Castles in Kent
Kent has more castles and historic houses than any other county, there are 18 castles alone, from romantic Hever to the fortress of Dover.
Deal Castle was one sturdy link in the chain of coastal fortresses built by order of Henry VIII, who feared invasion from France. Further along the coast is Walmer Castle and Gardens, which in more recent years has become the elegant residence of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. Rising from a lake in 500 acres of glorious parkland, Leeds Castle is the epitome of elegance and a treasure house of furnishings, paintings and antiques dating back centuries.
By ‘unlocking’ Dover Castle hostile forces believed they could push open the door to the rest of the country. Today you can follow the compelling Second World War Secret Wartime Tunnels where the evacuation of Dunkirk was masterminded. You can then delve farther back into history and join the royal court of King Henry II in the Great Tower.

Castles in Kent

Leeds Castle
Leeds Castle- one of the most romantic and historic buildings in England has been home to royalty, lords and ladies for almost 900 years. Visitors to the castle today can wander through the castle rooms, have fun in Go Ape, the exciting tree top adventure park, and enjoy the tranquility of the beautiful gardens. Hot air balloon flights and a pay and play golf course are just some of the many other activities to get involved in during your visit; and if that’s not enough, why not attend one of the hugely popular summer concerts or one of the many other events happening throughout the year.
Chiddingstone Castle
Also found in this Chiddingstone is one of Kent’s best kept secrets, Chiddingstone Castle, a traditional country squire’s house that has the appearance of a grand castle. It was in 1805 that Henry Streatfield rebuilt his family home in grand Gothic style. In 1955 the house was bought by Denys Eyre Bower, a self-made man with a passion for collecting. Today, the
16th & 17th-century houses, Chiddingstone
castle houses Bower’s vast and varied collection, covering themes that range from relics from ancient Egypt and artefacts from Japan, to pictures and mementoes from the Royal Stuart dynasty.
Rochester Castle
Rochester Castle- spending most of his childhood in Rochester, Dickens would have known the
familiar sight of the Castle very well. Set as the backdrop to many of the scenes in his stories, this
amazing medieval castle has experienced untold horrors and also features in the new film Ironclad
(2011). Climb this Norman keep for bird’s eye views of Cloisterham (Edwin Drood) and Pip’s hometown spread out below. It is said that Dickens’ ghost haunts the grassy castle moat – a church graveyard in his time – because he wanted to be buried here but was honoured at Westminster Abbey instead.
Upnor Castle
With a river frontage along the Medway and a backdrop of wooded hills, Upnor became something of a resort for the people of the Medway area. However, while this is indeed an ideal place to spend some leisure time, the village has not always been so peaceful. In the 16th century, Elizabeth I ordered the construction of several fortifications along the Medway estuary to protect her dockyard at Chatham from invasion and, in 1559, Upnor Castle was constructed. Fronted by a water bastion jutting out into the River Medway, this castle saw action in 1667 when the Dutch sailed up the river with the intention of destroying the English naval fleet. The gun batteries at Upnor were the primary defence against this attack but they proved to be ineffective as the Dutch captured, and made off with, the British flagship the Royal Charles.
After this failure, the castle became a magazine and, at one time, more gunpowder was stored here than in the Tower of London. A survey of 1691 counted 5,206 barrels of gunpowder in storage. One of the guns that failed to stop the Dutch has been salvaged from the river and now stands guard outside the entrance to the fort; visitors here can tour the gatehouse and main body of the castle, reliving the Dutch raid through an exciting audio-visual model. The village itself grew up around the castle to provide facilities for the troops stationed there – in 1746 the soldiers
were described by one storekeeper as a set of drunken wretches. Needless to say, things are much more peaceful and civilised today.
Lympne Castle
St. Stephen's church and Lympne Castle overlook Romney Marsh, the church being significantly older, and close by Lympne Hill figures in the Doctor Syn stories.
Tonbridge Castle
"Reputedly England's finest example of a motte and bailey Castle with a splendid 13th century Gatehouse. Tonbridge Castle is set in landscaped gardens overlooking the River Medway.
The site is well interpreted and there are audio tours of the Gatehouse, bringing to life the story of kings and archbishops, tyrants and heroes, murderers and mercenaries, all of whom have helped to write some 900 years of English history. Experience with interactive displays and life-size figures a vivid recreation of the sights, sounds and excitement of 13th century castle life. Follow in the footsteps of the Red Earl and lend a hand in the guardroom as the Gatehouse comes under noisy attack from a battering ram and seige tower. See how the castle was defended and join the guards for supper, visit the armourers stores and imagine what it was like to be a lord or a lady at Tonbridge Castle 700 years ago.
Hever Castle
Hever Castle- a romantic double-moated 13th Century castle which houses historic 16th Century portraits, paintings, furniture, tapestries and treasures. Once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, artifacts here include two Books of Hours (prayer books), both signed and inscribed by Anne herself, and many other mementoes. Visitors can explore the magnificent gardens all year around, with Italian, Rose and Tudor gardens, the Topiary garden, Yew Maze and a splashing water maze. Take a stroll around the informal areas of Sunday Walk and ‘Anne Boleyn’s Walk’ or attend one of the exclusive events hosted throughout the year, including talks with the head gardener and jousting tournaments every summer.
