Recommendation: ‘Secrets of Great British Castles’ Documentary

As I trawled through Netflix recently I came across the historical documentary Secrets of Great British Castles presented by historian Dan Jones. There are two series, the first came out in 2015 and the second in 2016 – how I managed to miss them the first time round I don’t know, but I was thrilled to discover them!

Leeds castle
Leeds Castle courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The documentary synopsis was enough to peak my interest: “Secrets of Great British Castles – Historian Dan Jones explores the turbulent history behind twelve of Britain’s most famous castles. Behind the walls of these celebrated strongholds are stories of intrigue, drama, romance, rebellion, and murder. Dan Jones recounts some of the many classic tales from 1000 years of British history, featuring a stellar cast of kings, queens, rogues, rebels, victims and villains.”

Each episode focuses on one particular British castle and its fascinating history. Being the history nerd that I am, I always enjoy finding out more about historical places. I’ve enjoyed visiting castles since I was a kid, and I particularly enjoyed episodes which featured castles I have visited myself.

Season 1 covers:

  • Dover Castle
  • Tower of London
  • Warwick Castle
  • Caernarfon Castle
  • Stirling Castle
  • Carrickfergus Castle

Season 2 covers:

  • Edinburgh Castle
  • Cardiff Castle
  • York Castle
  • Leeds Castle
  • Lancaster Castle
  • Arundel Castle

All episodes are 45 minutes of historical awesomeness as Dan Jones highlights the key players and events which shaped the castle over its long history. The first episode on Dover Castle was a strong start and sets up the whole series in terms of style. Each episode includes great sweeping shots of the castles’ impressive exterior, the use of reenactment actors to visualise historic events and great graphics for the timeline of events. Dan is a natural presenter; clearly spoken, emphasising the important facts and engaging audiences with the story being told. I work at an archive so was especially delighted when archival records were used!

It’s hard to pick a favourite episode. I loved the opening episode on Dover Castle, as I visited it as a child with my grandparents and it holds some really lovely memories for me. The episode on Cardiff Castle I found particularly interesting, as Welsh history is not my strongest area, so it really opened my eyes to the history of Anglo-Welsh relations.

If you like British history, castles and great stories then this documentary is for you, check it out on Netflix today!

You can watch the trailer for Series 1 below:

If you start watching it let me know what you think, which episode is your favourite? Which castles have you visited before? I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments below or via my social media channels!

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Tower_of_London_from_the_Shard_(8515883950)
Tower of London courtesy of Wikipedia

2 thoughts on “Recommendation: ‘Secrets of Great British Castles’ Documentary

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