Unmissable 9 fun things to do at Carisbrooke Castle Isle of Wight

Unmissable 9 fun things to do at Carisbrooke Castle Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight has a distinct variety of rich landscapes, recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty ensuring that one of England’s finest and most fascinating of landscapes is preserved and enhanced. While the secretive coastlines, white chalky cliffs, quiet estuaries and gentle rolling woodland had attracted visitors since Victorian times, and continues to do so all year round, this enchanting island is home to some wealth of times gone by and the most fascinating and truly magical history.

Things to do at Carisbrooke Castle
Side view of Carisbrooke Castle

Nestled in the village of Carisbrooke, Newport, sitting proudly atop a hill at the heart of Isle of Wight is Carisbrooke Castle, steeped in history and legend since pre-Roman times. Today, this remarkable castle is managed by English Heritage, and opened to the public. With lots of things to see and do whilst enjoying in the fresh open air, Carisbrooke Castle is a destination for history buffs, couples, family days out as well as for photography enthusiasts. To ensure nothing goes amiss, here is a guide for the unmissable 9 fun things to do in Carisbrooke Castle when visiting this heritage landmark.

Unmissable 9 fun things to do at Carisbrooke Castle

Carisbrooke Castle Newport Isle of Wight Victorian love affair experience
Carisbrooke Castle

History tells us that Carisbrooke was once, the strongest castle on the Isle of Wight, and boasts defences from several eras. A central place of power and defence for over a thousand years, it was a Saxon fortress, a Norman castle, an artillery fortress during the Elizabethan era, later a prison for Charles I, then home to Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter. This historic motte-and-bailey castle is quintessentially romantic and will delight its visitors.

1 | Visit the Carisbrooke Castle 16th century guardhouse

Learn more of the tumultuous history of this fascinating and stunning castle. Watch the film and virtual tour presented in the 16th century guardhouse.

2 | Visit the Carisbrooke Castle Museum

carisbrooke castle museum | things to do at Carisbrooke Castle
Carisbrooke Castle Museum Lower Gallery | Things to do at Carisbrooke Castle | Image: courtesy of Carisbrooke Castle Museum

Visit the Carisbrooke Castle Museum which is located in the castle’s Great Hall, St Peter’s Chapel and Constable’s Lodgings. It is the only public museum in UK founded by a member of the Royal family.

Princess Beatrice established the museum in 1898 as a memorial to her husband, Prince Henry of Battenberg with the “earnest hope and desire” and with the “help and co-operation of others” to “form a full collection of objects of historical interest connected with the Island

Her aspiration is reflected in the extensive collection displayed and safeguarded by an independent Charitable Trust. The museum holds many important items that span the history of Isle of Wight since Roman times to the present. On your visit, you will note exhibits such as cross bow bolts from Tudor and medieval history, a small collection of personal items belonging to King Charles I and over 5000 paintings and prints reflecting the island’s topography and its people. There are exhibits of the Isle of Wight Rifles, reflecting the Island’s strong military connection during the wars. There are lots more on display such as the social history collection and the toy collection which are interesting also.

3 | Explore the Castle’s history

Delve deeper into the history of this well-preserved castle and experience how this stronghold had survived eight hundred years, resisting the French siege and the Spanish Armada. See where Charles I was imprisoned for fourteen months before his execution in 1649, and the room where he sought to escape from, he was found wedged in the bars of the window – the guards caught him!

4 | The Chapel of St Nicholas in Castro

St Nicholas Chapel | Things to do at Carisbrooke Castle
The Chapel of St Nicholas in Castro | Things to do at Carisbrooke Castle, Isle of Wight

St Nicholas Chapel is fairly recent, built in 1904 and located just next to the main gate. However, a long sequence of chapels dedicated to St Nicholas had been at the castle since medieval times.

The current chapel was built as a 250th anniversary memorial to Charles I and was redecorated in 1929. The altar painting was commissioned by Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria youngest daughter, in memory of her youngest son who died at Ypres. The chapel is now the island’s main war memorial.

