England is famous for its ancient castles and some have become famous themselves. Sometimes their fame comes from their royal residents such as Windsor Castle. Other times you may recognise them from the silver screen. Highlighter featured in Downton Abbey and Alnwick Castle was the site where Harry Potter learned his wizarding skills and flying a broom.

However you know them there’s something magical about seeing these majestic architectural beauties the autumnal months when the leaves begin to fall and the countryside becomes a burnished carpet of reds, golds and yellows. You just know that with millennia of English behind each turret or wall there will be a myriad of tantalising tales and royal gossip.

Windsor Castle

Just to the west of London lies the world’s oldest and largest inhabited castle, having been a royal residence. First developed by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, Windsor Castle is regularly used by the Queen as a weekend retreat, as well as hosting state occasions and royal weddings.

The Round Tower dominates the skyline and sits atop the oldest part of the castle while St George’s Chapel acts as the spiritual home of the Order of the Garter – an order of chivalry dating back to the reign of Edward.

Warwick Castle

An imposing fortress in the heart of the Midlands, Warwick Castle provides a taste of medieval English life. Pass beneath the castle’s impressive portcullis, wander along its ramparts, take in archery exhibitions and explore 64 acres of landscaped gardens on the way to discovering 1,100 years. Children can venture back through time in the Horrible Maze, or book into the Castle Dungeon to unravel some of Warwick’s darkest secrets with the help of live actors and spine-tingling special effects.

Tower of London

Once a royal and notorious prison, the Tower of London. The imposing fortress is now home to the Crown Jewels a collection of more than 23,000 dazzling gemstones while visitors can meet the guardians of the tower – its legendary ravens!

Learn more about this feast of Norman architecture from the Yeoman Warders often known as Beef eaters, who have guarded the tower since Tudor times.

Highclere Castle, Hampshire

Abbey, Highclere Castle in Hampshire provided the backdrop for four of the show and the hit. Initially a medieval palace, Highlighter was transformed in the mid-19th century by Sir Charles Barry, the architectural mind behind the Houses of Parliament in London.

Alongside tours of its many rooms including those used as the staterooms from the Downton Abbey movie, visitors can explore gardens dating back to the 13th century and 1,000 acres of stunning parkland, designed by the renowned landscape gardener Capability Brown. The castle is home to the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, whose family have lived and also houses a unique display of Egyptian antiquities celebrating the 5th Earl of Carnarvon’s role in the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun. This is the castle will also hosts special autumn and winter tours, including Real Lives and Film Sets and Christmas at Highclere.

Hever Castle, Kent

Hever Castle was the childhood home of Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. Initially a moated castle dating back, this romantic setting is packed full of Tudor portraits and tapestries and features fine views out over Hever Lake.

Set within the 125 acres of grounds is a 100-year-old Yew Maze, as well as award-winning gardens with startlingly beautiful dahlia displays and the warming sugary scent of the Katsura tree perfuming the frosty air. Pre-booking to explore Hever Castle and its grounds is essential.

Alnwick Castle, Northumberland

The impressive Alnwick Castle was home to the Duke of Northumberland’s family the Percys for over 700 years and in its time has acted as a military outpost a teaching college and a family home over the centuries. Another castle with its origins in the Norman period the fortress in Northumberland where Harry Potter, the wizarding hero was filmed learning to fly a broomstick within its walls and the Philosopher’s Stone.

The castle is no stranger to the world of film having also featured in Downton Abbey, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves and Elizabeth.