Carisbrooke Castle is a wonderfully preserved English Heritage site sitting on the top of a hill just outside of Newport, with the original foundations dating back to 1075. More recently (in the 1600’s that is) it was used as a prison and famously housed King Charles 1 until his execution. Fast forward 400 years or so to the time of Queen Victoria – Princess Beatrice (Victoria’s daughter) became governor of the Isle of Wight and restored the castle, eventually taking up residence until she died in 1938. Today, as well as being a fascinating castle in its own right, the castle houses the Carisbrooke donkeys who demonstrate how donkeys were employed to turn the wheel in the wheelhouse and raise water from the well. The donkeys at the castle are all rescues and are lovingly cared for by devoted staff. Also at the site is a museum which showcases a variety of historical artefacts. On the upper floor visitors can visit the bedroom of the daughter of Charles 1st who sadly died at the age of 14 in her bed. A chapel was built in 1904 to commemorate the execution of Charles 1 and stands in full glory for visitors today. Visitors may walk the entire circumference of the castle along the ramparts which offer breath-taking views across the island; from the north point Portsmouth and the Spinnaker Tower are clear while from other parts of the ramparts you can look out on sea forts, ships, or just gaze out into the empty blue of the sea. The gardens, designed by horticulturalist Chris Beardshaw, reproduce those used by Princess Beatrice and are a wonderful way to relax in the peace and the sun with seemingly endless variations of plant life. To end a wonderful day, visitors can make the most of a lovely café which serves freshly prepared meals made from mainly local produce.
For more info, please visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/carisbrooke-castle