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Embark on a journey through time as you explore the rich history and stunning architecture of the castles in Kent, England.
These historical sites, ranging from medieval fortresses to romantic gardens, offer an unforgettable experience for all ages.
This guide will introduce you to some of the most impressive Kent castles, providing a detailed overview of each location’s unique features and history.
Castles of Kent:
- Leeds Castle
- Rochester Castle
- Dover Castle
- Hever Castle
- Deal Castle
- Walmer Castle
- Scotney Castle
- Upnor Castle
- Canterbury Castle
- Tonbridge Castle
- Chiddingstone Castle
- Chilham Castle
- Eynsford Castle
- Lullingstone Castle
- Sissinghurst Castle
- St Leonard’s Tower
- Sutton Valence Castle
1. Leeds Castle:
|Leeds Castle||Maidstone, Kent, ME17 1PL|
Leeds Castle is not only known for its stunning gardens, moat, and maze but also its rich history that spans over 900 years.
The castle has been home to many notable figures, including King Edward I and King Henry VIII. Throughout the years, it has served as a royal residence, a prison, and even a hospital during World War II.
Today, visitors can explore the castle’s well-preserved rooms, enjoy falconry displays, and participate in various seasonal events.
2. Rochester Castle:
|Rochester Castle||Castle Hill, Rochester, Kent, ME1 1SW|
Rochester Castle has played a significant role in England’s history, surviving three sieges and witnessing many important events.
The castle’s 12th-century keep is one of the best-preserved in the country, standing 113 feet tall and offering spectacular views of the surrounding area.
Learn about the castle’s history through informative exhibits and take a guided tour to delve deeper into its past.
3. Dover Castle:
|Dover Castle||Castle Hill Rd, Dover, Kent, CT16 1HU|
As the “Key to England,” Dover Castle has a strategic location atop the White Cliffs of Dover.
This impressive fortress has a storied past, housing secret wartime tunnels, a Roman lighthouse, and a medieval Great Tower.
Visitors can explore the castle’s vast network of tunnels, including those used during World War II for Operation Dynamo, and experience life in the medieval court by visiting the meticulously recreated Great Tower.
4. Hever Castle:
|Hever Castle||Hever Rd, Hever, Edenbridge, Kent, TN8 7NG|
Hever Castle’s most famous resident was Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII.
This double-moated fortress houses a museum dedicated to the Tudor era, showcasing artifacts and artwork that provide a fascinating insight into the lives of its residents.
Hever Castle also boasts beautiful gardens, a water maze, and a challenging yew maze, making it an ideal destination for families and history enthusiasts alike.
5. Deal Castle:
|Deal Castle||Marine Rd, Deal, Kent, CT14 7BA|
King Henry VIII built Deal Castle as a coastal artillery fort to protect England from invasion.
Its unique design, featuring a low, circular structure and numerous cannons, made it an imposing defensive stronghold.
Today, visitors can explore the castle’s extensive underground passages and learn about its history through interactive displays.
6. Walmer Castle:
|Walmer Castle||Kingsdown Rd, Walmer, Deal, Kent, CT14 7LJ|
Walmer Castle, another of King Henry VIII’s artillery forts, has served as the official residence of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports for over 400 years.
The castle’s extensive gardens, created by famed gardener William Kent, provide a tranquil setting for exploration.
Inside the castle, visitors can view the original Duke of Wellington’s bedroom and study, as well as a fascinating collection of memorabilia from the Duke’s time as Lord Warden.
7. Scotney Castle:
|Scotney Castle||Lamberhurst, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN3 8JN|
Scotney Castle is a romantic ruin set within a picturesque garden and surrounded by a moat.
The 14th-century castle served as the Hussey family’s ancestral home for over 450 years before it was intentionally ruined to create a picturesque landscape feature.
The estate also includes a Victorian country house, offering a fascinating glimpse into the lives of its inhabitants.
8. Upnor Castle:
|Upnor Castle||High St, Upnor, Rochester, Kent, ME2 4XG|
Constructed during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Upnor Castle was built to protect the Royal Navy’s warships on the River Medway.
Despite its military purpose, the castle has a distinct domestic appearance, showcasing the unique architectural style of the time.
Explore the castle’s well-preserved rooms, learn about the famous Dutch Raid, and enjoy views of the River Medway from the castle’s gun platform.
