View Full Version : Kenilworth Castle June 2010

08-08-2010, 04:18 PM
Kenilworth Castle's various buildings and architectural styles reflect its long connection with successive English monarchs spanning five centuries. The massive Norman keep at the core of the fortress was constructed in the 1120s, and under Henry II Kenilworth became a royal castle. The castle fortifications were strengthened under the instruction of King Johnbetween 1210 and 1215 and the surrounding mere was expanded.

John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, rebuilt the great hall and staterooms of Kenilworth's inner court in the late 14th century, transforming the castle into a palace and favourite residence of the Lancastrian and early Tudor kings. By Henry VIII's time the castle was already renowned for its 'many fair chambers.' The most famous period in Kenilworth's history began when Queen Elizabeth's favourite Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, took possession of the castle in 1563. He then lavished fortunes on converting it into a great Renaissance 'prodigy house', designed to receive the Queen and her court on their ceremonial 'progresses' around her realm. He added the tall, mansion-sized 'Leicester's Building' - complete with a 'dancing chamber' on its top floor - specifically for the Queen's use: as well as an imposing new entrance to his quasi-royal palace, 'Leicester's Gatehouse'.

The castle returned to the Crown on Dudley's death. In the English Civil War, the castle was stormed and looted by Parliamentarian troops. In common with many English castles, Kenilworth was slighted (rendered indefensible) after the Civil War. One wall of the keep was blown up, and battlements and the great water defences were destroyed, in 1656.

In 1660 Charles II gave the castle to Sir Edward Hyde, whom he created Baron Hyde of Hindon and Earl of Clarendon. The castle remained the property of the Clarendons until 1937 before passing into the possession of John Davenport Siddeley, 1st Baron Kenilworth. The family presented the castle to Kenilworth in 1958 and English Heritage has looked after it since 1984.

Approaching the castle - the area in front was previously part of a large mere

The daunting Norman keep

Reamins of fine large windows, the great hall is in the background

Exterior of the great hall

Some of the walls are 2-3m thick

Archway leading to the Elizabethan garden and aviary

Remains of the windows of the great hall

The great hall - the stone arches are the cellar under the hall. Note the stone fire places on each side where floor level used to be

Remains of other architectural features


The view from the gardens

Thanks for looking!