The UK is renowned for its historic castles and royal residences – the most iconic naturally being Buckingham Palace. This summer, if you’re interested in viewing some of these landmarks across 1066 Country, here are some of the most influential residences that will conjure up images of monarchs and noblemen.

Bodiam Castle

Way back in the late 1300s, Sir Edward Dallingridge returned from France and used his wealth to build the beautiful Bodiam Castle, situated in East Sussex in the Rother Valley. Dallingridge was promoted by King Richard II to the position of warden of London, and the castle became known for its magnificent parties and events attended by British aristocracy and high society. Today, the romantic ruins of this gorgeous castle give visitors a peek into life in the time of Chaucer, and allow us to imagine living in medieval times. 

Visitors can amble through the grounds and walk across the moat bridge to the gutted castle, before sitting down to a cup of tea and a light lunch at the tearoom onsite. This destination is popular during the summer months, especially over weekends, so booking ahead online is recommended.


Pevensey Castle

From even further back in history is Pevensey Castle, which used to be a Roman Saxon shore fort and was built in 290 AD. Though it’s not entirely clear why it was built originally, historians believe it served as a base for an ancient fleet called the Classis Anderidaensis, which defended the British coast against Saxon pirates. Others have suggested it was constructed to (unsuccessfully) hold back the imposition of Rome. After the Roman occupation it fell into ruin but was reinhabited in 1066 by the Normans, and was much later used as a World War Two fortress. 

What remains today are the massive outer walls, and segments of the keep, towers and chapel. The castle is a treasure trove relating colourful episodes from British history, with a complete dungeon as well as a museum with fascinating artefacts including ancient weapons, household items and jewellery from the noble families inhabiting the castle over the centuries. Visitors can also see catapults and canons from the Elizabethan era.

Hastings Castle

The enchanting ruins of Hastings Castle are what remains of a formidable fortress built after William of Normandy was crowned King. William the Conquerer ordered a prefabricated wooden castle, to be built on top of a mound surrounded by a courtyard, in Hastings in 1066. After the conquest, there were many of these wooden castles erected all over the country. After the Battle of Hastings was won, the castle was reformed in stone. The was fully dismantled in 1216 by King John, fearing French invasion, but it was restored again in 1225 under Edward II. 

Since then, the site has seen countless destructions, invasions and dissolutions. By 1591 the castle was owned by the Pelham family, but in 1951 it was sold to the Hastings Corporation for just £3,000.

Interested visitors can enjoy a condensed history of the site with their 20 minute audio tour, covering exciting highlights and fascinating details about how much the castle has changed over the centuries. From April to November, there are supersaver tickets available including Hastings castle and other attractions, making it an ideal choice for the family.

Herstmonceux Castle Estate

Dating from 1441, and built under order by Sir Roger Fiennes, this beautiful fairytale castle is the country’s oldest surviving brick building and used to be the largest private residence in England in the 15th century. Hersmontceux Castle boasts a moat, turrets, and towers on a 300 acre estate with formal gardens and a surrounding woodland.

There are occasionally group talks and tours in the ballroom, and the site hosts annual medieval events. In the meantime, families can enjoy the children’s play area, Georgian-style folly, gardens and rope maze – and the area is dog friendly, too.

History buffs and enthusiasts are spoiled for choice when it comes to exploring the historical residences with ties to the British monarchy. People of all ages can spend a day enjoying these monuments and the preserved treasures they hold from a bygone era. By exploring the many different royal residences from years past, one also learns a little about the rich and varied history of the country itself, and a fresh perspective on the past.

Text by Charlotte Murphy. 

Bodiam Castle,
National Holidays, A Glimpse into Royal Life: The Family's Favourite Castles,
Hasting Castle,
Pevensey Castle,
Herstmonceux Castle,


1066 Battle Abbey and Battlefield
Abbey / Priory
Battle Abbey viewed from Abbey Green

Visit the site of one of the most famous battles in England's history – the 1066 Battle of Hastings, and discover the fascinating story of events behind that historic date.

Bodiam Castle
Castle / Fort
Bodiam Castle reflected in moat, East Sussex ©National Trust Images Chris Lacey

Bodiam is one of Britain’s most picturesque castles in the heart of a historic landscape. As was Sir Edward Dallingridge’s vision when he built the castle in 1385, the approach to the castle with towers rising majestically from the moat is awe inspiring. With spiral stairs, battlements, windows for loosing arrows and ruins where knights once roamed, Bodiam is a place where you can let your imagination run free.

Herstmonceux Castle Estate
Bridge, moat and gardens at Herstmonceux Castle.

The oldest brick building of note still standing in the country, Herstmonceux Castle was also once the largest private home in fifteenth century England. Today, the majestic, moated castle is the centrepiece of a beautiful 300 acre estate.

Hastings Castle & 1066 Story
Castle / Fort
View of Hastings Castle 1066

Take a step back in time and discover the fascinating history of Britain’s first Norman castle.

Pevensey Castle
Historic Site
Pevensey Castle in East Sussex

Walk the massive outer walls and gatehouse of one of the Romans' Saxon shore forts, within which the Normans built another oval-shaped castle, now ruined. Parts of the towers, keep and chapel remain and Elizabethan catapult balls and cannon can also be seen.