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See The Heritage Of Southern England

Castles and battles make for a fantastic family adventure
A young man imagining Anglo-Saxon battles at Sutton Hoo

The southern half of England has amazing castles, according to Stacey Hall at the National Trust. The charity works to protect the fabulous heritage of England and Wales and has benefited from funds raised by players of People's Postcode Lottery to the tune of £5 Million.

Stacey said, "There are lots of fantastic castles to explore in the southern half of England and most of them don't cost too much for family tickets while encouraging children to bring history to life in an exciting way. Here are the ones I really recommend."

Sutton Hoo in Woodbridge, Suffolk is an Anglo-Saxon burial ground, home to one of England's greatest ancient discoveries - an 88ft wooden burial ship. Climb to the top of the 17m high viewing tower or follow one of the many woodland walks to burn off youthful energy before seeking refreshments at the café.

Dunster Castle and its watermill in Somerset offers ancient walls on top of a hill, vast open spaces and a reminder of the best bits of the country's industrial past. It's the archetypal British castle - visually impressive and incorporating a 1,000 years of history.

Young and old can find out how it has been transformed through the ages from a fortress to a family home. The mill dates back to the 18th century and is completely restored and fully operational.

Bodiam Castle in East Sussex is set in '1066 country' - the year of the Battle of Hastings. This medieval gem, with its original moat, towers, and portcullis, conjures up the perfect image of what a stronghold should look like.

Walk over the bridge, spot carp in the waters below and take a step back in time. Climb steep towers and battlements, look out of murder holes, and spark visions of days of yore. At certain times, you can even meet medieval characters and watch armour demonstrations.

Hampshire offers Mottisfont, an 18th-century country house with a medieval priory at its heart. Inside the 800-year-old walls, there's a secret panel leading to the priory and the Whistler Room. There's a poignant message from the artist, painted before he left for active service in the Second World War, where he was tragically killed.

Outside there's a 'Wild Play' area and activity trails. The gardens are fun to explore, and children can take on "50 things to do before you're 11 and 3/4" challenges - just the thing to tire out young legs!

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Published: 25/07/2023

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