Fascinating English Heritage Castles to visit in the East Midlands

It's the summer holidays and you're sitting on your favourite picnic blanket. The sun is shining and you're watching your kids run around the field in front of a castle ruin. You've spent the morning learning history related to the castle - which even the kids found interesting - and you're about to enjoy the lovely packed lunch you brought with you. It's been a brilliant morning spent with your family exploring the fascinating English Heritage Castle you visited - and the best bit? It was only a short drive from your home in the East Midlands.

Fascinating English Heritage Castles To Visit In The East Midlands | Venture inside the castles and explore!
Explore inside the castles too!

Like the sound of that? It could be you by visiting one of the fascinating English Heritage Castles in the East Midlands - there are so many of them and I'm almost certain there's one on your doorstep! Read on to find out where your nearest castle is.

English Heritage Castles in Derbyshire

Bolsover Castle

Okay, so I started with my favourite - Bolsover Castle. Of all the English Heritage Castles we've visited in the East Midlands Bolsover Castle is my favourite because it's where I married the love of my life. I remember planning our wedding and wondering where on earth we would get married - and then I found out you could get married in a castle - I mean who wouldn't want to get married in a castle? It's out of a fairytale, isn't it? So yes, Bolsover Castle is my favourite place to visit and it will always hold that special place in my heart.

Fascinating English Heritage Castles To Visit In The East Midlands | I married my love in Bolsover Castle.

But it's not on the list because of its personal meaning to me, it's actually a fascinating castle. You can explore the ruin and the intact part of the castle. You can walk along the wall, see paintings of past residents of the castle and even learn about the history of Bolsover and the surrounding area. There are some awesome views from the top of the castle too. Oh, and if you visit, pay special attention to the Star Chamber - I said my vows in there!

Fascinating English Heritage Castles To Visit In The East Midlands | See fantastic sculptures around Bolsover Castle.

Fascinating English Heritage Castles To Visit In The East Midlands | Explore the ruin of Bolsover Castle
The boys loved investigating the ruin at Bolsover.

Fascinating English Heritage Castles To Visit In The East Midlands | Walk along the wall and see far into the distance.
There are amazing views to be had on the wall!

Fascinating English Heritage Castles To Visit In The East Midlands | Hubby and I said our vows in the Star Chamber at Bolsover Castle.
Hubby and I saying our vows.

Hardwick Old Hall

Hardwick Old Hall may not be a castle, but it may as well be. It has an interesting ruin to walk through which has stairs so you can even walk around and see the upstairs despite there being no floor in some places. 

Fascinating English Heritage Castles To Visit In The East Midlands | Hardwick Old Hall is a great place to spend the day.
Let your kids explore while you listen to the audio tour.

If you visit Hardwick Old Hall though you really must listen to the audio tour - not only does it tell you about the Hall and its residents but it has some interesting facts too, like the reason behind the four-poster bed which I'd always wondered about.

Fascinating English Heritage Castles To Visit In The East Midlands | You can see Hardwick Hall from the old hall too!
You can even see Hardwick Hall from the Old Hall - brilliant.

The last time we visited Hardwick Old Hall we had a blast. It was so much fun learning about the residents of the area and the things they got up to. And I remember the kids saying they'd enjoyed it too, and given they were probably 5 and 11 at the time I think that's a win!

Peveril Castle

In Castleton in Derbyshire, Peveril Castle has some breathtaking views all around and there's an interesting Keep for you to explore. Again there are ruins to walk around too, and dotted around the place are plaques with information about what you're looking at. That's where you can learn about the history of Peveril Castle

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.

Marcus Garvey

Peveril Castle is one of the earliest Norman fortresses and the Doomsday survey mentions it!

It's been a few years since we last visited Peveril Castle, but it was a great place to learn about English history and appreciate the things our ancestors did to keep the area safe. As it's mostly a ruin, it's definitely one of the most fascinating English Heritage Castles in the East Midlands.

Sutton Scarsdale Hall

While not really a castle, Sutton Scarsdale Hall is still an interesting English Heritage property to visit if you're enjoying the castles. There's plenty to see and wonder about, as well as explore. There's a lovely field in the area too so you'd be able to enjoy a lovely picnic while looking at the vast shell of the Georgian mansion. Just looking at the columns on the outside makes me wonder about the people that once lived there. Have you ever visited?

English Heritage Castles in Nottinghamshire

Rufford Abbey

The most interesting thing about Rufford Abbey is that it has both ruins and a later built mansion. In Rufford Country Park, the ruins that date from 1170 were incorporated into a 17th century mansion. At Rufford Abbey you can learn about another one of Bess of Hardwick's husbands as well as enjoy walks or a picnic in the 150 acre country park.

Fascinating English Heritage Castles To Visit In The East Midlands | Rufford Abbey has places for you to explore as well as a fantastic field to have a picnic.
A plan of the Abbey.

As we live fairly close, Rufford Abbey is on our list to visit this summer - it's a great place to wander around as well as learn about the history. With the country park and plenty of grassy areas, it's the perfect place to enjoy a summer picnic while the kids run around.

Mattersey Priory

While a small ruin, you can still imagine what things might've been like for residents back in the 13th century refectory and kitchen. Despite there not being much left of the original building, there are plans for you to check out showing the layout of the building and you can learn about a fire that ruined the church nearby, and the history of the Gilbertine monasteries.

