Nestled in the English town of Warwick, on a beautiful sandstone bluff on a bend of the River Avon, Warwick Castle is one of the country’s finest and most well-preserved Medieval castles.
With a vast and impressive heritage spanning centuries, the Castle still remains a hotspot for curious tourists and history enthusiasts, largely due to the fact that the Castle itself is fascinating, and there are always lots of shows and events held here, making it the perfect place to explore.
Here is the ultimate guide for everything that you will need to know about planning your visit to the magnificent Warwick Castle:
History of Warwick Castle
The history of Warwick Castle goes way back to the year 914, where an early Anglo-Saxon burh was established on the site, which was essentially an old fortified settlement. These fortifications were established by the daughter of Alfred the Great, the almighty King of Wessex, and it was one of ten, all of which had the purpose of defending Mercia against the invading Danes. This early settlement was positioned strategically as a way of dominating the Fosse Way, which was a crucial road for trading and so on.
This early fortification was, however, replaced by a motte and bailey castle, that was erected after the Norman Conquest of England, led by William the Conqueror. Its primary purpose was to control the Midlands as he advanced towards the north of the country.
Later, during the reign of King Henry II, the motte and bailey castle was replaced with a more modern stone keep castle, and it was primarily used to store provisions during the Barons’ Rebellion of 1173-74. During the 12th century, the castle was passed between various owners of noble and royal descent, and it was also at the centre of many important and historical battles, conflicts, and events.
Having been in the hands of the line of the Beauchamp Earls for centuries, this eventually ended in the year 1449 when Anne de Beauchamp, 15th Countess of Warwick, died. Again, Warwick Castle was passed back and forth between a string of different owners, and even Queen Elizabeth I visited the castle in 1566 whilst touring the country. She then again returned in 1572 for a longer stay.
By the time the 17th century arrived, the castle changed shape again. Robert Smythson, a renowned English architect, had been commissioned to draw a plan of the castle, and it underwent many drastic repairs. It eventually took on the shape of a grand country house, and many artists, like the famous Antonio Canaletto, were commissioned to paint it.
In the early 19th century, Warwick Castle underwent an enormous renovation, which was mapped out by George Greville, 2nd Earl of Warwick. However, this amounted to a huge amount of debt, which at the time was £115,000, which in today’s money, would be around £10 million.
It was eventually returned to the Earls of Warwick in the year 1813, and it again underwent a series of drastic renovations, and it was remodelled into the contemporary Gothic Revival architectural style that was incredibly popular at this time.
Tragically, an enormous part of Warwick Castle was destroyed in a fire in 1871, and the Great Hall was heavily damaged, having only recently been reroofed and redesigned. However, it was later repaired by Anthony Salvin between 1872 and 1875, after many members of the public donated to the cause.
Since the end of the 17th century, Warwick Castle has been a tourist hotspot, and it has been frequented by royals, nobles, politicians and famous individuals, as well as the general public. Today, it is still open to the public and receives an enormous number of tourists each and every year.
Why Visit Warwick Castle?
There are so many reasons to visit Warwick Castle. Whether you are a family with young children, a couple, or a solo visitor, there is literally something for everyone. Here are some of the top reasons to visit this incredible, historic castle:
For the history – like many castles, Warwick Castle is no exception when it comes to centuries worth of fascinating history. There is so much to learn, discover and experience at this historic castle, and you really could spend a lifetime uncovering the layers of history and secrets buried here.
For an interactive visit – if you have a young family, Warwick Castle makes for a great day out, as it is incredibly interactive. There are information boards dotted across the castle itself, and the grounds, that provide fascinating details about the historical figures and events that are associated with the castle. Even if you don’t have children, there is still plenty you can learn and benefit from as an adult visiting!
To see the wildlife – what you may not know about the wonderful Warwick Castle, is that there is so much wildlife present at the site, particularly the peacocks, which are synonymous with the grounds. You can head towards the Peacock Garden by the Conservatory for the best chance of seeing them. There is also the daily show, Flight of the Eagles, where a number of birds of prey fly around the arena, and it’s very entertaining.
