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Conisbrough Castle, Doncaster

4.3
#3 of 8 in Historic Sites in Doncaster
Castle · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
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Conisbrough Castle is a medieval fortification in Conisbrough, South Yorkshire, England. The castle was initially built in the 11th century by William de Warenne, the Earl of Surrey, after the Norman conquest of England in 1066. Hamelin Plantagenet, the illegitimate, parvenu brother of Henry II, acquired the property by marriage in the late 12th century. Hamelin and his son William rebuilt the castle in stone, including its prominent 28-metre (92 ft)-high keep. The castle remained in the family line into the 14th century, despite being seized several times by the Crown. The fortification was then given to Edmund of Langley, passing back into royal ownership in 1461.

Conisbrough Castle fell into ruin, its outer wall badly affected by subsidence, and was given to the Carey family in the 16th century. Its derelict state prevented it from involvement in the English Civil War of the 17th century and the remains were bought by the Duke of Leeds in 1737. Sir Walter Scott used the location for his 1819 novel Ivanhoe and by the end of the 19th century the ruins had become a tourist attraction.

The state took over the management of the property in 1950, but by the 1980s the visitor facilities were felt to be unsuitable, leading to a three-way partnership being created between the local council, the state agency English Heritage and a local charitable trust to develop the castle. The keep was re-roofed and re-floored in the 1990s with the help of European Union funding. English Heritage took over control of the castle in 2008 and continues to operate the property as a tourist attraction.

The castle is made up of an inner and an outer bailey, the former surrounded by a stone curtain wall defended by six mural or fortified towers and the castle keep. The inner bailey would have included a hall, solar, chapel and other service buildings of which only the foundations survive. The design of Conisbrough's keep is unique in England, and the historians Oliver Creighton and Stephen Johnson consider it an "architectural gem" and "one of the finest examples of late Norman defensive architecture". The keep comprises a circular central tower with six massive buttresses; its four floors would have included a main chamber and a private chamber for the lord above it. Although militarily weak, the design would have been a powerful symbol of Hamelin Plantagenet's new social status as a major lord.
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Conisbrough Castle reviews

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TripAdvisor
  • Superb day out - fascinating history, beautiful setting and wonderful staff! A site not to be missed, especially in light of the interesting, and unique, design of the keep. Go there, see it and... 
    Superb day out - fascinating history, beautiful setting and wonderful staff! A site not to be missed, especially in light of the interesting, and unique, design of the keep. Go there, see it and...  more »
  • Conisbrough castle is a round design with very thick walls which make the rooms smaller than what you imagine from the outside, fantastic views from the top. Treat of a free iced mince pie in the... 
    Conisbrough castle is a round design with very thick walls which make the rooms smaller than what you imagine from the outside, fantastic views from the top. Treat of a free iced mince pie in the...  more »
Google
  • The castle is great for kids to visit, you can walk around the outside of the castle as well as inside the grounds and inside the tower. Although not much to see, if you look carefully at the grounds you can see all the surrounding buildings. Also once finished if you go to the bottom of the hill and across the road there a great little woodlands with a small obstacle course and then lots of fun exploring. There is also a indoor area with information on the castle. Overall we can easily have a full day out with the kids!
  • We visited Conisbrough castle on a sunny June afternoon. We parked in the castle hill car park which cost £2.20 for 4 hours. All payments must be made via the website or app which is a bit of a pain. In retrospect I wouldn't have bothered with the car park as there was plenty of on road parking directly outside the entrance. The castle was staffed by 3 lovely people who made sure we were informed and even found a face mask for me as I forgot my own. Due to vivid booking is essential and they do need to see your ticket either printed or on your phone. They gave my daughter's a quiz to take round. We had to 'book our slot' at the keep as the limit is 10 people at a time. The wait was barely 30 minutes. A highlight was a nest of kestrel chicks on a window ledge. Obviously these won't be here year round. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and would visit again if in the area. The gift shop supplies books, a few toys, ice cream and drinks.

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