Take a moment and experience the beauty, serenity and the warmth of St Nicholas Chapel.

5 | Meet Carisbrooke Donkeys at the Well House

Don’t miss the Well House – meet the lovable resident donkeys at Carisbrooke Castle who have been drawing up water for the castle for hundreds of years! Their daily routine is to work the sixteenth century tread wheel to raise water from the bottom of the castle well at 49 metres (161 metres).

6 | Ancient Castle Keep and Wall Walk

Steps up to the Castle Keep | Things to do at Carisbrooke Castle
Very steep steps leading to the Castle Keep | Things to do at Carisbrooke Castle

Climb the very steep steps of the castle mound to the ancient castle keep which was constructed during the Norman times in 1100, when the island belonged to the Redvers family.

stunning views from the wall-walk.carisbrooke.castle | things to do at Carisbrooke Castle
stunning views from the wall-walk | Things to do at Carisbrooke Castle

Once up, you are rewarded with amazing views of the island and as far as your eyes can see. Follow the wall and the battlements – walk right around the castle, taking in the views from all directions.

7 | Edwardian Garden | Princess Beatrice Garden

Princess Beatrice Garden | Things to do at Carisbrooke Castle
Layout of Princess Beatrice Garden | Things to do at Carisbrooke Castle

Enjoy and be wooed by the beautiful and inspiring Edwardian garden which was created to reflect the original garden retreat of Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria’s daughter who later, was the Governor of Isle of Wight. The seasonal planting, water features and orchard are indeed charming. According to the English Heritage site, the plants were chosen:

“to echo Princess Beatrice’s blue, red and gold heraldic crest, and the layout reflects architectural detail on the adjoining Chapel of St Nicholas”

The layout of the garden takes inspiration from Princess Beatrice’s original private walled garden and when viewed from the wall-walk, you could see the framework of the borders reflect the chapel windows.

beatrice.garden.english.heritage (2)
Princess Beatrice Garden | Image courtesy English Heritage

Outside of winter, spring brings forth the snowdrops, primrose and daffodils followed by cowslips and bluebells and the beautiful blossoms of the Judus tree plus so much more. Summer sees a riot of colours and exotic mix of cottage garden favourites while fall is the season to discover the unusual Mespelus germanica, fruits from which have been enjoyed since Roman times.

8 | Family fun

If you are visiting with kids, there are activities for children to participate where they can dress up as Norman warriors or as princesses.

English Heritage also run special events for school holidays and one of their most popular ones are the Easter Adventure Quest.

9 | Delightful Castle Tearoom

After exploring the castle and the grounds, treat yourself to a delicious light meal or snacks in the Castle’s Tearoom, located above the former carriage room. This delightful castle tearoom serves a selection of locally produced hot and cold food, including sandwiches, cakes, hot and cold beverages.

Practical information

Plan your visit

Visits must be pre-booked. Once you have decided when to visit, book your arrival time slot. Take along your booking confirmation on the day – note that the time shown is the earliest you can arrive.

Last admission is thirty minutes before the site closes, but really you will need at least half a day for a full immersive experience.

Admission

Admission price + Donation:

Adult > £9.38 | Concession > £8.48 | Child > £5.63 | Family > £24.38

*Family ticket is valid for 2 adults and up to 3 children

Carisbrooke Castle is managed by English Heritage, therefore English Heritage Members enjoy unlimited access to Carisbrooke Castle throughout their membership. The Membership is great value and you can take a look at the benefits it offers for one small contribution > English Heritage Membership benefits or you can become a Member now, using the link below.

Address: Castle Hill, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 1XY

Travel to the Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight is just a few miles on the south coast of England and is easily reached by ferries and catamaran.

Wightlink Ferries depart from Portsmouth to Fishbourne and takes around 45 minutes. There is another from Lymington to Yarmouth which is around 40 minutes journey. Both ferry journeys accommodate cars, motor homes, bikes and foot passengers. Wightlink also runs a high-speed Catamaran for foot passengers from Portsmouth to Ryde pier and this journey takes approximately 22 minutes.

