On Unexpected Castles

If there’s one thing I love about the Great British countryside, it’s that at any moment you may just happen across an Unexpected Castle.
This happened to me not once, but twice at the weekend. The first was just around the corner from a wedding I attended – we snuck out partway through the dancing, past the twinkly lights and the revellers (and a few sheep), as we’d heard rumours of a castle. Not expecting much, we stumbled across the utterly magnificent Spofforth Castle. 
Ducking under low door lintels, we discovered remarkably intact rooms, archways and mysteriously bricked up staircases. This 13th century beauty has survived remarkably, considering it’s been in ruins since the 16th century. 
These decorative window elements have been preserved, which would have looked out from the hall over the green hill upon which we stood, taking photos with our mouths open. How had this been mentioned so casually?!
There were even some vintage looking warning signs. I wonder how long that one’s been there..?
Just time for a quick castle selfie and then back to the party.
The next day, suffering from a certain degree of post-weddingitis*, we broke our journey in the picturesque town of Newark Upon Trent. And look what stumbled across…
This castle was in a bit better shape, with a few internal features remaining. It’s a slightly older castle than Spofforth, having been built in the 12th Century – but it has had some fairly serious restoration efforts made since then, notably in the 19th century. 
There were quite a few informative signs around the place, and despite being a Sunday afternoon, the place was deserted and it was like having your own private castle to explore. Which was pretty cool.
There were some good window details remaining here, too. I’m not sure what my apparent obsession with windows is – maybe I just like looking out of them, knowing I’m seeing the exact same view as generations past. Or maybe I just think they’re pretty.
All in all, I think it’s one of the things I take for granted about living in England which I really shouldn’t, and that’s the wealth of really cool history in our backgardens, or waiting for us on our roadtrip pit stops. How lucky are we?!
Have you ever stumbled across an Unexpected Castle? Or, are there features about where you live that you take for granted?
*This is a recognised (in my family, at least) slump we go through on the day/days after a wedding which you’ve been particularly looking forward to. It’s a combination of realising how much you were looking forward to it, and being sad it’s now over, the emotional hangover of losing/gaining a family member, particularly if you were especially close to the couple, various other emotional elements, and then maybe a bit too much time in the sun or in uncomfortable clothing, plus possibly a touch of a hangover… Does anyone else get this?


  1. 30th June 2015 / 14:41

    Haha, I love your unexpected castle spottings! That’s so funny that there happened to be some incredible castle ruins right by the wedding you were at – love the sneaky wedding castle selfie! 🙂

    • 21st July 2015 / 09:05

      They did sneak up on me, those castles! It was awesome. I love an unexpected castle. I just can’t believe how many there are in this country! And as for the selfie… I may have been ruthlessly mocked by my husband, but that’s just the price to pay for blog amusement!

  2. 30th June 2015 / 21:41

    Love this! One of the many reasons why I love Europe so much is the history and the fact that these castles were totally functioning back in the day. So crazy to imagine that someone(s) used to live there and run over the lands! So awesome!

    • 21st July 2015 / 09:06

      I know, I do like to pretend the castle is still whole and that I live there and am just pottering around cleaning my house/castle. Considering popping out to Sainsbury’s to replenish the cellars. I wonder if anyone else does that….

  3. 1st July 2015 / 00:26

    Unexpected castles are the best!! I especially love finding them via train commutes! These finds are incredible, and the windows are exceptional, you’re right! 🙂 Weddingitis is VERY real, and you should coin the term and write a book about it! I bet you could get tons of personal interviews from people!!

    • 21st July 2015 / 09:07

      I’m glad you agree about Weddingitis, and it’s not just my family being weird. I mean I’m not glad you’ve experienced it, because it’s awful, but you know what I mean. A book… That is an awesome idea! Although it would be a bit miserable, so I’m not sure who would want to buy it…!

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