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, it 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. Uncover its many layers of history with fun things to do at 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 at Carisbrooke Castle when visiting this heritage landmark.

FUN THINGS TO DO AT CARISBROOKE CASTLE ON ISLE OF WIGHT

Unmissable 9 fun things to do at 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

One of the best things to do at Carisbrooke Castle is to begin your visit with an overview of the castle’s history. Learn aboutthe tumultuous history of this fascinating and stunning castle first hand – watch the film and virtual tour presented in the 16th century guardhouse.

2 | Visit the 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

Historical Collection

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 | Things to do at Carisbrooke Castle

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 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

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.

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

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.

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 | Things to do at Carisbrooke Castle

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 runs 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 to consider when planning fun things to do at Carisbrooke Castle

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 >>

Recommended read: 26 Very Best Places to Stay on Isle of Wight

Where to eat

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

Check Tripadvisor reviews >>

On a final note on fun things to do at Carisbrooke Castle

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 fun things to do at 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

Brief History of 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 – 1896

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 …

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

Isle of Wight at a Glance

Coordinates: Latitude: 50° 40′ 30.59″ N Longitude: -1° 16′ 30.60″ W

Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight

Island: Largest island in England

Island’s city: Newport

Population: 141,538 | Second most populous island in England behind Portsea Island.

County: Governed by one unitary authority.

Time Zone: Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) | British Summer Time (BST)

Money

Currency: Pounds Sterling (£)

Credit and Debit cards accepted.

Topography

Landmass: The Isle is roughly 380.728 kilometer/147 square miles

Elevation: Maximum elevation: 242 m | Average elevation: 15 m | Minimum elevation: -1 m

Designation:

1 | Isle of Wight Biosphere Reserve, United Kingdom

2 | Isle of Wight – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Why Visit

Famous for: Ghosts, Dinosaur bones, Victorian villages + Healing & Wellbeing retreats

Number of Visitors surpass residents >

Travel Advice

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UK Foreign Travel Advice

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Unmissable 9 fun things to do at Carisbrooke Castle Isle of Wight first published at timelesstravelsteps.com

Updated: October 26 2021

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FUN THINGS TO DO AT CARISBROOKE CASTLE ON ISLE OF WIGHTFUN THINGS TO DO AT CARISBROOKE CASTLE ON ISLE OF WIGHT

English Heritage Membership benefits

English Heritage Membership Benefits and more for UK Residents

Updated: December 30, 2021

English Heritage, formally known as English Heritage Trust is the popular entity that cares for England’s national collection of historic sites and monuments. To help keep the various ongoing programmes operational to a good standard for the benefit of current and future generation, the English Heritage charges visitors an entry fee at some of their historic sites. They also have valuable schemes to help with the costs so to encourage more visitors enjoy the remarkable heritage of England.

English Heritage Membership is a scheme that caters for different types of members – family, joint, individual and lifetime. In addition, English Heritage offer an Overseas Visitor Pass which is great value for money option if you are visiting England for more than nine days. More details on all of these below.

Recommended read: The Best of England

About English Heritage in a nutshell

English Heritage is a non-governmental entity, that became a self-financing charity in 2015.

According to English Heritage website, they are the guardian of over 400 historic buildings, monuments and sites – from world-famous prehistoric sites to grand medieval castles, from Roman forts on the edges of the empire to a Cold War bunker”. Their purpose is to “bring the story of England to life for over 10 million people each year – They curate activities for people to experience history in an engaging way and offer hands on experiences to inspire imagination and authenticity in their young visitors for whose interests these historic sites are protected. Going forward, English Heritage is committed to Inspiration, Conservation, Involvement and Financial Sustainability.”

In addition, English Heritage also educate, commission research, advise all sorts of people and bodies on England’s heritage, from the government to individuals who own listed buildings. Undoubtedly all of these costs money.

Hadrian's Wall | English Heritage membership
Hadrian’s Wall | England

As a charity, a substantial amount of its running costs is met by the UK government, ultimately the British taxpayer. To supplement this support, English Heritage charges an entry fee for some of its properties. The entry fee varies, from under ten pounds to up to twenty pounds per person. The good news is that entry to over two hundred fifty properties are free including Maiden Castle, Dorset, St Katherine’s Oratory, Isle of Wight and Hadrian’s Wall, the most celebrated Roman monument in Britain built in 122 AD.

