Warwick CV34 6AU, United Kingdom
William the Conqueror ordered construction of the current Warwick Castle to begin in 1086, however this was not the first stronghold to be built on this site. That distinction goes to a ring of earthen ramparts built in 914 at Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred the Great. Henry de Newburgh, whom William bestowed his castle upon, became the first Earl of Warwick.
Located in the southwest corner of the castle grounds, atop the high motte or mound, was the earliest Norman fortress. Stone was used to replace the original Norman wooden stronghold around 1260. Four years later, in 1264, rebel allies of Simon de Montfort invaded Warwick, wreaking devastation on the walls and capturing the current Earl, William Maudit, who they took into captivity at Kenilworth Castle together with his wife.
Gaveston’s trial was a formality, and he was hanged immediately afterward. Perhaps it was for the best that the Dungeon hadn’t been constructed yet; it wasn’t until 1350, and today tourists can descend a steep flight of stairs to see the bare chamber where criminals were held. The most unfortunate inmates were thrown into an oubliette, a hole in the floor of a Dungeon antechamber.
Thomas Beauchamp started renovating the crumbling castle in 1331, and his son, also named Thomas, finished the job. As a result of angering Richard II, the second Thomas was first imprisoned for years in London’s Tower of London and then banished to the Isle of Man. Then, in 1449, Richard Neville, sometimes known as “The Kingmaker,” took possession of Warwick Castle.
Despite being the most powerful man of his time, Neville’s constant plotting and manoeuvring ultimately led to his defeat at Barnet (1471) and the surrender of Warwick Castle to Richard, Duke of Gloucester, the future Richard III.
Whatever his legacy may be, Richard was a capable administrator who understood the worth in updating and fortifying the castle. The kitchens and State Rooms also underwent renovations later on.
When Neville was at the height of his authority in the second half of the 15th century, he was widely regarded as the most influential lord in Britain.
Waxwork figures of nobles, tradesmen at work, women’s role in castle life, and tools of the trade all help bring to life the late 15th century world depicted in this exhibition, which is housed in the undercroft and tells the story of Neville’s life and death at the Battle of Barnet.
The Chapel and the State Rooms
The Chapel serves as the main point of access to the castle’s State Room wing. Possibly on the site of an earlier 12th-century church, Sir Ffulke Greville (see The Ghost Tower, below) constructed this shortly around 1600.
The State Rooms’ Great Hall serves as the building’s focal point. In the 14th century, this massive hall was constructed and became the castle’s social hub. People gathered here to have a good time over drinks and food. Both the 17th century and 1871 saw reconstruction of the hall.
The first of the hall’s three distinguishing elements is over your head. It’s the gorgeous timber roof that replaced the original Victorian tin one. ‘Guy’s Porridge Pot,’ a massive black cauldron, is in one corner of the Great Hall.
The cauldron, which was used as a stew pot and dates back to roughly 1500, is evidence of how large a family lived in the castle. The ‘Kenilworth Buffet‘ is the most eye-catching part of the Great Hall. The skilled artisans of the area created this exquisite oak sideboard for the Great Exhibition in 1851.
From the Great Hall, guests will move through several staterooms, the earliest of which dates back to the 14th century. However, most of these apartments have undergone extensive renovations throughout the ages. The State Dining Room, Reception Rooms, and Bedrooms are all decorated with exquisite antiques.
The gilded ceilings from the 17th and 18th centuries are especially noteworthy.When the wealthy Beauchamp family were given the manor and the earldom of Warwick in 1268, the castle’s fortunes began to improve. The unpopular Piers Gaveston, Edward II’s lover, was kidnapped by Guy de Beauchamp in 1312 and put on trial for treason in Warwick Castle.
Royal Weekend Party
The family quarters are located right next to the State Rooms. Guests at Daisy, Countess of Warwick’s, 1898 house party, as shown by waxwork figurines. Edward, Prince of Wales, afterwards King Edward VII, was the party’s most prominent visitor.
Edward and other members of the upper class of the time are accurately depicted with period clothing; this includes a young Winston Churchill and the Duke of York. The exhibition’s designers were able to accurately recreate the original house party’s furnishings and decorations thanks to photographs taken at the time.
The Ghost Tower
The Ghost Tower is a thin tower in the northeastern corner of the castle. In the 14th century, this was built to stave off assaults from the water. The building got its name because local legend has claimed that the spirit of Sir Ffulke Greville (who died in 1628) still lingers there.
In London, Greville was murdered by his manservant Ralph Haywood after Haywood discovered that his owner was only planning to leave him twenty pounds. The manservant immediately attempted suicide by stabbing himself after realising his mistake. The chapel of St. Mary in Warwick, just a short stroll from the castle, is home to the tomb of the slain lord.
This is the oldest component of the castle, and it is also known as Ethefleda’s Mound. Even though William the Conqueror’s defences have been destroyed, visitors can still ascend the winding walk to the summit of the motte and take in breathtaking views of the surrounding river, farmland, and expansive grounds.
The Rose Gardens
The Victorian rose garden is tucked away in a shady area beside the castle’s gatehouse. A large trellis shelters the path here, and it winds past rose beds and a rock garden with a waterfall that cascades into a little pool. In the days before refrigerators, food and drink were stored in underground icehouses that may be reached from the garden path.
The Mill and the Engine House
The historic Engine House can be found at the castle’s riverbank base. The castle’s grain was ground here by a water mill as early as the 15th century. The Mill was transformed into the castle’s Engine House in the late 19th century, drawing power from the nearby River Avon.
Great care was taken to prevent damaging the castle’s fabric when the electrical equipment was installed in 1894 and the building was wired for electrical power. In December 1894, the first electric light bulb was flipped on at Warwick Castle, making it one of the first private mansions in the country to get electricity.
The meticulous restoration of the ancient machinery means that the Engine House can once again generate enough electricity to meet the demands of the entire castle. Guests can take a look at the waterwheel, turbines, and operational electrical gear.
Capability Brown, the leading proponent of the English Landscape Garden style, created the expansive gardens for the Earls of Warwick that extend out from the castle moat. Focusing on a ‘natural’ aesthetic, this area features manicured lawns and winding walks next to a river.
The world’s largest operational trebuchet, measuring 18 metres in height and weighing 22 tonnes, is located on an island in the river. This is not a static display, but rather a functional replica of a mediaeval siege engine.
The Conservatory stands out as the only formal structure on the otherwise casual grounds of the castle. William Eborall, a stonemason from the area, constructed this beautiful structure in 1786. The Peacock Garden is a formal garden that stretches from the Conservatory to the river. It gets its name from the four huge topiary hedges fashioned to appear like peacocks that stand in front of a fountain basin.
A life-size copy of the Warwick Vase, a Roman earthenware vase discovered in 1771 near Tivoli, stands at the Conservatory’s heart. The original was a gift to the Earl of Warwick, and its display in the Conservatory was among its original purposes. The Burrell Collection in Glasgow is where you may see the original Warwick Vase.
How to get there?
Warwick Castle is a national treasure that welcomes visitors 364 days a year. The Castle can be reached quickly from Junction 15 of the M40, taking just 40 minutes from Birmingham and 1 hour and 40 minutes from London.
There are some variations in opening hours based on the events.