Warwick Castle - History and Facts | History Hit

Warwick Castle

Warwick, England, United Kingdom

Built by a king, the seat of a kingmaker and vital stronghold in the Wars of the Roses and the English Civil War, Warwick Castle has played an important role in British history.

Amy Irvine

11 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Warwick Castle

Built by a king, the seat of a kingmaker and vital stronghold in the Wars of the Roses and the English Civil War, Warwick Castle has played an important role in British history.

It is one of the most dramatic and complete medieval castles in the country, and has been inhabited continuously since the Middle Ages.

History of Warwick Castle

Saxon Origins
Before Warwick Castle’s existence, the site on which it sits was the location of a Saxon fort built by King Alfred the Great’s daughter, Æthelflæd in 914 AD on the banks of the River Avon. Its aim was as a defence from Danish invaders.

Construction and Change
It was in 1068 that the initial visage of Warwick Castle began to take shape, when its construction was ordered by William the Conqueror. At this point, it was a wooden motte and bailey construct, eventually to be turned into a stone castle in the 13th century.

In fact, Warwick Castle would undergo centuries of change, some due to altering styles, but others for military reasons or due to necessity such as after a fire in 1871. For example, while its two vast eastern towers date to 14th and 15th century renovations and the Great Hall to the 14th century, much of the interior, such as the State Dining Room, was redone or created in the 18th century.

Vital Stronghold
A major part of what makes Warwick Castle truly exceptional is its story and those of the people and dynasties for which it formed a backdrop. For example, it was owned by the Earl of Warwick Richard Neville, a central character in the Wars of the Roses who history has named the Kingmaker.

It was also at Warwick Castle that Edward IV was held prisoner in 1469 and it was later held by future King Richard III, the Duke of Gloucester in the 1480s. In 1642, Warwick Castle also played its part in the English Civil War, withstanding a Royalist siege.

Warwick Castle today

The seat of the Earls of Warwick until 1978, Warwick Castle then opened to the public and today offers a wide range of things to see and do. Visitors can tour the site and its grounds, learning about its history and enjoying its architecture. There are also lots of children’s activities, shows and attractions, including birds of prey.

A full visit can last around 4-5 hours, though medieval glamping or medieval themed lodges are also available for overnight stays.

Getting to Warwick Castle

The Castle is well signposted, and less than two miles from junction 15 of the M40. Warwick Railway Station is approximately one mile from the Castle, where a direct service to London Marylebone (1 hour 45 mins) or Birmingham Snow Hill (40 mins) is available. Day coach trips from London are also available through Evan Evans and Golden Tours.

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