Stonehenge - The Stone Circle | English Heritage Membership benefits
Stonehenge – The Stone Circle | England

However, if you wish to visit some of the most intriguing and interesting sites that pull the most visitors such as Stonehenge, Dover Castle, Osborne House, and Bolsover Castle, the entry fee will quickly add up! Whether you live in England and visit English Heritage properties as a favourite past time or you are visiting the country from overseas, the costs of visiting the must-see historical sites will add up. Even if you decide to spread it across the year or the duration of your vacation and pay as and when you visit, it will take you well over sixty pounds per individual quite easily.

To help with the costs, and to encourage more visitors to embrace majestic castles, the archaeological and historic sites in England, English Heritage run two main schemesEnglish Heritage Membership mainly targeted to residents of UK and the Overseas Visitors Pass for visitors on a short-term vacation.

Recommended read: A Complete Guide to Scotland

English Heritage Membership

English Heritage Membership provides for various groups of visitors. Currently the scheme caters for four main groups with sub-categoriesFamily, Joint, Individual and Lifetime. All membership schemes lasts a year. You could buy a membership for yourself or buy as a gift for another.

English Heritage Membership for Family

Family memberships are available for either one adult with children or two adults with children.

Membership costs:

One adult + up to six children >> £64.00 a year
Two adults + up to twelve children >> £111.00 a year
*Adult members must live at the same address

English Heritage Membership:Joint Membership

Joint memberships are available in three categories:

Membership costs

Two adults >> £111.00 a year
One adult + one senior >> £99.00 a year
Joint Senior >> £87.00 a year
*Adults must be 18+ | Senior must be 65+ | Adult members must live in the same address

English Heritage Membership: Individual Membership

English Heritage individual membership cater for three categories of people:

Membership costs

Individual adult >> £64.00 a year
Individual Senior >> £57.00 a year
Young adult/student >> £51.00 a year
Adult 18+ | Senior-65+ | Young adult/student-18 to 25 + valid NUS card

English Heritage Lifetime Membership

The Life Membership is offered to four categories:

Membership costs:

Individual adult (18+ years) >> £1490.00
Senior (65+ years) >> £1170.00
Joint adult (both 18+ years) >> £2130.00
Joint Senior (both 65+ years) >> £1560.00
Adult members must live at the same address

**All prices are correct at time of writing, March 2021. Prices includes donations.

As the membership scheme is available to a wide range of people and appears reasonably priced, there may still be questions asked and debated about.

Is the English Heritage Membership value for money

One of the many questions people debate about before joining a membership scheme, any membership scheme for that matter, is whether it is a value for money scheme. In other words, does the benefits outweigh its costs? In short, a membership scheme is value for money if it is used correctly. While joining the English Heritage membership provides for considerable savings to be made, the membership comes with so much more than just savings.

As an example, below is an illustration of the savings a family, would make in a year if they were to visit the following five of the most popular of English Heritage sites, including Stonehenge which is one of the most popular heritage site in UK for both residents and tourists alike.

Stonehenge, Wiltshire | Dover Castle, Kent | Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire | Whitby Abbey, North Yorkshire | 1066 Battle of Hastings, Abbey and Battlefield, East Sussex

This may not be a representative sample of the top five sites that people would visit but it does give an idea of how much savings a family (2+3 kids) could make with a membership.

Heritage SitePrice per adult £Price per child £Family (2 adults + 3 kids)
£
Stonehenge21.5012.9055.90
Dover Castle18.7011.3048.70
Kenilworth Castle13.908.4036.20
Whitby Abbey11.006.6028.60
1066 Battle of Hastings13.908.4036.20
Total price per adult/child/family79.0047.60205.60
Total price per family – 2 adults and up to 12 kids | Annual membership = £111.00 )FREEFREEFREE
Family = 2 adults + 3 kids | Adult (18+ years) | Child (5-17 years)

**All prices are correct at time of writing, March 2021

Taking this example a little further for individual visits, you would still make savings out of an annual membership which is currently at £64.00. The table does not give a comparison for seniors, students and visitors but it does give a good idea of savings you would make if you had an English Heritage membership. Circling back to whether this membership is value for money – without a doubt it is provided you utilise it by visiting the heritage sites sprinkled around England in an annual period.