Red Funnel departs from Southampton and travels to East Cowes and takes about 60 minutes. The ferry takes cars, motor homes, bikes and foot passengers. Red Funnel runs the Red Jet service for foot passengers from Southampton into Cowes and this journey takes around 25 minutes.

Getting around the Isle of Wight

The public transport in Isle of Wight is managed by Southern Vectis and is acknowledged as the best rural bus services in the country.

The train service is Island Line and is managed by South Western Railway. The service connects Ryde, Brading, Sandown, Lake and Shanklin. This is a convenient service to be picked up by foot passengers from Ryde pier.

Travelling to Southampton | Portsmouth | Lymington by train

Plan your journey ahead of time and take advantage of cheap tickets for your travel.

Read article: Trainline in UK

Places to stay near Carisbrooke Castle | Newport

67c The Mews | The Old Dairy, Gatcombe

Check Tripadvisor reviews >>

Where to eat

Fine Dining: Gem42 | Italian: Marenghi’s | British Bar, Pub: The Golden Lion

Check Tripadvisor reviews >>

On a final note

Carisbrooke Castle was one of our highlights when my family and I visited the Isle of Wight for 5 days. It was a great summer getaway and we cherish our many memories of the island. Sincerely hope you will get to experience Isle of Wight and Carisbrooke Castle if you haven’t already.

Georgina xx

FACTS ABOUT CARISBROOKE CASTLE, ISLE OF WIGHT:

50.6873° N, 1.3135° W

Owned: English Heritage

Access: Open to the public

Address: Castle Hill, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 1XY

Nearest town: Newport

History about Carisbrooke Castle:

A ruined wall suggests that there was a building here late Roman times but this has not been proved. The cousin of King Cynric of Wessex who died in 544 AD may have been buried here. The site may have been used as a pagan Anglo-Saxon cemetery in the sixth century – three graves were discovered here. It was a stronghold for the Anglo-Saxon during 8th century.

Later a defence wall was built around the hill to protect against the Vikings in 1000 AD.

From 1100 onwards, the castle was owned by the Redvers’ family and was sold to Edward I in 1293 by the last Redvers’ resident, Countess Isabella de Fortibus.

During the reign of Elizabeth I (Nov 1558 – 1603) the Castle was improved with stone walls, towers, keep and additional fortifications when the Spanish Armada was expected.

In 1649, Carisbrooke Castle became a prison for Charles I, and afterwards, his two children were confined to the castle as well, where his daughter Princess Elizabeth died.

From 1896 through to 1944, Carisbrooke Castle became a summer residence to Princess Beatrice, the youngest daughter of Queen Victoria, who also succeeded her husband, Prince Henry of Battenberg and became the Governor of the Isle of Wight.

References:

CJ Young, Excavations at Carisbrooke Castle, Isle of Wight, 1921–1996, Wessex Archaeology Report 18 (Salisbury, 2000), 52–3, 86–97.

PG Stone, The Architectural Antiquities of the Isle of Wight, part II: The West Medine (London, 1891), 74–5

AD Saunders, ‘Hampshire coastal defences since the introduction of artillery’, Archaeological Journal, 123 (1967), 136–71.

JD Jones, The Royal Prisoner (London, 1965)

Visitors: 131,358 in 2019

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Things to do at Carisbrooke Castle
Things to do at Carisbrooke Castle
Things to do at Carisbrooke Castle
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Visit the quintessential romantic fortress and experience the unmissable 9 fun things to do at Carisbrooke Castle in the enchanting Isle of Wight | Victoria's Island | Visit Carisbrooke Castle | Fun things to do in Isle of Wight | Things to do in Isle of Wight | Visit Isle of Wight | Visit England | Britain's largest island | Visit Britain | England's Gem | via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/Visit the quintessential romantic fortress and experience the unmissable 9 fun things to do at Carisbrooke Castle in the enchanting Isle of Wight | Victoria's Island | Visit Carisbrooke Castle | Fun things to do in Isle of Wight | Things to do in Isle of Wight | Visit Isle of Wight | Visit England | Britain's largest island | Visit Britain | England's Gem | via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/

