With the easing of lockdown measures and the gorgeous Spring weather our way – it’s time to get out and about with our family and friends (provided it is safe and precautions adhered to) to enjoy the best of England’s heritage and countryside.
There is no better time than the present to take advantage of the exclusive offer and become a valued member at one of Britain’s best charitable trust, safeguarding England’s finest heritage.
Exclusive readership offer for our members at Timeless Travel Steps:
English Heritage | 15% off Gift and Annual Membership throughout April
Use Code EH2121 at checkout for 15% off gift and annual membership. Code is valid till April 30 2021.
Unmissable9 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.
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.
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 | 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.
*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.
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.
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
BriefHistory 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.
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.
English Heritage is a charity and is the guardian of over 400 historic buildings, gardens, monuments, medieval castles, forts and defences in England. They also conduct researches, support or carry out archaeological work and advise on what to do with a historic site. For the most part, English Heritage receive funding from the UK government, ultimately the UK tax payer but the costs of running, funding research and supporting excavations requires more. For this reason, the English Heritage charges its visitors a fee. This fee is levied on visitors from UK and visitors from abroad. To support the costs of visiting a site, English Heritage has several schemes.
For UK residents, English Heritage offer a membership scheme ranging from individual, joint, family and senior memberships. The English Heritage Membership is an excellent value for money scheme and you could navigate to read the complete guide on English Heritage Membership benefits. However, if you are not living in UK, the English Heritage Membership is not available to you. They do have a specially curated scheme for overseas residents visiting England on a vacation, What you need is the English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass that allows for exploring the ancient historic past of over 100 heritage sites. Here’s how it works…
English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass
The English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass is a convenient way to explore England’s favourite and most historic sites. The Overseas Visitors Pass is available to visitorson vacation and gives you the flexibility to get the most out of your trip. It is available to three groups of visitors – single adult, joint or two adults and family. You have two choices to select from:
9 consecutive day pass; or
16 consecutive day pass.
*Effective from day of first activation
What does the Overseas Visitors Pass cost?
The price of the Overseas Visitors Pass varies according to the group specified and the length of time you need it for. The following is what is advertised on the English Heritage site:
Prices for the English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass
9 days £
16 days £
1 x adult
2 x adults
The Family Pass – 2 adults and 4 family members up to the age of 18 living at the same address as the adults
**Prices are valid from April 1, 2022 to March 31 2023
Benefits of an English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass
The Overseas Visitors Pass is a simple way to explore some of England’s best and most treasured historic sites. These are:
The Pass grants access to 100+ sites including the most popular places – Stonehenge, Dover Castle and Tintagel Castle. Visit as many times as you like within the duration of your Pass;
Along with the Overseas Visitors Pass, you will receive a Guidebook to the attractions and places you could visit with the Pass. To plan beforehand and as a guide, take a look at this map by the English Heritage for Overseas Visitors Pass.
The Pass embeds great flexibility to suit your itinerary. Depending on your selection of either nine or sixteen days, it takes effect from first activation. You do not have to rush through your vacation, thereby rush through the sites. Plan ahead and dedicate the nine or sixteen days visiting all your must-see sites.
Value for money
With over a hundred places to visit, including Stonehenge and Dover Castle, you could start saving almost immediately after visiting two or three sites. A simple illustration to give you an idea of how much you would save although the sites may not be a representative sample of visitors most visited.
A simple illustration of how much you would save with an Overseas Visitors Pass.
Price per Adult £
Price per child £
Price per family – 2xadults + 3 kids £
1066 Battle of Hastings
With Overseas Visitors Pass – 9 days
Savings made with Overseas Visitors Pass
Adult: 18+ years | Child: 5-17 years | Family: 2xadults + up to 4 kids living in the same address | Prices include donations.
As can be seen, there are considerable savings to be made by visiting just three sites and you have a hundred left to explore! An incredible bargain – wouldn’t you agree?
Buying the English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass could not be easier. You could do it online – just click the link below and complete the details or navigate via the English Heritage site.
Where and how to collect the English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass
Bring along your email confirmation, proof of overseas residency/address and the credit card used for the purchase to collect your English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass from any of the English Heritage staffed site.
Whenever you choose to visit England, have a great time exploring and discovering England’s finest!
Due to recent global health and safety issues, please adhere to travel guidelines in the country you are travelling to. While we at TTS work hard to be accurate, and provide the best information possible, we also encourage you to please always check before heading out, as some attractions may be closed due to local restrictions.
For the latest on Travel Guidelines, please go to the following Official portals:
English Heritage Membership Benefitsand morefor 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.
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.
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.
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 schemes – English Heritage Membership mainly targeted to residents of UK and the Overseas Visitors Pass for visitors on a short-term vacation.
English Heritage Membership provides for various groups of visitors. Currently the scheme caters for four main groups with sub-categories – Family, 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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
Price per adult £
Price per child £
Family (2 adults + 3 kids) £
1066 Battle of Hastings
Total price per adult/child/family
Total price per family – 2 adults and up to 12 kids | Annual membership = £111.00 )
**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
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.
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 checkoutthroughout January 2022. Code can only be used for New Membership purchases. Code Expires 31 January 2022.