"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Saturday, 1 October 2022

Kenilworth Castle


Last week D and I spent a few hours at Kenilworth Castle as B wanted a lift to and from a pub to meet friends for lunch and it was easier to pop to Kenilworth for a few hours than drive home and back again!

The first castle was built in the 1120's by Geoffrey de Clinton, the Royal Chamberlain, who built the Great Tower and founded Kenilworth Priory.

In the early 13th century King John added an outer circuit wall and built a dam to retain a large lake.  The castle which was now strongly defended withstood a siege in 1266.

Soon the castle was used as a palace and John of Gaunt, son of Edward III, created the Great Hall and its apartments.

During the 15th century Lancastrian Kings visited to hunt and Henry V had a retreat constructed at the end of the lake called "the Pleasance in the Marsh".

In 1563 Queen Elizabeth I gave the castle to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and he turned into a place fit to entertain her.

Following the Civil War the fortifications were removed and in 1650 Leicester's Gatehouse was used as a residence by Colonel Hawkesworth, a Parliamentarian Officer.

In 1958 Lord Kenilworth gave the castle to the town and it has been managed by English Heritage since 1984.

Mortimer's Tower in the foreground was built by King John c1210 and it is possible it was named after Roger Mortimer, of the Mortimer Marcher Lords, who held a tournament at the castle in 1282.

Great Tower

Leicester's Gatehouse built by Robert Dudley in 1571/2

It was a day of sunshine and showers and somehow we managed to dodge the latter and not get soaked. I have never been to Kenilworth Castle when there were so few people. There must have been around 20 others that is all.  

We did something new on this visit we followed the path around the outside of the outer circuit wall.

Back inside the castle it began to rain so we had lunch in the Stables which was built in Tudor times and then had a look around an exhibition on the history of the castle

These five fragments of stone on display all date from the late C16th.  They represent finer details added to the castle by Robert Dudley.

Part of a capital from a Pilaster column possibly from a fireplace.

Possibly a lion

Carved acanthus leaves in Classical Style.

Canon Balls

Models of the castle today and below in earlier times showing the lake

The Water Tower probably built by Thomas, Earl of Lancaster in the C14th. It would have provided lodgings for leading retainers.

The Queen's Privy Garden.  A private garden was made here in 1575 by Robert Dudley especially for the use of Queen Elizabeth I.  The garden was recreated by English Heritage in 2009.

The heavens opened again and we sheltered under this tree before having a look round the shop. A bottle of the delicious English Heritage Ginger Wine was purchased along with some Christmas cards that were in the sale.

I was going to take D to see the ruins of the abbey but by the time we got back to the car it was raining again so we'll go another day.

 I hope everyone is staying safe and well.

All photos taken by me with the Panasonic Lumix FZ330 bridge camera. (I don't particularly rate most of my photos but if anyone wishes to use one I would be grateful for an email first - thank you)


Rustic Pumpkin said...

What a lovely and convenient way to spend a few hours while you're waiting for someone. One thing that stood out was your photograph of that Great Hall. They must have been very popular because it just brings back memories of Westminster Hall. I wonder, though, why they built them just so tall. I think I'm going to have to do a little bit of research now. My curiosity is piqued. Is Timothy going out and about with you these days, or is he confined to quarters?

Ragged Robin said...

RUstic Pumpkin - Thanks so much. The castle is only 10 minutes from the pub and as we are English Heritage members entry is free :) I'vejust finished reading a super book called Understanding Cstles by Trevor York on my kindle which is stuffed full of information on castles - it was very very good. I didn't take Timothy due to rain and tbh we weren't sure if we were going to go to the castle. It was raining when we left the pub but went to a farm shop nearby and by the time we left it was sunny so we risked it!

Billy Blue Eyes said...

Never been there but there is something about visiting ruined castles, you always wander around wondering what they would look like if they had not been torn down by Cromwell

Ragged Robin said...

Billy Blue Eyes - Thanks so much. Kenilworth is amazing and English Heritage have done a great job there unlike the people who run the nearby Warwick Castle and have totally over commercialised it.

Caroline Gill said...

A wonderful place to visit, RR. I was particularly interested to see your photos of the outside walk as we have not done that. I hope Timothy will be able to enjoy a fair weather expedition soon! It was 20 degrees here this afternoon, but looking autumnal.

Ragged Robin said...

Caroline Gill - Thanks so much. We thought we'd do something different this time. It only takes about 20 minutes and gives a different view of the castle :) Very autumnal here too and has been cold but yesterday was a bit milder. Timothy needs his jumper I think :)

Rosie said...

Lovely that you were able to visit the castle again, there is always something new to spot or a walk to take. A good place to while away a few hours, glad you managed to dodge most of the showers:)

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thanks so much. I never tire of going there and being so quiet you could sense the atmosphere and history so much better :)

CherryPie said...

Lovely photos of the Castle. We have been several times but never walked around the perimeter of the Castle. I shall have to remember to do that next time.

Ragged Robin said...

CherryPie - Thank you and it is worth doing.