Donnington Castle

Donnington Castle

Near the town of Newbury, standing tall over the quiet fields of Berkshire, are the striking remains of a castle - or, rather, the gatehouse of one.

Donnington Castle is an odd but memorable sight, made more memorable still by the fascinating history that surrounds it.

Stately and strong

Donnington Castle was built in the 14th-century by Sir Richard Abberbury.

As you explore the ruins, the intricate decoration will show you that Abberbury was clearly keen on making it a luxurious residence - his own private quarters would have been somewhere in this gatehouse!

The castle was later given to Thomas Chaucer. If the name sounds familiar, that’s because he was the son of Geoffrey Chaucer, the famous medieval poet who wrote The Canterbury Tales.

King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I are also thought to have briefly stayed here.

Walking around the site, it'll feel amazing to know you're following in the footsteps of so many legendary historical figures.

Donnington undone

What’s unusual about Donnington Castle is that it seems completely intact from the front.

At first glance, you would expect its gates to lead you deeper inside the castle, but you’ll quickly realise that everything beyond this point has been destroyed.

During the Civil War, Sir John Boys was trusted with the castle. When he arrived with his army, Boys built star-shaped earthworks around it where defensive guns could be placed.

As you climb the hill that leads up to the castle, keep an eye out: you might still be able to spot evidence of these earthworks dug into the slope.

Although it faced repeated attacks from Parliamentary forces, Donnington Castle held strong for over a year.

But when he realised the Royalist cause had become hopeless, Boys surrendered the fortress, and everything but the gatehouse was destroyed.

While this gatehouse is only a small part of what the castle would have once been, it alone is incredibly grand, with its tall towers watched over by gargoyles.

With that in mind, try to imagine how magnificent the rest of this castle must have looked before it was destroyed.

Magnificent and melancholy

Donnington Castle, once luxurious and mighty, saw many legendary figures pass through its halls, and stood strong through times of war.

Yet now what remains is only a small glimpse into how mighty this place once would have been. It’s still a gorgeous ruin that we’re sure will leave you impressed.

Donnington Castle Lodge,
Castle Lane,
Berkshire,
GB RG14 2LE

Paid parking