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Carisbrooke Castle (Isle of Wight)
Member Name: elfbwillow1
Carisbrooke Castle (Isle of Wight)
Date: 29/03/10, updated on 29/03/10 (238 review reads)
Advantages: A great source of history
Disadvantages: Limited Disabled Access
Isle of Wight
On a recent trip to the well known Isle of Wight, one attraction we were looking forward to seeing was Carisbrooke Castle, based in the center of the island at the capital of Carisbrooke. At first, we were slightly disappointed with the leaflets describing the castle as a 'donkey sanctuary' as we wanted to see the castle rather than some donkeys, though I am glad we ignored this part as the visit was well worth while.
'It is my earnest hope and desire that with the help and co-operation of others I may be able to form a full collection of objects of historical interest connected with the Island, so that this memorial gatehouse may become a museum worthy of such an interesting castle.' Quote from Princess Beatrice on 11 August 1898.
This delightful medieval castle is situated high upon a hill and holds unique history dating back to the 8th century. The main building was laid out in the 11th century into the beginning of the 12th century, and as the castle passed from one person to another, more of the castle was built, including the flanking towers, the gatehouse, keep houses and domestic houses, the well house in the courtyard all the way up until the 17th century when donkeys were introduced to the castle to drive the winding gear in the well.
Quite a lot of the castle is now in ruins, which gives that extra piece of history and makes the castle exciting to look around, though some of the structure is still standing. When walking around the castle grounds, there are many signs and details which take you back to the original construction, the history and the reconstructions through to modern day usage. There are also many rooms in one of the main buildings which hold actual artifacts which you can touch and feel, another great aspect about this castle. There are many castles in which do not allow this and simply show these artifacts behind glass cabinets, so this was certainly a different experience.
******Specific Parts of the Castle******
There are many different parts of the castle, some mentioned above, which combine, make your visit a wonderful experience for the whole family. I will cover some of the main parts of the castle below;
* One of the most amazing parts is the restored 13th century chapel which was commissioned by the Countess Isabella. It is apparent that it has suffered quite a lot of damage through the years, and has been reconstructed a number of times, once being at the time of King Charles I imprisonment, yet it continues to stand tall, full of beauty. It is now a working chapel (although off limits in the main unless a service is going ahead) and has become a memorial for those who died during the two world wars.
* There are approximately 200 plus stone steps leading up to the highest point of the castle, the turret tower. The steps are in perfect condition, but climbing them are not for the faint hearted! Once you reach the top, though, the view over the island is tremendous. In part, the tower is a ruin, yet through small reconstruction, you are able to walk around the top of the highest point. I found it quite scary and it is certainly not for those who are afraid of heights, yet if you can, I fully recommend this climb.
* The Old Well House is still in working order, and is the home of four donkeys which you are able to meet and pet. At certain times of the day, you are able to watch one of the donkeys actually at work in the well - as long as you can stand the smell!
*The original gatehouse still stands at the entrance of the castle, complete with an unused portcullis.
* Part of the castle, as mentioned before, is in ruins, and one part is Carey's mansion. There is still one complete original wall left standing which holds evidence of a fireplace and three stories. It is a lovely area to have a picnic, but not much else.
The kitchen area of this mansion is further up (yes more steps!) and holds evidence of a stove and original window
* The castle hosts an indoor museum in a couple of different sections, one being where King Charles spent a lot of his days imprisoned. As well as original fireplaces and furniture, there are also many other artifacts from the time, which you can touch and feel at your hearts desire. Some of these are as follows;
* Victorian clothing
* Rifle collection, including manuscripts (manuscripts are generally behind glass, though)
* Items owned by royals who stayed at the castle, including King Charles I
* Selected objects from excavations of the castle through a wide period of time
Also many more items in various rooms, most focusing on the castle's history, though a large collection also focuses upon the Island's history.
Looking around the museum parts of the castle is a big part of the experience and is unlike a usual museum, in the fact that it is all incorporated in the grounds and castle building with original (and reconstructed) structure. One part is hosted in the great hall, and even the structure itself is a great look. Another part is situated in the Constable's chamber. It is certainly well worth the look and can take up the majority of the visit. Unfortunately, photos are not allowed in many parts of the museum.
Although there were no events open when we visited the castle, there are events such as medieval markets and jousting tournaments which occur on a regular basis. You will need to check the dates and times to see if these events are happening when you wish to visit.
Carisbrooke Castle is as disabled friendly as can be possible, with ramps available to the toilets, café and ground floor exhibitions such as the chapel, courtyard, well house and other ground floor parts. There are many (and I mean many) steps both in the museum part and around the ruins which are not disabled friendly.
Entry to the castle is reasonably priced and are as follows;
Opening times are as follows;
Apr-30 - Sep10am-5pm
1 Oct-20 Mar10am-4pm
Closed 24-26 Dec and 1 Jan
And it is simple to get to as well;
11⁄4 miles SW of Newport. Follow signs for Carisbrookevillage and then the castle
Ryde Esplanade 9 miles; Wootton (Isle of Wight Steam Railway) 5miles
Southern Vectis 6, 7, 38 from Newport, West Wight and Ventnor, allto within 1⁄4 mile
I would recommend visiting Carisbrooke Castle to everyone who visits the Isle of Wight, although it is one of those places that, unless you specifically like revisiting castles over and over, you can only really visit once without getting bored. They do occasionally change the museum artifacts, and as mentioned above, often hold special events, but other than that, it is basically the same on every visit.
Summary: Great for history buffs
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