Built in 1544, Southsea Castle was part of a series of fortifications constructed by Henry VIII around England's coasts to protect the country from invaders.  Free to visit in Portsmouth

Southsea Castle

Portsmouth, Hampshire

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From the weekend home of the British Royal Family to fully moated fairytale castles and battle scared ruins, there are over 50 castles to discover in South East England.   The South Coast has historically always been vulnerable from foreign attack so more than 30 of these protected and 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, 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. From winding staircases, secret tunnels, ramparts , ornate rooms, hideaways, knights, stories of Kings and Queens and more - dive into South East England's 185 million years of history.

10 best castles in southern England

  • Lewes Castle, East Sussex
    A Norman Castle built after the Battle of Hastings by supporters of William the Conqueror.
  • Leeds Castle, Kent
    One of England's best preserved castles with 500 acres of parkland & gardens.
  • Broughton Castle, Oxfordshire
    Dubbed the original medieval manor house, surrounded by a three acre moat.
  • 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.
  • Arundel Castle, West Sussex
    Commanding location with magnificent South Downs views.
  • Hever Castle, Kent
    Romantic castle & childhood home of Anne Boleyn.
  • 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.

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

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.  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

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, 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. 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.

  2. 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…

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Southsea Castle

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Southsea, Portsmouth

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

  9. 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.

  10. Yarmouth Castle

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Yarmouth

    A Tudor Castle in a beautiful seaside town.

  11. 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…

  12. 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…

  13. 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.

  14. Lewes Castle & Museum

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Lewes

    Climb the zig-zag steps of this 1000 year old Norman castle for stunning views of Sussex. in Barbican House Museum, explore the archeological history of Sussex and the changing exhibitions in the upper gallery.

  15. Carisbrooke Castle

    Type

    Type:

    Castle / Fort

    Newport

    Visit Carisbrooke Castle and enjoy over 800 years of history!

  16. 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.

  17. Hever Castle and Gardens

    Type

    Type:

    Historic House / Palace

    Edenbridge

    Childhood home of Anne Boleyn and later of Lord Astor.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.