Upnor Castle is a secret treasure that should be discovered! While many people know about Rochester Castle, few know to visit Upnor Castle.
Here’s everything you need to know to have a great visit to Upnor Castle.
How to get to here
The castle is tucked away along the banks of the River Medway, so it can be difficult to see from the road. Many people drive by the area without realising the castle is nearby.
You’ll need to enter the village of Upnor, specifically Upper Upnor, to gain access to the castle.
The closet train station to the castle is Strood (with Rochester being the next closest), although they are not within walking distance to the castle.
Parking near Upnor Castle
Do not put ‘Upnor Castle’ into your phone or GPS and drive directly to it! There are several roads that are almost impossible to turn on or reverse out of.
The castle itself does not have a car park or a coach parking area.
Instead, the best place to park is a free car park in Upper Upnor at the start of the High Sreet. This is really the only place to park when visiting the castle and the local pubs. It can get quite busy on the weekend and during the summer months, so make sure to plan ahead.
The other option is to park in Lower Upnor and walk over to the castle. Typically the walk wouldn’t be more than 15 minutes so it’s a good back-up plan for parking.
Upnor Castle opening times
Run by English Heritage, Upnor Castle is open every April to October before closing for the winter. To get the most up-to-date opening times, make sure to check their website before your visit.
We would recommend visiting the castle in the morning, then getting some lunch at a local pub. This makes for a great day out!
Entry prices to Upnor Castle
Below are the available ticket types and their corresponding price without a donation.
|Ticket Type||Without Donation|
|Child (5-17 years)||£3.50|
|Family (2 adults, up to 3 children)||£17.50|
|English Heritage Member||Free|
If you’re interested in visiting various English Heritage sites, the membership is well-worth the price. You’ll receive free entry to the castle as a Member, as well as local attractions like Rochester Castle, Dover Castle, Eynsford Castle and Temple Manor.
There are hundreds of English Heritage sites all over the country, as well. There’s no shortage of castles, stately homes and attractions to make the most of your membership.
If you do visit various English Heritage sites without a membership, the admission prices can really start to add up.
Pubs near Upnor Castle
There is no restaurant or cafe located at the castle, but you can buy small snacks, sandwiches and ice cream on the grounds. If you’re looking for something more to eat, either before your time at the castle or afterwards, there are four pubs near Upnor Castle, all of which serve food.
Make sure to check out our in-depth guide on all the pubs in Upnor for more details. They’re great to visit even if you’re not visiting the castle as well.
The closet pub to the castle is the extremely popular Tudor Rose, only steps from the castle’s entrance. The Tudor Rose is family-friendly and offers a variety of snacks, meals and drinks for reasonable prices.
All four pubs in Upnor also have garden seating which is a wonderful option in the summer months.
Restaurants near Upnor Castle
Need a restaurant near Upnor Castle? Unfortunately, you won’t have many to choose from. Aside from Upnor’s pubs, the village only has one restaurant:Coelho’s Picados & Skewer House. You’ll find Coelho’s in Lower Upnor, in the building that once housed Powder and Magazine. From Upnor Castle in Upper Upnor, it’s about a 10 minute walk to the restaurant in Lower Upnor.
This restaurant in Upnor has only recently opened, so time will tell if it remains in the village.
Want to learn more about restaurants in Upnor? Make sure to check out our post: Powder and Magazine – what happened?
If you’re not interested in Coelho’s, you’ll need to leave Upnor to find more restaurants. Thankfully, Rochester High St. is a short drive away and has numerous high-rated restaurants. Personally, we recommend trying The Cheese Room Botanicals on the High Street (60 High Street, Rochester ME1 1JY). Formally known as Smoke & Liquor, this restaurant always has interesting food and drink to try. Plus, the building itself is really interesting and cozy.
Rochester High Street also has various car parks you can use, should you drive over from Upnor Castle or anywhere else.
How long should you visit Upnor Castle
Currently, Upnor Castle Medway has a TripAdvisor score of 4 out of 5. Most visitors recommend spending about 1-2 hours at the castle. If you bring a packed lunch, you could easily spend more time among the castle grounds and wandering around the local footpaths among the scenic fields and river shores.
