Warwick Castle was one of many great castles that I have been to throughout Britain. The many centuries of long history, enduring architecture and the classic interior was both fascinating and astounding. Warwick Castle was founded by William the Conqueror in 1068, has ties to Henry VIII, and has seen nearly 1000 years of British history and tourism.
This medieval castle along the River Avon originated as a wooden fort, a motte and baily castle, built by William the Conqueror. By the 12th Century it was rebuilt in stone and had gradually been added to over the next centuries. With its fortified walls and towers, it was used as a stronghold until the 17th Century. This was about the time that the popularity of castles were in decline and no longer used as fortresses. Many existing ones had been abandoned or refitted into stately homes.
In 1604, Warwick Castle went from being a British stronghold to a country manor owned by Sir Fulke Greville, which was granted by King James I. For over two decades Greville reconstructed the castle into a comfortable country home with walks and gardens. In September 1629, Greville was stabbed and murdered by his man-servent and died a month later. The Watergate Tower of Warwick Castle, is said to be haunted by his ghost and is now known as “Ghost Tower”.
Warwick Castle and Tourism has gone hand in hand since the late 1600s. In the 1800s the estate grew significantly as a place for tourists when Queen Victoria had visited the castle during celebrations in 1858. By 1885, repeating visitors became such a nuisance that the Earl had closed the castle to visitors. This caused confusion in the local town especially for foreign tourists. Then in 1900, Warwick Castle re-opened to take visitors on guided tours and over the last century, until now, it had changed hands for tourism sake.
Tourism at Warwick Castle, like many other castles and palaces in England needed the visitors in order to maintain the costs, so they would not be abandoned. Warwick became very successful as a major tourist site that by 1936 the famous English Journalist, Arthur Mee, said “these walls have seen something of the splendor of every generation of our (English) story”, with rooms “rich in treasure beyond the dreams of avarice” but also that “their rooms are open to all who will”.
Many of the rooms are galleries in their own right, housing luxurious furnishings, works of art, as well as a magnificent armoury. The castle’s armoury has been regarded as the next greatest after the one inside the Tower of London. I will say that the armoury at Warwick Castle was impressive, especially the display of life size horses and military wearing full medieval armour.
I found Warwick Castle to be one the best fortresses turned into a home that I have seen. The interior was a time capsule, brimming with furnishings of an elegant era that has gone by. The ground’s landscaping was beautiful and the view from the River Avon was inspiring. Warwick Castle today has become a very family oriented venue with events, shows and a playground.
To me the evolution of a place or space has always been fascinating and Warwick Castle is just that. From starting off as a fortress built by William the Conqueror into a lively castle filled with families and tourists, it has been a century worth of adapting to keep Warwick Castle alive within the modern day.
For more information, please visit – Warwick Castle
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