British comedian Eddie Izzard once joked that all Americans think British people live in castles. That's not an unfair assessment. With its stately manors, foggy moors, and the fact that its royal family owns more than 1.4% of the country, England seems like a storybook land from a long distant era. Is it that much of a leap to imagine British folks are still practicing chivalry and luxuriating in fortified keeps?
The funny thing is, there are a surprising number of historic castles still in use today. These medieval castles are not only still standing, they remain private residences (at least in part) to families that can trace their lineage back through the centuries. One of them even ranks among the most beautiful castles in Europe.
If you ever wondered, "Are castles still used today? Like, as a house?" - check out the fantastic estates below.
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Dunrobin Castle, located in Sutherland, Scotland, dates back to the 1300s, and is "one of the oldest continuously inhabited houses" in the United Kingdom.
The land the castle is built on was first acquired by Hugh, Lord of Duffus, in the 13th century. It is the largest house in the Northern Highlands (boasting 189 rooms), and is home to the Dukes of Sutherland.
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Construction on Arundel Castle began in 1068, at the order of William the Conqueror. Today, it is more than 950 years old, and "one of the largest inhabited and complete castles in England." The castle, open to the public, is the principal seat of the Dukes of Norfolk.
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Because work began on Inveraray Castle in the 18th century, it is technically not a medieval castle. However, it is built on the grounds of an earlier, 15th century castle that also belonged to Clan Campbell, and has been the seat of the Dukes of Argyll since the medieval era.
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Château d'Ussé, France
First constructed as a fortified stronghold in the 11th century, the Château d'Ussé is located in France above the Indre Valley, and may have inspired the tale of Sleeping Beauty.
According to the castle's website, the chateau is still used as a private residence for the Duke of Blacas and his family.