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Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle

Kent

Castles

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Of the 100 or so castles in England, more than 30 are in the South East due to the fact that historically this region of the UK has always been vulnerable to attack from foreign shores.

It is no surprise therefore, that castles in Kent and castles in Sussex dominate our guide as Kings and Queens throughout the ages turned South East England into the fortress of Britain, by 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.

10 best castles in southern England

  • Hastings Castle, East Sussex
    Famous for the Norman conquest of 1066.
  • Windsor Castle, Berkshire
    Official residence of HM The Queen & Britain's best loved castle.
  • Dover Castle, Kent
    One of Britain's most iconic fortresses & home to King Henry II.
  • Leeds Castle, Kent
    One of England's best preserved castles with 500 acres of parkland & gardens.
  • Guildford Castle, Surrey
    Recently improved access & panoramic views of the Guildford countryside.
  • Broughton Castle, Oxfordshire
    Dubbed the original medieval manor house, surrounded by a three acre moat.
  • Carisbrooke Castle, Isle of Wight
    Home to a stunning new Edwardian-style Princess Beatrice Garden.
  • Bodiam Castle, East Sussex
    Archetypal 14th century moated castle with ruined interior.
  • Arundel Castle, West Sussex
    Commanding location with magnificent South Downs views.
  • Hever Castle, Kent
    Romantic castle & childhood home of Anne Boleyn.

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 Sussex

The Redoubt Fortress in Eastbourne is a unique Georgian fortress built to keep Napoleon's armies out of Britain and was in operation during both world wars in the 20th Century. The moated Herstmonceux Castle near Hailsham embodies the history of medieval England and the romance of renaissance Europe.

Castles in Hampshire

The ruins of Odiham Castle date back to the signing of the Magna Carta while Southsea Castle was constructed under the reign of King Henry VIII. A more recent construction, Fort Nelson near Fareham is a superbly restored Victorian Fort with a display of more than 350 guns and daily gun salutes.

Castles in Kent

Henry VIII's chain of coastal defences also includes Walmer Castle while the river Medway into London has been stoutly defended over the years by the turreted Upnor Castle and the great keep of Rochester Castle, one of the UK's best preserved examples of Norman architecture.

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 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: 25

, currently showing 1 to 20.

  1. What's on this week at 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Southsea Castle

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Southsea, Portsmouth

    Built in 1544, Southsea Castle was part of a series of fortifications constructed by Henry VIII around England's coasts.

  4. 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.

  5. What's on this week at Bodiam Castle?

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Bodiam, Robertsbridge

    One of the most famous and evocative castles in Britain

  6. Windsor Castle

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Windsor

    Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world and the Official Residence of Her Majesty The Queen.

  7. Odiham Castle

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Hook

    Known locally as ‘King John’s Castle’, Odiham Castle is located within a tranquil site adjacent to the Basingstoke Canal.

  8. Rochester Castle

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Rochester

    One of the finest keeps in England. Also the tallest, partly built on the Roman city wall. Good views from the battlements over the River Medway.

  9. 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.

  10. Carisbrooke Castle

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Newport

    Visit Carisbrooke Castle and enjoy over 800 years of history!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. Redoubt Fortress & Military Museum

    Type

    Type:

    Museum

    Eastbourne

    An impressive Napoleonic circular brick fortress which provides the perfect home for the largest military museum in the South East.

  15. 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.

  16. Chiddingstone Castle

    Type

    Type:

    Historic House / Palace

    Edenbridge

    Chiddingstone Castle, whose history can be traced back to the early 16th Century, is a unique country house located in the historic village of Chiddingstone in Kent. 

  17. Yarmouth Castle

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Yarmouth

    A Tudor Castle in a beautiful seaside town.

  18. Gardens and Grounds of Herstmonceux Castle

    Type

    Type:

    Garden

    Hailsham

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

  19. Broughton Castle

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Banbury

    Broughton Castle is essentially a family home lived in by Lord and Lady Saye and Sele and their family. The original
    medieval manor house, of which much remains today, was built in about 1300 by Sir John de Broughton. It stands on an
    island site...

  20. Guildford Castle

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Guildford

    Guildford Castle features 2 model displays, and a viewing platform offering panoramic views of Guildford.

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