Old Wardour Castle – Tisbury, England - Atlas Obscura

Old Wardour Castle

Tisbury, England

Besieged by war, this castle ruin has crumbled into a peaceful picnic spot. 


After being decimated in a 1642 siege that lasted for weeks, the Old Wardour Castle never fully recovered and is now surrounded by neat landscaping and visitors looking to relax in the shadow of history.

Originally built in the 14th century by an English baron, the structure changed hands multiple times throughout its long history before its ruin during the English Civil War. The estate saw many additions over the years even after the siege including a banqueting hall and a man-made grotto constructed from the ruins. Visitors to the castle can still climb the worn tower stairs to get a view of the English countryside or lounge in the sun-soaked courtyard. There is a functioning private estate nearby called New Wardour Castle which the latter owners of Old Wardour moved into. While the ruins are a popular attraction, the new castle is not open to public visits. 

The remaining walls and turrets of Old Wardour are now kept in bucolic splendor by English Heritage and the grounds are a favorite spot for picnics, weddings, and even films looking for an authentic European ruin. There is a complimentary audio tour available and the attendant gift shop even sells foam axes and swords so kids can play out their medieval fantasies. Although these foam battles are generally less harmful than the medieval reality was.  



Know Before You Go

English Heritage members and reciprocal organisations enter for free. Opening times and prices depend on the season, check the website for details. 

There is a set-down area for disabled visitors next to the shop. Only the grounds and the ground floor of the castle are accessible. 

High-clearance vehicles should follow the A30 route, 2 miles SW of Tisbury to reach the site. For normal cars please use the A350 or B3089 (narrow rural roads).

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