WARWICK CASTLE

Warwick Castle Gatehouse
The Gatehouse into Warwick Castle


Minstrels Sing to Visitors
Minstrels sing to visitors at Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle

The town of Warwick is situated near the centre of England, 8 miles from Stratford-upon-Avon. Warwick Castle is the finest mediaeval castle in England, and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United Kingdom.

This page tells you about the history of Warwick Castle, and includes many photos of the castle. A separate page shows some of the Interior Exhibits, including state rooms and armour, inside the castle.

Special events (living history) are held on most weekends throughout the Summer. A special feature on this site shows pictures of the Jousting Tournaments which are held at Warwick Castle, usually on Bank Holiday weekends. The current calendar of events is at Events Program on the official website.

Warwick Castle featured in 10 half-hour TV programs, which gave viewers an insight into some of the many activities which take place at Warwick Castle. More details and more pictures from the program on the page Behind the Scenes at Warwick Castle.

Near the bottom of this page are details of some other attractions in the town of Warwick. And don't miss our Heart of England Main Page which has pictures and details of many other attractions in Warwickshire and the Heart of England.

Hotels in Warwick

History

A fortified town (burh) was first established at Warwick by Aethelflaed, widow of King Ethelred, in 914-6. The town was fortified against the threat of Danish invasions.

After the Norman Conquest in 1066, William the Conqueror moved northwards from London, to subdue resistance in the Midlands and Northern England. He founded castles at Warwick and Nottingham, run by his Norman barons. The castle at Warwick was founded in 1086.

At the time of Domesday, 1086, the only towns in what is now the county of Warwickshire were Warwick, Tamworth and Coventry. Warwick had a population of around 1800.

Knight beneath Portcullis



Aerial View This aerial view of the castle shows the major features of the castle as it is today.

The wall running along the foreground of the picture has at its extreme left corner Caesar's Tower, in the centre is the Gatehouse, and at the right corner, near the centre of the picture, is Guy's tower. Enclosed behind this wall is the castle courtyard, and to the rear of the courtyard is the apartment block. At the extreme top right of the picture is the raised mound, now planted with shrubbery, which was the site of the original wooden castle. The river Avon runs behind the apartment block.

The knight on horseback and the aerial view of the castle, both above, are both taken from the Warwick Castle 2000 Calendar. All other photos are my own.


East Front


This is the first view that visitors get of the East Front of the castle, which is the main entrance.

The pathway leads round to the castle Gatehouse. At the left is Caesar's Tower, and in the centre is the Gatehouse.

Gatehouse

Warwick Castle by Canaletto Between 1748 and 1752, the then Earl of Warwick commissioned 5 paintings of the castle by the Italian painter Canaletto. These 5 pictures are reproduced on a separate page Paintings of Warwick Castle by Canaletto.
The entrance into the castle is through a passage carved in the solid rock, guarded by two portcullises, shown in the picture at the right. This arrangement is designed to trap intruders between the gates. Portcullis
This view shows the East Front as seen from within the castle courtyard. The entrance into the courtyard, through the portcullis, is visible at the far right.

At the left is Guy's Tower. Some idea of the height of the tower (128 feet) can be judged from the scale of the people at its base. Guy's Tower was named after Guy of Warwick, a legendary Anglo-Saxon mystic warrior. There is a reference to his story in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

Guys Tower

A narrow spiral staircase, which visitors can climb, ascends to the top of Guy's Tower. This affords views over a large area of Warwickshire. The picture below shows the view looking inwards across the castle courtyard from the top of Guy's Tower. At the left are the apartment buildings, and at the right is the castle mound, which was the site of the original castle. In the background is the Warwickshire countryside.

View from Guys Tower

The view above is looking towards Stratford-on-Avon, which lies about 8 miles away in that direction. There is also a good view from the top of the castle mound, which is easier to ascend.

The image below is a 360-degree panorama showing the view all around from Guy's Tower. At the far left is the entrance path upto the Gatehouse, then Caesar's Tower, and the apartment block. The centre of the picture looks over the courtyard towards Stratford as in the view above. Then further round is the North wall of the castle, and beyond that the view out over the town of Warwick. The large church is St Mary's, described and pictured further down this page. The large white rectangular building around a courtyard in front of St Mary's was the castle stables, and is now the visitors' entrance, gift shop and restaurant. A path leads out of the right side of the entrance block, behind the trees at the far right, and this is the same path shown at the far left of the picture.

View from Guys Tower

Click here to see a larger scrollable version of that panorama.

