Warwick Castle, Warwick
Warwick Castle is over a thousand years old with the first fortifications being supposedly erected by Ethelfleda, daughter of king Alfred the Great in the year 914 as part of a network to protect the Kingdom of Mercia, the present castle is a Norman motte-and-bailey type built in the 11th century. The castle is well maintained with magnificent towers and ramparts. The many attractions range from dungeons to the Great Hall, State Rooms and the Royal Weekend Party of 1898. Visitors can climb some of the towers and visit the well laid out exhibitions, many having wax figures. Warwick is said to have the best-preserved castle in Britain and has been inhabited continuously since the Middle Ages, and until 1978 was the home of the Earls of Warwick. The castle is now owned by the Tussauds Group, the company which owns Madame Tussaud's in London, who have carried out extensive restorations to the castle .
April to September: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
October to March: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Kingdom Ticket (Online Price)
Children (4-11): £18.06
This is a great place to visit. Warwick Train Station is ca. one mile from the Castle with direct service from London Marylebone ca. 1:45h.
Castle actually dates back as far as 914 AD and it is placed on the banks of the Avon River. Don't be lazy and take your time to walk around castle because it looks great from different angles. Is a also good place to bring a family because of plenty of activities in and around the castle.
Entrance ticket is expensive but it is included on the Great Britain Heritage Pass.
Wow.. What a great place to visit. Warwick Castle is an awesome Medieval castle with a rich history that actually dates back as far as 914 AD. That's almost 1100 years of history to absorb and enjoy in one place.
You can visit the staterooms, walk the ramparts, watch an archery exhibition, maybe even watch as they explain and fire the trebuchet. There are exhibits that take you back through some of the history of the castle that include both Tussaud wax figures and human interaction to make it more interesting. Daisy, the Countess of Warwick, welcomes you to visit one of her Royal Weekend Parties from 1898.
There are always special events that you can enjoy. Definitely kid friendly, but great for us who were once kids or are still kids at heart.
Here's a cost saving tip for you. Book your tickets online to save almost 7.00 GBP. Walk up prices are 23.40 while you can book online for 16.80.
Great castle. However, the Merlin experience was a big disappointment. Almost like a rip-off. Also if you have plans of buying souvenir items, don't buy the guidebook by the entrance. The gift store will offer 50% off to the guidebook price if you buy 25pounds worth of items.
This castle is on the banks of the Avon River. The same corporation that owns Madame Tussaud's owns the castle. There are some wax figures within the castle walls, but I must admit that this is a good place to bring a family. There are plenty of activities to do in and around the castle for people of all ages. The admission fee is high--likely on par with the Tower of London. The good news is that this is one of the attractions included on the Great Britain Heritage Pass.
The grounds are extensive with walkways and gardens. My favorite part of the castle was walking up the ramparts and the towers. They offer great views of Warwick and the surrounding countryside. An ice rink was set up within the castle since it was the holiday season. Outside the walls was an ice slide. There are many chambers to explore such as the Great Hall, the living quarters, the Ghost Tower, and a dungeon. The castle is promoted very well in England and likely draws in some crowds. Fortunately, I found December to be a good time to visit. It is about a 15 minute walk from the train station to the castle, and signs point the way.
Because they have lots of information, lots of leaflets (including walks around the town) and can probably answer all your questions. They are housed in a particularly fine example of Georgian architecture too (built 1725).
This, of course, is the must see attraction in Warwick. It's pretty fabulous as castles go, the folks at the tourist office estimated you needed at least four hours there, we stayed at least 5 hours, maybe closer to 6 hours because of all the special events in the summer. I think Warwick is my favorite of all of the castles I've seen in England, the Mediaeval Festival is a lot of fun for both kids and adults.
The Great Mediaeval Summer festival runs this year from July 19th-August 31, 2008, there are a few performances than you can't see during other times of the year but there are other special activities during the rest of the year, the Haunted Castle in October, Christmas at the Castle in December, Fairy Tale Princesses & Fighting Knights in March/April, the Great Joust in May/June
The castle was an easy walk through town from the train station, you can print out a town map from the Castle website.
