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.
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.
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.
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.
Located in the English county of Northumberland, Alnwick Castle is the second-largest inhabited castle in England. It is owned by the 12th Duke of Northumberland, the current head of the House of Percy. His family has lived in the castle for more than 700 years.
The first parts of Alnwick castle were built in the late 9th century. In modern times, it's been used as filming locations for both the Harry Potter films and Downton Abbey.