There are also some more photos taken from the hills in the direction of Stratford, looking up the Avon valley towards the castle, on the Panoramas and Long Distance Views page. There are more pictures of the Avon and the surrounding countryside on the Countryside Views page.


South Front

Warwick Castle from Road Bridge This view shows the South Front of the apartment block which overlooks the Avon. This is the classic view of Warwick Castle.

To the right side of the picture is the East Front, consisting of Caesar's Tower, the towers of the Gatehouse, and Guy's Tower.

The photo at the right is taken from a bridge on the Warwick-Banbury road which crosses the Avon just upstream from the castle. The main road originally crossed the Avon at a medieval bridge nearer the castle. The present bridge was built in 1790. The diversion of the road to use the present route was part of an ambitious landscaping plan for the castle designed by Lancelot "Capability" Brown.


Feeding Swans at Warwick CastleThe picture at the left shows part of the South Front as viewed from an island in the Avon river.

The island is reached from a bridge within the castle grounds. The island is used as a location for some live events at the castle.

In this picture some children sitting on the bank are feeding swans, and their cygnets.


Feeding Swans at Warwick Castle

Armour

Inside the Castle


The apartment block includes the Chapel, Great Hall, State Rooms, and Apartments.

Many of the rooms in the castle are maintained in their original condition, and are open to the puplic.

This picture shows a range of armour on display in the Great Hall.

Some of the rooms include life-size wax figures, in period costume, like those in the Boudoir shown at the right.

There is a separate page showing lots more pictures taken Inside Warwick Castle. Click on that link to see these pictures. That link will open in a new window, so you won't lose your place on this page. That page includes pictures taken in the Chapel, Great Hall, State Rooms, Apartments and Armoury.

Boudoir


Medieval Townsfolk

Medieval Festivals


Many forms of medieval entertainment are staged at the castle throughout the year.

The apparent white haze in this photo is smoke from the cooking fires, rising through early morning mist.

Tented VillageSome of the people taking part in the Medieval festival camp in a tented village on the island in the Avon. This is a view of the island and the tented village, taken from Caesar's Tower. The bridge which joins the island to the castle is visible at the right of the picture.

At the far end of the island, beyond the bridge, you can see the jousting field, where the jousting tournament takes place.

Bridge Over Avon

Knights Crossing Bridge Over Avon

Knights Riding to Joust
I have a separate page showing lots of pictures of Jousting at Warwick Castle. Click on that link to see that page. That link will open in a new window, so you won't lose your place on this page. Sir Bors rides to joust

Men at Arms
Men at ArmsAbove, and at left, the Earl's soldiers provide a demonstration of drill for vistors.

Visitors need to have nerves of steel in order not to flinch as the soldiers approach them in this formation.

This is the ladies tug-o'-war contest. Tug-o-War
Warm meals are prepared for the Earl's hungry soldiers. Cooking

Serving Meals for Earls Soldiers
Don AdamsOther activities at the Medieval Festivals include archery, and exhibits of Medieval tradesmen, who explain their crafts to visitors.
Falconry, and demonstrations using birds of prey, are provided by the Yorkshire Dales Falconry and Conservation Centre.

Birds of Prey


Conservatory

Formal Gardens


The castle has some beautiful formal gardens, backed by a conservatory.

The conservatory houses some huge tropical plants, and the Warwick Vase.

The Warwick Vase is a very large Roman vase, which was excavated near Tivoli. The vase in the conservatory is a replica of the original, which is now kept in the Burrell collection in Glasgow.

Warwick Vase
There is a very fine view from the conservatory, looking down through the garden, and right along the Avon valley.View down Avon valley


Treasure Hunt


Warwick Castle was one of the locations used in the TV series Treasure Hunt. This aerial view shows how the Castle appeared viewed from Annika Rice's helicopter as she approached the Castle.

The Mound is visible in the left foreground, and the Avon and weir can be seen at the right.

Treasure Hunt
Treasure Hunt
Treasure HuntTreasure Hunt

History of Warwick Castle

There is a separate page on this site which describes the Development and History of Warwick Castle.




Warwick Castle on Great Estates

Great Estates
Behind The Scenes At
Warwick Castle


Warwick Castle featured in 10 half-hour TV programs, called Great Estates. The programs gave viewers an insight into some of the many activities which take place at Warwick Castle.

There are more details and more pictures from the program on my separate page Great Estates Behind the Scenes at Warwick Castle.


