Warwick CV34 4QU
Built by William the Conqueror in 1068, Warwick Castle is without doubt one of the most impressive and best preserved medieval castles in the country. Used as a fortification until the seventeenth century, and playing host to many a prisoner during its day (including Edward IV), it really is a local beauty, so intact, and with beautiful and extensive grounds, attractive gardens, towering ramparts to scramble up and explore. It's now the preserve of the Merlin Group,. who have inevitably made a number of theme-park style additions to the castle over the past few years. Whether you usually like this kind of thing or not, they work well in the main these, and do succeed in bringing the castle's complex history to life in an engaging and interactive way, particularly for children. There are also various specific attractions and shows, including regular sessions of jousting, a dungeon complete with torture chamber and some convincingly blood-stained actors (not for the faint-hearted!), birds of prey shows, and the like – not to mention a rather cheesy princess tower: unsurprisingly immensely popular with small girls. The firing of the trebuchet (a massive fire ball) at the end of each day (and sometimes throughout the day too) is also worth watching. Queues during summer months can be soul destroying - definitely one to book online in advance.