As necessary as it may be to make savings, English Heritage Membership benefits does not end with just free entry to over 400 properties in England. There is more.

English Heritage Membership Benefits

English Heritage membership benefits
Audley End House and Gardens, Essex, East of England

With an annual English Heritage Membership, you will enjoy the following benefits:

Free access to over 400 historical sites.

During the annual period, a member has free access to all 400 and more of English Heritage sites and can visit a site multiple times as you may wish. English Heritage properties includes castles, gardens, forts, defences, prehistoric sites, historic houses and abbeys. You could find a place to visit here.

Kids go free with an accompanying adult.

As you can see from the table above, up to six children get free entry to a site. There are events specially curated for kids during school term holidays and summer vacation that create imagination, responsibility and fun which are invaluable experiences for children.

Free or reduced entry to hundreds of events throughout the year.

Many of the English Heritage sites run varied programmes throughout the year for visitors. Members enjoy reduced entry fee or no fee at all to these events.

Free or reduced entry to other attractions in UK.

Members also get reduced price entry to heritage sites in Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

Membership Pack.

The membership pack contains your membership card along with a Members’ Handbook, Members’ Magazine, Information on Members’ Events and Members’ Rewards.

Members’ Handbook + Members’ Magazine

The complimentary Member’s Handbook worth £10.95 helps you plan inspiring days out and pre-book events before the general public. The Members Magazine is delivered four times a year with more colourful pictures and inspiring events to get involved in.

Members’ Rewards Scheme

The Members’ Rewards scheme offers members to take advantage of money- saving offers and deals from over 60 of English Heritage partners.

Simple pleasures of being part of English Heritage community

Besides getting great value on the very many English Heritage properties and the heritage sites in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland where there are free or reduced entry costs, the benefits of joining the English Heritage membership allow for all sorts of simple pleasures.

Remember that your membership fee goes to a great cause – the protection of England’s most precious, and amazing of historic sites. You can see, enjoy and delve deeper into the discovery as well as the painstaking research that goes into preserving the monuments that represent English history as and when you are able to. In addition, your contribution goes towards preserving the historic sites for future generation – nothing quite beats the rhythm of history or standing on the very spot where historic events took place

The Members’ Magazine sets out forthcoming events where you can plan ahead of time and the Members’ Reward scheme is a great way to spoil oneself with something special for example a weekend getaway.

While the English Heritage Membership benefits are enjoyed by UK residents, visitors to UK may also enjoy the benefits of exploring the ancient historic past via a dedicated scheme – Overseas Visitor Pass.

English Heritage and Overseas Visitors Pass

Visitors to UK can enjoy free entry to over 100 heritage sites with an Overseas Visitor Pass. Briefly, the Overseas Visitor Pass is a scheme available to overseas residents who are visiting England for a specific time. The Pass is valid for a duration of 9 or 16 days from first activation and includes free entry to popular English Heritage sites such as Stonehenge and Dover Castle. For convenience, the benefits and the prices of the Overseas Visitor Pass scheme is dealt with in another article. To learn more about the great value for money scheme available to overseas visitors, navigate to Overseas Visitors Pass.

On a final note…

On a final note – the English Heritage membership is a great value for money scheme provided the benefits are utilised. However, if circumstances are such that you are not able to visit sites to cover the initial outlay, cherish the idea that your contribution goes to a good cause which benefits future generation.

Joining the English Heritage Membership scheme could not be easier. Whether you are signing up for yourself or buying the English Heritage membership as a gift, you could do so easily online with a couple of clicks. Click the graphic below and join today.

Take advantage of our Exclusive Readership Offer – Get 15% Off Gift and Annual Membership >> Use Code EH2022 at checkout throughout January 2022. Code can only be used for New Membership purchases. Code Expires 31 January 2022.

English Heritage has begun to welcoming visitors. You can book tickets to visit 60+ sites at the moment while more sites will open in phases in the coming months. Visits must be booked in advance. Learn more on which sites are open and how to book your visit.

Have a splendid time exploring the precious and timeless monuments of English Heritage.

Georgina xx

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English Heritage Membership benefits
English Heritage Membership
English Heritage Membership
English Heritage Membership

English Heritage Membership Benefits and more for UK Residents updated on December 30, 2021

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