvings for my personal taste but others are surprisingly light, with huge windows, clever lighting and wonderful flag stone floors. Of course, heating has always been an issue and even an abundance of huge log fires doesn’t really provide adequate heating for modern needs but if you pick a warm spring day, they are still pretty magical. Nearly all castles are also surrounded by wonderful gardens, some designed by Capability Brown or Humphrey Repton. They need to be admired from afar and enjoyed in the context of hundreds of acres of parkland. Every visitor to England has seen Robin Hood movies and some of our castles still live up to one’s childhood dreams.
There are some magnificent stately homes which have been lovingly and meticulously restored to their former glory but with the addition of all the modern luxuries, our guests are looking for. We would be delighted to help find you the perfect English stately home to stay in, please just call or email us.
England is home to some of the most famous castles in the world. Why not have a read of our Ultimate Guide to Castles to see some of our favourites. Throughout the year, England plays host to world renown events and activities and whilst on your trip, we would recommend you try to take part in as many as possible. Some of our favourite luxury activities and events can be found here. If you haven’t booked anything yet, you could arrange your trip to coincide with one of these events and make your vacation truly memorable. If you’ve never been to England and would like to know more about the culture, take a read of our Guide to British Etiquette.