This weekend, English Heritage will allow visitors to climb to the top of historic Kenilworth Castle for the first time in 350 years, thanks to an ingenious series of platforms installed within the building.
As a series of viewing platforms are opened up within Kenilworth Castle, revealing views once enjoyed by Queen Elizabeth I, English Heritage has compiled its own list of top ten great views from through the ages.
From castle towers built to boast power and prestige, to dramatic positions of defensive strength, historic buildings have long been built to provide grand panoramas. Here are some of the finest and the most historically significant:
Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire
For the first time in 350 years, visitors to Kenilworth Castle can scale the heights of Leicester’s Building and explore the private rooms of Queen Elizabeth I, and the views she enjoyed. At the time of her 1575 visit, the building was one of the most spectacular works of architecture in the country, with enormous glass windows allowing the queen to look out at the spectacular castle and surrounding countryside.
Beeston Castle, Cheshire
Known as the ‘Castle of the Rock’, Beeston is famous for its spectacular views, ranging from the Pennines all the way to the Welsh mountains, and extending over eight counties on a clear day. Built atop a mighty crag, it was a striking proclamation of the wealth and power of Ranulf, Earl of Chester, and strong defence against aristocratic rivals.
Clifford’s Tower, York
Set on a tall mound in the heart of Old York, this imposing tower is almost all that remains of York Castle, originally built by William the Conqueror. In its time, the tower seen many uses, including as a prison and a royal mint, and today provides panoramic views out over the historic city of York.
Dover Castle, Kent
This magnificent castle has long guarded England’s shores, looking out across the English Channel from its position high above the White Cliffs of Dover. Visitors can stand where Winston Churchill would have looked out towards France from Admiralty Lookout, or climb the steps to the top of the Great Tower for spectacular views in all directions.
Framlingham Castle, Suffolk
Climb up the wall walk at this medieval fortress and you can truly imagine looking out in times gone by across the mere and old hunting grounds. Pick up an audio tour to find out more about the historic view, or look below and imagine the events that took place in the castle, such as Mary Tudor gathering her forces to claim the throne of England.
Goodrich Castle, Herefordshire
This hidden gem commands the passage of the River Wye from atop a wooded hill. It was held by a succession of powerful medieval lords, who might have looked out at the surrounding Herefordshire countryside as those who tackle the spiral staircases of the square keep can do today.
Housesteads Roman Fort, Northumberland
Imagine what life was like for Roman soldiers posted here almost 2,000 years ago, at this well preserved fort on the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site. Visitors can enjoy stunning panoramic views from the walls of this Roman ruin, looking out onto the stark Northumbrian countryside as troops posted on this frontier may once have done.
Osborne, Isle of Wight
"It is impossible to imagine a prettier spot" said Queen Victoria after her first visit to Osborne, the Isle of Wight retreat where she would come to relax with her family. Visitors today can explore the gardens and beach, taking in the magnificent views across the Solent that the monarch once enjoyed.
Tintagel Castle, Cornwall
Few historic sites evoke as much myth and mystery as the fascinating ruins of Tintagel Castle, positioned high above the Cornish coast. This dramatic location lends itself to spectacular views, earned by climbing up the steps to the island for stunning coastal scenery that must have inspired Richard, Earl of Cornwall, to build a castle here in the 1230s.
Whitby Abbey, North Yorkshire
It’s not difficult to imagine how the gothic ruins of Whitby Abbey would have inspired Dracula author Bram Stoker, when visiting the town. This atmospheric attraction, set high on a headland, contains much for visitors to discover, but it’s also well worth pausing to enjoy the views over the popular seaside town that shares its name.