I mentioned in our previous post that we went to Warwick Castle on Saturday. It was such a good day that I felt like a paragraph at the end of that post wouldn’t really do it justice. When people asked me what I was most looking forward to about our trip, I would mostly say that I wanted to see a million castles. We have been in England for two weeks now and we have only seen one castle! A little below the daily average to achieve one million in a year…. but this one was pretty cool, I think it made up for the lack so far.
The castle is pretty huge, and settled in amongst a nice little medieval style town (Warwick). We didn’t get a chance to explore the town as we were at the castle the whole day, but I definitely think this would be a worthwhile trip another time. We parked a few minutes away, and as we walked up we couldn’t really see anything of the castle at all. But as we headed through the gates, this view greeted us:
We were pretty excited. Even better, Elena was a bit excited. Elena’s personality at the moment is like this: We say, “What did you like about today Elena?” She says “Nothing!” with a grumpy face. Even if we did something awesome like go to a playcentre. Or have icecream. “I not like it!”. Little ingrate. Anyway, she was excited, because we told her kings and queens and princesses lived in castles. So we were off to a good start!
The first thing we did was this, of course:
Check out Kilian – poor kid’s head dangling down for the sake of a photo. (He was fine)
Then we headed into the castle grounds and into the Great Hall.
The Great Hall
This room was really cool. Kitted out with heaps of knights in shining armour and horses in shining armour and heaps of weaponry on the walls. Every room in this part of the castle was decorated and furnished, with plenty of information about the history. Warwick Castle was built by William the Conqueror in 1068, rebuilt in the 12th century, and in the 17th century was converted to a country house by the Grevilles (who became Earls of Warwick), for which purpose it was used until 1978. Hence the authentic style of all of the rooms.
The State dining room:
It was really fun to wander through and imagine all the Earls and Kings and Queens who lived in this huge place (our imagination was helped by the billions of portraits covering the walls of every room, plus the creepily lifelike mannequins acting out “everyday” scenes in the castle).
These guys were so scared of the bear butler!
Next we headed up Caesar’s Tower (no idea why it is called that). This is the view from about halfway. We couldn’t go all the way up because they were doing restoration work, but it was great to get a look at the castle grounds from above.
This is Elena’s cheesy smile – she is either frowning in photos or like this….
Birds of Prey show
Going in winter, the shows were more limited, but one that goes all year round is the birds of prey show. It’s always good to see these huge birds in action – featured in this show was an eagle owl and a buzzard. They were pretty cool, but as the guide said, didn’t “behave” this time around (they didn’t fly super high or swoop really fast to get the food). We were entertained by a story of one of their eagles viciously attacking and eating a nearby duck during one of the shows once.
Horrible Histories Maze
One of the best things at the castle was the maze. It only opened this year, and we had so much fun running around, chasing Elena and getting lost. There were quite a few different themes within the maze, and older kids could get a ‘time passport’ and stamp it at each location they found, including Vikings, Stuarts, WWII and Tudors. We let Elena lead us and this often involved us sneaking through tiny gaps in the hedge that we were definitely not supposed to go through.
Princess Tower & Castle Dungeon
One of the things I was looking forward to was taking Elena to the princess tower (she is a bit obsessed with princesses at the moment). I thought it would be quite fun, and it was also a drawcard for getting Elena excited for the day. It worked. She kept telling me Anna and Elsa would be there, to which I had to reply with a non-committal maybe….. (they weren’t there).
It was a nice little experience where the princess needed the kids help to release her prince from a magic painting in which he was stuck.
Meanwhile Pete was in the spooky Castle Dungeon, a theatrical walkthrough experience which I gallantly forwent, as someone had to stay with the children. He was entertained and amused, but he was way too brave to be scared.
Kingmaker, Gaol and Time Tower
Another great exhibition was the Kingmaker walkthrough, which showed Warwick Castle’s part of the War of the Roses (wars fought for control over England), of which the Earl of Warwick played a big part by deposing Henry VI and Edward IV. The gaol was vaguely interesting, and the Time Tower was pretty cool – an audiovisual journey through the ages, from when Warwick Castle’s foundations were laid by the pretty badass warrior princess Ethelfleda, all the way to its most recent occupation by the Eight Earl of Warwick. The castle is currently owned by the same organisation who own Madame Tussauds, but we’ll forget that and instead focus on the fact that people actually lived in a castle up to almost 40 years ago!
Overall it was a really great day and I would definitely recommend it to anyone around this area/into castles/far far away!