Secrets of Great British Castles (Netflix 2015)

castles4 Kernels

Dan Jones presents another great historical documentary meant for those with an insatiable hunger for anything British.  Let’s face it – I hated history.  But since I started my own ancestral obsession, I can’t get enough of the Romans, Vikings, Normans, and Saxons leaving their mark upon the land I wish I could live upon.

In the past, I’ve watched some great documentaries deserving of a bowl of popcorn, soda, and hours sitting on my green recliner.  They fill that hunger to learn about England, making it interesting.  I have no idea why we didn’t have men like Dan Jones teaching 10th-grade history in high school.  Perhaps, I would have actually enjoyed memorizing all those dates and places.

Currently streaming is Secrets of Great British Castles on Netflix. You will feast on an insider look at these famous stone edifices:

  • Dover Castle (England)
  • Tower of London (England)
  • Warwick Castle (England)
  • Caernarfon Castle (Wales)
  • Stirling Castle (Scotland)
  • Carrickfergus Castle (Northern Ireland)

Dan Jones is a great narrator of history, making each visit fascinating.  He roams the nearby landscape, climbs the circular stairs to the tower, crawls into the bowels of dungeons, and visits the chapels where some of the names of history were slashed with swords and brutally murdered.

However, it’s not just a boring recitation of documentary information, it’s also acted by individuals, dressed in period costumes as the kings, queens, and famous figures of the day who built, lived, and conquered the castles.  Inside the stone walls, you learn about the great architecture and impenetrable fortresses, but also the interesting lives of the early rulers of England.

What makes this series great is its narrator, Dan Jones.  He’s a historian and newspaper columnist, as well as a fine looking bloke who does all the hard climbing and squeezing through holes for his viewers.  Another good series is Britain’s Bloodiest Dynasty: The Plantagenets, which is based off a book that he wrote and was later adapted to another documentary. You can find on Netflix (2014).  Well done and intriguing, you’ll be swept back actually enjoying history.

So tune in on Netflix for an interesting look at the castles we will probably never visit.  Though I have personally seen Dover Castle perched upon the hill from the beach, I’ve never visited. Thankfully, I have visited London Tower twice, but the others will probably never be within my reach.  I would love to see Warwick Castle one day.

PoppyDuring the series, you will see in the background on the tour of the Tower of London the poppies on display, which were inserted into the ground in 2014 to memorialize the 888,246 British and colonials who died in WWI. A few of my distant cousins were among those numbers. I am fortunate to have a poppy, which I purchased after they were removed from the landscape.

Documentaries like these remind us of the blood shed to form the United Kingdom, but the poppies on display at the Tower of London in 2014 remind us of the blood shed to keep a nation.


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