We walked through the ‘Queen Anne bedroom room. It looked very royal, although I don’t know if I could sleep in it. A little too heavy decorated for my sleeping taste but I did like it. All the furniture once belonged to Queen Anne. It seemed the Queen like to travel with her own things and the furniture was sent to Warwick for her visit in 1704. The stay was cancelled and the furniture was sent back. It is said that she died in this bed at Kensington Palace from a possible stroke. Her successor later gifted or sold the furniture to 1st Earl of Warwick. (I have read both stories.)
Footnote: To stop colour from running when fabric was being died urine was added. Believe it or not, men were paid to drink large quantities of beer to make sure supplies were available.
From the royal bedroom we made our way into the portrait gallery. What a surprise. Some of the paintings depicted various member of the 17th century Russell Family. Of course we would have to be related somewhere down the line. The information board didn’t say why the portraits of the Russell family were at Warwick Castle but does that really matter. The information only said that the Russell family was very powerful and the family was turned apart by the English Civil War as ‘brother declared war on brother.’ I like the ‘Powerful family’ bit.
When we left the gallery we walked along a corridor where we found a unicorn horn. Yep you read right, a unicorn horn.
Ok, it not a real unicorn horn. It is a Narwhal Tusk but it did look like what I would think a unicorn would look like. I had to look up what a Narwhal is and it is a medium size whale. The Narwhal is known as a toothed whale but it has no teeth in its mouth. Instead the male develops a long straight tooth that protrudes out of the upper left jaw. This particular tusk is the largest one in the United Kingdom and was most likely hunted about the 19th century. Queen Elizabeth purchased it for £10,000. I was amazed to lean it is valued at about £2.5 million now.
The corridor lead us back into the throne room, which by then I had learned was called ‘The Great Hall’ and from there we made our way up stairs. For the first part of being upstairs you get to look down on the throne room. Great view. The up stairs is a more modern area. There is a library and a sitting room as well as a Ladies’ boudoir but it is mainly filled with bedrooms.
While all but one of the bedrooms were very plainly decorated the last one was amazing. Totally decked out in wood. The room is know as the ‘Kenilworth Bedroom.’ It had been give that name at the wooden paneling has come from Kenilworth Castle. Dressing a bedroom totally in wood paneling was very popular for showing of wealth in the 16th. It is said the Kenilworth room is the most haunted room in the castle. There was a time when the owners, a woman called Daisy would hold séances in the room.
It wasn’t until I was looking at my photos later I noticed the chamber pot under the bed. Nice touch.
Going with the flow of traffic we took the servant’s stairs, which lead us outside. We made our way up to ‘The Mound.’ The order to make the mound was given by William the Conqueror. It was a good move as the mound gives a far-reaching view and is the perfect vantage point. The guidebook said it was the ‘perfect point for the Norman lords to watch over their lands and to cast a shadow over the English people living below.’ From my point of view, ‘The Mound’ gave me a lovely look at the castle. It also showed us how much of the castle isn’t open to the general public. We had only seen about a quarter of it.
Our tour of the castle wasn’t over as we still had the rooms that were under the castle to go. This is where we saw how the other half lived. The rooms were used for all sorts of activities, not only housing the kitchen and food storage but also they were where the knights lived. Other areas were offered to tradespeople to make their wares. An information board informed us about the Stonemason. He would often sculptor cannon balls out of sandstone. It seemed metal was very expensive in 1471 so other items were often used instead. They don’t show that in the movies.
The rooms under the castle are some of the oldest parts of the castle.
We did get to go into the dungeons. It is at the base of one of the towers. The cells were very small. Yes they were very dark and damp. Often the sewage from the tower would flow into the dungeons flooding it. Prisoners would be captured in battles, if they were of noble birth they would wait in the dungeons to be ransomed for large amounts. It is said after one such ransom by the Earl of Warwick in 1356, he was able to build a mighty tower, which still stands today. If the prisoners were not of noble birth they were left in the dungeons until they succumbed to death. I was happy to get out of there and I had only been in the dungeons for a few moments and yes the air did smell a whole lot sweeter when we emerged outside.
After the dungeons I took a seat and let Adrian go up to the top of the towers. You get to go up one tower, walk across the top where the archer would let go their arrows and then go down the other side. I would have liked to go but didn’t feel up for it. Adrian said the view was great.
The castle has a large extensive garden, at the height of the tourist season the garden is filled with people and activities. Falconer demonstrations are held using eagles, hawks, falcons and owls. There is also a Trebuchet, which is really a huge catapult. Although large rocks and stones were mainly used as ammunition other item like manure and dead animals were hurled as well. An interesting thing about the Trebuchet is women mainly operated them. I guess if they didn’t like what the cook had cooked then it was used as ammunition. It gives a new meaning to rock cakes.
The Trebuchet at the castle was built in 2005. It stands 18 meters high and weighs in at 30 Tonnes. It can launch over 150m into the air and is the largest working catapult in England. It has been nicknamed Ursa, which is Latin for bear and is the symbol of the Earl of Warwick.
If neither of those two things spark your interest there is always the Jousting. This is where you will hear the thunder of hooves and the crack of lances splintering, as fearless knight push their skills and agility to the limit. (Yes I did copy that bit from the information book.) Being off season we didn’t see any of it. Dam, but then we didn’t have to push our way though massive crowds either. Don’t know which is best.
Just as we were about to leave for the day Adrian noticed the castle offers accommodation. He had a quick look to see if there were any vacancies. He started to tell me we could spend a night in a fairytale room fit for royalty. There were only two rooms available. The peacock suite and The Rose Suite. It sounded good. For the low price of £550 a night guest could indulge in a private castle tour and breakfast as well. Ok when I heard the price I changed my mind, £550 is almost $1000 in my money, a bit rich for my pocket! Loved the idea though. It wasn’t until after we left that I read you could have an overnight stay in a themed lodge or tent. They are set on the riverbank near woodlands. It sounded lovely and was more in my price range, starting at £42 p.p. a night if you share with 3 others. Maybe next time, (don’t know about share bit though.)
Loved the castle. I could have gone back in to walk around again, knowing I would see items I would have missed the first time but time was against us.