Things to see and do

 
Family at Carisbrooke Castle

Conquer the castle

Come and play bowls on the green used by a defeated king. Carisbrooke Castle is where King Charles I was imprisoned following the English Civil War. Can you find the rooms from which he attempted to escape?

Revel in history as you explore this well-preserved castle and grounds. Carisbrooke has survived more than 800 years of service, resisting a French siege and seeing off the Spanish Armada.

Children will love dressing up as Norman soldiers or Civil War troopers in the gatehouse.

Girl with two donkeys at Carisbrooke Castle

Meet the donkeys

Meet the castle’s resident donkeys who have been drawing up water in the well-house for hundreds of years. 

Come and watch their daily demonstrations working the 16th-century tread wheel where water was raised (49 metres or 161 feet) from the bottom of the castle well.

You can hear more about their story in a film hosted by Jupiter the cartoon donkey, voiced by locally raised comedian Phil Jupitus.

People on wall walk at Carisbrooke Castle

Explore Royal Connections

Famously Carisbrooke was the prison for the deposed Charles I. The king was held here for 14 months before his execution in 1649. At first comfortably accommodated in the Constable's Lodgings, his efforts to escape led to more secure imprisonment. Humiliatingly, his first escape attempt failed when he became wedged in the bars of his window. 

The royal connection continued with Queen Victoria's youngest daughter, Princess Beatrice, who opened a memorial museum to her husband in the gatehouse. Beatrice became governor of the island and took up residence in the castle in 1913.  The most recent royal connection was in 1965, when Earl Mountbatten was installed as the governor of the Isle of Wight at Carisbrooke by Queen Elizabeth II.

Castle Keep at Carisbrooke Castle

Norman Keep and Wall Walk

Climb the steep steps up the massive castle mound to enjoy unrivalled birds-eye views from the ancient castle keep. The earthworks and keep were begun around 1100, when the whole Isle of Wight was granted to the de Redvers family.

You can walk right around the castle on the battlements and see across the island in all directions.  Imagine life as a medieval soldier, try on armour and have a go at firing a mini-cannon in the gatehouse.

Beautiful purple flower in Carisbrooke Castle Princess Beatrice Garden

Princess Beatrice Garden

Designed by TV gardener Chris Beardshaw, this pretty Edwardian-style garden is based on the original garden retreat of Queen Victoria's daughter.

Come and enjoy the charming period planting, water features and orchard, from the ground level and from the battlement walk.

As part of the commemorations to mark 100 years since the First World War, a statue of the war horse Warrior was placed in the garden in 2014.

View across the courtyard to the Castle Museum in Carisbrooke Castle, housed in the Great Hall

Exhibition and Castle Museum

Start your visit to the castle by exploring the presentation in the 16th century guardhouse.   Discover Carisbrooke Castle’s long and often tumultuous history through a fascinating film and virtual tour. 

You can also visit the Carisbrooke Castle Museum (managed by the Carisbrooke Museum Trust) full of Charles I memorabilia and host to regularly changing exhibitions. The museum is housed in the castle’s Great Hall, St Peter's Chapel and Constables’ Lodging. The latter was used by Princess Beatrice as her summer residence until 1938 whilst she was the governor of the island.

Statue inside Carisbrooke Castle's chapel

Chapel

Experience the beauty and tranquillity of St Nicholas' chapel.

The current chapel was built in 1904 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Charles I's execution, though there had been a chapel at the castle since medieval times. Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter, commissioned the altar painting following the death of her youngest son, Maurice, at Ypres.

The chapel became a war memorial for war dead of the whole island after the First World War.

Delicious coffee and walnut cake

Castle Tearoom

Treat yourself to a delicious light meal or snack in the delightful tearoom.

Located above what was a carriage room the tearoom serves a selection of locally produced hot and cold food including sandwiches, soup, cakes, hot and cold beverages.

Perfect refreshment whatever the weather.

Plan your visit to Carisbrooke Castle today.

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