While it may not be as exciting as other Kent castles such as Rochester Castle or Dover Castle, Upnor Castle is still well worth a visit for its integral part of Medway history and incredible views.
It’s also worth spending some time discovering Upnor Village and the historical cobblestone streets near the castle.
Is Upnor Castle dog friendly?
Unfortunately, Upnor Castle is not dog friendly. While assistance dogs are allowed within the castle walls, all other dogs are not.
If you’re looking for a dog-friendly day out in the area, there are some lovely walking trails around Upnor village. Dogs are also allowed on Upnor Beach, in Lower Upnor, that would better suit your needs.
Who owns Upnor Castle?
During its history, Upnor Castle was very much an active military site.
However, at the end of the war in 1945, the Admiralty gave approval for Upnor Castle to be used as a Departmental Museum. It was at this point, finally opened to the public.
Upnor Castle underwent a various levels of restoration and the castle was scheduled as an Ancient Monument in January 1960. Currently, Upnor Castle is managed by English Heritage and remains part of the Crown Estate.
The history at Upnor Castle
This beautifully preserved castle is set along the Medway River and the village of Upnor. The castle boasts a rare example of an Elizabethan artillery fort. The castle construction begun in 1559 and redeveloped in 1599-1601, to protect warships moored at Chatham dockyards.
However, the castle failed its duty in 1667 when the Dutch sailed past it to burn or capture the English fleet at anchor.
Upnor Castle Weddings
The castle can be hired for wedding ceremonies lasting about 30 minutes in the Upper Magazine. However, the castle is still open to the public during this time (3.5 hours for the hire). English Heritage will also hand out free audios to visitors an hour before the ceremony starts.
Important details about weddings at Upnor Castle:
Accommodates: 80 people seated and 20 standing. Upnor Castle is a ceremony only venue.
Features: The venue has a river view and beautiful gardens.
Parking: Local pay and display car parks a short walk away.
Accessibility: The castle has lots of steps throughout and is not wheelchair friendly.
Upnor Castle Halloween
Each year, various local groups hold events during Halloween at the castle. These may include a heritage trail for young children, or making your own Halloween crafts at the castle.
Explore Kent is a great resource to check each Halloween for local activities, both at the castle and in the community.
Upnor Castle House, Kent
Behind the historical castle seats and beautiful Georgian fronted country house, commonly called Upnor Castle House.
Not only is it within the castle grounds and overlooking the Medway River, but it also comes with a swimming pool, grass tennis court and 5-acre walled garden.
Originally built in mid-17th century, Upnor Castle House was accommodation for the Storekeeper, the officer in charge of the magazine. Expanded in the 18th century, it is now a private residence.
Looking for a place to stay in Upnor? While the Upnor Castle House is a private home, they do offer a rental property in the castle grounds.
Currently called “The Stables,” this small holiday home is available for rentals within the Upnor Castle House grounds. This historical building has two bedrooms and can house up to 4 people looking for a beautiful getaway.
Upnor Castle Open Air Theatre
For those looking for something exciting to do in the area, Upnor Castle hosts a unique open air theatre produced by Changeling Theatre.
Founded in 1997, Changeling Theatre works to to produce high quality, entertaining theatre in non-traditional locations across South East England. Upnor Castle is one of their many locations.
They also create site-specific performances in locations such as Chatham Dockyard, Dover Castle and Maidstone Football Ground.
Walks near Upnor Castle
There are numerous hikes and walks near Upnor Castle that make for a wonderful afternoon out. After visiting the castle, you can easily walk up the High Street in Upper Upnor, down into Lower Upper and along the stoney beach.
One circular route is nearly 5 miles but includes wonderful views along the shoreline and nearby woodland.
While there are some inclines around Upnor, most of the paths and walkways are fairly flat, making it perfect for easy walks, runs or cycling.
Should I visit Upnor Castle?
If you have any interest in castles, history or architecture, Upnor Castle is a must-see. It’s a hidden gem tucked away in Upnor that many people don’t even realise it’s there. While it’s not as big as other castles around Kent, it certainly has it’s own charm and history.
Visiting the castle, surrounding village and a local pub is a great day out in Kent.
Currently, Upnor Castle is closed to visitors during Covid-19. Once English Heritage has deemed it safe to the public to re-open, they will issue a notice across their social media and website.