When we go on holiday we tend to head West, so Kent is somewhere we have yet to explore properly and we have a long list of places we would like to visit.
Sadly a weekend is not enough to do everything on the list, so we decided to take advantage of our English Heritage membership and visit Dover Castle.
Dover Castle is a large medieval castle that was founded in the 11th century and has been described as the “Key to England” due to its defensive significance throughout history.
The War Time Tunnels
The first thing the kids wanted to do was explore the secret wartime tunnels which are buried deep into the hillside underneath the castle.
Photography is not allowed in the tunnels, but inside are brilliant interactive displays which tells you how the greatest rescue of all time took place with a series of special effects, projections and real film footage to bring the operation to life.
Outside of the tunnels is a small museum, cafe and shop with displays and dressing up for the kids to interact with.
Next door to the Operation Dynamo tunnel is the Underground Hospital.
This tunnel gives you the opportunity to experience the sights, sounds and smells of this authentic underground hospital by following the dramatic journey of a wounded WWII pilot, fighting for his life as he is rushed through to the operating theatre. Be aware that this experience may not be suitable for young children as there are flickering lights and bangs as if the local area is being bombed.
During the First World War, Dover was officially designated as a fortress with Dover Castle acting as military headquarters and there are displays for the kids to interact with and see how the military communicated with each other.
It took them a while to figure out how to use the phones!!
There is a great signalling platform to climb which offers fabulous views over the infamous white cliffs of Dover too.
TOP TIP: It is best to get the tunnels done early as they can get busy later in the day – we arrived just after opening and got on a tour straight away.
First used by Iron Age inhabitants as a hill fort, the Romans built a lighthouse, the Saxons a church but it was Henry II who was responsible for the impressive Great Tower.
There are a few pathways to the Great Tower and we chose to climb up to the outer walls and make our way round the long way and take in the lovely views over the countryside.
The Great Tower has been staged just like a medieval court so you can see how the King would have lived.
At the base of the tower are the kitchens, complete with hanging carcasses, bread ovens and all the tools you would need to serve up a banquet fit for a King.
As you climb the different floors, the rooms are dressed as if they are waiting for a royal visitor. We even happened on a feast led by King John and watched as he was entertained by a harpist and a court jester.
The rooms include colourful wall hangings and stunning furnishings, all based on historical research and evidence.
The view from the top is breathtaking.
Dover Castle is a full day out of fun and history for all the family and costs £54.30 for a family (2 x adults and up to 3 children). English Heritage members are free.