Step back into the age of gore, grandeur, and gallantry this half term, with a trip to one of Britain’s many ancient castles. We’ve selected 10 top castles to explore – but there are hundreds more to choose from across the country.
Each castle boasts a colourful history, with gruesome dungeons, heroic tales, and creepy characters galore. And there’s plenty to keep your little rascals entertained, too, with special events taking place over half term, and ghostly goings-on in the run up to Halloween.
Rising dramatically out of the broad moat, this fairytale castle really looks the part, with spiral staircases, battlements and the original 14th century portcullis.
Half term fun: Hunt down clues around the castle on a half term Halloween trail, or enter Crones’ Corner for some creepy tales.
More about Bodiam Castle
Perched on the precipitous crag of Castle Rock, this ancient and imposing fortress has weathered centuries of turbulent Scottish history, from stormy sieges, to royal regiments.
Half term fun: Ever wanted to know how a hurdy gurdy was played? See costumed performers play authentic renaissance music.
More about Edinburgh Castle
Discover more than 800 years of history at this fascinating castle. Don’t miss a stroll along the magnificent 12th-century battlements, where you can take in extensive views across the beautiful Suffolk countryside.
Half term fun: Let your little horrors scare themselves silly with creepy crafts and spooky activities at the castle’s ghosts and ghouls event.
More about Framlingham Castle
Explore splendid interiors, award-winning gardens and plenty of Tudor tales at this romantic and enchanting castle – the childhood home of Anne Boleyn.
Half term fun: Follow a pumpkin and scarecrow trail through the grounds, and get creative in the drop-in Halloween workshop.
More about Hever Castle
From Norman stronghold, to Tudor palace, to grand country house, this captivating castle has continually evolved over 900 years of history. There’s so much to do and see here, both indoors and in the beautiful grounds.
Half term fun: There’ll be crafts and activities, ghost tours, and a fireworks spooktacular throughout half term and bonfire night.
More about Leeds Castle
Built over a natural cavern, this mighty fortress – the birthplace of King Henry VII – is steeped in history. Explore a labyrinth of passageways and towers, and take in the variety of exhibitions.
Half term fun: Join Sir Benfro at his Merrymakers knight school, see colourful characters around the castle, and enjoy a spectacular falconry display.
More about Pembroke Castle
This awesome stronghold has played a central part in almost a thousand years of British history. Learn the legend of the ravens, be dazzled by the Crown Jewels, and shiver at grisly tales of torture.
Half term fun: Enjoy historical re-enactments and hands-on history activities.
More about the Tower of London
Immerse yourself in centuries of jaw-dropping history at this magnificent castle. Shows, thrilling tournaments, live entertainment and stunning interiors and exteriors combine to create an epic day out for the entire family.
Half term fun: There’ll be plenty of ghoulish goings-on after dark during Haunted Castle week, when the castle stays open until 9pm.
More about Warwick Castle
Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world and is the official residence of Her Majesty The Queen. Take in the magnificent State Apartments, furnished with treasures from the Royal Collection.
Half term fun: Take part in the Big Draw event, follow the castle’s special activity trail, and hunt for animals in the State Apartments and St George’s Chapel.
More about Windsor Castle
(24 October 2013)