I love castles.
Big ones, small ones....any size. The very word 'castle' conjures up images of knights in armour, damsels in distress, the age of chivalry etc.
Some castles (Edinburgh, Warwick, Windsor etc.) are huge and spectacular. They offer so much to the tourist. Often a whole day can be spent exploring them, and learning about their history.
Sometimes though, it is the smaller ones, even those in ruins, that seem to hold the most magical atmosphere.
I hope some of the following pictures will encourage you to explore the world of days gone by..........
This is Tintagel in Cornwall. Once the legendary home of King Arthur, in reality a castle belonging to King Mark of Cornwall, from roughly the same period.
OK, not so much to see, but the views from where it perches on its' rocky outcrop, are spectacular
Another ruin, this time Corfe Castle in Dorset
Some castles, of course, are not that old. The Victorians had a great penchant for gothic castles. Hence Durleston, also in Dorset
Whilst we're in Dorset - this is one of my favourites. Lulworth Castle. It suffered a huge fire in the early 20th. Century, when it was completely gutted. Since then, it has been reroofed and had new windows put in, but the interior has been left as a shell. This has resulted in a fascinating insight into how people lived. Because the fire started in the underground kitchens and spread upwards, you can see how the castle was built at the lower levels, right up to the 20th. Century decor at the top.
Caerphilly Castle is the second largest castle in the UK, after Windsor. The Walls are impressive beyond belief, and the whole is surrounded by huge lakes.
Also in Wales, Raglan Castle
Germany, and in particular, the Rhine Valley is full of the most wonderful fairy-tale castles. I'll ignore Neuschwanstein in Bavaria, because everybody knows that one. This is Drachenfels
Back to England, and my home county of Kent. Hever Castle was the home of Anne Boleyn, and is a truly marvellous vision.
It is surrounded by a 'medieval' village, that is entirely a 20th. Century creation, but does nothing to detract from the beauty of the setting.
Of course, probably one of the most famous castles in the world, is the Tower of London. Anyone for a beheading?
If you want remote and spectacular, then there is nowhere that fits that description more than Bamburgh, on the north east coast of Nortumberland. This is another castle with Arthurian connections, said to be the site of Sir Lancelot's Joyeuse Garde.
Probably the most photographed castle in the UK is this next one. Eilean Donan in Scotland.
Nevertheless, the most famous castle in Scotland is Edinburgh
Again, closer to home - in Sussex, this is Arundel. Aa well as being impressive on the outside, the library is one of the most remarkable rooms I've ever found in a castle. I'll let you discover it for yourselves though.
Now to Chepstow, Monmouthshire. It's built in a loop of the River Wye, right in the centre of Chepstow town. It's easy to see how the little town grew organically at the foot of the massive walls.
Also in Wales, is Penrhyn. This is another of those Victorian Gothic fake castles - a little more authentic looking than some
Back to England, and Warwick Castle. Rightly so, this has won many awards for being the best historical tourist attraction in the country. This one really does take all day. There's just so much to see and do.
Back to Wales, and little Skenfrith Castle. This is just a tiny ruin, set amidst half a dozen little cottages in the middle of nowhere. It's free to get in, because, basically, there's nothing to see. But oh, the atmosephere........
I've been to many more castles, this is just a sample. I hope it serves to whet your appetite.
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