My English memories: Castles & more is a blog post about my memories of visiting the castles and English Heritage and National Trust properties in England.
I’ve mentioned somewhere on the blog how I lived in England for a while after university. I was in one of those work experience programmes. During that time I tried punting in Cambridge and went on day trips to Ipswich and Norwich and Ely. I went on a rollercoaster ride at Alton Towers too. My best friend and I wandered around London as well. After I returned to Croatia I went back to England frequently in the next two years. During those subsequent visits I got to explore Oxford, Bath, Lavenham, Southwold and Aldeburgh. I admired the prehistoric Stonehenge as well. Later, I just visited London regularly.
So, here are the castles and the manor houses that I’ve visited in England more than a decade ago. I’m sure that some things have changed since then so I’ve included links for all relevant information below each of these places.
Framlingham Castle was the first English castle that I’ve visited after the Tower of London. It was a warm, sunny day in October and we were among the first visitors that day. We walked on this castle’s walls dating from 13 th century with our audio guides listening to interesting facts. Little did we know, that one day a singer from this part of England would refer to it in his song Castle on the hill. After our visit we went down to the beach in Southwold.
(English Heritage property. For important info such as ticket price, opening times… click here)
Audley End is a grand Victorian mansion. We visited it on a rainy day in April many years ago. I bought tickets for a guided tour of the mansion. Unfortunately, photographing inside wasn’t allowed so I don’t have any photo memories of the spectacular rooms and ceilings. What impressed me too where the side rooms, kitchen, laundry and dairy with all appliances and pots and even staff like in the olden days. Bad weather prevented us from enjoying thoroughly the grounds and the tea room was also closed.
(Also English Heritage property. For more info click here)
Warwick castle is one of the most complete medieval castles in England. Visiting Warwick castle was a very different experience than all my previous and subsequent similar visits in England. Why? First of all, it was crowded. Secondly, it was just too touristy, I’d say. There were actors, costumed dolls representing castle inhabitants, shows for visitors, etc. I did enjoy the falconry show and coming up close to a peacock in the peacock gardens. Don’t get me wrong, Warwick castle is a great castle full of important history and I liked it but I also felt like I was at a theme park and not at a genuine castle.
(For more info click here)
Kenilworth Castle was once a great medieval fortress. It’s also famous for a love story between Elizabeth I and the former owner of the castle. Although there were also a lot of visitors like at Warwick castle and a mediaeval show (which we thoroughly enjoyed) I liked Kenilworth castle much more. Perhaps, a sandwich and a cake that we had at castle’s tea room in former stables helped or it was something intangible like a waft of historical love that still permeated the air.
(English Heritage property. For more info click here)
Anglesey abbey is a Jacobean style house with beautiful gardens and a watermill. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to explore the house because it was closed. We just wandered around its beautiful gardens. It was a rather peaceful autumn day and I enjoyed walking for over 2 hours. We also visited the working watermill on the grounds where you can buy some flour. I had cream tea with very delicious scones at the tea room and bought some trinkets at the souvenir shop.
(National Trust site. For more info click here)
Ickworth house is an Italianate palace near Bury St Edmunds. A part of it is a hotel. We decided to explore the gardens and have some tea and then to go inside. That was a mistake because we missed the last tour of the house. Nevertheless, I loved the walled garden and the grounds. I was surprised when we came across a small vineyard. I didn’t expect that there.
(National Trust property. For more info click here)
Orford castle is an unusual round fortress near Aldeburgh. I was so lucky to have visited it when it was snowing. It definitely looks extraordinary in the snow. We saw the exhibits inside the castle and climbed to the top to enjoy the sea view. Afterwards, we drove to Aldeburgh and Thorpness.
(English Heritage. For more info click here)
Which of these places have you visited? What were your impressions? If you haven’t been to these castles and mansions which one would you want to visit?
There are many beautiful castes in the UK and hopefully I’ll visit more in the future.
ps. all these places seem to be very expensive now. But you can get membership for English Heritage and National Trust and pay less for admissions.