Knights out! The best castles near Suffolk & Cambs
Ready for a right royal day out? We've rounded up 12 of the coolest castles in Cambs, Suffolk and beyond. Tiara at the ready, let's go!
Framlingham Castle, Suffolk
You’ll need a head for heights for this castle because the main attraction is a wall walk along the towering walls with stunning views across the Suffolk countryside. Framlingham is one of the best castles in the country and there’s a lot of history to discover here (including the fact that Mary Tudor was crowned Queen of England here) and you can discover it all on the audio guide. It’s great for kids, with a summer explorer quest to complete, plus there’s a cafe, shop and dogs on leads can even join you. Booking essential.
Orford Castle, Suffolk
This jaunty little castle near the Suffolk coast is one of England’s most unusual and complete keeps. Because it is so intact you can explore everything from the basement right up to the roof, which has amazing views over Orford Ness. There are audio guides and the keep also houses lots of ancient artefacts as part of Orford Museum. Oh and there’s a shop for kids to spend their pocket money on tat (we mean souvenirs) afterwards. Booking essential.
Hedingham Castle, Essex
This castle is an iconic medieval fortress in Essex and its Great Tower is a thing of beauty. There’s a lot to discover so you can make a day of it, with everything from dungeons and towers and castley nooks and crannies to discover, plus tree trails and wooded glades for picnics. Keep an eye out for all the events that take place here throughout the year too. Open on selected dates during August.
Norwich Castle, Norfolk
If you’re heading north for a shop up in Norwich make time for a stop at the city’s impressive castle, built by the Normans as a Royal Palace over 900 years ago. It’s currently undergoing a £13.5 million National Lottery-funded restoration project to transform the castle’s Norman Keep, but while that’s going on there’s still the museum and art gallery to explore with everything from Egyptian mummies to polar bears, beautiful artworks and ancient axes. There are also tours to be taken of the dungeons, keep, battlements and the Victorian courthouse. There’s a cafe and shop, or take a picnic. Open daily, booking advised.
Castle Rising, Norfolk
Norfolk is also home to Castle Rising, which as the name suggests is atop a very steep hill, that is perfect for rolling down (kids, not you!). It is one of the largest and best preserved medieval keeps in the country and is surrounded by 20 acres of amazing earthworks. You can go inside and see the lavishly decorated Great Hall as well as Queen Isabella’s apartments. Open daily throughout the summer.
Rockingham Castle, Northants
This Norman castle was built under the instruction of William the Conqueror so you can imagine it’s steeped in history. It’s actually still a family house (nice for some!) and has been continuously occupied for over 1000 years so if in incredibly good nick. There’s a lovely tea room and the gardens are lovely to walk around, plus you can take a tour of the Servants Hall, The Street, Old Kitchen, The Great Hall, Naval Lobby, Panel Room and Long Gallery. Open on Tuesdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays Mondays during the summer, noon-5pm.
Mountfitchet Castle, Essex
The kids will absolutely love visiting Mountfitchet near Stansted in Essex. It is the only medieval castle and Norman village reconstructed on its original site in the world and you can step back in time and feel exactly what life was like hundreds of years ago in Domesday England. There’s a whole village to explore, and you can go inside the little houses with their log fires and roaming livestock. There’s also a toy museum on site, which has the largest collection of toys in the world apparently. Open everyday from 10am, no need to book.
Berkhamsted Castle, Herts
Considering it was built during the Norman Conquest, way back in 1066, what remains of this timber motte-and-bailey castle is still pretty substantial (come on, use your imagination!) and a great option for a family walk peppered with history. The heritage site is open to visitors from 10am – 6pm. Free entry.
Leeds Castle, Kent
Perched on an island in the middle of the River Len, five miles southeast of Maidstone, this castle has a lot on offer for a jam-packed day including – deep breath – playgrounds, Birds of Prey Centre, mini golf, pretty gardens and restaurant. It’s a bit spenny (family tickets £90, adults £28, kids £19.50) but you can use those tickets multiple times throughout the year. Booking essential.