Excursions to historic English castles confirmed for 2014

One of the more exciting parts of Britain’s architectural history are the castles that dot the landscape. This summer, Oxford Royale Summer Schools students will get the chance to visit and explore three of these beautiful buildings, discover their fascinating history and get a taste of what life was like centuries ago.

Warwick Castle (for students aged 13-15 years)

Image shows Warwick Castle, with flowers in front of it.
Guy’s Tower at Warwick Castle – Image credit

On the site of an Anglo-Saxon fort, the medieval Warwick Castle was first built by William the Conqueror in 1068, and then rebuilt in stone in the 14th century. From one angle, it is a stunning example of a traditional castle with towers and battlements, whereas from the south it resembles a 17th century country house with lavish gardens. It is also home to one of the world’s largest siege engines.

The Tower of London (for students aged 13-15 years)

Image shows the Tower of London with two ravens in the foreground.
A superstition holds that if the ravens who live in the Tower are lost or fly away, then Britain will fall – Image credit

Few places are as rich with British history as the Tower of London. First founded in 1066 by William the Conqueror, it’s served as a royal residence, a prison, the home of the Royal Mint and now the home of the Crown Jewels. It is said to be haunted by Anne Boleyn, carrying her head under her arm, as well as by the Princes in the Tower, Lady Jane Grey, Margaret Pole and Henry VI – all of whom died in or near the Tower. Now this world heritage site is one of Britain’s most popular tourist attractions.

Broughton Castle (for students aged 13-15 years)

Image shows the gatehouse of Broughton Castle - Image credit
Broughton Castle gatehouse – Image credit

Broughton Castle is a stunningly beautiful 14th century moated manor house. It was an important fortification for the Parliamentarian side in the English Civil War. Several films have been shot in the castle, including The Madness of King George and Shakespeare in Love. It’s the ancestral home of author William Fiennes, who is related to the actor Ralph Fiennes and the explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes.

Hampton Court Palace (for students aged 16-18 years)

Image shows Hampton Court Palace.
The great gatehouse at Hampton Court Palace – Image credit

For anyone interested in Tudor history or the Reformation, Hampton Court Palace is utterly fascinating. Built for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in 1514, a favourite of Henry VIII at the time, it was given to the king in 1529 when the Catholic Wolsey fell out of favour. It was later expanded significantly by Sir Christopher Wren (the architect who designed St Paul’s Cathedral). It also houses an impressive 17th century maze.

Windsor Castle (for students aged 16-18 years)

Image shows Windsor Castle at sunset.
Windsor Castle at sunset – Image credit

Windsor Castle is the longest-occupied palace in Europe, occupied by the British royal family since the time of Henry I (king of England from 1100 to 1135). The huge and stunning castle is the preferred weekend home of Elizabeth II. It also hosts a significant portion of the Royal Collection of Art. The castle was originally built in the late 11th century as a motte and bailey, then gradually replaced with stone fortifications. Centuries of changes and improvements have left the beautiful building that can be visited today.
Are you fascinated by castles? Enjoy our article on the history of the English stately home.
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