Tonbridge Castle Castles

Tonbridge Castle
Castle Street


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When William the Conquerer came to England in 1066 he brought with him the concept of the castle. He and his men of which there were 12,000 at most, needed rapidly to make themselves secure amongst a potentially hostile population of one and a half million, and simply easily-built fortresses was the answer. The Norman lords were put in charge of the construction of the castles; Tonbridge was entrusted to Richard de Clare.

Most Castles, Tonbridge included, were built in the motte-and-bailey style. Local peasants were rounded up and forced to dig a deep, circular ditch, the earth then being thrown into the centre to create a high mound, the motte. A wooden palisade was erected around the levelled-off top, and in the centre a timber tower was built. This provided accommodation and a lookout point.

Beside the motte, lay the bailey, a larger area enclosed in a fence made of wooden stakes called a palisade, which had its own surrounding ditch. Here, other timber buildings afforded more accommodation, stables, tores and so on. Tonbridge was unusual and this may indicate its importance in having a second bailey north of the motte.

Gatehouse Tours

History comes alive for young and old at Tonbridge can see and hear what it was like to be a lord or lady 700 years ago. Take the audio tour (lasts one hour) and experience with interactive displays and life-size figures, a vivid recreation of the sights, sounds and excitement of 13th century castle life. The audio tour is available in English, French, Dutch and German.

Follow in the footsteps of The Red Earl and lend a hand in the guardroom as the gatehouse comes under noisy attack from battering ram and siege tower.

Educational Tours

"Let your pupils be Lords & Ladies for a day"

According to records there was a castle in Tonbridge in the year 1068. Today the castle is widely regarded to be the most complete example of a Norman motte and bailey castle in the country.

Surrounded by 14 acres of beautiful grounds, the earliest Norman layout is still distinct and the large man-made motte has survived to its full, original height. The mighty 13th century gatehouse is acknowledged as one of the finest in England.

The Castle Tour clearly interprets for the visitor its colourful past life. Pupils will travel back over 700 years and learn about:

The bitter sieges

How Thomas Beckett claimed the "Keep"

How a Might Earl chose between surrendering the Norman Castle or giving up his eldest daughter as hostage

Also on the tour you will visit the basement store and armoury, join the garrison for supper, climb up to the battlements and imagine the castle under attack.

History is brought back to life. This is a lively and educational outing for children of all ages.

Planning a Group Visit

The visit can be divided into three parts:

Personal Guided Tour by a member of Staff of Gatehouse or Personal audio tour of the Gatehouse and Motte and Bailey site.

Option to have use of the education Facility complete with various medieval activities (chainmail making, needlepoint weaving and period costumes) and educational resources. Member of staff provided.

Various activity sheets and quizes.

Pre-booking is always advisable, contact the Tourist Information Centre on 01732 770929.

Tonbridge Castle is open all year round.

Attraction Details

VenueTonbridge Castle
AddressCastle Street, Tonbridge, Kent, TN9 1BG
Opening times
Entry costs
Attraction typeCastles


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