Warwick Castle

I'm of an age where it is de rigeur to be curmudgeonly about anything and everything, lamenting about how much better it was in the 1970s (it really wasn't, trust me). So you will no doubt be expecting me to rant and rail about the theme park presentation of Warwick Castle. Sorry to disappoint. I really like how the castle is presented, with only a few gripes, most notably the hidden speakers blasting out the sounds of merry olde England™ everywhere. 

Warwick Castle is old, and I mean proper old. Having its roots in a AngloSaxon burh built upon Æthelflæd's instruction in the early C10th. William the Conqueror would build a motte and bailey castle upon the site in the C11th, the stone castle starting to appear from the C12th.

So why does the ECW travelogue take a visit to the theme park castle? It certainly wasn't to sample the delights of Zog's kingdom adventures or the Horrible Histories maze.

Caesar's Tower

Fulke Greville was granted the ramshackle ruins in 1604 by James I, and undertook a significant rebuild of the site. The castle we see to day is pretty much his work (with a few Victorian tweaks). Fulke would be murdered in 1628; and his son, Robert Greville, 2nd Baron Brooke would inherit the castle. 

Lord Brooke

Brooke? If your brain hasn't made the connection - yes the same Lord Brooke who raised a short lived, wargamer's favourite, purple coated regiment that was present at Edgehill, Brentford and Turnham Green. He would be shot by John Dyott at the siege of Lichfield.

Guy's Tower

The Castle, unsurprisingly, was a Parliamentarian stronghold, its defences being bolstered by a considerable array of earthworks. Northampton led a Royalist force to besiege the castle in August 1642, the siege being lifted by the advance of Essex and his field army.

The old bridge which used to provide entry to the castle

After Edgehill, Royalist prisoners were held captive in the castle in Caesar's and Guy's Towers. The castle would once more serve as a prison for the Royalists and Scots captured after Worcester


The castle would retain a sizeable garrison until 1660.

What's there today?

I can't stress this enough: plan ahead. Warwick Castle is on the pricey side. Buy your tickets in advance online - they are £10 dearer on the day (both online and in person). Car parking is also another hit to the wallet. The stables car park is £10, the main and overflow car parks are £6. Warwick is on the doorstep of the castle, alternative car parking in the town may be cheaper.


As the Castle is operated by a company that runs theme parks, expect to have your bank account rinsed in the gift shops and cafés, by all day drinks deals, and a number of 'not included in the entry price' attractions. Remember what I said about planning ahead? 

Small people will love this place - the Zog and Horrible Histories attractions will allow them to run around like headless chickens, and the wax works will make the place come alive. During summer months and bank holidays there are falconry exhibitions and a tilt yard. Visiting as an adult? Maybe give bank holidays and sunny weekends a miss. Disabled access is very limited I'm afraid.


The kingmaker exhibit is really good, showing how the occupants of the castle lived and worked in the C15th. Another exhibit shows life in the castle in Victorian/Edwardian times. For the ECW enthusiast the great hall, and the rooms running off from it are the star.


The great hall has a fine collection of arms and armour on display. Sadly lacking in labelling, and it is all a bit of a mish mash. 

A keen eye will pick out a number of zischagges, three bar pots, pikemans armour, morions. 

There is a whole host of partisans, halberds and leading staffs - again unlabelled. 

Curiously there is a harquebusier buff coat, cuirass and helmet exhibited wearing a pair of armoured gauntlets. Suppose it didn't look armoured enough for the general public.

There are a number of original portraits in the castle, and also a number of  copies.

Strafford

George Gordon, 2nd Marquis of Huntly

Prince Charles Louis, future Elector of the Palatine (Prince Rupert and Maurice's elder brother)

As well as portraiture, there are a number of pieces of armour presented.

Pikeman's armour

Lord Brooke's armour

As you follow the state room trail from the Great Hall your route will take you through a seemingly innocuous corridor, chockful of  Civil War armour.


More staterooms...

Charles I, after Van Dyck

In the extensive grounds are a number of attractions, including a reproduction trebuchet. Who doesn't love a trebuchet, and would pay a lot of money to be allowed to fire it?

The school party are not trebuchet ammunition, I think they are having their lunch

If you have the time, a stroll around Warwick itself, is well worth the effort: see here for the handful of Civil War locations in the town. 


Postcodes for SatNavs
Warwick Castle main car park CV34 6AH
Warwick Castle stables car park (the expensive one) CV34 4QU

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Comments

  1. Loved visiting the castle during the 1980's. At the time the great attraction were the wax works of Edwardian Britain. Despite Churchill and lord Roberts my favorite was the maid filling the bath! My other favorite was the reenactor knight whose war horse ( He had bred him to fill the role) that was afraid of crinkling cellophane. Truly a great site.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You'll be pleased to hear that the Edwardian wax works are still there - I confess that I didn't pay much attention to that part of the castle. So I'm sorry I can't confirm if the bath filling servant is still there.

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  2. Thanks for posting. Some cool pics, and I 100% agree, I want to fire that trebuchet!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are welcome. Trebuchet firing is the inaugural entry on my bucket list.

      Delete
  3. "shot by John Dyott".. believed to be the first ever death by sniper if I remember my reading well??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. allegedly. the distance from the cathedral towers (where Dyott had supposedly positioned himself) and Brooke House (where Brooke was killed) is a heck of a distance though.

      Delete

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