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Castles of England (Hardback)

Local History British History Ancient History P&S History England

By John Paul Davis
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 288
ISBN: 9781399013697
Published: 21st September 2021

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In 1051, a monk of Canterbury Cathedral made a bizarre observation in what would eventually form part of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. In his chronicling of the year’s events, he described the establishment of a new fortification in Herefordshire by French members of the king’s party. More sophisticated than the typical Saxon burh, the word provided was alien to his vocabulary. In Latin, its builders had christened it: castellum. Little did anyone at the time know, this unique building would mark a drastic change in the direction of England’s history.

For almost a thousand years, the castles of England have stood proudly over her landscape. While many bear the scars of centuries of warfare, others continue to enjoy a far more comfortable existence. They are the sites of bloody sieges. The windswept ruin. The royal palace. The home of knights and nobility. The local museum. The posh hotel. Though we all recognise a castle when we see one, no two are ever exactly alike.

By digging deep into the history of England’s mighty castles, the purpose of this book is to throw light on those who lived there. For as long as there have been castles in England, there have been mysteries within their walls: murders that were never solved, treasures that remain unfound, prisoners left to rot in the ghastliest pits or executions worthy of lasting infamy.

From unfortunate victims to long lost legends, infamous owners to ladies in grey, Castles of England offers a fresh investigation into many of those tales that will forever be the cause of intrigue for visitors. To understand who they were is to understand the story of the castle in England. To understand the castle in England is to understand England.

Fascinating look at the many, many castles to be found in England. I had no idea there were so many! I enjoyed reading the histories, the descriptions, and the stories about them. I will definitely be bringing a copy of this book on my next visit!

NetGalley, Randal White

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I was excited to see this book pop up on NetGalley, and it did not disappoint! The sheer number of castles in England can be incredibly overwhelming, and even if you are a dedicated historian, it can be easy to forget which is which. Davis is a skilled writer, and thoroughly covers an incredible number of castles without feeling like a dictionary or an encyclopedia. I particularly loved that local legends and ghost stories were included, as those are often ignored in histories.

NetGalley, Jessica Storoschuk

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

An interesting, informative and well researched book that made me discover new places and could be used as a travel guide.
I like how it's organised per area and the stories it tells.
Highly recommended.

NetGalley, Anna Maria Giacomasso

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A great reference on British castles. I would honestly consider taking this book with me if I decided to visit the UK and tour the castles. I would highly recommend this great and accessible work.

NetGalley, Dylan Simon

It is like a virtual tour with a guide who knows each one intimately. If you are at all a lover of castles, do yourself a favor and get yourself a copy of this treat. You will not be disappointed.

NetGalley, Brandi Rawlins

The Castles of England have always evoked a sense of wonder - and of course, their local haunts. Everyone loves a good ghost story - but there is much more to these castles than just ghosts.
The English countryside is steeped in history, and the dotting of castles that dominate the landscape have stories and histories.

This book was amazing, and I absolutely loved reading about all the different castles and stories that are associated with them. The information is not overwhelming, and for those who are not familiar with some of the castles, this is a great starting point for those who are wanting to get a deeper understanding of England, their castles, and history.

NetGalley, Rebecca Hill

The book is broken down into chapters per location. I love the legends and ghost stories that were included for the individual castles. There were several castles that I had never heard of, with interesting vignettes to whet my appetite for new locations to visit on my next trip to England, If historical architecture is an interest to you, I highly recommend this book. It has individual stories, plus a bibliography and appendixes for quick research and review.

NetGalley, Ashley Cloninger

This book is an informative, interesting history of England’s expansive array of castles. Overall, a great read for English history lovers.

NetGalley, Miranda Vaughters

This book strikes me as a labor of love on the part of the author and readers are the richer for it. Castles of England is a pieced together work of history and folklore. The history of medieval castles really is a fascinating one and reading this book as a citizen of a country still in its infancy in comparison to England, I was enthralled with the history in this book.

I would recommend this title to any castle fanatic or lover of medieval history.

NetGalley, Michelle Smith

Every castle teems with secrets, some more than others, all of them fascinating whether they are true or legend. In this book the author describes many castles in England, some well known, others less so. The focus is on the people who lived in these castles. As a castle fiend, exploring those intact or ruined gives me such joy as my imagination goes wild as I learn about history and life in that particular region and era. What could be better than engaging all your senses and getting enveloped in curiosity?

