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Bath, England

Sham Castle

Don't be fooled by this fake medieval facade even if it is almost 300 years old. 

Located on a real (not mini) golf course, Sham Castle is, exactly as the title suggests, just a wall meant to look like the entrance to a grand medieval fortress, but is closer to an 18th-century version of a Hollywood backlot.

The perfectly named stone edifice was originally built to improve the view from a wealthy postmaster’s nearby estate. The towering wall was erected in 1762 using stones from some quarries located in nearby Bath that the postmaster had also purchased, allowing the fake castle to pull double duty as an advertisement for the quality of the local rock as well. While it is called a “castle,” the facade is simply a single wall with ornate windows and iconically medieval towers on the front side. The back side of the wall is almost hilariously blank as the sham was clearly only built to be seen from one side.

In the centuries after the creator’s passing, the illusory castle wall fell into some disrepair but the fake castle was renovated in 1921 when it was officially given over to the city of Bath. Today Sham Castle decorates a private golf course, so access is limited, but it now illuminated at night should any bold trespassers wish to visit the castle that puts the “folly” in folly.            

Know Before You Go

Students at the University of Bath can walk from the campus, across the fields and gold course to reach Sham Castle.