Visit a famous castle like Dover Castle in Kent

Dover Castle

White Cliffs Country, Kent

Castles

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Dive into England's history with a visit to a famous castle, see what life was like and how they protected the UK's shores.  Walk the historic walls, enjoy the drama of the medieval joust, the grace and beauty of the birds of prey and the mystic and magic of the historic stories.  From the weekend home of the British Royal Family to fully moated fairy tale castles and battle scared ruins, there are over 50 castles to discover in South East England. 

The South Coast has historically always been vulnerable to foreign attack so more than 30 of the region's castles defended the UK's shores.  It is no surprise therefore, that castles in Kent and castles in Sussex dominate our royal connections guide as Kings and Queens throughout the ages turned South East England into the fortress of Britain.  Building some of the most impressive, imposing and famous castles in England. Built to last, the castles make fascinating places to visit and the South East has them in abundance. Explore the winding staircases, secret tunnels, ramparts, ornate rooms, castle keeps, and discover the stories of Kings and Queens - dive into South East England's 185 million years of history.

10 Best Castles in Southern England

  • Windsor Castle, Berkshire
    The most famous castle in England, official residence of the late HM Queen Elizabeth II and one of the oldest castles in England.
  • Dover Castle, Kent
    One of Britain's most iconic fortresses, home to King Henry II, set on the famous white cliffs.
  • Bodiam Castle, East Sussex
    Set in the heart of an historic landscape, with spiral staircases, battlements and a portcullis, 14th century Bodiam Castle is one of Britain's most picturesque and romantic ancient monuments.
  • Leeds Castle, Kent
    One of England's best-preserved castles with 500 acres of parkland & gardens, dressed in all its 1930 glamour.
  • Carisbrooke Castle, Isle of Wight
    Famous for its donkeys and as a royal prison to Charles I and now the location of the stunning new Edwardian-style Princess Beatrice Garden.
  • Oxford Castle & Prison, Oxford
    Discover 1,000 years of history and the fascinating stories of those that spend their time here.
  • Herstmonceux Castle, East Sussex
    Embodies the history of medieval England and the romance of renaissance Europe.
  • Hever Castle, Kent
    Romantic castle & childhood home of Anne Boleyn.
  • Shoreham Fort, West Sussex
    A prototype fortification built in 1857 and is now the last fort of its kind.
  • Portchester Castle, Hampshire
    Portchester Castle is both a fortification and a residence of kings

South Coast Castles

The south coast has historically been Great Britain's first line of defence against attack and military invasion so there are many more to explore beyond out top ten guide.

Castles in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight

Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are littered with castles that once defended the UK shores, including Yarmouth Castle, the first Arrow Head castle in Britain, Southsea Castle which is free to visit from April to October, Porchester Castle a Roman fortress, a Norman stronghold, with its own castle keep that was used as a prisoner of war camp during the Napoleonic Wars.  Like many of the castles in South East England, Carisbrook Castle has had a varied life and today brings its history to life with its legendary jousts, ghost tours, birds of prey shows and added value story-telling and trails over the school holidays.  Fort Nelson near Fareham, is a superbly restored Victorian Fort with a display of more than 350 guns and daily gun salutes.  Don't forget that the famous 'Great Hall' in Winchester is all that remains of Winchester Castle, one of the finest surviving aisled halls of the 13th century now containing the greatest symbol of medieval mythology, King Arthur’s Round Table.

Castles in Kent and Sussex

Follow in the footsteps of William the Conqueror with a visit to Battle of Hasting's Abbey and Battlefield and Pevensey Castle.  Explore the eight acres of award-winning gardens at Walmer Castle, which was built during Henry VIII reign, a great all-weather day out.  The iconic Dover Castle allows you to dive into over 2000 years of history, with Operation Dynamo a new immersive exhibition in the secret wartime tunnels, the chance to experience the royal court of King Henry II and explore the atmospheric Underground Hospital. 

Don't forget you can grab those walking boots and head out along all or part of the 31-mile 1066 country walk which is marked by 10 bespoke sculptures along the way and includes other castles along the way.

Castles to visit near me

Whether you live in South East England or are visiting from elsewhere in the UK or abroad, find which castles are near you by using the 'map view' button below. Many of our featured castles double up as wedding venues, offer the chance for a night away and have a selection of seasonal events suitable for all the family, dispelling the myth that castles aren't fun places to visit for kids too!

