The origins of Warwick Castle can be traced back to the Saxon fortification which Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred the Great, used to defend against invading Danes. The first castle, however, to appear on the site was a wooden motte and bailey constructed in 1068 at the command of William the Conqueror. Throughout the Middle Ages, under successive earls of Warwick, the castle was gradually rebuilt in stone. By the 14th century, it was a towering medieval fortress and the stronghold of the mighty Beauchamp family.
Later as the castle declined in military importance, the main living quarters were converted into a residence of rich and sumptuous style that reflected the wealth and status of its owners. Attacked in 1264, besieged in 1642 and damaged by fire in 1871, the castle has nevertheless gloriously survived the ever-changing fortunes of history, and stands today as the most impressive of England’s ancient fortresses.
The castle was home to the earls of Warwick until 1978, when it was bought by the Tussauds Group. Since then extensive restoration work has been carried out and substantial areas of the castle, which were previously closed to the public, have been opened.
Visiting Warwick Castle, and walking through the rooms and corridors, you can easily experience almost the all periods in English history – from early medieval period to the Victorians. And you will be able to do it in the most beautiful way. Your journey starts in 1471. with Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, known as “Kingmaker”.
You can explore Earl’s household as he and his men preparing for the Battle of Barnet. You can meet carpenters in their workshop, blacksmiths plunging a horse shoes, soldiers with longbows and women sewing a battle standards. Many beautifully realistic scenes are recreated, and you can fully enjoy in the atmosphere.
Next interior attraction is the Great Hall. There was once straw and dirt on the floor, and a huge fireplace burning in the centre of the room. Here it was that the nobility ate, drank and even sleep. Now, you walk over the room looking at knights in shiny armours, on their horses. The walls displayed different arms – swords, spears, shields, and also a large cauldron known as “Guy’s Porridge Pot”, named after 10th Earl of Warwick. About 500 years ago it was used to cook a stew for castle garrison soldiers.
Then you slowly walk into the Red Drawing Room, then into the magnificent Cedar Drawing Room. Then you will find out the Queen Anne Bedroom, where she stayed in 1704, according the tradition.
The next step is far ahead in the future – you will present a Royal Weekend Party, accompanied with Victorian nobility and high-class persons. In the Library, you will meet Spencer Cavendish, the Duke of Devonshire, as well as daisy, Countess of Warwick and 16-year-old Leopold Lord Brooke, known as Guy. He became earl of Warwick in 1924, just four years before his death.
In the Music Room, we are in the middle of a little concert. Clara Butt, a famous singer of the time, performing her repertoire. In audience are Lady Marjorie Greville, Lady Randolph Churchill, and on the piano is Paolo Tosti, music master to the Royal family.
Then we passing the Smoking Room and the Ladies’ Boudoir, and also few bedrooms. We will meet more characters, both nobles and servants, who played their daily roles. Suddenly, Victorian life becomes so real and easy understandable.
Inside the castle you must visit the Dungeons, lately very popular attraction. The mix of scary moments and great fun followed by screams and laughter, show us all the cruelty of medieval punishments.
The Castle exterior is a perfect place for a day out. You can take a long walks or organize a nice picnic with your family and friends. There s the Mound, first built in 1068 on the orders of William the Conqueror, as an important part of the castle defence system. The Conservatory was built in 1786, originally it was designed as a home the Warwick Vase, a magnificent piece of ancient Roman pottery excavated in Tivoli.
Also you should visit castle’s Towers and Ramparts, and walk a wall around the castle. A special attraction is the Ghost Tower, built in 14th century to guard against enemy approaches from the river. Interior decor reflects the later Jacobean style. In the tower you will learn more about Sir Fulke Greville, the prominent Elizabethan and Jacobean courtier, who spent a large part of his income turning the semi-derelict caste into a stately residence. After a quarrel, he was stabbed with the knife by his servant Ralph Haywood and died. It is said that his ghost still haunts this tower in which he lodged.