London’s history extends back several millennia, so it’s no surprise there’s so much to enjoy of London’s past today.
Every borough - every street even - has a story to tell and there’s a wealth of historical sites to explore during your stay at our Hyde Park accommodation. One of the most historical sites to visit in not only London, but in the UK as a whole, are the castles and fortresses that have been built over the years.
With the country’s long history of monarchs and regal feuds, this comes as no surprise.
Almost every city you visit will have a nearby castle, each with its own story to tell. Since we know you aren’t likely to ‘pop up’ to Edinburgh for the day, we’ve included our top picks for royal relics dotted in and around the British capital.
Must visit castles of London
With the city being the main home of the monarchy, it’s not surprising you’ll find several castles around the city. Better still, there’s plenty of rich history to explore around each site, making these castles some of the most visited tourist spots in the city.
During your visit, you can be sure of one thing: these castles promise a deep dive into the astounding history of the British monarchy.
The Tower of London
From a '60s gangster prison to 18th-century menagerie, the Tower of London is a lot more than a royal relic.
The Tower Hill-based castle was originally built in the 11th Century, soon after William the Conqueror's Norman takeover of the country. As the resting place of the Royal Crown Jewels, and the building at the heart of the Princes in the Tower mystery, the Tower of London is a true staple of London’s heritage.
There are centuries of history to explore here and visitors can enjoy the Changing of the Keys ceremony, which still takes place every night at the gates of the tower. It is thought to be the longest lasting military tradition in the world.
Hampton Court Palace
Based in the West London borough of Richmond, Hampton Court Palace dates back to the Tudor era when it was built for Cardinal Wolsey by Henry VIII’s Court.
The castle has expanded over time, most notably by famous architect Christopher Wren who transformed the palace’s style to that of the more fashionable Baroque architecture. The Palace is home to the historic Hampton Court Maze, one of the oldest in the world, alongside a tennis court and beautiful outer grounds.
Tours of the Palace are available and offer insight into the rich history of the Court.
Buckingham Palace is the closest castle to Park Grand London Hyde Park and offers central London tourists a glimpse into the life of the contemporary Royal Family.
As the main residence of the Queen, you’ll find the iconic Royal Guards standing to attention behind the gilded gates. With St James and Green Park flanking the famous Royal household, the castle is the perfect site for soaking up London’s culture and history.
Dating back to the 11th Century, Windsor Castle is just a 45-minute drive outside of London and is the Royal residence of the Windsor Family.
With 19th-century state apartments reserved for royal guests, this castle is very much still in operation, yet it is open to visitors all year round. With 39 monarchs having lived there, this is the largest castle still in operation in the world and still houses the Queen on the weekend.
With over 500 people living within the grounds of the castle, this is a must for any Royal-loving sightseer in the city.
Castles to visit for your outer London day trip
Whilst you may want to stay in the city, the below castles give you even more context to the country’s long-spanning heritage.
From Civil War fortresses to simulated sword fights, these castles offer a truly unique experience to any London tourists. All these castles are less than three hours outside of the city, and promise a wealth of entertainment and culture to enrich your English experience.
Just a 90-minute drive outside of London, Warwick Castle was built in 1068, just two years after William the Conqueror's Norman invasion.
With a rich medieval history, the castle has acted as a fortress and stronghold for various monarchs and played a key role in the War of the Roses. Eventually, the castle was sold to Sir Fulke Greville in the 17th Century, the family of whom owned it for hundreds of years.
Now converted into a tourist attraction, guests can explore the infamous dungeons and even watch medieval sword fight reenactments. The castle’s long and grisly history is on full show, and Warwick stands as one of the most engaging castles to visit on our list.
Having survived the English Civil War, this Earl-owned castle is another Norman-built gem. Built in West Sussex, this castle has been remodeled to reflect gothic architecture and has been owned by the Duke of Norfolk for 400 years.
With a beautiful range of events on its grounds, this scenic castle overlooks the idyllic River Arun, making for the perfect day retreat from the capital.
Another castle with a history of sieges, this Suffolk-based relic dates back to 1148 and is still one of the most visited castles in Suffolk. Whilst its interior has fallen into disrepair, the walls still stand and make for a scenic day out, especially with the inclusion of the Lanman Museum of Local History on its site.
Located five miles from Maidstone and an hour and a half drive from London, Leeds Castle was most famous for being a favoured residence of Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon. With a history dating back to the early 12th Century, the castle is popular with tourists due to its ease of access from London and the beautiful maze on its grounds, made from over 2400 yew trees.
Whilst not as old as the maze at Hampton Court, this one is just as tricky, if not more!
Dating back to the Iron Age, this castle was once a Roman Lighthouse, before being reinforced during the Norman invasion, English Civil War and Napoleonic Wars. Just a two hour drive from London, Dover Castle is a stunning South Coast relic, offering up secrets to the country’s ancient past.
Just 30 miles from London, Hever Castle was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn and is now a popular outer London tourist attraction. With its lakes and several mazes, the castle is surrounded by beautiful herb gardens and has a yearly programme packed with jousting, archery and even an annual quilting competition.