Castles

Balmoral Castle - 123
Balmoral Castle - 123

Balmoral Castle has been the Scottish home of the Royal Family since it was purchased for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852, having been first leased in 1848.

The original castle was considered too small for the needs of the Royal Family and under the supervision of Prince Albert a new building was designed. The castle was built from granite from the neighbouring quarries of Glen Gelder, which produced a near white stone.

On 28th September 1853 the foundation stone of the new castle was laid by Queen Victoria and building was finally completed in 1856. The original castle was demolished and the position of the front door of the old castle is marked by a plaque on the front lawn.

When Queen Victoria died in 1901 Balmoral Estates passed, under the terms of her will, to King Edward VII, and from him to each of his successors.

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Conway Castle and Bridge - 124 remounted
Conway Castle and Bridge - 124 remounted

Words cannot do justice to Conwy Castle. The best, simple description is found in the guidebook published by CADW, the Welsh Historic Trust, which states: "Conwy is by any standards one of the great fortresses of medieval Europe." Conwy along with Harlech is probably the most impressive of all the Welsh castles. Both were designed by Edward I's master castle builder James of St. George, and while Harlech has a more storied past, Conwy's eight massive towers and high curtain wall are more impressive than those at Harlech.

Unlike Harlech however, Conwy Castle and town are surrounded by a well-preserved wall lending an additional sense of strength to the site. A similar town wall exists at Caernarfon Castle, but is far less complete and gets lost in the modern town. By contrast, Conwy's well-preserved wall helps the town maintain a medieval character lost by other Welsh castle-towns over the years. Construction of Conwy began in 1283. The castle was an important part of King Edward I's plan of surrounding Wales in "an iron ring of castles" to subdue the rebellious population. The highly defensible wall Edward built around the town was intended to protect the English colony planted at Conwy. The native Welsh population were violently opposed to English occupation of their homeland.

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Kenilworth Castle - 126
Kenilworth Castle - 126

The earliest reference to Kenilworth occurs in the Domesday Book, of 1086, where we find that Kenilworth was a small settlement of about 100 villagers living in a clearing in the Forest of Arden, belonging to the Royal Manor of Stoneleigh. Within the space of 40 years, for reasons that are unclear, Geoffrey de Clinton, Chamberlain to Henry I, determined to build what was to become possibly the most magnificent castle in England, in this obscure forest clearing. A local outcrop of good building stone would have been one factor for selecting this spot

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Warwick Castle - The River Front - 127
Warwick Castle - The River Front - 127

Warwick Castle, the finest Mediaeval Castle in England, rises majestically from the banks of the River Avon, just a few miles from Shakespeare's Stratford, on a site fortified by William the Conqueror in 1068.

For centuries, Warwick Castle was home to the mighty Earls of Warwick, who were to play such key roles in the Wars of the Roses and the Hundred Years War with France. Richard III once owned the Castle and started new fortifications before meeting his death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. Later, the Castle was a Parliamentarian stronghold during the English Civil War.

With its dark, dank dungeon, gruesome torture chamber and splendid armoury, the Middle Ages come to life at Warwick Castle.

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Warwick Castle - The River Front - 127 from calendar
Warwick Castle - The River Front - 127 from calendar



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