Warwick Castle has been through a lot over the years. A few notable moments include when it was attacked in 1264, the siege of Warwick Castle in 1642, and the fire that tore through the castle in 1871. Despite all of these setbacks, the castle has endured throughout history and still stands today.
It was kept by the Earls of Warwick before becoming the private residence of the Greville Family until 1978, when it became the property of the Tussauds Group, who later became Merlin Entertainment Group, in 2007.
It remains with the Merlin Entertainment Group to this day and they have turned the castle into a fun and interesting tourist destination. Indeed it’s one of the few English castles of its size that welcomes overnight visitors, as we shall see.
In the meantime, let’s have a look at the castle’s long and varied history…
Table of Contents
History of Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle was built by a king, became the seat of a kingmaker, and played a vital part in the War of the Roses and the English Civil War. Needless to say, it’s had a long and important history. It even housed a royal prisoner at one point.
The records of there being a walled-building in Warwick date back to the Saxon foundations built by the daughter of Alfred the Great, Ethelfleda.
The foundations were built to protect the area from invading Danes. It was constructed in 914 A.D. It’s incredible to think that the huge castle started life as a small fort built by the Saxons.
The Warwick Castle that we know and love today slowly came to life from 1068. The castle was a construction project for King William I, better known to historians as William the Conqueror.
It didn’t take long after the Battle of Hastings – in 1066 – for William to begin making his own mark on the country. The “castle” at this point was a wooden motte and bailey. The project to turn it into a stone castle wouldn’t be complete until the 13th century.
While the castle served William the Conqueror well it wasn’t until the Hundreds Year War that it became a notable footnote of British history.
It was during this war that it became an example followed by the architects of castles in the 14th and 15th century. The castles from that period were based on the best of the best and Warwick Castle was included among that list.
The castle has undergone several changes across the years. Some of those changes were because of changes in styles and tastes, some were for military reasons, and others were because of disaster.
One of the most famous changes to the castle came when following a fire in 1871.
While the two eastern towers of the castle can be traced back to the 14th and 15th century and the Great Hall was renovated in the 14th century, much of the interior of the castle – in particular the State Dining room – was remodelled in the 18th century.
Warwick Castle was where Edward IV was imprisoned in 1469. It would be held by the Duke of Gloucester in the 1480s before he would go on to become King Richard III.
It was an important part of the English Civil War in 1642 when it withstood a siege by the Royalist forces.
Who has Owned Warwick Castle?
Something that makes the castle so important and a key part of history is the story of the people – not to mention dynasties – that it has played host to over the years.
It has been owned by some prominent people throughout history, including the Earl of Warwick Richard Neville. Neville was a key figure in the War of the Roses and has been dubbed The Kingmaker by historians because of how important he was to the war.
Several families have been the custodians of Warwick Castle throughout history. It has always been closely connected to the royal family in some way or another.
It played an important role in the advancement and further development of castle design and construction.
It has been host to nobility from around the world and also hosted knight games that became a key part of the history and culture of medieval European history. It has since gone on to become one of the most popular tourist spots in England.
Some of the most famous families that have lived inside the walls as the Earls of Warwick are the Newburgh family (11th – 13th century), De Beauchamp (13th – 16th century), Dudley (16th century), Rich (17th to 18th century), and Greville (18th century to 20th century).
The castle has been taken over by the royal family twice across history. These days it is in the possession of the Tussauds Group, who now go by the name Merlin Entertainment Group. The group is the second large leisure group in the world behind Disney.
They purchased the castle from the Greville family in 1978. The Greville’s had owned the property for almost four centuries (374 years) at the point of sale.
Visiting Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle was opened to the public and now represents a key tourist attraction in England.
Tourists are able to go through the castle itself, the keeps and stables, as well as the 18-meter high trebuchet; the largest trebuchet in the world. There are daily displays and shows happening all the time.
As tourists explore the castle they will learn about the history and architecture of the castle. There’s also plenty of activities for children and adults happening with events scheduled all year round.
Take a look at the schedule to see what’s happening and prepare yourself for a lengthy stay as it can take up to 5 hours to see it all.
Staying at Warwick Castle
Visitors can even stay at the castle overnight if they want.
Families are sure to love the Knight’s Village which has themed accommodation including medieval-themed lodges and glamping tents.
To travel back in time book a stay in the Tower Suites. As the name implies, these suites are located in the 14th-century Caesar’s Tower. Enjoy a beautiful bed and breakfast stay in a 4-poster bed, private castle tours, 24-hour concierge services, complimentary champagne, and two-day tickets to the dungeons.
So, then, Warwick Castle is one of the finest and historic castles in England. And, even better, you can stay there…