Scotney Castle
Scotney Castle- based in Lamberhurst in Kent, Scotney Castle is a wonderful country house. At the top of the hill is the New House, designed by Anthony Salvin in Elizabethan style and built in 1837 for Edward Hussey III, who took the picturesque style as his inspiration. At the bottom of the valley are the romantic ruins of a medieval castle and moat. This is the focal point of the celebrated gardens and features beautiful examples of Rhododendrons, Azaleas and kalmia in May/June, voted among the top ten best English gardens to visit. Apart from the obvious architectural and historical interest, Scotney Castle represents a romantic and picturesque representation of a bygone era.
Cooling Castle
This isolated village lies on the Hoo peninsula, an area of bleak marshland lying between the Medway and the Thames. In 1381, John de Cobham of Cooling applied to Richard II to be granted the right to fortify his manor house as, at that time, the sea came right up to his house and he feared a seaborne attack. His fears were well founded, as a couple of years earlier the French had sailed up the river and set fire to several villages in the area. So the king was happy to allow the construction to go ahead. The result of de Cobham’s work, which became known as Cooling Castle, can still be seen clearly from the road (although it is not open to the public), but the sea has receded over the years and no longer laps the castle’s massive outer walls. In the 15th century, Cooling Castle became the home of Sir John Oldcastle, Lord of Cooling, who was executed in 1417 for the part he played in a plot against Henry V. Shakespeare is said to have modelled his character Falstaff on Sir John.
Close by the substantial castle remains stands St James’ Church (redundant but open for visits) where, in the graveyard, can be seen the 13 lozenge-shaped stones that mark the graves of various Comport children who all died of malaria in the 18th century. Not one of the children lived to be older than 17 months and these were, supposedly, the graves of Pip’s brothers in Dickens’s novel Great Expectations.
Chilham Castle
Chilham Castle is a manor house and keep in the village of Chilham, between Ashford and Canterbury. The polygonal Norman keep of the Castle, the oldest building in the village, dates from 1174. Still inhabited, it was said to have been built for King Henry II. However archaeological excavations carried out in the 1920s suggest that it stands on the foundations of a much older Anglo-Saxon fortification, possibly dating from the fifth century, and there is evidence of earlier Roman habitation in the vicinity.
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Dover Castle
Dover Castle- set in a spectacular location high above the famous White Cliffs, Dover Castle commands the shortest sea crossing between England and the continent and boasts an eventful history. Visitors to the Castle today can step inside the newly-renovated Great Tower to meet themed characters or re-live the turbulent war years and drama of the Dunkirk evacuation of May 1940 in the recently opened Operation Dynamo. With exciting exhibitions, winding tunnels to explore, ghosts to hunt out and of course restaurants, shops and ample space for youngsters to run around, Dover Castle offers a fantastic day out for everyone.
Walmer Castle
Walmer Castle- an enchanting castle built in 1540 during the reign of King Henry VIII, originally designed as part of a chain of coastal artillery defences. Centuries of domestic refinements have transformed the Castle from a fortress into an elegant stately home with beautiful gardens, and it is now home of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. The Duke of Wellington held the post for 23 years and enjoyed his time spent at the castle and in recent years Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother made regular visits.
Allington Castle
Allington Castle is a Grade I listed building. Much of the stonework was laid in an intricate herringbone pattern which is still visible today. It was the birthplace in 1503 of the English lyrical poet Sir Thomas Wyatt and in 1521 of his son the rebel leader Thomas Wyatt.
The manor house on the site was fortified by Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports Stephen de Penchester in 1281 after a licence to crenellate was issued by Edward I. It was converted to a mansion in 1492 when the Wyatt family acquired the property. Towards the end of the 16th century whilst under the ownership of the Wyatt family the castle was badly damaged by fire, remaining largely derelict until 1905 when it was restored by Sir Martin Conway.
In 1951 the castle became home to a convent of the Order of Carmelites. It is currently the private residence of the psephologist Sir Robert Worcester and Lady Worcester. It is not open to the public.
Canterbury Castle
Canterbury Castle was one of the three original Royal castles of Kent (the other two being Rochester Castle and Dover Castle). They were all built soon after the Battle of Hastings, on the main Roman road from Dover to London. This was the route taken by William the Conqueror in October 1066, and they were built originally as motte-and-bailey castles to guard this important route.
Deal Castle
Deal Castle is located in Deal, Kent, England, between Walmer Castle and the now lost Sandown Castle.
It is one of the most impressive of the Device Forts or Henrician Castles built by Henry VIII between 1539 and 1540 as an artillery fortress to counter the threat of invasion from Catholic France and Spain. It is shaped like a Tudor rose, being perfectly symmetrical, with a low, circular keep at its centre. Around the circumference of the keep are six bastions, with a further series of six bastions in the curtain wall, one of which serves as the gatehouse. All the outer walls of the castle and bastions are rounded to both provide strength and to deflect shot more efficiently than flat walls. Over 200 cannon and gun ports were set within the walls and the entire structure was completely
Kingsgate Castle
Kingsgate Castle on the cliffs above Kingsgate Bay, Broadstairs, Kent was built for Lord Holland (Henry Fox, 1st Baron Holland) in the 1760s. The name Kingsgate is related to an incidental landing of Charles II on 30 June 1683 ("gate" referring to a cliff-gap) though other English monarchs have also used this cove, such as George II in 1748. The building was later the residence of John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury. The building has now been converted into 31 flats.