Windsor Castle and Windsor in 1 day-what to see, do and experience in 1 day

Windsor Castle and Windsor in 1 day-what to see, do and experience

A trip to the UK or London is never complete without a trip to Windsor, the home of the historic Windsor Castle. Windsor Castle has been home to the British Royal family for over a thousand years and is one of the most visited attraction in UK. Windsor Castle and Frogmore House attracted 1.65 million paid visitors in 2018-2019, making it the most popular of the Royal Estates.

To make the best of Windsor Castle and Windsor in 1 day will require some prior planning. You may also need to have some knowledge of the highlights at the Castle which should not be missed especially if your visit here is just for the one time.

In this article, you shall find some of the highlights of this iconic and historic castle and the town of Windsor. Practical information is included to support your planning.

Town of Windsor

The Town Square at Windsor
The Town Square at Windsor | Image: georgina_daniel

Windsor is a historic market town in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in Berkshire, Southeast England.

It has a lively atmosphere with great shopping and restaurants. It sits on River Thames, just west of London, and is under an hour’s journey from London. You will find Windsor at:

51°29’1.19″ N 0°36’9.59″ E

1 – day at Windsor Castle and Windsor

The day began with a train journey from London, Waterloo Station to Windsor & Eton Riverside. Exiting Windsor & Eton Riverside, it is a rather pleasant short walk up a slight hill. The street is lined with shops and the castle in sight. The Town Square to your right. A walk-up a further slight hill on your left will lead you to the ticket office. If you are here during the peak season, you will see a queue from the high-street. 

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle, Berkshire: View from the Cambridge Gate
Windsor Castle, Berkshire: View from the Cambridge Gate | Image: georgina_daniel

Windsor Castle, built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, is the residence of the British Royal family for over 1000 years and is said to be the Queen’s favourite weekend getaway residence. In fact, if you see the Royal Standard flag flying from the Castle’s Round Tower, it indicates that the Queen is in residence.

Throughout history, Windsor Castle has been the home to thirty-nine monarchs and is the largest and the oldest occupied castle in the world. It has recently hosted the Royal wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle on 19th May 2018. With so much history just on one site, Windsor makes a perfect destination for a special weekend break or a day trip. 

Can easily opt for a horse & carriage ride around Windsor.
Can easily opt for a horse & carriage ride around Windsor.

Windsor Castle grounds

Windsor Castle is the largest and the oldest occupied castle in the world. The Castle floor area is 13 acres (5 hectares) and has 1000 rooms. It comprises of two-quadrilateral-shaped building courts that are separated by the Round Tower. The two building courts are called Lower Ward and Upper Ward 

Round Tower, Windsor Castle

Round Tower_Windsor Castle_Berkshire
Round Tower, Windsor Castle, Berkshire

The Round Tower, as the name suggests, is a circular tower, massive and is built on an artificial mound. The court in the west of the Round Tower is called the “Lower Ward” and the court to the east is the “Upper Ward.”

The Round Tower, Windsor Castle built on artificial mound.
The Round Tower, Windsor Castle built on artificial mound | Image: georgina_daniel

Lower Ward Windsor Castle

Includes St George’s Chapel and the Albert Memorial Chapel, more on these below.

View from the Lower Ward-St George's Chapel on the left and the Round Tower on the right.
View from the Lower Ward-St George’s Chapel on the left and the Round Tower on the right.

Upper Ward, Windsor Castle

Includes the private apartments of the Queen and the private apartments for visitors. It also houses the Royal Library which contains collections by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and other famous artists.

The Inner Courtyard of the Upper Ward is home to private apartments in Windsor Castle.
The Inner Courtyard of the Upper Ward is home to private apartments in Windsor Castle | Image: georgina_daniel

The Northeast corner of the Upper Ward was destroyed by fire in November 1992 which included over 100 rooms and St George’s Hall. This area has been successfully restored and was completed in 1997.

