England Travel

Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Garden

With a 800 years old history, Kenilworth Castle is well known for the love story between Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley.

01 Kenilworth castle
There is an audio guide, free for members, not sure if it’s included in the ticket, just shy of £10. I had the audio guide, but the castle is so big and there are so many stories that I had to chose from the things that appeared more interesting to me and only listen those.
The story of the castle begins before entering the gates with a description of the man-made lake that served as a special place for jostling. It was fascinating to hear about jostling that started as a pretend war, but they were killing each other and in time the rules changed to protect the riders and the horses. The games took place underneath this bridge.

02 Kenilworth castle
The castle on the right was built in the 1200s for defense. The building in the middle is newer, built in 1371, it has bigger windows and the one in the left was the one built in 1570s for the visit of Queen Elizabeth I. She used the building in 1572 and again in 1575 on her progresses.
Seeing all the buildings next to each other is impressive; how the architecture evolved through the centuries and the everyday life. Less wars and technological development meant they could have bigger windows and luxury was important.

03 Kenilworth castle
Leicester’s Gatehouse was built in early 1570s by Robert Dudley. There was an entrance passage for carriages to go thru. Above there are 2 floors. Colonel Joseph Hawkesworth, 80 years after the gatehouse was built, transformed it into a house with building materials robbed from elsewhere in the castle.

04 Kenilworth castle
These were the stables built for John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, in 1553.

05 Kenilworth castle
These are trebuchet balls used in siege, it’s obvious why they were devastating. It’s possible they were from the siege of 1266.

06 Kenilworth castle
This beautiful private garden was made in 1575 by Robert Dudley for Queen Elizabeth I. He wanted to show his position as a prominent courtier and royal favourite. There were scented plants (vines, honeysuckle, sweet musk rose).
The design is made today from a detailed description written by an eyewitness of the royal visit. In the background is the aviary, filled with singing colourful birds. I imagine it was breathtaking 400 years ago.

07 Kenilworth castle
The aviary is now home to domesticated birds.

08 Kenilworth castle
The fountain is made in Carrara marble.

09 Kenilworth castle

10 Kenilworth castle
The Great Hall is part of the buildings made in the 1370s. It was designed to show the wealth and the status of John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, son of King Edward III. The Hall was inspired by Windsor castle’s Great Hall.

11 Kenilworth castle

12 Kenilworth castle

The first wife of Robert Dudley died in 1560 in suspicious circumstances, two years after Elizabeth become queen and Robert was a favourite at court.
Three years after his first wife’s death, Robert Dudley received Kenilworth back from the Queen. The Queen visited the castle a few times while it was renovated and buildings were added to the castle. In 1575 Queen Elizabeth I visits Kenilworth for 19 days, the longest visit ever made by a monarch. Robert tried to persuade Queen Elizabeth to marry him during her stay. She refused him. He left the building he built to impress her in disrepair and he didn’t remarry for 18 years. His second wife was banished from court and their only son died aged 3. Dudley died in 1588.

13 Kenilworth castle

10 Comment

  1. From medieval fortress to Elizabethan palace, Kenilworth Castle has been at the centre of England’s affairs for much of its 900 year history. Today, you can scale the heights of the tower built to woo Queen Elizabeth I and marvel at the mighty Norman keep.

  2. Such an interesting load of stories to go with such a beautiful place!
    I do love finding out more about British history, there’s something awesome about standing where they stood and soaking it all up.
    Really enjoyed this :o)
    M x

    1. It’s very interesting place. The fees at English Heritage aren’t expensive indeed. I prefer to pay my annual membership as it saves us some money and I get the book with all the places to visit and that is really helpful too.

  3. I LOVE the idea of being able to see two different period castles side by side (I think that’s why I liked Belsay Hall because you could see two different incarnations of the family home). WHAT an interesting place, and beautiful. I always find it is the sheer scale of the place, the impossibly high ceilings that really catch me!!x

  4. This place looks amazing! I love the idea of the audio guide with all the stories being told as you move from place to place! The things those walls must have seen and heard back in the day!

    The gift of a private garden, romance just isn’t done like that anymore! I imagine it was even more beautiful than it is today, he really was so smitten with her!

    Sarah 🙂

    1. Their love story is fascinating, he did a lot of things for her and she loved him, but she never got married. I agree, the garden was surely more impressive back then 🙂

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