Monday, 3 October 2016

Warwick Castle

The oldest part of the castle

We are in Warwick to meet old friends Roger and Deborah: it's basically halfway (and more inviting that the exact half point as defined by the excellent What's Halfway website which was Bedford). None of us had been round the castle so we decided to make that the focus, although we were slightly concerned that it might too much like a theme park.

The castle was originally founded, as so many were, by William the Conqueror, in 1068 as a simple motte-and-bailey. Stone buildings were added from the 13th century.

We enter through the electronic turnstiles and immediately have a great view of the imposing oldest parts of the castle. Unfortunately, we are looking directly into the sun and so the best I could manage as a photo is just one corner: the magnificent Guy's Tower. It is the tallest of the three main towers at 128 ft and has twelve sides. It was completed in 1394.

We head round to the splendid gatehouse, which is revealed as two towers, one behind the other. There is a great view looking up into the Clock Tower.

Once we are inside the castle, its scale becomes apparent, as do some small theme-park features (music, tents and huts serving food and drink, the dungeons). The picture at the head of this post shows the wonderful view looking back towards the Gatehouse across the large grassy area in the middle of the castle. The third old tower, Caesar's Tower, is on the right. It is irregularly shaped and awkwardly located, so hard to photograph.

We are delighted to find that there is a partial wall around the walls and head off to the right to climb some steps onto a walkway which leads to Guy's Tower. The views from the top are wonderful. Looking down into the castle you can see the mainly Victorian buildings on the left and the original motte ahead and to the right - it was later landscaped and made picturesque.

Looking out from Guy's Tower there is a great view of the town and especially the great church of St Mary. It was originally completed in 1394, like much of the castle, but was almost completely destroyed by the Fire of Warwick in 1694. Rebuilding was complete by 1704.

We descended back to the walkway and enjoyed a nice juxtaposition of Guy's Tower and the tower of St Mary's.

Climbing the Gatehouse Tower brought us fine views over open country as far as Kenilworth, another fine Warwickshire castle. More immediately, we looked down on the delightful Mill Street.

Just off to the right was the Old Bridge over the River Avon. It dates from 1374-83.

We continued through Caesar's Tower and down to explore the rest of the castle and the motte. The views over the countryside were pleasant enough. Outside the walls we watched the popular Birds of Prey show for a short while and were impressed to see just how big a Lammergeyer actually is. After that it remained only to head into town to find the Market Place and enjoy an excellent lunch at the Rose and Crown, sitting outside in the surprisingly warm sun.

Distance: very little.

Conditions: bright and sunny. Warm.

Rating: Four and half stars. A great day out. Our theme park fears were largely unfounded.

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