Old Bridge from Mill Garden

The Mill Garden

Outside the castle, at the foot of Caesar's Tower, is the Mill Garden (access from Mill Street near the East entrance to the castle). The Mill Garden is a private garden, but it is open to the public. The garden was created by the late Arthur Measures. This is a charming waterside garden, with good views of the South Front of the castle, good views of the Avon, and particularly of the Old Bridge, shown here.


St Mary's Church

A visit to Warwick Castle is not complete without a visit to St Mary's Church, about 5 minutes walk from the castle.

The development of St Mary's Church closely paralled the development of the castle, and the church is the resting place of many of the Earls of Warwick.

There was a church of sorts on this spot in Saxon times. After the Norman invasion, when the first Norman earl of Warwick, Henry de Newburgh (1088-1119), was building the first motte and bailey castle on the castle site, he also established a Norman church here at St Mary's.

St Mary's Church
Tomb of Thomas de Beauchamp The major stoneworks at the castle - Caesar's Tower and the Barbican were built in the 14th Century by Thomas de Beauchamp (1329-1369), who was also responsible for the Gothic stone construction of St Mary's. His own tomb lies here in the centre of the chancel (shown left).

Beauchamp Chapel The most impressive feature of St Mary's is the Beauchamp Chapel, shown left, built by the grandson of Thomas, Richard de Beauchamp (1401-1439). Richard's tomb is at the centre of this chapel. Also in this chapel are the tombs of Robert Dudley (of Kenilworth Castle and companion of Elizabeth I) and his second wife.

At the extreme left is the tomb of Robert Dudley, in the centre the tomb of Richard Beauchamp, and at the right the tomb of Ambrose Dudley.

Tomb of Richard de Beauchamp On top of Richard's tomb is this bronze effigy. Beside his head is a swan. The top of the swan's head, and its beak, pointing to the left, can just be seen in the foreground of this picture.
St Mary's Crypt This picture shows the vaulted roof of the Norman crypt.

Just off the side of the crypt are two vaults which contain the tombs of several more of the Earls of Warwick (the Greville family).

View from St Mary's Tower The tower of St Mary's is open to visitors. The viewing platform here, 174', is higher than Caesar's Tower (147'), and has good views over the town and countryside.

This picture was taken on a hazy morning, looking over the town of Warwick, towards the castle, with the countryside beyond. The road at the right, running towards the castle is Northgate Street/Castle Street.

View from St Mary's Tower And this is St Mary's as seen from the castle. There are buildings all around the church itself, which prevent you from seeing the building at close quarters, so this is the best view you can get of the church.

More pictures inside St Mary's at:
Warwickshire Churches

Official St Marys Church Website


Lord Leycester's Hospital

Lord Leycester's Hospital

This picture shows the approach into Warwick from Stratford. The building that looks like a church was originally the West gate into the town.

A chapel was built over the West gate, around 1380.

The road now goes round the gate, rather than through it.

Lord Leycester's Hospital This is the view of Westgate from the other side.

These buildings were the meeting place for the Warwick guilds.

In 1571 Robert Dudley acquired the buildings for use as a retirement home for soldiers, and they became known as Lord Leycester's Hospital. The buildings have been used for this purpose ever since. The buildings are open to visitors.

Lord Leycester's Hospital

Eastgate

And at the far end of the same High Street is the East gate out of Warwick, also with a chapel built over the gate.


On the opposite bank of the Avon, and a few hundred yards upstream from the castle, stands Warwick School. The school was founded by King Edward the Confessor (1002-1066). He was King of England until his death in 1066. It was upon his death that the crown was claimed by William of Normandy. This led to the Battle of Hastings, the Norman invasion, and the subsequent construction of the castle.

The school was originally located in the town of Warwick, and moved to its present situation overlooking the Avon in 1879.

Warwick School

Warwick School


Also on This Site

Be sure to visit our Main Page.

This includes details and photos of many other attractions near Warwick, including: Kenilworth Castle, living history re-enactments, Stratford-upon-Avon, National Trust properties and gardens, the Forest of Arden, and the Cotswolds. It also includes pages about the life and works of some well known writers who grew up near here: William Shakespeare, J R R Tolkien, and J K Rowling. Visit our Main Page.

Heart of England


Heart-of-England Main Page
Warwick Castle Official Website
Warwick Castle Events Program
Accommodation in the Heart of England
Hotels and Guest Houses in Warwick
Netscape Open Directory - Warwick Websites
Castles on the Web
Castles of Britain

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