Romantic Ruins in the Heart of England

Kenilworth Castle | Vagabond Baking

Kenilworth Castle.

While we were in Warwickshire we treated ourselves to a day out at Kenilworth Castle, possibly my favourite British castle.

For me, Kenilworth stands out because it is red and because it is in a fairly ruinous state.

I love ruins, they inspire imagination and the urge to explore. Another {overseas} visitor who we spoke to at the castle commented that it was “a shame they had let it go so far”, to be fair I think the castle was in ruins before anyone cared about historic monuments and there are plenty of more complete castles dotted around the country if you prefer that kind of thing.

Kenilworth is romantic because it is a ruin.

Kenilworth is intertwined with amorous stories of Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester. Elizabeth gave the castle to Dudley, a childhood friend and favourite.

She may have been desperately in love with the man, but she could not marry one of her subjects. She visited him often when she travelled round the country on her Royal Progresses.

He built the newest parts of the castle to receive her, this included grand apartments suitable for the Queen and her party.

And boy did they party! Fireworks, bear-baiting, hunting, dancing and feasting.

A gateway in the castle walls.

A gateway in the castle walls.

The history of the castle goes much further back in time, the oldest parts of Kenilworth dates from the 1100s. The Norman Keep seen in the top photograph dates from that time.

The castle was expanded over the centuries turning it from a fortification to a palace.

It was Robert Dudley who had the formal privy garden built, to further embellish his castle for the Queen when she passed through on her tours.

This Elizabethan garden has recently been authentically recreated by English Heritage, who manage the property.

They have used a detailed written account by a castle official, who sneaked into the garden one day, to bring this lost garden back to life.

It is a pleasure to walk around, imagining you are Queen Elizabeth wafting through the ornate pathways while the canaries in the beautiful aviary sing you on your way.

The gatehouse is furnished and provides clues to what the castle may have looked like when Elizabeth came visiting.

It may be ‘just ruins’ but Kenilworth is an excellent destination for a sunny day out in Warwickshire. As well as the castle, there is a cafe in the old tudor barns and beautiful lawns to picnic on.

Walking around the outside of the castle within the outer walls you can find a quiet spot to take in your surroundings and look out over the open countryside where Robert Dudley had his deer park. 

During the school holidays there are family events such as jousting.

The Gatehouse.

The Gatehouse.

Kenilworth is just a few miles from Warwick {which has its own much more showy castle}. It is a bus ride away from Stratford upon Avon, Warwick or Leamington Spa.

Kenilworth Castle | Vagabond Baking

Stick around, have a read of these:

I Went To A Birding Festival And It Was Awesome! Hanging out with the bird-loving community.

Let Me Show You Why I Love Birmingham a little walking tour of my favourite spots in Brum.

Kew Gardens in Autumn a blissful green escape from the city

Lincoln, Just Wow! This old city is stunning!

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By Rachel Davis

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  1. Dave Rowley says:

    Well done by Robert Dudley, getting the Queen to fall in love with him! Sounds like a beautiful day out. The English garden sounds wonderful to me, it’s a happy thought imagining the Queen strolling through…

  2. It’s a wonderful place! Was a student down that way and loved the countryside and the history! You’ve made me want get back there for a visit – thank you for bringing back lovely memories!