Knights and dragons castles
'I like walking around the castle and climbing up the turrets, then going back to the café for a hot chocolate and a piece of cake.'
- Iona H, kids’ councillor at Bodiam Castle, Sussex
Are you a foot soldier, knight on horseback or dragon-slaying maiden? Whichever part you play you’re going to need a castle fit for a king. We’ve selected a few of our favourite fairy-tale castles to get your family's adventures started.
‘An amazing place for kids who suddenly can see what a *real* castle looks like and imagine themselves into a suit of armour for the day. There's a reason Bodiam has inspired so many storybook castles.’
- Richard D, visitor
When it comes to fairy-tale castles Bodiam ticks all the boxes. It’s stuffed with spiral staircases, battlements, towers and windows where arrows were once fired. Indeed a real knight once called this castle his home.
This fortress includes a medieval tower, a dungeon and murder holes. Transform yourself into a knight by trying on the armour and take part in a pike drill – just be careful not to get put in the stocks.
‘My boys love visiting Corfe Castle as it fires their imaginations. Suddenly they are fighting dragons and charging the gatehouse.’
- Sarah H, visitor
Strictly speaking Croft Castle is a castellated manor house, but little knights won’t be put off by a minor detail like that. There is a mini version of the castle for children to storm and in the family room would-be dragon-slayers can play dress up.
‘When we visited Dunstanburgh Castle my children were three and six. They battled pretend Vikings with wooden swords, hiding around corners and behind masonry and jumping out at each other.’
- Kate A, visitor
The ruins of the castle lie at the heart of Crom’s demesne. Old Crom Castle survived two sieges but was accidentally burnt down in 1764. Later additional walls and towers were added to the ruins for romantic effect. The ring of trees just before you get to the Old Castle is called the Fairy Ring because of the shape, but it actually marks the last resting-place of troops who fell during the sieges. Today the ruins are a secluded monument, waiting for brave adventurers to discover. Families can also hire boats to explore the islands of Crom.
What could be more in keeping with a fairy-tale than a moated castle? This 14th-century ruin is surrounded by romantic gardens. Roses and wisteria adorn the castle walls. Children can make up their own stories about who used to live here and there’s plenty more to keep little ones busy.
Climb all 149 steps up the spiral staircase to conquer Tattershall Castle. Visit on a Sunday to try your hand at spinning wool under the tutelage of Lady Maud and to dress up as a knight, a princess, a jester or a dragon. Kids can even have a go at holding our great sword.
‘It's like a maze in disguise as a castle. This has been one of the best days out of my life.’
- One of our smallest visitors at Wray Castle
There is no collection at Wray Castle so children can play freely in the many rooms: exploring turrets, towers and informal grounds. You can dress up as king, queen, or a knight for the day. Building and demolishing DIY castles built with foam blocks is also a great favourite.