Book Review: Exploring English Castles by Dr. Edd Morris

This is a review of a book entitled “Exploring English Castles”. It is written by Dr. Edd Morris. Be sure to check out his website here: exploring-castles.com

I have been building a new google map that shows all of the castles of the world and having a lot of fun doing that. And I was doing research for it when I ran across this book. I looked it up on Amazon to discover it had a whole lot of 5 star reviews. Well, I sent the author an email and asked him if he could send me a copy for review on my website. And he did. So my thanks go to him for that.

I already have quite a few book about castles. And this one is among the best. Let me explain.


 

Exploring English Castles (Available on Amazon)

A guide to some of the most historical and picturesque castles in England for romantics and Anglophiles alike.

 

I love castles! You probably have figured that out already, considering the name of my website is storm the castle dot com! And I have visited a fair number of them. But here is the thing, and it is pretty much the same with all castles. You walk around, admire the grandeur of it, or the ruins of it, read some placards and brochures and then you go home.

But a castle is so very much more than just that. It is a living and breathing thing with a whole history – a history that spans hundreds of years, and for some castles even a thousand years.

I often find myself, after visiting a castle, wanting more, and wondering about all kinds of things like what did the architecture look like when it was new? Or why did they build it in a particular way or in that particular place. Or what were the people like who built it? Why did they build it, and what kinds of stories took place over the history of the castle?

These are questions that require more in-depth answers. And in digging up answers to these questions you can discover the real magic of castles.

And this is exactly what this book does. It actually slices into the stone and carves out large beautiful hunks of stories about them. And it does this by taking a look at nine particular castles.

Let's take a look inside the book.

It is broken down into two distinct sections.

The first section is about castles in general and it takes us through a brief history of the castle in England from their beginnings in 1066 and how the political and economic climate brought them about and affected their rise. It also covers the different types of castles, how they changed over the centuries, and how they were fortified. And it covers the full range of the castle period by also covering the social, political and technological reasons for their decline. And of course we take a look at their renaissance beginning in the early 1800's, not as fortresses, but as gothic showpieces and displays of status and wealth.

This first section is forty three pages long and it is a great introduction to castles. You will come away from this with a good basic understanding of them, their history, their architectural points, and how they evolved.

And in the second section of the book we take a close look at specific castles. And this is where the real magic of castles is found. In these chapters we look at nine different castles. They are possibly the best and the most famous in all of England but we take a look at them in a way that breathes life into the magic and the allure of castles.

Let me explain

I had earlier talked a little bit about how over the course of hundreds of years castles had accumulated a lot of history. And now we take a look at some of these fascinating and almost magical stories.

The author has selected nine specific castles for a more in-depth look. And he has chose them well because they are a good representation of the many aspects of castles.

We first take a look at Goodrich castle because it is a great example of what life in castle would have been like. And in modern times this is a very popular topic. So if you want to know more about castle life the section on Goodrich is a great section to start out with.

From there we take a tour of some of the more famous aspects of castles including how a castle was sieged. This is covered in the section on Rochester castle which was the subject of one of the most famous castle sieges in history.

And of course we couldn't look at castles without looking at the legend of King Arthur! The book covers this subject well and the myth of Tintagel castle which is now commonly perceived as the birthplace of Arthur. Which is all just actually a myth but a fun and magical myth. Tintagel castle is nonetheless a mysterious and storied ruins.

What about Romance, love, ambition, and murder?

It is almost like a story from Game of Thrones but of course castles are the centerpiece of many human stories. These are stories of love, unrequited love, mystery, betrayal and murder.

And in the chapter on Kenilworth castle we get all of this. It involves a Queen, an Earl, the Earl's wife, and a suspicious death.

The book is also full of little gems about castles that you will like. Here are a couple.

Did you know that Kind Edward I was a big fan of the legend of King Arthur. It was all the rage during his reign. So much so that he had a round table built? It weighs over two thousand pounds and is still in pristine condition and on display in the Great Hall of Winchester.

Rochester castle was the subject of one of the most intensive sieges and part of the castle was destroyed during an undermining . And included in the book is a picture of one of the towers that was subsequently rebuilt. The author points out that one corner of the castle was rebuilt. And while the previous tower was square in footprint the newly rebuilt section was rebuilt in a circular footprint. It detracts from the balance and overall aesthetic of the castle but it was a good choice when it comes to defending the castle because a round tower is much more difficult to undermine.

In summary,

This is one of the best books on castles. It simply is.

It starts out by giving us an excellent overview on castles, their history, how they came to be, what they are, and how they evolved.
And in the second section we take a look at the magical allure of castles by examining an excellent cross section of the best castles in England and exploring them more in-depth, looking at their specifics including the stories and legends that sprung from them.

Will's recommendation?

If you are a fan of castles I highly recommend you get this book. It is absolutely superb. It is well written, loaded with photographs, and practical information about castles -and stories about them that you will love. If you don't have any castle books get this one first. You won't be disappointed.

 


Exploring English Castles

A guide to some of the most historical and picturesque castles in England for romantics and Anglophiles alike.

Castles have shaped England. For almost one thousand years, castles have been the settings of siege and battle, dens of plotting and intrigue, and refuges for troubled kings. Today, the romantic yet ruinous shapes of once grand fortresses stud the English countryside—a reminder of turbulent times past.

Exploring English Castles provides readers with a breathtaking tour through the grandest castles of England. It brings ruins to life through true stories of royalty, chivalry, deception, and intrigue, played out within formerly majestic walls.

Uncover the secret of Bodiam Castle, Sussex—a fortress seemingly from a fairy tale, built for a knight returning from the Hundred Years' War. Discover how Mary Tudor, first queen of England, took refuge in Framlingham Castle, Suffolk, overturning a wily plot to deny her the throne. Unearth a delicate love story between Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley, which unfolds against the genteel backdrop of Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire.

Filled with evocative photographs, awe-inspiring historical tales, and gentle humor, Exploring English Castles will delight any armchair historian, travel aficionado, or fan of historical fiction.

 

 

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