To see the amazing views – as well as the castle itself, having so much to offer, the views from it are equally incredible. The gorgeous Warwickshire countryside is breath-taking, and it is recommended that you climb to the top of the Mound, as you can see for miles from here. There are also lots of educational signs that signpost where the nearby famous landmarks are, and there are also binoculars that allow you to zoom in on specific points of interest.
It’s a great place to walk – even if you aren’t particularly a history enthusiast, Warwick Castle makes for a great location to enjoy a wonderful walk. The scenery and views are fantastic, there’s so much wildlife, and the castle itself is an added bonus, making this spot an unbeatable place to stroll around.
To see the Mighty Trebuchet – if you are lucky, you may be able to experience the Mighty Trebuchet, which is the largest working siege machine in the world, and at Warwick Castle, it is fired twice every single day. The projectile launches over 150m, and it is absolutely enormous; it weighs 22 tonnes, and is over 18 metres high!
Click here to book your tickets in advance.
Things to see in Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle is an absolutely fascinating and fantastic historical spot in England, and there is so much to do and experience, regardless of your age or interests. Here are some of the highlights, so that you can efficiently organise your trip:
The Time Tower – for an immersive and interactive experience at Warwick Castle, you can’t miss a trip to The Time Tower. This audi0visual multimedia journey takes visitors on a fascinating trip through the 1100 years that Warwick Castle has existed, starting from its early days, how it developed, until its current state. This is a great activity that the whole family can enjoy and benefit from.
Castle Dungeon – not for the faint-hearted, Warwick Castle’s Dungeon is a spooky journey through 300 years of the castle’s darkest history and secrets. You will begin by travelling through time with a Monk, as you are transported across Europe, but make sure to keep an eye out, as you never know who is lurking around the corners!
Medieval Banquets – for an immersive, authentic, and unique experience, Warwick Castle offer a fabulous Medieval Banquet Package. It begins with a drinks reception in the Kingmaker Attraction, where you can sip away on a goblet of traditional mead, before being whisked away into the vaulted Undercroft for a three-course banquet. There is live medieval entertainment throughout the night, and the atmosphere is brilliant.
Horrible Histories Maze – another fantastic activity that Warwick Castle has to offer is the fantastic Horrible Histories Maze. Allow yourself or your children to get lost in time, and explore the layers of fascinating history that exist at the castle. Fun, unique, interactive and educational, this is one of the highlights of Warwick Castle.
The Princess Tower – when Guy of Warwick embarked on a quest to win the hand of Felice, he was cursed by an evil sorcerer, and it is now up to Felice to break the curse and release her sweetheart. In Warwick Castle’s Princess Tower, it is up to you and the princess to help solve the riddle and reunite the couple so that they can live happily ever after. This is a fun and interactive activity for all the family.
Royal Weekend Party – for something a little different, guests can join the Countess of Warwick and her guests on one of the castle’s extravagant Royal Weekend Parties, which focus on what a typical weekend for the Victorian high society would have been like. Guests can explore the former private apartments, featuring wax figures and authentic furniture, to get a real insight into these scandalous parties.
Explore the Gardens – with over 64 acres of outdoor open space, the grounds and gardens of Warwick Castle are some of the highlights. There are so many things to see and do in the gardens:
- Peacock Garden – brimming with summer florals and over 20 peacocks, this is a fantastic spot to explore if you are a wildlife lover. There’s also an impressive found, complete with topiary.
- The Conqueror’s Fortress – one for the adventure-lovers, you really can’t miss climbing The Conqueror’s Fortress. Offering beautiful views of the surrounding Warwickshire landscape, this is a truly unmissable spot.
- Pageant Field – stroll along the smooth green lawns of Pageant Field, and head down to the River Avon to stretch your legs and soak up the natural scenery.
