Friday, 12 April 2013

Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth Castle, in Warwickshire, was founded in the 12th century by Henry I’s chamberlain, Geoffrey de Clinton, and the Norman keep dates from this time. During the civil war over the succession to the crown following Henry I’s death, his grandson, later Henry II, seized Kenilworth, and once he became king, he kept it as a royal castle. It was extended in the thirteenth century by King John who built an outer perimeter wall with towers at intervals.

Henry III granted the castle to his son Edmund, who was created Earl of Lancaster, and thus in the fourteenth century, it came into the possession of John of Gaunt, who married the Lancastrian heiress. He rebuilt much of the Inner Court, and the castle became one of their main residences. When John's son usurped the throne in 1399 and became Henry IV, the castle reverted to royal possession again.

It was one of the Lancastrian strongholds during the Wars of the Roses, acting as a military balance to the Yorkist castle at Warwick, about eight miles away.

In Tudor times, Henry VIII granted the castle to John Dudley, Earl of Northumberland, who was executed in 1553 after his abortive attempt to put Lady Jane Grey on the throne. However, the castle was restored by Elizabeth I to Dudley’s son, Robert, Earl of Leicester. Robert was one of the Queen’s favourites, and at one time it was rumoured they might marry (especially after the mysterious death of Dudley’s wife, Amy Robsart). He embarked on a programme of rebuilding and modernisation, and the Queen was his guest at Kenilworth on two occasions in the 1560’s.

The most famous visit was in 1575 when the Queen brought 31 barons and 400 staff for a royal visit that lasted 19 days, an exceptionally long visit. Dudley entertained the Queen with pageants, fireworks, entertainment, hunting, and lavish banquets. The cost of all this almost bankrupted him – but in the end the Queen decided not to marry him!

On one of our visits to Kenilworth, a medieval event was taking place, with plenty of sword fights, which were fun to watch!


  1. Interesting - and non prejudicial since it seems to be a Lancastrian castle" Me? Can't wait for Sunday!!!!

  2. Been there; my mum had a real interest in history. Thanks for reminding me of the facts.

  3. Yes, a Lancastrian castle, Margaret, but it was the only one I could find starting with K!

    Thanks for visiting, L - glad it revived some memories for you.

  4. I'm amazed you can find all these historical places starting with each letter of the alphabet!

  5. Always an interesting trip with you, Paula. I am fascinated by Henry VIII and Elizabeth I and all the other characters who made the Renaissance such a colourful time. Loved the story of Dudley going nearly bankrupt to entertain Elizabeth and then she didn't even marry him, poor fellow.

  6. I came over from my blog to say thank you for commenting, and there's Kenilworth Castle! I lived near Rugby for several of my childhood years - New Bilton Vicarage, to be exact - and we visited Kenilworth.
    The kitchen in that picture is a smaller version of ones I grew up with, so they're not that far back as people think.

  7. That's gotta be an interesting place to visit. I'd say the old castle is due for a renovation.

    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out
    Twitter: @AprilA2Z

  8. Just came over from A to Z. Fascinating blog. I love all the photos and bits of history.

  9. If I lived in the Middle Ages, I'd want a castle.

    Just sayin'.

    At least here in Utah we have the castle law. That's where you can shoot dead an intruder and not suffer any consequences.

    Love the pics.

  10. Your series is making this old English Literature major REALLY want to take a trip!

    Visiting from GBE 2: Blog On page.
    Hope you have a lovely weekend.

  11. That's because we have so many historical places in the UK, Talya.

    Cathy, must admit I prefer the late medieval period to the Tudors!

    Lizy, what a coincidence! Hope the pictures brought back some memories for you.

    Arlee, so many of our castles are in ruins. It costs a lot to maintain them, no chance of restoring them!

    Thanks for visiting, Rita.

    Michael, I'd only want a castle if I could have some central heating ;-)

    Linda - you can still see so many places from English Literature!

  12. Greetings, Paula!

    Love these pics of Kenilworth. Kind of an unusual color, with the reddish stone, isn't it? Very striking against the green grass.

    I'm with you on ONLY wanting to live in a castle if it comes equipped with central heating. And modern plumbing, thank you very much! :-)

  13. This looks like an amazing place to visit. I went to a Renaissance Faire years ago where they had a jousting event, but seeing knights act this near a castle would be much more picturesque. Lucky ducky!

  14. Interesting. You sure know your history and posted some wonderful photos too.

  15. The medieval event must've been great fun. Nice pictures.

  16. I love these articles. Thank you!