9. Canterbury Castle:
|Canterbury Castle||Castle St, Canterbury, Kent, CT1 2PR|
Canterbury Castle, a Norman castle built in the 11th century, served as a royal residence, prison, and administrative centre.
Although much of the castle has been lost to time, the remaining walls provide a glimpse into its historical significance.
Take a self-guided tour of the castle’s ruins and learn about the role it played in England’s history.
10. Tonbridge Castle:
|Tonbridge Castle||Castle St, Tonbridge, Kent, TN9 1BG|
Tonbridge Castle’s magnificent gatehouse and 13th-century moat provide an impressive setting for visitors to explore.
The castle’s interactive audio tour offers fascinating insights into its past, including the role it played during the Baron’s War and the Peasants’ Revolt.
The castle grounds also provide a peaceful setting for picnics and leisurely walks.
11. Chiddingstone Castle:
Hill Hoath Rd, Chiddingstone, Edenbridge TN8 7AD
Chiddingstone Castle, a stunning country house with Tudor origins, houses an eclectic collection of art and artifacts, including Egyptian antiquities, Japanese Armor, and Stuart paintings.
The castle is surrounded by picturesque gardens and a beautiful lake, providing a serene setting for visitors to enjoy.
12. Chilham Castle:
|Chilham Castle||Chilham, Canterbury, Kent, CT4 8DB, England|
Chilham Castle, a private residence dating back to the 12th century, boasts beautiful gardens that are open to the public on select days.
The castle offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside, and its picturesque gardens provide a tranquil setting for exploration.
Visitors can also enjoy the charming village of Chilham, with its medieval square and timber-framed houses.
13. Eynsford Castle:
|Eynsford Castle||Eynsford, Dartford, Kent, DA4 0AA|
Eynsford Castle is a rare example of an early Norman enclosure castle.
The site features the remains of a stone keep and curtain wall, showcasing the castle’s strategic importance during the Norman period.
Wander through the ruins and learn about the castle’s tumultuous history, including the bitter family feud that led to its eventual destruction.
14. Lullingstone Castle:
|Lullingstone Castle||Lullingstone Castle, Dartford DA4 0JA|
Lullingstone Castle is home to the World Garden, a unique collection of plants from around the globe, meticulously curated by modern-day plant hunter
Tom Hart Dyke. The castle itself dates back to the 15th century and has been owned by the same family for over 20 generations.
Visitors can explore the historic rooms, enjoy the tranquillity of the gardens, and learn about the adventures of the castle’s current heir.
15. Sissinghurst Castle:
|Sissinghurst Castle||Biddenden Rd, Cranbrook TN17 2AB|
Sissinghurst Castle is a 16th-century manor house surrounded by the famous gardens designed by Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson.
The estate includes a vast array of flowers, trees, and architectural structures, such as the iconic White Garden and the Rose Garden.
Guided tours offer insights into the castle’s history and the vision behind its enchanting gardens.
16. St Leonard’s Tower:
|St Leonard’s Tower||St Leonard’s Street, West Malling, Kent, ME19 6PD|
St Leonard’s Tower is a striking 11th-century Norman keep, which once formed part of a larger castle.
Although the rest of the castle has disappeared, the tower remains an impressive sight, providing a fascinating insight into medieval military architecture.
Explore the tower and its surroundings, and imagine the once-grand structure that stood in its place.
17. Sutton Valence Castle:
|Sutton Valence Castle||Rectory Lane, Sutton Valence, Kent, ME17 3LW|
Sutton Valence Castle is a 12th-century ruin that offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
The castle’s remains include a three-story tower and portions of the curtain wall, providing a glimpse into its past.
Explore the ruins and learn about the castle’s history, including its use as a residence for various powerful families during the Middle Ages.
Why does Kent have so many Castles?
There are several reasons why Kent has a high concentration of castles:
Kent is located in the south-eastern part of England and has a long coastline along the English Channel.
This strategic position made it a crucial entry point for invasions from continental Europe, as well as a key area for defending against potential threats. As a result, castles were built to protect and secure this region.
Proximity to London:
Kent is close to London, the capital city of England. Throughout history, it has been essential to ensure the safety and security of the capital, and castles in Kent played a significant role in providing that protection.
Wealth and influence:
Kent has historically been a prosperous region, with rich agricultural lands and well-connected trade routes.
Wealthy landowners and nobility built castles as symbols of power and prestige, as well as to protect their lands and assets.
Several kings and queens of England had connections to Kent, either through birth or residence.
