Things to see and do
Welcome to Carisbrooke Castle
We have introduced limits on visitor numbers to help keep everyone safe, and you won’t be able to visit without your booking confirmation. If you’re a Member, your ticket will be free, but you still need to book in advance. To book your visit, click here.
Although things might be a little different when you visit, you’ll still be able to enjoy exploring the places where history really happened. And you’ll still be given a warm and safe welcome by our friendly – if socially distant – staff and volunteers.
- Castle Grounds - The castle grounds and keep will be open. One way systems will be in place to help guide your way around the route.
- Exhibitions -The castle's Guardhouse, offering an introduction to the site and its history, will remain open.
- Donkey demonstrations - The wheel and well house will be open to view but demonstrations will not be taking place at the moment. Instead you can meet the donkeys in the Stable Yard.
- Indoor Spaces – The Wheel House will be open to allow viewing of the wheel. The Castle Chapel will be closed.
- Museum - The Ground floor and upper galleries of the Carisbrooke Castle Museum (managed by the Carisbrooke Museum Trust) are now open Thursday – Monday from 11am to 3pm.
- Cafe - The Castle Tea Room will be open for take-away drinks and cakes. A one-way queuing system is in place.
- Shop - The castle’s smaller shop within the grounds will be open, using a one-way system. The main shop will remain closed.
- Toilets - The castle's toilet facilities will be open as usual. Additional hand sanitising stations will be available in various locations.
- Face masks - Face coverings must be worn in Carisbrooke Castle's indoor shop, café, tea room and all other indoor spaces. We won’t be able to give you a face covering, so please come prepared so you don’t miss out.
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.
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 to raise the water (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.
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.
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.
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. The plants were chosen to echo Princess Beatrice's blue, red and gold heraldic crest, and the layout reflects architectural detail on the adjoining Chapel of St Nicholas.
Come and enjoy the charming period planting, water features and orchard, from the ground level and from the battlement walk.
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.
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.
Treat yourself to a delicious light meal or snack in the delightful tearoom.
Located above the castle's former carriage room, the tearoom serves a delicious selection of locally produced hot and cold snacks, treats and light lunches. Stop by to enjoy sandwiches, cakes, ice cream, hot and cold drinks. Perfect refreshment whatever the weather.
Plan your visit to Carisbrooke Castle today.