To be found in the basement cellars of the castle, there's a whole host of reconstructed scenes from the everyday castle life of the 15th and 16th century. And as one would expect, the castle being owned by the same company that owns Madame Tussauds, there's some excellent wax work models used to highlight each scenario. With taped soundscape echoing through the darkened rooms, the light as realistic as possible (within modern day safety regulations!), it's surprisingly realistic (so much so that I jumped out of my skin when one of the wax works spoke to me. It wasn't, it was a guard!). Thus, scenes recreated include a bar/tavern and the kitchens, sewing rooms, the dungeon, kids play room.
Peacock Garden and Pageant Field, River Island, the Avon River itself, the Boat House, Birds of Prey Mews, Oak Tree Lawn - if you need a break from all that history, you easily can. The castle has a wonderful location on the banks of the river, the gardens were laid out in part by Capability Brown and you have the glorious backdrop of all that history....
But watch out for the occasional bow! There's so many re-enactments at the castle, you do not always quite get away from the history...
Warwick is a prime castle among many prime castles in England - it is often compared with Windsor Castle in terms of scale and magnitude (only its lack or royal ownership places Warwick slightly lower on the list).
It is a spectacular site. It was actually built by William the Conqueror in 1068, but within 20 years it had passed, by the creation of the earldom of Warwick, to the Earl of Warwick. It was very much a strategically located castle, built to quell any potential uprisings in the Midlands. Interestingly, less than 100 years later, King Henry I was suspicious of Roger de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Warwick to the extent that Henry bestowed Kenilworth Castle, just 8 miles north and of equal size and importance, to Geoffrey de Clinton, a man Henry trusted much more than Beaumont. It explains why there are two great castles so close to each other (although Kenilworth is in a much more parlous state).
Needless to say, the castle has increased significantly from the motte-and-bailey original. And whilst additions were made in the late 11th and 12th centuries, it is the Beauchamp line that are mainly responsible in the 14th and 15th centuries for the Warwick Castle we see today.
The castle certainly has its fair share of history although rarely attacked. The Warwicks have been both for and against the Kings of England from the 11-17th century, and the line has twice died out. King Edward IV was imprisoned in 1469: the three earls at the end of the 15th century either died in battle against the king or were executed by royal order. But by the end of the 16th century, it was back in the hands of royalty due to the lineage of the earldom having died out for the second time.
The 17th century saw the castle become more of a residence rather than a garrison (it easily withstood being beseiged by the Roundheads in the Civil War) and this period saw many of the fine gardens and grounds laid out (including Capability Brown - before he made a name for himself). The third incarnation of the Earls of Warwick owned the castle and grounds until 1978, when it was sold to the Tussauds Group - the very same company that run Madame Tussauds in London.
They have, without doubt, made it in one of the top heritage tourist attractions in the country - the castle itself, displays, exhibitions, re-enactments, the latest attraction being the Dungeon. It's not cheap entry - but you can easily spend hours in the grounds, exploring the castle etc...
Open every day except 25 December, 10am-6pm (April-October), 10am-5pm (November-March)
£17.95 (adult), £10.00 (kids), £11.95 (pensioners), £48.00 (family). Add £7.50 if you want to see the Dungeon as well. But save 10% by booking on line.
Warwick Castle always played an important part in English history. The first timber castle was built on this site by the Normans in 1068. By the late 13th century the castle was already a major English seat of power. The Castle's history is much too turbulent to recount here. It changed hands many times, granted by the Crown to the successive Earls of Warwick, who were some of the most influential men in the Kingdom. Its last owners, the Greville family, contributed a lot to the castle's splendour, adding the State Apartments and the Chapel.
For centuries the castle was the centre of social life for the aristocracy and the Royals. In 1898 the Countess of Warwick invited a number of celebrities, including the then Prince of Wales, later Edward VII and young Winston Churchill, to a weekend party, which we can now see re-created, wax figures and all, in the State Apartments.
The place now belongs to the Tussauds Group, who have restored many of its areas. You can walk on the ramparts, climb the towers, explore the dungeon and the armoury, see preparations for battle in 1471, visit the Ghost Tower believed to be haunted by the ghost of Sir Ffulke Greville. You can enjoy yourself there whether you are an adult or a child. Many of the wax figures, not just of celebrities but of the maids, the blacksmith, the carpenters, the nanny look so convincing that I spoke to one of them and then, just in case, asked an immobile kitchen maid if she was real. She was.
