Kenilworth Castle

Norman Keep to Elizabethan Pleasure Palace

Chapter 6 : Later History

James VI & I, and his wife, Anne of Denmark, stayed at Kenilworth on several occasions. In 1612, it was given to Prince Charles (later Charles I), and was then granted to Charles’ wife, Henrietta Maria as part of her dower.

During the Civil Wars, Kenilworth was garrisoned for the Royalist cause, but, after the Battle of Edgehill, was abandoned. It was ‘slighted’ by the Parliamentarians, although damage was not as extensive here as at other locations.


The remains were granted to Colonel Hawkesworth in lieu of his militia’s wages, and he converted Leicester’s Gatehouse for his own use.

At the Restoration, the Castle was given back to Henrietta Maria, then to the Earls of Clarendon, relatives of James II’s wife, Anne Hyde. The Castle itself was never lived in again, while the Gatehouse continued as the farmhouse of the Clarendon tenants. Gradually, the buildings fell into disrepair or were raided for building materials. Some restoration work was done in the late nineteenth century, but by the 1930s, it was too expensive to maintain in private hands. It was eventually given to the town of Kenilworth, which still owns it, whilst English Heritage is responsible for its upkeep.