Even the walk towards the entrance of this wonderful place fills you with wonder of what is to come. You step foot into the grounds outside the walls of Warwick Castle and main entrance to be pulled by sights in all directions. Oh my so much to see and do. Where first?
First I should give a brief outline of the history. There is so much to learn whilst you are there. In the year 914, Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred the Great, ordered a rampart to be built to protect Warwick settlement from the invading Danes. Over the next few hundred years the castle and buildings grew and even today stands largely what was built in the 14th 15th centuries. Its has also played a significant part in shaping our country’s history. A seige by the royalists in the civil war for example, the imprisonment of the King and visits by Queens Elizabeth I and Victoria to name but a few.
My visit included seeing many of the sights, experiencing history and taking in attractions. First I noticed the birds of prey in action. Beautifully kept large birds showing off their wingspan in flight over the castle and explained fascinatingly by one of the many many enthusiastic employees of the castle.
Now then, this is where this place also becomes very different and special to the norm… The Actors. Every attraction, every display, every show is presented by trained and great actors/actresses, all dressed in traditional medieval clothing. They enhance the experience greatly. The way they tell the history tales or blend in with the backdrop is incredible. So very interactive. Just a walk around the gardens sees children (and of course some eager parents) being taught archery and the skills with a sword.
I took in 2 indoor shows (sorry no cameras allowed), the new Merlin Dragon Tower based on the BBC show plus the Dungeon! Yes, not your average dungeon tour and not for those weak of heart or very young. Plunged into the old dungeon area in total darkness the actors take over and guide you, in character, when you least expect it, out from nowhere, and with many many more surprises as you are passed through the depths. Lots of adults WILL and did scream. Hehehe.
So onto the great hall in all its splendour. The furniture in here is all original and in fine condition indeed. The huge collection of armoury and swords. Furniture used by royalty of old, a bed and travelling trunk said once to be owned by Queen Anne. A clock once owned by Marie Antoinette hangs from the wall. The fine and grand State dining room that has been used to dine Queens is laid as so. (you can even get married and have your reception/banquet here). The list goes on, you must take a look around.
Outside again and to wander up one of the large carner towers to take in a wow kind of view over the countryside and the other way over Warwick itself. From up here you can see how strategically important this place was for the midlands. You can see for miles and miles. But also get a great view over the castles courtyard.
If you want a bit of piece away from the centre attractions there is a beautifully kept rose garden to enjoy and soak up or take the steps down to the old mill house wheel. The castle was perfectly placed on the River Avon and has used the power of the water over centuries all the way up to making electricity from it. As everywhere here there are plenty and easy ways to read/hear and learn about it as you wander.
Throughout the day there were fascinating and large shows taking part all around. Again the actors are great and in evidence as they enact parts of the history – jousting, horses, sword fighting, comedy and all. Then comes the might of the world’s largest trebuchet! 18m tall weighing 22 tonnes, with full interactive explanation they demonstrate how this would have been used to lay seige on a castle or town and the sheer manpower needed. Actually firing a huge fireball up to 300m. Fantastic display!
What a full and enjoyably packed day! Lots more than you can ever expect and full of learning for kids of all ages and adults alike, I didn’t get round to every single thing I was caught up in so much. A beautiful place and building, an experience.