Castles of England written by John Paul Davis and published by Pen & Sword Books – £25 – Hardback – Pages 288

In 1051, a monk of Canterbury Cathedral made a bizarre observation in what would eventually form part of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. In his chronicling of the year’s events, he described the establishment of a new fortification in Herefordshire by French members of the king’s party. More sophisticated than the typical Saxon burh, the word provided was alien to his vocabulary. In Latin, its builders had christened it: castellum. Little did anyone at the time know, this unique building would mark a drastic change in the direction of England’s history.

For almost a thousand years, the castles of England have stood proudly over her landscape. While many bear the scars of centuries of warfare, others continue to enjoy a far more comfortable existence. They are the sites of bloody sieges. The windswept ruin. The royal palace. The home of knights and nobility. The local museum. The posh hotel. Though we all recognise a castle when we see one, no two are ever exactly alike.

By digging deep into the history of England’s mighty castles, the purpose of this book is to throw light on those who lived there. For as long as there have been castles in England, there have been mysteries within their walls: murders that were never solved, treasures that remain unfound, prisoners left to rot in the ghastliest pits or executions worthy of lasting infamy.

From unfortunate victims to long lost legends, infamous owners to ladies in grey, Castles of England offers a fresh investigation into many of those tales that will forever be the cause of intrigue for visitors. To understand who they were is to understand the story of the castle in England. To understand the castle in England is to understand England.

What a fantastic little book, I must admit I read this book as soon as it came. I’ve always been a big fan of castles and their history, and living here in Wales where there are over 500 castles this book is a must for any fan of castles. From the big well-known castles to the little known and sometimes hidden castles they are all in this book of English castles. What is also cool, is the little stories and happenings that occur around histories, although suspiciously it seems almost every castle has to have its own ghost. A thoroughly good book and read, another excellent book by John Paul Davis who wrote about the Tower of London last year. Here’s hoping his next book is about Welsh castles.