Kenilworth Castle

Norman Keep to Elizabethan Pleasure Palace

Chapter 1: Introduction

Kenilworth Castle played an important part in English history from Norman times until the Civil War. Owned by the Earls of Leicester, it came into the hands of John of Gaunt, who renovated it extensively. By the sixteenth century, the Norman Keep and Mediaeval Great Hall were old-fashioned and the Castle received a complete make-over from Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. It was here that one of the greatest pageants of the Elizabethan Age took place in 1575.

Location & Surroundings

This part of Warwickshire is a pretty, largely rural county, fairly flat, with open views across the Vale of Evesham. Warwickshire is in the heart of the Midlands. As well as Birmingham and Coventry, the industrial and commercial cities, there are the cultural delights of Leamington Spa and Stratford-upon-Avon not far away, and the Cotswolds only some 20 miles south of Kenilworth. Kenilworth itself is not especially inspiring – built of the local red sandstone there are individually attractive buildings, but the overall effect is pleasant rather than overwhelmingly pretty.