Highlights at Windsor Castle Berkshire

When exploring Windsor Castle, it would be best to begin with the Changing of the Guard ceremony. Afterwards, you can explore the castle grounds by commencing your tour of the interior of the Castle. I would suggest that you start with the State Apartments, at Henry VIII’s North Terrace. You may encounter a queue here, but they get through very quickly. After the State Apartments, you can visit the beautiful St George’s Chapel and other parts of the Castle.

1 | Changing of the Guards Ceremony

The Changing of the Guard Ceremony is one of the highlights of visiting Windsor Castle. The ceremony takes place at 11:00 in the Lower Ward within the Castle grounds. The times can change and there may be occasions when the Ceremony may take place without music because of other duties and demands on the guards.  The guards return to their barracks at 11:25.

This is one highlight when visiting Windsor Castle that you should not miss. It is less crowded than the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, so it allows you a better view of the ceremony itself.

As it takes place at 11:00 prompt, it is best to plan your visit to arrive here before it begins so you get a good view.

2 | State Apartments and Semi-state Apartments

This part of the Castle is a grand building with opulent furnishings and intricate ceiling paintings. There are many art-work on the Royals and is home to the infamous Queen Mary’s Doll House.

** Queen Mary’s Doll House is sometimes closed to public viewing. Best to check before your visit.

3 | St George’s Chapel

The side entrance to St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.
The side entrance to St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.

My favourite part of the Castle! Being here, in St George’s Chapel which is rich in history and in royal tradition is, at moments, simply overwhelming. It is unique in that it has a Perpendicular Gothic-style architecture. Construction of the Chapel began in 1475 by Edward IV and was completed by Heny VIII in 1528.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were married in this Chapel in May 2018, which makes this Chapel even more special.

The architecture inside St George's Chapel_Windsor Castle_Berkshire
The architecture inside St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, Berkshire | Image: georgina_daniel

The interior of the Chapel itself is not huge but the architecture is absolutely breath-taking! You need to see to experience it. Cameras are not allowed in the Chapel but I quite simply had to steal a moment to capture this jaw-dropping wow sight for keeps.  

4 | The Inner Courtyard

The Inner Courtyard is home to the private apartments of the Queen and the private apartments of the Queen’s visitors. It is of Gothic architecture quadrangle with a green grass square in the middle.

The Inner Courtyard of the Upper Ward_Private Apartments of Windsor Castle, Berkshire (2)
The Inner Courtyard, Upper Ward_Private Apartments of Windsor Castle, Berkshire | Image: georgina_daniel

**Lunch

I spent quite a lot of time walking around the grounds at leisure and then lunch at the nearby pub. Afterwards, a walk up to the parks and down to Albert Road to view the Long Walk.  

5 | Home Park, Windsor

To the Eastern side of Windsor Castle is Home Park which was previously known as Little Park. It is approximately 655 acres (265 hectares) of parkland privately owned by the Crown Estate.

Frogmore House is in this Park and is only open twice a year, May and August. If you want to visit Frogmore House and its grounds, schedule your visit during these two months in the year. 

6 | Great Park, Windsor

Great Park is situated towards the South of Windsor Castle. It is approximately 5000 acres (2,020 hectares) which includes a deer park. Parts of this Park is open to the public.  

7 | The Long Walk

The Main Entrance to Windsor Castle, view from the Cambridge Gate, Windsor Castle, Berkshire.
The Main Entrance to Windsor Castle, view from the Cambridge Gate, Windsor Castle, Berkshire | Image: georgina_daniel

A short walk from the Castle, the Long Walk is crossed by A308 (Albert Road) to Old Windsor. This is what I wanted to see and capture the essence of the moment – The Long Walk!

The Long Walk is the straight path that links Windsor Castle with Snow Hill in Windsor Great Park, the foot of the statue of King George III (The Copper Horse). It is approximately 3 miles (5 kilometres) in length.

According to legend, King Henry VIII sat and waited at Snow Hill for news of execution of his second wife, Anne Boleyn.