- Courtyard & Castle Exteriors – admire Warwick Castle from the outside by walking through the portcullis, and absorb the grand and impressive splendour or the marvellous castle architecture. You can also marvel at the main courtyard and the renowned East Front.
Special Events at Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle has so much on offer for every interest and every time of year. You could spend days exploring everything that it has to offer, but if you don’t have that long, here are some of the top things to see at the magnificent Warwick Castle:
The Open Arms – starting from the 16th of July and held on selected summer evenings, The Open Arms is a wonderful open-air beer garden that is set amongst the beautiful and iconic castle grounds. Featuring beers from local independents, this fantastic event really showcases what the area has to offer.
Halloween – for a scary and memorable experience, there is no better place to spend Halloween than at Warwick Castle. Prepare yourself for some spooky-themed attractions, meet the famous Witches of Warwick, and discover over 1100 years’ worth of ghost stories and creepy history.
The Bowman Show – for a thrilling and exciting activity at Warwick Castle, you really can’t miss The Bowman Show. Featuring the expert resident archer demonstrating exquisite archery skills amongst the historic Castle’s East Front, this is truly impressive. The guide will also tell you the secrets of the historical sport, and describe all of the top techniques that would have been practised years ago.
The Falconer’s Quest – if you’re a bird watcher, you really can’t miss The Falconer’s Quest at Warwick Castle; it is the UK’s Biggest Birds of Prey Show, and features up to 60 incredible birds, some of which have a wingspan of up to 9 foot! With species from across the globe, including the heaviest eagle and the largest owl, there is a huge variety, and it is incredibly exciting and dynamic.
Tickets and passes
There are several different ticket types for Warwick Castle, and it is worth knowing what each ticket includes before deciding which suits you the best. They are as follows:
- Castle, Grounds & Gardens Ticket – this particular ticket will allow you with access to the castle grounds and all of the attractions, as well as a Rainy Day Guarantee, and allows you to beat the queues.
- Annual Pass Reservation Ticket – this ticket allows you access to the castle, the grounds, and the attractions is a full-day ticket, and allows you guaranteed entry.
- The Castle Dungeon – for access to The Castle Dungeon, you will need this ticket in addition to the regular castle ticket.
- Standard Warwick Castle Annual Pass – if you live nearby and visit regularly, this ticket offers 12 months entry to Warwick Castle, discounts on evening events, and on short breaks at the castle.
I highly recommend booking your tickets in advance here.
Alternatively, if you want to visit Warwick castle as a day trip from London, I highly recommend this tour that includes also a visit to Oxford and Stratford.
Spending the Night at the Castle
Have you ever wanted to stay the night at a historic, medieval castle? Well, you can at Warwick Castle, and there are so many different offers and experience to choose from. Here is a breakdown of each experience, and what you can expect:
Knight’s Village – discretely tucked away within the forest trees, the Knight’s Village at Warwick Castle consists of 28 themed lodges, that are spaciously spread out, and connected by wooden walkways. Sleeping up to five guests, the Woodland Lodges are perfect for a family getaway, and there is plenty of space in each one. Alternatively, if you are looking for something with even more room, the Knight’s Lodges are a little more exclusive, and sleep up to 7 people. In Knight’s Village, there is also a medieval-inspired restaurant, and an outdoor entertainment area, which is the perfect way to spend a warm summer evening.
Caesar’s Tower – fit for a King, or Queen, Caesar’s Tower is the ultimate medieval castle experience available at Warwick Castle. If you’ve ever wanted to stay in a lavishly decorated suite on your own private floor of a castle, where each room is decked out in four-poster beds and elaborate tapestries, Warwick Castle is the place for you. Offering a truly luxurious feel, you will be welcomed with champagne on arrival, and have a personal concierge on hand at all times. This is the perfect experience for a romantic getaway.
Warwick Castle is one of the historical highlights of England, and as demonstrated, there is a plethora of exciting and unique activities to discover here. So, what are you waiting for?