Number of results:

Number of results: 24

, currently showing 1 to 20.

  1. Southsea Castle

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Southsea, Portsmouth

    Visit Henry VIII's Southsea Castle, right along the water's edge.

  2. Carisbrooke Castle

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Newport

    Visit Carisbrooke Castle and enjoy over 800 years of history!

  3. Highcliffe Castle

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Christchurch

    Highcliffe Castle is a Grade I listed mansion built in the romantic gothic style. It was built by Lord Stuart de Rothesay in the early 1830s and remained a family home until the 1950s. It is situated on the cliff top with beach access and…

  4. Bodiam Castle

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Bodiam, Robertsbridge

    One of the most famous and evocative castles in Britain

  5. Yarmouth Castle

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Yarmouth

    A Tudor Castle in a beautiful seaside town.

  6. Arundel Castle & Gardens

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Arundel

    The towering stately home and fortified castle in the heart of Sussex by the Sea! Open April to October, Tuesdays to Sundays inclusive, Bank Holiday Mondays and August Mondays.

  7. Upnor Castle

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Rochester

    This attractive, turreted castle is set in a picturesque village area that is backed by rolling, wooded hills. The castle is fronted by a water bastion jutting out into the River Medway.

  8. Shoreham Fort

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    SHOREHAM-BY-SEA

    Shoreham Fort built in 1857 is now the last of its kind and definitely worth a visit on event and open days

  9. Walmer Castle & Gardens

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Deal

    This castle was built in 1540 as part of Henry Vlll's chain of coastal defences. See the Duke of Wellington's room, the reception rooms and magnificent commemorative gardens of HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

  10. Royal Armouries - Fort Nelson

    Type

    Type:

    Historic Site

    Fareham

    Fort Nelson is a superbly restored Victorian fort overlooking Portsmouth Harbour. It is home to the Royal Armouries national artillery collection with over 350 historic guns on display.

  11. Hastings Castle & 1066 Story

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Hastings

    Fragmentary remains of Norman Castle built on West Hill after William the Conqueror's victory at the Battle of Hastings. 1066 Story interpretation centre in siege tent.

  12. Deal Castle

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Deal

    Deal Castle is one of the finest artillery works in England; this fortress once carried 119 guns. Now in the care of English Heritage, this castle offers exciting battlements, dark passages and a huge basement to explore.

  13. Leeds Castle

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Maidstone

    Set in 500 acres of beautiful parkland, Leeds Castle is the perfect backdrop to your day out. The historic castle, glorious gardens, attractions and programme of events awaits visitors.

  14. New Tavern Fort

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Gravesend

    An 18th-20thC fort with guns and emplacements overlooking the River Thames. The underground magazines have exhibitions on World War II and the aerial bombing of Gravesend.

  15. Tonbridge Castle

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Tonbridge

    Open all year, Mon-Sat 9am-4pm, Sun/BH 10.30am-4pm. Closed Christmas & New Year. Last tour one hour before closing time. Grounds open daily, free of charge, 8am-dusk. Adults £5.00, concessions £3.00, Family £13.50.

  16. Windsor Castle

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Windsor

    Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world, the family home of 39 British kings and queens for almost 1,000 years, and is today one of the official residences of Her Majesty The Queen.

    Open to visitors throughout the…

  17. Portchester Castle

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Portchester

    A Roman-Saxon shore fort with Norman additions. A near-perfect keep and Norman church within the walls.

  18. Herstmonceux Castle Estate

    Type

    Type:

    Garden

    Hailsham

    Herstmonceux is renowned for its magnificent moated castle, set in 550 acres of glorious parkland and superb Elizabethan gardens.

  19. Dover Castle

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Dover

    Discover 2000 years of history at Dover Castle! Step inside the Great Tower and immerse yourself in the medieval world and royal court of King Henry ll. Travel deep inside the White Cliffs and tour the Underground Hospital.

  20. Visit Arundel

    Type

    Type:

    Countryside, Parks & Gardens

    Arundel

    Arundel captures the essence of heritage, urban chic and country pursuits, all within a stone’s throw of London. Experience our market town and you will discover more than you’d expect.