The Long Walk, view from Cambridge Gate, Windsor Castle, Berkshire
The Long Walk, view from Cambridge Gate, Windsor Castle, Berkshire | Image: georgina_daniel

However, the path and the landscape as we know it today only came much later, an improvement to what was by King Charles II and Queen Anne. King Charles II had 1,652 Elm trees planted in double-rows the entire length of the route and Queen Anne had a road constructed down the centre of the tree lined landscape, so the coaches could head into the park comfortably.  


Winding-down the day

There is a quintessentially English pub at the quiet corner here by Park Street gates (which leads to the Long Walk and Cambridge Gate, entrance to Windsor Castle), a peaceful cul-de-sac where you can stop for a hearty pint! It’s called the Two Brewers, one of the smallest pubs in Windsor. Established in 1792 although the building dates back to 1709.  


On a final note…

Windsor Castle is uniquely beautiful, set in a lively town, with accommodation to suit every individual, couples or family, It has great shopping choices and restaurants to fulfil every palate a destination that will surely not disappoint.

Practical information

At Windsor Castle – What you need to know

  • There are guide maps available free at the counter. Just pick one. Given the vast area where one needs to walk, I found the map to be extremely helpful.
  • If you gift-aid your entrance ticket, you get a 12-month pass to return. Just ensure that you write your name and address and get it stamped at the designated area near the exit.
  • Commentary on the audio, for the most part is good and informative but sometimes too elaborate. It is also sometimes hard to navigate to the number of the room.
  • Give yourselves between 3 to 3.5 hours although the recommended hours are 2.5 to 3.

Facilities:

  1. Audio guides are available in all major languages.
  2. Induction loop on Audio tour is provided to hearing impaired visitors.
  • Guide dogs are permitted
  1. Toilets for disabled visitors
  2. Areas are wheelchair accessible.

Tickets:

                                                         Regular (£)            During closure of State Apartments (£)

Adult                                                       21.20                                      11.70

Family [2 adults + 3 under 17s]         54.70                                       30.60

Senior/Student                                      19.30                                       10.60

Under 17/Disabled                               12.30                                         7.20

For up-to-date information on Windsor Castle, you can look-up their official website here: https://www.rct.uk/visit/windsor-castle

Getting to Windsor

From London by train:

Getting to Windsor Castle from London by train is the most convenient and cheaper mode of transport. 

There are 2 services:

  1. London Paddington to Windsor Central – services are provided by Great Western Railway, need to change at Slough for the shuttle service to Windsor & Eton Central. The shuttle service runs every 20 minutes and will have extra charges.

Return Adult Fare is £10.20

      2. London Waterloo to Windsor & Eton Riverside – services provided by South              Western Railway are 4 services per hour, at 20, 28, 50 and 58 minutes past the hour. Return Adult Fare is £10.50

Buy Train tickets from Trainline

If you are driving:

Parking:

  1. Castle car-park is a ‘Pay & Display’ car-park, so you will need coins. £14 for 5 hours;
  2. Car-park next to Windsor & Eton Riverside Station – £4 All-day if you arrive after 10:00. You can pay by phone            

Is this post valuable to you in planning your visit to Windsor Castle and Windsor? If so, let me know in comments below or via Contact Form, I would love to hear from you.

Happy adventures!

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A simple guide listing highlights on what to see, do & experience in Windsor Castle and the quintessential city of Windsor in 1 day | Windsor Berkshire | What to do in Windsor | Things to do in Windsor | What to see in Windsor Castle | Visit Windsor | Visit England | Visit Berkshire | Long Walk Windsor | Windsor Castle | Windsor Town | Royal Castle | Royal Palace via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/A simple guide listing highlights on what to see, do & experience in Windsor Castle and the quintessential city of Windsor in 1 day | Windsor Berkshire | What to do in Windsor | Things to do in Windsor | What to see in Windsor Castle | Visit Windsor | Visit England | Visit Berkshire | Long Walk Windsor | Windsor Castle | Windsor Town | Royal Castle | Royal Palace via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/