Odiham Castle

101 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type

Things to do


Date of travel

July, 2021

Product name

Product country

Product city

Travelled with


Reasons for trip

If you are ever near the Basingstoke Canal in Hampshire it is worth visiting the ruins of ‘King John’s Castle’ (Odiham Castle) in Hampshire. It is one of only three fortresses built by King John during his reign and had surrounding defensive ditches. The reason why John probably chose this place was because he visited the area in 1204 and it happened to lay halfway between Winchester and Windsor.

It was built in 1207 – 1214 using flint, timber and mortar and was in use until the mid 16th century. It is up to 9 metres (30 feet). There are a few information boards around and inside the keep providing a brief history of the castle and give details of parts of its construction.

Shortly after construction was finished the castle suffered a two week siege by French knights who were sent to support the Barons in their rebellion against King John after the Magna Carta failed to achieve peace.

According to historical records, the site of the castle covered 20 acres and construction cost was around £1000 (£1,484,600 in modern value). The castle had a two storey keep standing in one of two contiguous moated enclosures and a third enclosure to the south east with the King’s house.

King Henry III gave the castle to John’s daughter, Eleanor in 1236 who, 2 years later, married Simon de Montfort, a powerful nobleman. Simon took a leading part in the rebellion against Henry III and eventually stripped the King of power, taking on the rule of England himself. De Montfort was killed by supporters of the King at the Battle of Evesham after just over a year in power. Eleanor was exiled and the castle confiscated by the crown.

The castle became part of another rebellion when the Despenser family who held the title of Constable of Odiham Castle stood against Roger Mortimer and Queen Isabella of France, wife of Edward II who was forced to abdicate in favour of his son Edward III.
The castle served as a prison from the mid 14th century when King David II of Scotland was imprisoned there for more than a decade.

In the15th century the castle lost its status as a royal residence and this is when it became a hunting lodge. Not much was spent on its upkeep, and so began its decline. It was in 1603 that it was classed as being a ruin.

The castle is open 24 hours and there is no on site parking but is accessible from the towpath and the Colt Hill park which is about a mile and half down the path. However, we managed to park on the roadside near Odiham Ford which is much closer to the castle. It is quite pleasant near the ford and a bench seat can be found near the canal, which make a nice place to sit and watch the world go by! This is a place children would enjoy and have fun. Upon reaching the castle ruins there is space for a picnic in the grounds. Ducks and fish can be seen in the canal and we were told of a family of swans to be found just a short distance the other side of the ruins.
A great place for a family outing as well just adults.

Caroline Hutchings

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.