Family fun at Carisbrooke Castle

Carisbrooke Castle is one of the Islands’ most iconic visitor attraction. We all visited as children when over on school trips, and remember the donkeys turning the giant wheel to lift water from the well, as well as the real proper castle ramparts that just call out to be climbed and explored by young and old alike. Now the family and I hadn’t been to the castle for many years, so one sunny Sunday morning we decided to set out on a proper adventure and go see what was new at the castle.

Entering through the great gift shop (we had to drag the girls through to stop them trying to buy themselves wooden swords, shields and bows and arrows), we went to watch a short film that’s on show taking you on a brief history of the castle – voiced by Phil Jupitus.

Famous for being the last place King Charles 1 was held before being taken to London and executed, and latterly the home of Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Beatrice, the castle history actually dates right back as far as Saxon times when it was probably a fortress used to protect against Viking raids due to its elevated position with far reaching views. It was later converted in to a Norman castle after the Norman conquest, the keep and motte of which can still be seen today.

Apart from the donkeys – the girls really loved walking the ramparts and having such commanding view of the whole Island – coast to coast.

In the summer English Heritage have all sorts of fantastic days out at the castle, this May half term there is Cavaliers and Roundheads where you can discover what it took to be a soldier of the English Civil War, learn cavalry skills and hear tales from the Civil War including the story of King Charles I.

Or in August, new this year, there is The Joust: Good v Evil. This is the joust to end all jousts. Four of the most skillful knights in the Kingdom, mounted on their magnificent steeds, battle for love or eternal sorrow. Good or evil; who will triumph? You can step back in time and experience an epic tournament full of rich pageantry and excitement. We’ve not been before but this one is definitely going in our family calendar.

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