A medieval castle deep in the heartland of England that gives a fully immersive experience of a long past time

Of the many castles still around in the UK, Warwick Castle is the closest to my heart. I spent four of my most formative years at the University of Warwick – which is actually closer to the city of Coventry, but still I spent a lot of time in the town of Warwick and the castle was a constant backdrop to many of my happier memories of my youth.

Warwick (pronounced War-rick – the second “w” is silent) is the county town of Warwickshire in England. The town itself is very quaint with plenty of small shops to visit and you can of course find a tearoom to enjoy the traditional English tea experience complete with scones, jam and clotted cream. If you are coming to Warwick to see the castle I would highly recommend spending some time looking around the town. Another interesting building to check out is the Lord Leycester Hospital. If you are planning a wedding this is a great place to stage the reception!

     Another prominent feature of the town is the River Avon which runs right past the castle. There is also a large public park on the opposite bank of the river which gives some great, unobstructed views of the castle walls.

The History of Warwick Castle

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Warwick Castle is a medieval castle developed from a wooden fort, originally built by William the Conqueror during 1068. Warwick is the county town of Warwickshire, England, situated on a bend of the River Avon. The original wooden motte-and-bailey castle was rebuilt in stone during the 12th century. During the Hundred Years War, the facade opposite the town was refortified, resulting in one of the most recognizable examples of 14th-century military architecture. It was used as a stronghold until the early 17th century, when it was granted to Sir Fulke Greville by James I in 1604. Greville converted it to a country house and it was owned by the Greville family, who became Earls of Warwick in 1759, until 1978 when it was bought by the Tussauds Group.

Warwick Castle Today

Location Hours Fees
Warwick, Warwickshire, UK 10 am to 5 pm  See paragraph below

 It is a pricey to get into the castle – around £28 per person for the basic tickets, and £33 if you also want to visit the dungeons (well worth it). If you buy the tickets online they are currently much cheaper; £19 and £24 respectively. You will also save time not standing inline to get in on the day. The online tickets also come with a “rainy day” guarantee (much needed in the UK) which means if it rains for one hour or more during your visit you get a free return within 60 days.

We decided to explore the grounds and outside of the castle first. The castle remains in excellent condition and much if it remains open to the public. The formal gardens are magnificent and are almost worth the price of the entry alone. As we toured the grounds we came across a group of men demonstrating the use of a trebuchet, a type of catapult used as a siege engine in medieval times which uses a swinging arm to throw a projectile (including cows and dead people).

After exploring the grounds we returned to the castle and entered inside the main keep. Having suffered a major battering during a siege in 1315 the castle was restored and has not since suffered any major damage. We entered one of the tower which takes you up on to the castle’s ramparts where we had great views across the castle, its grounds and roof tops and churches of the town of Warwick. Towers were the main defensive system for any castle. Also because of their height and position above and out from the main castle wall, they gave archers a clear view to target the enemy below.

It was now time to explore the inside of the castle. Behind Warwick Castle’s mighty walls, lies the real heart of the Castle with the beautiful grand interiors. There were a number of State rooms for us to explore including  the Great Hall, the largest room in the Castle, which was damaged by a fire and restored in 1871, the State Dining Room located just off the Great Hall and the Red Drawing and Green Drawing rooms. Beyond the formal State rooms there are more private spaces including the Queen Anne Bedroom, the Blue Boudoir – formerly a dressing room, in the 17th and 18th centuries and the Chapel.
Being owned by the Madame Tussauds group means the Castle has access to their wonderful creators of wax work figures. These resources have been used to great effect in the Royal Weekend Party exhibit. In 1898, Frances Countess of Warwick, more affectionately known as Daisy, hosted a weekend party at which the principal guest was the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII. Throughout 12 exquisitely designed rooms that were in fact former private apartments, wax figures of the principal attendees stand alongside authentic furniture and furnishings to help bring to life the excitement and scandal that swept through this weekend party.
Next we headed to the dungeons. This requires a separate ticket and is a timed entry. The Castle Dungeon is a walk through interactive attraction, with special effects and story telling, and lasts for 50 around minutes. For our children this was the highlight of the tour but could be a bit scary for younger ones.

Finally, we exit the castle’s interior. Inside the main area of the castle is a bustle of activity. During the summer months there is a lot going on with live reenactments of jousting competitions and falconry exhibitions and lots of folks dressed up in period costumers doing period things. Loads of fun!

If you really want to get the full Warwick Castle experience you can have a medieval sleepover. You can choose to stay in rather pleasant lodges hidden in the surrounding woods or for something more authentic you can try you hand at glamping in one of the luxurious tents set in the Castle grounds. Needless to say neither option is very cheap. You are looking at a minimum of 250 per night for a family of four!

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