Castles have a long history in England. Defensive hill-forts were common in the time of the Celts then later the Romans and Anglo Saxons but the first solid stone castle structures came with the Norman invasions in the late 11th century.
These first examples were classic Motte and Bailey structures often built mainly with timber. These first English castles could be constructed relatively quickly and were then generally, by the 13th century, replaced with more solid stone structures.
These castles became crucial to the subjugation of native populations and to the defence of territory, and within the next few centuries would become a standard feature of military conflict all over Europe.
Many of England’s finest castles were built in the Tudor period (1485 to 1603), and by Henry VIII in particular, when the Royals lived in constant fear of invasion from the continent.
By the 1600s though advances in cannon technology lead to them being proven as vulnerable in various conflicts throughout Europe. English castles were last put to work during the Civil War of 1642 and there too they were too often breached.
That war’s end lead to a period of peace in England during and after which castles generally had one of three fates: to be converted into aristocratic stately homes/manor houses, to be knocked to the ground and a manor house built in their place, or to be deserted and left to fall into ruin.
There are still many examples in England of relatively intact medieval castles that retain remnants of their ancient defensive structures and there are many that are in fact now manor houses or Victorian and Georgian era castle follies.
These are grand stately homes usually built in the Neo Gothic style and often on the site of a more ancient preceding structure. They adopted many castle features but merely for aesthetic purposes.
Our choices for the best castle hotels in England include all the above – medieval defensive castles, Neo-Gothic follies and manor houses, and you can read all about their individual histories on their listing pages.
Most are child/family friendly, many are pet friendly, some have both B&B and self catering accommodation, and a few are 5 Star luxury castles with a whole range of top hotel features like spa facilities, swimming pool, golf course etc.
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