Kenilworth Castle is located in the town of the same name in Warwickshire, England. Founded by the de Clinton family in the 1120’s around a powerful Norman great tower, the castle was built and rebuilt many times over the ensuing centuries.
Significantly enlarged by King John at the beginning of the 13th century, it’s huge water defences were created by damming the local streams. The resulting fortifications proved more than capable of withstanding assaults by land or water in the siege of the Castle in 1266 which lasted some six months and is believed to be the longest siege in English history.
John of Gaunt spent lavishly in the late 14th century, turning the medieval castle into a palace fortress designed in the latest perpendicular style.
Robert Dudley, The Earl of Leicester, then expanded the castle once again, constructing new Tudor buildings and exploiting the medieval heritage of Kenilworth to produce a fashionable Renaissance palace.
Kenilworth was partly destroyed by Parliamentary forces, at the behest of Oliver Cromwell no less, in 1649 to prevent it being used as a military stronghold.
Ruined, only two of its buildings remain habitable today one of which is the fortified Gate House seen here (right) and the Tudor stables which currently serves as an information centre and tea-rooms (below).
The castle became a tourist destination from the 18th century onwards, becoming famous in the Victorian period following the publishing of Sir Walter Scott’s novel Kenilworth in 1826.
English Heritage has managed the castle since 1984 and have re-created the gardens as would have been in the 16th century though the precise plans have never been recovered.
The Bear & Ragged Staff, seen left, is the official symbol of the Earls of Warwick.
The castle is classed as a Grade I listed building and as a Scheduled Monument, and is open to the public.
Although now ruined as a result of the slighting, or deliberate partial destruction, of the castle after the English Civil War, Kenilworth illustrates five centuries of English military and civil architecture
Below are some pictures of the gardens as they are today, including the aviary. Though called a garden in terms of being a place of plants and flowers, in Elizabethan times it would have been more of a social area for the entertaining of visitors and to show off the wealth and grandeur that the owner can afford.
Below can be seen the aviary. This would have been more for the display of exotic birds rather than a desire to propagate species!
I shall be returning to Kenilworth fairly soon to show more of the dwelling, the Gate House, and the style of furnishings the Elizabethans would have expected to find.
These are amazing places-reminiscent of the glorious past!