They often built or expanded castles in the region to serve as their residences, administrative centres, or military strongholds.
Overall, the combination of strategic location, proximity to London, wealth, and royal influence led to the construction of numerous castles in Kent throughout history.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about the Castle of Kent.
What is the most famous castle of Kent?
Leeds Castle, often referred to as “the loveliest castle in the world,” is arguably the most famous castle of Kent.
Its stunning architecture, vast history, and beautiful grounds make it an essential stop for anyone visiting Kent.
What is the largest castle in Kent?
Dover Castle is the largest castle in Kent. It is one of the most important and impressive fortifications in England, with a history that stretches back over 2,000 years.
The castle was built in the 12th century by King Henry II and has been expanded and modified over the centuries.
Dover Castle is often referred to as the “Key to England” because of its strategic location on the English Channel, which made it an important defensive site throughout history.
Which castle in Kent is best for families?
Hever Castle is an excellent choice for families visiting Kent.
With its interactive exhibits, delightful gardens, and activities like boating and a maze, it offers an engaging experience for visitors of all ages.
What is the oldest castle in Kent England?
Canterbury Castle, which dates back to the 11th century, is one of the oldest castles in Kent England.
Although in ruins, it provides a fascinating glimpse into the past and is an important part of Kent’s heritage.
Are there any haunted castles in Kent England?
Several castles in Kent are said to be haunted. Hever Castle, for instance, is believed to be haunted by the ghost of Anne Boleyn, who has been seen wandering the grounds and the castle itself.
Can I get married in a Kent castle?
Yes, many castles in Kent offer wedding services and venues.
Leeds Castle, Hever Castle, and Chiddingstone Castle are just a few examples of stunning castle settings for your fairy-tale wedding in Kent England.
Which Kent castle has the most extensive grounds to explore?
Sissinghurst Castle Garden, famous for its beautifully landscaped gardens, offers a vast area for exploration.
Visitors can enjoy the beautiful flowers, lush greenery, and the unique atmosphere of this Kent castle.
Is there a coastal castle in Kent worth visiting?
Deal Castle, an impressive coastal fortress built by Henry VIII, is definitely worth a visit.
Its unique flower-like shape, intriguing history, and stunning views of the English Channel make it a must-see castle that Kent has to offer.
Are there any castles near London that I can visit for a day trip?
Rochester Castle, which is just a 45-minute train ride from London, is an excellent option for a day trip.
This magnificent castle in Kent boasts one of the best-preserved keeps in England and offers a fascinating look into the country’s medieval history.
Can I stay overnight in a castle in Kent?
Yes, some castles in Kent offer accommodations for guests.
For example, Leeds Castle provides luxurious rooms in its Maiden’s Tower, offering visitors a unique and unforgettable stay in a historical setting.
Which castles in Kent have beautiful gardens to explore?
Many castles in Kent are known for their stunning gardens.
Hever Castle, Sissinghurst Castle Garden, and Walmer Castle are just a few examples where visitors can enjoy beautifully landscaped grounds, colourful flowers, and picturesque scenery.
Are there any hidden gem castles in Kent that are less touristy?
Chilham Castle, a beautiful private estate, is less frequented by tourists, making it an ideal destination for visitors looking for a quieter experience.
While the castle is not open to the public, its magnificent gardens are open on select days throughout the year.
What is the most historically significant castle in Kent?
Dover Castle, with its strategic location and over nine centuries of history, is considered one of the most historically significant castles in Kent.
It has played a crucial role in defending England’s coastline throughout the years and offers a fascinating insight into the country’s past.
Are there any castles in Kent suitable for hiking and outdoor activities?
Scotney Castle, with its picturesque setting and surrounding parkland, offers excellent opportunities for hiking and outdoor activities.
The estate features several walking trails through its beautiful gardens and woodlands, making it an ideal destination for nature lovers.
Which castles in Kent are accessible by public transportation?
Many castles in Kent can be easily reached by public transportation.
For example, Rochester Castle, Tonbridge Castle, and Hever Castle are all accessible by train from London and other parts of Kent, making them convenient options for visitors without a car.
From medieval fortresses to enchanting gardens, the castles in Kent offer a wealth of experiences for history buffs, families, and travellers alike.
As you explore these magnificent sites, immerse yourself in the captivating stories, stunning architecture, and picturesque landscapes that make Kent’s castles a must-visit destination.