The author explains what a castle is. Most were homes and/or strongholds but over the years have also been monasteries, WWII hospitals, schools, hunting lodges. and prisons Some are now hotels and museums. Even those with only one or two walls still standing are atmospheric. Many are achingly beautiful and picturesque, some have spectacular gardens and spellbinding fairytale qualities. Skeletons have been discovered, conjuring up a host of questions and mysteries. The castles are riddled with hauntings, said to be ghosts of those who have mysteries attached to them such as unexplained disappearances or deaths. Not just humans, either.

Of those castles mentioned in this book Tintagel, Arundel, Bodiam and Bamburgh are some of my personal favourites. Their surroundings and mighty character as well as myths are intriguing. Ghosts of cats and dogs, naughty children, a lady in pink, a merman, monks and tricks of light are just some of many eerie sightings people are said to have seen/see at the castles in this book. Not just the seen but the unseen such as screams, thuds, horses' hooves, rattling chains and being watched have been common experiences through history to present. One story which stands out most to me is the young woman who, in a game of hide and seek, hid herself too well.

Castle lovers, do read this riveting book. You will learn a lot of history and insight into life in the medieval period and what each castle is known for including connections with royalty as well as ordinary folk going about their lives, its purpose, construction and surroundings.

NetGalley, Brenda Carleton

Firstly, I was astonished that there were so many hidden gems within our country. There are castles that I have never heard of, along with others I have read of in only myth and legend.
This is more than a book about castles of stone, limestone, wood and timber. It is about their history and those that played a part in it. The author takes the reader on an awe-inspiring trip into the past.
There are some remarkable tales, some are fact, and some fiction. There are tales of ghosts and of legends, hidden treasures and murders. I love some of the more obscure legends of ghostly apparitions.
But anything involving Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, and Merlin pique my interest. That includes Camelot, and so my favourite has to be Castle Cadbury, where there is a theory that it could actually be the much-heralded Camelot.
The way the author has incorporated each individual castle into the book is like having its own mini-story. Each description and text that accompanies it has been well researched, offering insightful observations. This is a well written and well-researched book. Written with style and precision like a good textbook should be. There is also a best of the rest at the end of the book. Plus, there is also an index, a Bibliography, two appendices and a list of useful websites you can access for further reading.
There are photos and pictures at the back of the book of the castles and some of their occupants. They are in black and white, but that makes them a little more atmospheric.
I really enjoyed this book. A great reference tool. Every library should have one.

NetGalley, John Derek

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Castles of England by John Paul Davis is a great nonfiction and history of the array of English castles that I loved learning about.

This is a great, streamlined presentation of a vast array of the older and “newer” castles that are present in varying degrees within England. The author effortlessly presents them by way of breaking it all down geographically and within each section not only lists said structures, but also some of the important events and happenings that are associated and how they came to be.

It was great learning a little more about some of these fascinating, often pivotal, and historical structures that truly reflect a history that cannot, and should not, be forgotten.

5/5 stars

NetGalley, Rachel Fox

About John Paul Davis

John Paul Davis is the international bestselling author of eleven thriller novels and four works of historical non-fiction. His debut thriller, The Templar Agenda, was a UK top 20 bestseller; The Cortés Trilogy has also been an international bestseller.


As well as being a thriller author, his debut work, Robin Hood: The Unknown Templar, has been the subject of international attention, including articles in The Sunday Telegraph, The Daily Mail, Yorkshire Post and Nottingham Evening Post, mentions in USA Today and The Independent and reviews in the Birmingham Post and Medieval History Journal. His second work, Pity for the Guy, was the first full-length biography of Guy Fawkes and was featured on ITV’s The Alan Titchmarsh Show in November 2011. His most recent work on Henry III, The Gothic King, was released in 2013. His latest work of non-fiction, A Hidden History of the Tower of London, also published by Pen & Sword, was released in February 2020.


He was educated at Loughborough University and lives in Warwickshire. His websites are www.officiallyjpd.com and www.theunknowntemplar.com. Twitter @unknown_templar.

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The Wars of the Roses is one of the most dramatic and fascinating periods in medieval history. Much has been written about the leading personalities, bitter dynastic rivalries, political intrigues, and the rapid change of fortune on the battlefields of England and Wales. However, there is one aspect that has been often overlooked, the role of castles in the conflict. Dan Spencer’s original study traces their use from the outbreak of civil war in the reign of Henry VI in the 1450s to the triumph of Henry VII some thirty years later. Using a wide range of narrative, architectural, financial and…

By Dr Dan Spencer

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