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UK: England – Warwick Castle

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.

1. THE HISTORY OF WARWICK CASTLE

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.

2. THE CASTLE GROUNDS

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).

The trebuchet in the grounds at Warwick Castle

3. THE KEEP

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 went inside one of the towers, taking the snaking stairs which up to the castle’s ramparts where we had great views across the castle, its grounds and rooftops 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.

4. INSIDE THE CASTLE

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 Staterooms 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 Staterooms, 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.

A dining room inside Warwick Castle
A grandiose reception room in Warwick Castle

Being owned by the Madame Tussauds group means the Castle has access to their wonderful creators of waxwork 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.

5. THE DUNGEON

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 storytelling, and lasts for 50 minutes. For us, this was the highlight of the tour but could be a bit scary for younger ones.

The dungeon experience was the highlight of our tour to Warwick Castle

6. REENACTMENTS

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 costumes doing period things. Loads of fun!

In Summary …

  • Save money and book your tickets ahead of time online 
  • You’ll need at least 3 hours
  • The weather is hard to predict so come prepared for a bit of everything
  • As well as the castle their are plenty of other great things to do in and around Warwick

Planning your visit to Warwick Castle

The castle is easily accessed by car off of the M40. If you’re planning a drive into the countryside, just be sure to pick up your rental car from London on the morning you leave. You won’t want to manage a car and parking for your time in London.

If you’re planning a day trip from London, you can also take the train to Warwick Station. The ride on Chiltern Railways takes about an hour and a half from the London Marylebone Station.

From the station in Warwick, you can take a taxi or Uber. It’s also possible to walk. The station is about half a mile from the castle and about a 15-minute walk.

Warwick castle can be especially busy on weekends, with tourists and locals visiting for the day. If you have the flexibility, visit on a weekday during the spring or autumn.

Warwick Castle has 3 different parking areas. You’ll want to pay close attention to which you use because it means parking just next to the admissions area or having a 15-20 minute walk from your car to the castle.

Address:3168 Base Station Rd, Mount Washington
Website:https://www.warwick-castle.com/
Telephone:T:+44 1926 406610
Hours:

10 am to 4 pm (5 pm in the summer months) Monday to Sunday

Admission Fees

Over 3 years – £29 on the day – £18 (£21 in the summer) if you buy in advance online*. To visit the dungeons is an extra £10.

*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.

Best time to visit Warwick Castle

Warwickshire is located in the West Midlands region in England, notable towns include Warwick, Stratford-upon-Avon and Leamington Spa, the county is known for its historic attractions that include Warwick Castle, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Kenilworth Castle and Shakespeare’s Birthplace.

Warwickshire rarely experiences very extreme weather meaning Warwickshire can be visited throughout the year. On average the hottest month is July in summer and the coldest is January in winter. Rainfall on average falls fairly evenly throughout the year, February is the driest month with December the wettest.

The weather is unpredictable as with the rest of the UK and it is possible to see elements of all four seasons in one day. The area may experience some snowfall in the winter. It is advisable for visitors to check the weather forecast before they arrive in Warwickshire to get a better idea of the sort of clothing they will need during their trip. Bringing hooded waterproof coats and hats will ensure visitors are prepared for any spells of wind and rain the region may experience.

Other places to visit near Warwick Castle

1. KENILWORTH CASTLE

A vast medieval fortress that endured a famous siege and later became an Elizabethan palace, Kenilworth Castle is among Britain’s biggest historical sites.

Experience 900 years of history as you can marvel at the mighty medieval keep, climb the towers to admire the fantastic views, and imagine the majesty of the Great Hall.

Once boasting the finest architecture in Elizabethan England, you can also walk in the footsteps of Queen Elizabeth 1 as you explore Leicester’s Building which was created specifically for her visits, and discover the authentically recreated Elizabethan garden.

2. STRATFORD-UPON-AVON

Visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace – William Shakespeare’s childhood home in the heart of Stratford-upon-Avon. Hear tales of Shakespeare’s family life and get up close to objects from the Trust’s world class collections as you discover how the extraordinary playwright continues to shape our lives today.

3. CHARLECOTE PARK

This information was prepared before the coronavirus pandemic and does not reflect the current offer at Charlecote.

Overlooking the river Avon on the edge of Shakespeare’s Stratford, Charlecote Park has been part of this corner of rural Warwickshire for centuries. Still the Lucy family home after 900 years, you can explore the vision of the Victorian owners George Hammond Lucy and his wife, the formidable Mary Elizabeth, who extended their home and filled it with treasures from their European travels.

Linger in the rooms open to our visitors in the central portion of the house to discover more about the collection brought together by generations of the family whose tastes, lifestyle and varied fortunes are all reflected here

Today, the kitchen is brought to life in cooking and costume. Across the courtyard you can explore the laundry and brewhouse which once hummed with the activity of a busy working estate. Discover the stables which house the family’s carriage collection, each with its own story to tell.

Stroll through the gardens that Mary Elizabeth loved so dearly, from the formal parterre to the shady woodland garden with rare plants and borders full of colourful herbaceous planting.

Where to stay near Warwick Castle

1. MEDIEVAL SLEEPOVER

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 your 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!

2. THE GLOBE

In Warwick centre, the luxurious The Globe features a steak house, a real ale bar and stylish rooms with free Wi-Fi. The hotel is just a 5-minute walk from Warwick Castle.

The hotel restaurant & bar serves award-winning meats and fresh seafood in cosy surroundings. There is also a terrace for al fresco dining, and the bar offers local ales and fine wines.

Located 10 minutes’ walk from Warwick Racecourse, The Globe is just a few minutes from Warwick’s main shopping streets. St Nicholas’ Park can be reached with a 15-minute walk.

3. KINGS HEAD INN

This 400-year-old inn is located within a 5-minute walk from Warwick Castle and the historic Town Center. Each of the bedrooms has recently been fully refurbished to offer modern facilities in historic surroundings.

This friendly and welcoming hotel has deluxe en suite accommodations, fine food and hand-pulled cask ales and wines to make your stay memorable and relaxing.

 

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