Beautiful Ruins in the Heart of the English Countryside
Kenilworth Castle is not just any castle, it is where Queen Elisabeth I, the Virgin Queen had a love affair. To be honest before visiting, I had no idea about the long history that went with it. However one step into Kenilworth and your mind is transported back in time.
The site is run by knowledgeable English Heritage guides and staff are always available for an informative chat about anything to do with the castle. The site itself is vast. As soon as you step into the grounds you can feel the history encased into its walls. You can walk along passageways and staircases imagining the footsteps that have been taken before you. Marvelling at its many building and the objects and artefacts that are housed within. You can even get to touch some of the original stone balls, each weighing up to 140 kilos that were thrown at this fortification during the siege of 1266.
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Kenilworth Castle History
The Castle was built over several centuries and has been linked to some of the most famous names in English history. It is thought that the original structure dates back to Saxon times which where most likely destroyed during the Saxon wars with the Danes. However the oldest part still standing dates back to 1120. After the Norman Conquest, it became property of the crown and around 1129 King Henry I gave it to a Norman noble Geoffrey de Clinton who was the Treasurer and Chief of Justice of England at the time.
Over the years the castle expanded, eventually the castle was seen to be too much of a powerful stronghold and was confiscated by Henry II. He then developed the site into one of the greatest fortresses in England. In 1244 King Henry III gave the castle to the Earl of Leicester, Simon de Montfort who was also married to the Kings sister Eleanor. Although de Montfort was French he is remembered in history as one of the founders of English democracy. He was a leading rebel in the Baron’s War against the Kings increasing taxation system. Kenilworth Castle became the site of a siege that remains the longest in English history! The rebels held out inside the castle for six months against Royal forces. The siege was only ended after the Barons finally surrendered due to being overcome with disease and famine.
In 1563 Queen Elisabeth I bestowed the castle to Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester. It is thought that the Queen wanted to marry Dudley however after the suspicious death of his wife his reputation had been ruined. Queen Elisabeth visited Dudley many times at Kenilworth Castle, however her final visit in 1575 lasted 19 days and cost Dudley so much that it almost bankrupted him. Legend has it that the pageantry and splendour eclipsed anything else before seen in England. The festivities are believed to have been the inspiration for Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
In 1649 the castle, like many others at the time were deliberately destroyed by parliamentary forces and after the civil war it was abandoned. However today you can still get a sense of what the castle was like in its heyday.
Kenilworth Castle: Things to See and Do:
Explore the full height of the tower built by Dudley, Earl of Leicester to court Queen Elisabeth I and soak up the spectacular views. Climb up the stairs and platforms that take you up 18 meters to the tower to glimpse the Queens private staircase and see what would have been the most luxurious part of the castle.
These gardens are so beautiful and elegant. As you stroll around you can imagine the Queen walking alongside the colourful and fragrant walkways.
Built in the 1570s the castle entrance was transformed in to a stunning private house. The house today has been left how it looked when the last caretaker left in the 1930s. Inside you can explore the many rooms including the beautiful ornate fireplace which once was part of Elisabeth I’s private rooms. There is also an exhibition on the romance between Elisabeth I and her ambitious courtier Robert Dudley.
Walking around Kenilworth Castle grounds is probably my favourite part about visiting Kenilworth, you can wander around taking in the various viewpoints and getting up close to the oldest parts of the castle. You can admire the mighty keep which was once the heart of the castle. Its dominance is easy to see, built three stories high and with walls 14 feet wide!
The Great Hall is another awesome structure and was once one of the finest of its kind. It was the cutting edge of 14th century design and played host to many monarchs and Tudor kings.
Kenilworth Castle is situated in the town of Kenilworth about 5 miles from the city of Warwick in Warwickshire. The site is operated by English-Heritage. If visiting many English heritage sites it maybe be beneficial to get a yearly pass.This gives free access to over 400 historic places from just £5 per month, for further details check here
This can be found just outside the site entrance and has a parking charge of £2 however this is refunded with the purchase of the admission ticket. The site is clearly signposted from the town centre, off the B4103.
Post code: CV8 1NG Latitude: 52.347852 Longitude: -1.592548
A bus service operates Between Kenilworth train station and the castle. From the surrounding area Travel West Midlands 11 & 11X and Stagecoach U12 both serve Kenilworth Castle.
Kenilworth station has services running from Coventry and Lemington Spa. If travelling from London or other areas regular trains connect with Coventry and Lemington Spa where you can catch connecting trains to Kenilworth.
Prices and Opening Times:
Adult – £11.30
Child (5-17 years) – £6.80
Concession – £10.20
Family (2 Adults 2 Childres) – £29.40
March 2018 – September 2018
Monday – Sunday 10 am – 6 pm