A Visit to Carisbrooke Castle with English Heritage

This weekend we were invited to stay on the Isle of Wight with Island View Holidays at Rookley Country Park and I put together an itinerary of where we would like to visit.

Typically, the kids picked Blackgang Chine and Robin Hill, where we had visited and enjoyed last year, but Hubby and I were more keen to take in some of the history of the island.

On our journey from Yarmouth to Rookley where we were staying, we drove past Carisbrooke Castle and all agreed it was somewhere we would like to visit.

Carisbrooke Castle is an English Heritage site whose history can be traced back to as early as 1,000AD, with the first castle form being built by William FitzOsbern who is thought to have built the first castle to secure the Isle of Wight for the Normans.

Carisbrooke Castle

It has been a central place of power and defence on the Isle of Wight for over 1,000 years and is probably most famous for being the place where Charles I was held prisoner here during the Civil War, shortly before his execution.

Carisbrooke Knights

Whilst Hubby and I took in all the fascinating information about the castle and its history, the kids did what they do best – reenacted it!!

Princess Eliza

We found a dressing up room which was packed full of clothing from the Middle Ages and all enjoyed a spot of dressing up.

Knights and Princess

One of the highlights of visiting Carisbrooke Castle is meeting their resident donkey’s; Jack, Jill, Jigsaw and Juno. Their names are cleverly inspired by Charles I, who signed his secret letters with a ‘J’.


Donkeys have played a role at the castle since the 17th century when they would walk on a tread-wheel to raise water from the well and we got to see a demonstration from Jack.

Carisbrooke Castle - Donkey

The Donkey’s have a very strict contract and only work for a maximum of 6 minutes a day, for around 90 seconds at a time, only raising an empty bucket up a few feet, but it is still fascinating to watch and the talk is well worth joining for all the facts. Did you know that the well itself is a staggering 161ft deep and was hand dug by just two prisoners!


Once the talk had finished, we headed across to Beatrice’s Garden. This garden was her private garden which has been used for both pleasure and kitchen purposes since the 17th century. It is full of hedges, fruit trees, decorative shrubs and flowers and carvings and statues.

Beatrice's Garden

On the edge of the gardens is the stunning St Nicholas’ chapel which has now become a war memorial for war dead of the whole island after the First World War.

St Nicholas Chapel

By far the best bit of visiting any castle is climbing the battlements.


Unlike some castles we have visited, there are some safety railings around the walls, although that didn’t stop the kids giving me a fright and finding some walls to lean over with a sheer drop the other side.

Carisbrooke Castle Battlements

The kids loved clambering up the 71-stair climb to explore the 14th century remains of the spectacular motte and keep.

Motte and Keep

Isaac was in charge as they planned their battle with enemy troops and pretended to shoot arrows over the walls to ward off an enemy attack on the horizon.

Keep Carisbrooke

The views were stunning, despite the gloomy weather, so I can only imagine how it would look on a sunny day.

View from Carisbrooke

It was then time to head back down the stairs as there was one more place to visit.

Carisbrooke Castle

Inside the walls of the castle is Carisbrooke Castle Museum, a local history museum run by an independent Charitable Trust.

Carisbrooke Princess

The Museum is free to enter and has over 27,000 items connected with the Isle of Wight. It includes social history, medieval history, King Charles I and his bedroom and examples of letters he wrote, costumes to try on, photographs etc – make sure you take some small change with you, as the kids loved flinging the coins with the mini trebuchet.

Isaac Soldier

We are English Heritage members which gives us unlimited access to over 400 historic places for a whole year and find it a great way of saving money on days out. Find out more about membership here.

Do you enjoy visiting castles with the kids?

Country Kids

26 thoughts on “A Visit to Carisbrooke Castle with English Heritage

  1. Those shots are great. What a great day out for kids to see new things and learn. I love castles.

  2. So cute all dressed up! There’s a lot to do here it’s definitely a full day out, we would love this. We’ve never been to the Isle of Wight I’d really love to go! #CountryKids

  3. I love visiting castles every weekend when I am home and though I am an English Heritage member I am yet to utilise the member except for the stonehenge

  4. What a great place to use your membership. It is fascinating to read the history through your post on Charles 1 and his love of the donkeys. I can see why the kids would enjoy it too with plenty of places to explore and climb and imaginary games to be played. A little dressing up always brings history to life and it looks like there were plenty of opportunities here.

    Thank you for sharing with me on #CountryKids

  5. I do love it there, spent so many summers running around the place but I’d remembered it as being about 10 times the size that it actually is. Childhood memories play tricks on adults. The donkey on the wheel is a memory I’ve kept for well over 40 years It’s a magical place for kids to explore #CountryKids

  6. Do you know, I have a friend on IOW but have never visited! They operate the theme park there, so that’s all I’ve ever imagined. Your pictures show a completely different side and I’d love to visit now.

  7. We love visiting castles with our son and this looks great. I love the fact the kids can dress up and let their imagination run wild. That’s certainly not something I haven’t seen at other castles!

  8. We wondered about visiting here when we were on the Isle Of Wight, looks great and I will add this to a place to visit when we visit there again

  9. We didn’t manage to visit Carisbrooke Castle on our recent holiday but it’s somewhere I’d like to visit in the future. It looks like there is plenty to do and see there and having a dressing up room is always fun. I quite like the fact there are safety railings too! #countrykids

  10. I love how so many historic buildings have dressing up and activities for kids these days, it makes them so much more easy to visit with kids which means as a grown up you actually get to go to places you fancy too!

  11. We love castle visits as a family. As many remain untouched structurally it really gives the kids a feel for what it was like so many years ago. This place looks like a fab castle

  12. this place looks brilliant! I love visiting castles and historic buildings and reading all the info boards when there. so good they had a dressing up room for the kids as well – makes it all the more fun for them 🙂

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