A vibrant history of the castle in Britain, from the early Middle Ages to the present day
The castle has long had a pivotal place in British life, associated with lordship, landholding, and military might, and today it remains a powerful symbol of history. But castles have never been merely impressive fortresses—they were hubs of life, activity, and imagination.
John Goodall weaves together the history of the British castle across the span of a millennium, from the eleventh to the twenty-first century, through the voices of those who witnessed it. Drawing on chronicles, poems, letters, and novels, including the work of figures like Gawain Poet, Walter Scott, Evelyn Waugh, and P. G. Wodehouse, Goodall explores the importance of the castle in our culture and society.
From the medieval period to Civil War engagements, right up to modern manifestations in Harry Potter, Goodall reveals that the castle has always been put to different uses, and to this day continues to serve as a source of inspiration.
About the Author
John Goodall is the architectural editor of Country Life magazine. He is the author of The English Castle, Parish Church Treasures, God‘s House at Ewelme, and English House Style.
‘A masterful and erudite companion of the neglected heroes of British architecture.’—Simon Jenkins, author of A Short History of England
— Simon Jenkins
‘It is a pleasure to find John Goodall moving on from his masterpiece, The English Castle, to this evocative account of all that life in them has inspired.’—Mark Girouard, author of Life in the English Country House
— Mark Girouard
‘Hugely powerful, this captivating triumph redefines the castle narrative. A comprehensive history, with tales from above crenelations and down dungeons – through which Goodall’s architectural expertise and passion ooze. Like the fortifications brought to life on every page, this is a landmark work, as equally ambitious as it is expertly researched.’—Emma J. Wells, author of Pilgrim Routes of the British Isles
— Emma J. Wells
‘Nobody is better qualified than John Goodall to chart the history of the castle across more than a thousand years. Using chronicles, letters, accounts, poems, and material culture, he reveals through the eyes of contemporaries the castle’s changing form and place in Britain’s landscape, and in its history and culture. The Castle is a tour de force of architectural history.’—Sophie Thérèse Ambler, author of The Song of Simon de Montfort
— Sophie Thérèse Ambler
‘The Castle is the first of its kind in its wide-sweeping ambitious chronology presented in an accessible and exciting way. John Goodall uses historical evidence in conjunction with images, architecture, and literary texts to masterfully take the reader on a journey from the earliest origins of the castle to the modern magical castle of Hogwarts and beyond. This book is a must for anyone interested in over 1000 years of castle history in Britain.’—Audrey Thorstad, author of The Culture of Castles in Tudor England and Wales
— Audrey Thorstad
‘Underpinned by deep scholarship, this immensely readable and original book will change the way people think about castles.'—Simon Thurley, author of The Building of England
— Simon Thurley
‘John Goodall takes the reader on a noble and entertaining walk through British Castles, a fascinating and joyful adventure brought eloquently to life!’—Martha Lytton Cobbold, President, Historic Houses