Sunday, November 15, 2015

Warwick Castle

Executive summary by darmansjah

Warwick Castle is a medieval castle developed from an original built by William the Conqueror in 1068. Warwick is the county town of Warwickshire, England, situated on a bend of the River Avon. The original wooden motte-and-bailey castle was rebuilt in stone in the 12th century. During the Hundred Years War, the facade opposite the town was refortified, resulting in one of the most recognisable examples of 14th century military architecture. It was used as a stronghold until the early 17th century, when it was granted to Sir Fulke Greville by James I in 1604. Sir Fulke Greville converted it to a country house. It was owned by the Greville family, who became earls of Warwick in 1759, until 1978 when it was bought by the Tussauds Group.

Warwick Castle is situated in the town of Warwick, on a sandstone bluff at a bend of the River Avon. The river, which runs below the castle on the east side, has eroded the rock the castle stands on, forming a cliff. The river and cliff form natural defences. When construction began in 1068, four houses belonging to the Abbot of Coventry were demolished to provide room. The castle's position made it strategically important in safeguarding the Midlands against rebellion. During the 12th century, King Henry I was suspicious of Roger de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Warwick. To counter the earl's influence, Henry bestowed Geoffrey de Clinton with a position of power rivalling that of the earl.The lands he was given included Kenilworth – a castle of comparable size, cost, and importance, founded by Clinton – which is about 8 kilometres (5 mi) to the north. Warwick Castle is about 1.6 kilometres (1 mi) from Warwick railway station and less than 3.2 kilometres (2.0 mi) from junction 15 of the M40 motorway; it is also close to Birmingham International Airport.

Advent of tourism

Individuals had been visiting the castle since the end of the 17th century and this grew in importance through the 19th century. In 1858 Queen Victoria visited the 4th earl with great local celebrations. However by 1885 it would appear the visitors were becoming a nuisance as the earl closed the castle to visitors, causing consternation in the town. A local report stated, 'One day last week eight American visitors who were staying at one of the principal hotels left somewhat hurriedly in consequence of their being unable to gain admission to the castle'. It soon re-opened again and by 1900 had a ticket office and was employing a permanent guide. By 1936 Arthur Mee was enthusing not just that "these walls have seen something of the splendour of every generation of our [English] story", with rooms "rich in treasure beyond the dreams of avarice" but also that "their rooms are open to all who will". The collection of armoury on display at Warwick Castle is regarded as second only to that of the Tower of London.

Through the 20th century successive earls expanded its tourism potential until, in 1978, after 374 years in the Greville family, it was sold to a media and entertainment company, the Tussauds Group who opened it as a tourist attraction. Tussauds performed extensive restorations to the castle and grounds. In 2001, Warwick Castle was named one of Britain's "Top 10 historic houses and monuments" by the British Tourist Authority; the list included Tower of London, Stonehenge, and Edinburgh Castle. Warwick Castle was recognised as Britain's best castle by the Good Britain Guide 2003. Around this time it was getting in excess of half a million visitors a year.

Heritage protection

The castle is protected against unauthorised change as a Scheduled Ancient Monument in recognition of its status as a "nationally important" archaeological site or historic building, and is a Grade I listed building together with its boundary walls, stables, conservatory, mill and lodge.

In May 2007 Tussauds was purchased by Merlin Entertainments who continue to operate the castle on a lease, having sold the freehold to Nick Leslau's Prestbury Group on 17 July 2007.

On 23 June 2006, a £20,000 stained glass window was damaged by teenage vandals and a ceremonial sword stolen, recovered soon after

Seasonal exhibits

Other tourist attractions include "Flight of the Eagles'" (a bird show, featuring bald eagles, vultures, and sea eagles), archery displays, Jousting,"The Trebuchet Show" and "The Sword In The Stone Show". The Castle is also home to "The Castle Dungeon", a live actor experience similar to that of "London Dungeons". Warwick Castle is the subject of many ghost stories. One such instance is that of Fulke Greville who is said to haunt the Watergate Tower despite having been murdered in Holborn. The castle's reputation for being haunted is used as a tourist attraction with events such as "Warwick Ghosts Alive", a live-action show telling the story of Fulke Greville's murder.Musical events at the castle have included carolling, with performances by bands such as the Royal Spa Brass

Grounds and park

Formal gardens belonging to Warwick Castle were first recorded in 1534. Landscaping in the 17th century added spiral paths to the castle motte during Fulke Greville's programme of restoration. Francis Greville commissioned Lancelot Brown to relandscape the castle grounds; he began working on the grounds and park in 1749 and had completed his work by 1757, having spent about £2,293 (£260 thousand as of 2013). on the project.The gardens cover 2.8 square kilometres (690 acres). Robert Marnock created formal gardens in the castle's grounds in 1868–69. Started in 1743 and originally known as Temple Park, Castle Park is located to the south of the castle. Its original name derived from the Knights Templar, who used to own a manor in Warwick. Houses around the perimeter of the park were demolished and the land they stood on incorporated into the park. Attempts to make profits from the park in the late 18th century included leasing it for grazing, growing wheat, and keeping sheep.

A water-powered mill in the castle grounds was probably built under Henry de Beaumont, 1st Earl of Warwick. By 1398 the mill had been relocated to just outside the eastern castle walls, on the west bank of the River Avon. Both mills were subject to flooding. By 1644, an engine house had been added to the mill. The mill was reused as an electricity generating plant after it had stopped being used to grind, but once Warwick Castle was fitted with mains electricity in 1940, the mill was no longer required and was dismantled in 1954.Adjacent to the mill is The Mill Garden which is privately owned but open to the public. Interesting views of the castle can be seen from this garden .

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