English Heritage Castles in Lincolnshire

Tattershall College

The building of Tattershall College completed in 1460 by William of Wainfleet, Bishop of Winchester, after the death of Lord Cromwell, its patron. As you walk around the interior of the college, you'll see Tudor arched doorways and note the red brickwork, which makes the college one of the oldest brickwork buildings in England as it retains its original fabric.

I always find it interesting to walk around old buildings like this and imagine what life would've been like for its residents.

Bolingbroke Castle

The remains of a 13th century hexagon shaped castle, the birthplace of the future King Henry IV. Later besieged and taken by Lord Cromwell's parliamentarians. There's not much to see, apart from the ruins, but I still think it's worth visiting, because you can see the brickwork used to build the original Bolingbroke Castle.

History is merely a list of surprises. It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again.

Kurt Vonnegut

Lincoln Medieval Bishop's Palace

I always enjoy visiting Lincoln, what with the cathedral and the lovely streets and shops. If you ever visit Lincoln, you really must visit Lincoln Medieval Bishop's Palace where you can see one of the once most important buildings in England.

The palace stands almost in the shadow of Lincoln Cathedral and you can walk around the ruins led by a fantastic audio tour. And after walking around the Palace and learning about its history, you can enjoy a picnic in the gardens nearby, they're a peaceful place to sit and reflect and enjoy a family picnic.

Gainsborough Old Hall

One of the biggest and best-preserved medieval manor houses in England, Gainsborough Old Hall is a must visit. See an enormous medieval kitchen with an immense fireplace and an ornate wooden ceiling in the great hall. You can check out the interactive floor plans and see lovely wall paintings while walking around the hall. Gainsborough Old Hall is such an interesting place to visit as it's not a ruin - it's a well-preserved building with a roof! You can wander around and look at everything and learn about its history too. Win.

Thornton Abbey & Gatehouse

With a truly breathtaking gatehouse building to explore, and a field to enjoy a family picnic, Thornton Abbey & Gatehouse is a great place to visit. Learn about the history of one of Britain's richest Augustinian abbeys as it was one of the few places to survive the suppression of monasteries. It's a place to snap some amazing photos and enjoy family time - a great day to be had by all.

English Heritage Castles in Leicestershire

Kirby Muxloe Castle

Fascinating English Heritage Castles To Visit In The East Midlands | Kirby Muxloe Castle is a really interesting place.

An actual moated castle you can explore the remains and learn the history surrounding the fortified mansion. Built for Lord Hastings, Kirby Muxloe Castle serves as a poignant memorial to his ambition and sudden death, as he was seized and executed by Richard III.

Fascinating English Heritage Castles To Visit In The East Midlands | Check out the tower at Kirby Muxloe.

You can explore the castle and enjoy a picnic on the grounds, and take a stroll around the moat. Definitely one for your summer/school holidays list.

Fascinating English Heritage Castles To Visit In The East Midlands | A moat surrounds Kirby Muxloe Castle.

Ashby de la Zouch Castle

Fascinating English Heritage Castles To Visit In The East Midlands | Ashby De La Zouch Castle is an interesting place to check out.

One of my favourite places to visit in Leicestershire, Ashby Castle is a great place for a family day out. With an audio tour where you can learn about its colourful history including the attacks during Civil War, and a tower where you can climb and see breathtaking views from the top, Ashby Castle is sure to be top of your list whenever you're looking for a family day out.  

Fascinating English Heritage Castles To Visit In The East Midlands | Morgan walking along the ruins of the castle.

I remember enjoying a sit down on the grounds of Ashby Castle as the boys ran around exploring the ruins nearby. I remember smiling as I watched them play and how I was enjoying a rest after exploring the tower. It really is a great day out.

Fascinating English Heritage Castles To Visit In The East Midlands | Ashby Castle even has a field where the kids can play.

English Heritage Castles in Northants

Kirby Hall

Kirby Hall is one of England’s greatest Elizabethan and 17th-century houses, once owned by Sir Christopher Hatton. While partly roofless there are still rooms redecorated to 17th, and 18th century specifications for you to explore and enjoy. You can get a view of the gardens from inside as well as explore outside too. 

Fascinating English Heritage Castles To Visit In The East Midlands | Kirby Hall is a great place to explore.
Explore inside and out.

Fascinating English Heritage Castles To Visit In The East Midlands | Walk inside ruins at Kirby Hall.
And don't forget to explore the ruin too.

The gardens are beautifully kept and walking around is peaceful and enjoyable. Be sure to stop by and listen to the audio tour too!

When I was in school, I thought history was boring, but when I visited some of these castles in the East Midlands, I couldn't get enough of the historical information. Learning little snippets about people's lives back then or how they went about building the amazing castles was cool, and I always look forward to going back. The best bit about it all is that the kids enjoy listening to the audio tours too - they listen carefully to the history stories and pay attention to what they hear. And if you're planning on enjoying a picnic too, they even have something to look forward to when they're finished. Visiting any of these English Heritage Castles in the East Midlands is sure to be a fantastic day out - whichever you choose.

Have you ever visited an English Heritage Castle?