"Ah........ well........Kenilworth............." Top 5 Page for this destination Kenilworth by leics
Kenilworth Travel Guide: 34 reviews and 113 photos
(Apologies in advance to any Kenilworth locals).
You see, modern Kenilworth isn't really 'Kenilworth'. The original village, what is left of it, is by the castle (a most beautiful, beautiful castle...immortalised by Sir Walter Scott in his novel of the same name) but the rest of the town is......well........concrete, ordinary shops, ugly shopping centre, UV lights in the public toilets........and not particularly pleasant.
Kenilworth is not somewhere to bother visiting.....except for that magnificent castle. And, imo, that is most definitely a 'must-see'. It's an absolute delight, set in lush green water-meadows which are at their best in late English Spring.
Built in about 1122 the castle first consisted of a 'motte and bailey' ..... an earthen mound surrounded by a defended circular enclosure (thus a typical Norman castle. By the end of the 12th century the original wooden castle buildings and walls had been replaced by stone ones (the local stone is sandstone, which gives the castle its gentle russet tones).
An enormous lake was created in the early 13th century to act as a moat, but this no longer exists.
In 1244 the castle was given to Simon de Montfort, whose family challenged the monarchy in 1266. Kenilworth was besieged, but held out for nearly nine months.
During the 14th century John of Gaunt made major changes to the inner buildings, creating a superb palace.
From 1563 Kenilworth was owned by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and Queen Elizabeth l's favourite. He built a gatehouse and suite specifically for her, and she often visited the castle.
English Heritage, who own and run the castle, have recently re-created the beautiful formal gardens which Dudley made for Elizabeth, complete with aviary of singing birds, flowerbeds and sculptures. They've done a magnificent job and it is very easy indeed to imagine Elizabeth strolling there whilst her 'eyes'....Dudley.....whispered honeyed words into her ear..........
After Dudley's death (he's buried in St Mary's church, Warwick) the castle was claimed by the Crown, was partially demolished during the Civil War and allowed to fall into ruins before being taken into state ownership in 1938.
English Heritage has made an excellent job of restoring and renovating the castle. There's still a lot to explore, as well as much green open space to enjoy and...of course...a super cafe and gift-shop.
There's no reason to visit modern Kenilworth....but there is every reason in the world to visit Kenilworth Castle. It is an absolute joy, one of the best of English castles.
- Pros:The superb castle
- Cons:The rest of Kenilworth
- In a nutshell:Walk where Elizabeth l walked.........
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- "A lovely Town"
- "Classy Kenilworth"
- "My Home Town"
- "Ah........ well........Kenilworth............."
- "Kenilworth Castle - Britain's largest castle ruins"
- "One of the best castles I've ever seen..."
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