It's a great history lesson for everybody. On my way out I was approached by a boy of about 8, who asked me about Warwick the Kingmaker. I was glad to have the guidebook to answer him.
You will need a whole day if not more to see all the attractions. Not to miss any, get a guidebook or use the audio tour (3.50 GBP) but the book costs not much more (3.95 GBP) and can be taken home as a souvenir.
Opening times: April - September 10 am.- 6 pm., October - March 10 am. - 5 pm.
Admission: Adult - 17.95 GBP; Senior - 12.95 GBP; Child - 10.95 GBP; Student - 15.95 GBP; Disabled/Carer - 9 GBP;Child under 4 - free.
You can save some pounds if you book the tickets online but remember that a fee of 1.50 GBP per ticket applies to all bookings made online or on the phone.
For information on admission to Warwick Ghosts-Alive see their web page.
The final event of our afternoon was the parade to the trebuchet and the launching of the trebuchet, a fancy French word meaning catapult. The audience interaction and singing preceding the parade was quite a hoot but the trebuchet presentation was a bit of a letdown, especially since we had seen one closer up at the Tower of London, it was smaller but at least we could see it. Here, they put you on the bank of the River and watch from a far distance, presumably because of greedy lawyers and liability issues. Still it was interesting to see how this much larger one was powered by manual labor, men walking like gerbils on a Habitrail wheel, rather than by pulling ropes and having the weapon launch when they pulled down. The launch itself was a bit of a letdown too, the ammunition was supposed to be a Greek fire ball but it was extinguished long before it hit the ground.
The trebuchet, essentially a giant catapult, is a siege machine, developed in the 13th century to attack castle walls. It was used to hurl projectiles to breach the castle walls, mainly rocks and stones but also extremely vile objects such as beehives, manure, and putrid rotting animal or human carcasses used to spread disease and the plague, most frequently pigs as they were thought to be more aerodynamic. The most lethal projectile was "Greek fire", a petroleum, sulfur and pitch projectile lit on fire, upon impact the projectile would shatter and the goo would stick to where it landed, the fire could not be extinguished with water.
The trebuchet at Warwick Castle, presumably a reproduction, is said to be the world's largest at 18 metres high (59 feet) and 22 tonnes.
Still there in August 2008 but the performance changed
On our August 2008 visit, the Warwick Bowman was the 1st entertainer that we ran into on the East Front, he is there most of the year, not just during the Mediaeval Festival. I think it's the same guy who played the red knight in our visit 4 years ago, good to know that there's some job security for aging knights! The bowman is extremely entertaining, quite funny and perhaps even a little educational as he talked of the conditions of war in the age of the bowmen and made us all hate the French, we all exclaimed "ooh la la" as the Frenchmen were dying at the hands of the superior English warriors.
We saw a different Warwick Bowman on our 1st visit to Warwick Castle in 2004, he did an archery demonstration and a talk about the role of the bowmen and then gathered us around a stage and told the story of the Battle of Agincourt and the role that the bowmen played in it. He conjured up an image of an outnumbered band of naked English archers (naked because they were suffering from dysentery so get your mind out of the gutter), on a field of mud shooting arrows at French soldiers who piled up on one another, trapped in the mud and unable to escape. It really does leave quite a picture in your mind, doesn't it?
I think they removed this exhibit, we did not see it in 2008
Death or Glory is the castle's armoury where we actually spent a good chunk of time watching the video about the history of the castle (and resting our feet since there are a few benches in here), checking out the armor and trying on very stylish hats.
We saw a similar performance in 2004, the 2008 show started off with a sword fight like they have in the movies and the actors then proceeded to tell us that movie swords fight were all bunk and how knights really battled with a demonstration of some of the weapons that they used. "But I've got a REALLY big stick" was uttered more than once...
We had about 1/2 hour in between shows, the lawn in the courtyard was the perfect place to enjoy our picnic lunch while we waited for the show to start plus it gave us front row seats.