Which medieval castles in the UK offer the most authentic candle-making workshops?

From the imposing walls of majestic fortresses to the intimate nooks of quaint manor houses, the United Kingdom is steeped in a rich tapestry of history. One notable aspect of this history is the fascinating tradition of candle-making. This age-old craft has experienced a strong revival in recent years, and many of the country's historic castles have begun offering workshops where visitors can learn this ancient craft in the most authentic setting imaginable. Below are five of the most noteworthy locations, each offering unique, hands-on candle-making experiences.

1. Warwick Castle, Warwickshire

Warwick Castle, located in the heart of England, is a place of legend. Built by William the Conqueror in 1068, this castle retains much of its original grandeur and provides the perfect backdrop for an authentic candle-making workshop.

At Warwick Castle, candle-making is more than just a craft. It's a journey back in time, where you learn not only the principles of creating a candle but also the historical significance of the art. You'll be using traditional tools and techniques, working with pure beeswax, just as people did in the Middle Ages. The knowledgeable guides ensure that each participant gains a deep understanding of the process, from the gathering of raw materials to the final product.

2. Caernarfon Castle, Wales

Caernarfon Castle is a World Heritage Site, and for good reason. This breathtaking castle is one of the most impressive and well-preserved in the UK. The castle, with its polygonal towers and imposing fortifications, is a marvellous place to experience a candle-making workshop.

The workshops at Caernarfon Castle are renowned for their attention to detail and hands-on approach. You'll learn about the different types of wax used throughout history, the importance of wick selection, and the careful technique of pouring the molten wax. The setting, in the castle's historic candle-making room, adds a layer of authenticity that completes the experience.

3. Stirling Castle, Scotland

Perched atop a volcanic crag overlooking the Scottish Lowlands, Stirling Castle is an awe-inspiring location. The castle's candle-making workshops are just as impressive, offering a blend of historical context, expert guidance, and hands-on candle creation.

At Stirling Castle, candle-making workshops are tailored to provide a rich and immersive experience. You will have the chance to learn about the significance of candle-making in the castle's history, from the strategic importance of light in times of siege to the symbolic use of candles in religious ceremonies. The workshop culminates in the creation of your own beeswax candle, using techniques passed down through centuries.

4. Leeds Castle, Kent

Leeds Castle in Kent, described as the 'loveliest castle in the world', is another top choice for those interested in delving into the art of candle-making. The castle's beautiful surroundings enhance the experience, making it a memorable event.

Workshops at Leeds Castle take a more modern approach, blending traditional methods with contemporary styles. Participants learn about the use of different types of wax, including soy and paraffin, and how to create scented and coloured candles. Despite these modern touches, the workshops maintain a strong link to history, with a focus on the role candles played in medieval castle life.

5. Alnwick Castle, Northumberland

The final castle on our list, Alnwick Castle, is a real gem. Known as the 'Windsor of the North', Alnwick Castle offers a unique candle-making experience that combines history, craft, and a touch of magic.

Alnwick's workshops stand out with their focus on decorative candle-making. Participants are taught how to create beautiful, ornate candles that were once a symbol of status and wealth in the medieval period. Amidst the grandeur of Alnwick's walls, you'll learn about the art, symbolism, and techniques involved in crafting these exquisite pieces.

In conclusion, these five medieval castles each offer a unique and authentic candle-making experience, steeped in the rich history and grandeur of the UK's past. Whether you're a history enthusiast, a lover of crafts, or simply looking for a unique experience, these workshops promise a memorable journey into the heart of medieval life.

6. Dover Castle, Kent

Dover Castle is a stunning fortress that has stood guard over the English Channel for nine centuries. This immense castle is nestled atop the famous White Cliffs of Dover, creating a dramatic and iconic backdrop for a candle-making workshop.

The castle's workshops provide an unforgettable experience. You'll embark on a journey through time, exploring the historic role of candles in the Middle Ages, from their utilitarian purposes such as lighting and heat, to their ceremonial significance in religious and royal events. The candle-making process at Dover Castle is painstakingly authentic. Participants are shown how to use traditional tools and methods, including the ancient technique of hand-dipping. You'll get to work with pure beeswax, shaping and moulding it into a candle of your own creation.

The knowledgeable workshop guides at Dover Castle are not just candle-making experts. They're also historians and storytellers, providing fascinating insights into how candles and their production evolved over the centuries, and how they influenced life within the castle walls. Through their guidance, you'll gain a deeper appreciation for this humble craft, transforming it from a simple activity into a journey into the past.

7. Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Holding a dominant position over Scotland's capital city, Edinburgh Castle is another must-visit destination for those seeking an authentic medieval candle-making experience.

Edinburgh Castle's workshops present a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the history of candle-making. The castle's vast collection of historic artefacts includes antique candle moulds and tools, giving participants a real hands-on experience of how candles were made in the Middle Ages. You'll delve into the practical complexities of candle making, from selecting the right type of wax, to perfecting the pouring technique, and finally to the delicate task of wick placement.

The workshops at Edinburgh Castle go beyond just the practicalities of candle-making. They also delve deep into the symbolic and cultural significance of candles in medieval society. You'll learn about the role candles played in religious ceremonies, feast days, and the daily rituals of castle life. This enriching context transforms the act of candle-making into a living, breathing slice of history.


Today, we have a wealth of light sources at our fingertips. But there's something particularly enchanting about the flicker of a candle's flame, something that harks back to a slower, simpler time. A time governed by the rhythms of nature, when the setting of the sun meant it was time to retire for the day unless you had a good stock of candles at hand.

The candle-making workshops offered at these medieval castles in the UK provide a unique opportunity to step back in time and experience a slice of this history for yourself. From the grandeur of Warwick Castle to the magical ambience of Alnwick Castle, from the imposing fortifications of Caernarfon Castle to the dramatic vistas of Dover Castle, and last but not least, the rich history of Edinburgh Castle, each location offers a unique and unforgettable experience.

Whether you're a history buff, a candle-making enthusiast, or just someone looking for a unique day out, these workshops are a brilliant way to engage with the past in a hands-on, practical way. You'll leave not only with a beautiful, handcrafted candle but with a deeper appreciation for the history and heritage of candle-making in the UK.