Kenilworth Castle

Information

 

Initially I planned on us visiting Warwick Castle, that is until my wife decided to google it and find it to be a theme park, £25 entrance and probably not too many opportunities to actually look at the Castle itself.

So we Googled other English Heritage sites in the Warwickshire area and came up with Kenilworth Castle, and old castle that was owned previously by Queen Elizabeth 1.

Kenilworth Castle is located in the town of the same name in Warwickshire, England. Constructed from Normanthrough to Tudor times, the castle has been described by architectural historian Anthony Emery as “the finest surviving example of a semi-royal palace of the later middle ages, significant for its scale, form and quality of workmanship”. Kenilworth has also played an important historical role.

 

The castle was the subject of the six-month-long Siege of Kenilworth in 1266, believed to be the longest siege in English history, and formed a base for Lancastrian operations in the Wars of the Roses. Kenilworth was also the scene of the removal of Edward II from the English throne, the French insult to Henry V in 1414 (said by John Strecche to have encouraged the Agincourtcampaign), and the Earl of Leicester’s lavish reception of Elizabeth I in 1575.

Our ticket that allowed us to wonder freely around the grounds

The castle was built over several centuries. Founded in the 1120s around a powerful Norman great tower, the castle was significantly enlarged by King John at the beginning of the 13th century. Huge water defences were created by damming the local streams, and the resulting fortifications proved able to withstand assaults by land and water in 1266. John of Gaunt spent lavishly in the late 14th century, turning the medieval castle into a palace fortress designed in the latest perpendicular style. The Earl of Leicester then expanded the castle once again, constructing new Tudor buildings and exploiting the medieval heritage of Kenilworth to produce a fashionable Renaissance palace.

Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth was partly destroyed by Parliamentary forces in 1649 to prevent it being used as a military stronghold. Ruined, only two of its buildings remain habitable today. The castle became a tourist destination from the 18th century onwards, becoming famous in the Victorian period following the publishing of Sir Walter Scott’s novel Kenilworth in 1826. English Heritage has managed the castle since 1984. The castle is classed as a Grade I listed building and as a Scheduled Monument, and is open to the public. (Read more)

Today

The castle remained the property of the Clarendons until 1937, when Lord Clarendon found the maintenance of the castle too expensive and sold Kenilworth to the industrialist Sir John Siddeley. Siddeley, whose tax accounting in the 1930s had been at least questionable, was keen to improve his public image and gave over the running of the castle, complete with a charitable donation, to the Commissioner of Works. In 1958 his son gave the castle itself to the town of Kenilworth and English Heritage has managed the property since 1984. The castle is classed as a Grade I listed building and as a Scheduled Monument, and is open to the public.

Between 2005–09 English Heritage attempted to restore Kenilworth’s garden more closely to its Elizabethan form, using as a basis the description in the Langham letterand details from recent archaeological investigations.

The reconstruction cost more than £2 million and was criticised by some archaeologists as being a “matter of simulation as much as reconstruction”, due to the limited amount of factual information on the nature of the original gardens. In 2008 plans were put forward to re-create and flood the original Great Mere around the castle. As well as re-creating the look of the castle it was hoped that a new mere would be part of the ongoing flood alleviation plan for the area and that the lake could be used for boating and other waterside recreations.

We stay within the walls for about 3 hours taking many pictures as I usually do. The English heritage shop is on the foot path as you walk towards the castle. Here you can buy your normal postcards and other memorabilia and pay your entry fee.

Some more pictures for the day

Kenilworth Castle