Warwick Castle may be a family attraction now but a lot of history still derives there. Since I had watched Merlin I have wanted to visit Warwick castle, but never had the means of doing so. As of recently I was more than fortunate to visit the attraction with my family and when I got there I found that the Merlin side of things was a lot less interesting than the rest. The castle itself was by far one of my favourites. The Great Hall and State Rooms dating as far back as the castle itself. The more rooms you walk around the more about our history you discover and by our, I mean British history. Inside each room depicts the ages of history, up until the present day queen.
The Kingmaker is a close draw with being my favourite part of Warwick Castle. The Kingmaker depicts the life of Richard Neville and the War of the Roses. The stages that they went through to prepare for battle, such as crafting weapons. The grounds were more than entertaining with all the shows they had on such as horrible histories, jousting, birds of prey and more. The only thing that was a let-down for me was the fact the merchandise stores there had nothing for Merlin.
The amount of detail and effort that has been crafted into the exhibits at Warwick Castle is astonishing. They have talking wax works, or rather there are stereo systems that make it seem like they are talking. There are machines that circulate scents around certain rooms to depict what it may have smelled like in each room. Real people put on live shows that illustrate how things may have been in historical context. The exhibits in the State Rooms are also laid out realistically to portray how they would have lived.
One of my favourite attractions there I would have to say is the Castle Dungeons. I spent the whole week leading up to it scared, but I actually found it quite humorous. Granted, the final room scared the living daylight out of me, but it’s still a great attraction if it can affect you like that. I won’t give too many details on what’s inside, because it ruins it for all those who may visit, but each room within the dungeons demonstrates something different. It’s interactive too, so they randomly choose some of you to take part in their exhibits, which was quite fun to watch. Plus, if you’re not too scared you can listen to what the actors in character have to say and they give you small amounts of historical information about the beliefs of people in the days of the plague and folk tales from hundreds of years ago.
I live in Leamington Spa just a few miles from Warwick Castle and as a local resident I've been numerous times over the years.
Warwick castle was built on the bend of the River Avon which flows through the town. It dates back to the Saxon times but it was during the Norman conquest was it built into a motte-and-bailey castle and its since grown from there. WC has been a key battle ground in medieval times, exchanging hands often and was privately owned by the Greville family until 1978 when it was sold to the Tussauds group. Today it is a major attraction in the Midlands and is often voted one of the best castles in the UK because of how well preserved it is.
Location/Transport links/Car parking
The castle itself is very close to the town centre of Warwick in Warwickshire. There are regular buses which pass by or close to this and the local train station is about 10 minutes walk away with trains passing through from London and Birmingham often. The M40 and A46 are also close by and accessible to/from the castle. Journey time from London is about 2 1/2 hours depending on the train service you get and about 45 minutes from bham, again service dependant. It is important to note that Leamington Spa is the "bigger" station and gets more trains stopping at it, this is about 2 miles away so you could in theory get a quicker/cheaper train here and catch a short taxi ride for about £7 to the castle direct or even catch a bus for less if this easier to you. The M40 and A46 junctions are less than 1 mile away from the entrance and it should be fully sign posted. There is a car park in the castle available which I believe you have to pay for, I haven't been and parked so I cannot advise further but take loose change just in case.
despite the fact Warwick has the castle its actually much smaller than Leamington. If you are spending additional time in the area if you plan on going shopping Leamington is much better for this. Warwick town centre is quite small but it does have a good array of pubs, restaurants and other eateries if you wish. Leamington and Warwick are joined together, there is nothing which separates them so you might find yourself in Leamington without knowing it. The traffic in between the 2 towns can often be very bad so if you do come I advise missing the rush hour traffic (typically 8am-9am & 5pm-6pm) believe me it can take over an hour to travel less than a mile on "bad" days so try to arrive/leave before or after these times if you can.
As WC is part of the Merlin group is is always available on some sort of offer such as BOFOF, or 50% off deals, with deals such as these floating about check discount websites before leaving so you do pay over the odds. If you don't have any of these vouchers to hand book online for 25% off £25.50 per adult and £21.50 for a child, on the door these are £30.60 and £25.80 however the advance prices change according to how far in advance you book, the further in advance you book the better the price so its worth looking out for the best deal as you will save lots of money.
Once paid up you will go through a court yard area before making your way towards the castle, you will cross the bridge before being in the castles central court yard, on the outside of the castle there is several activities taking place so keep an eye out for these.
Once inside there is sooo much to see. As it is one of the best preserved castles in the UK there is proper rooms, halls etc to visit all with varying access levels so get a map or view a map and decide on what you wish to see first. I would recommend the chapel and great hall rooms, these are truly wonderful and do get busy so I would advise going to these first. There are also 2 big towers which you can walk up, these are not good for those who struggle to walk as they are narrow and steep but good fun and worth it once you get to the top if you can make it that is, from here you will see the sights of Warwick. Some of the activities will vary on the season (summer holiday activities are popular) so its best to look online as they do often open up different areas and have different things on show but its all good fun for all ages.
The castle has numerous shops and cafes to buy food and gifts from, its not cheap but it is good for what it is. When I went I had a lunch and drink for under £10 so for a family of 4 this will be expensive. If the weather is nice I would advise taking your own as there are plenty of benches and grass areas to sit on. The gift shops sell an array of stationary, toys and other items all reasonably priced. The castle also has banquet evenings on which can be booked but I have never been to one of these so cannot comment on where you would be seated or how good the food is, I'm told its nice but have not tried it myself.
As mentioned above some areas will be inaccessible to those in wheelchairs or struggle with mobility. It is an old castle so its to be expected but where possible it has been adapted to suit everybody's needs. The out door attraction and activities are better accessible than inside but its worth contracting the castle direct for further assistance should you require this.
WC is a nice attraction to go and see, its by no means cheap but if you have discount vouchers its worth a look. I myself on my last visit spent less than £30 for my entrance and lunch but if you take your own lunch this will be reduced. Travelling to/from castle is quite simple (if you miss rush hour traffic) and will vary depending on your location. Its worth a look, it is one of the best castles in the UK, its often compared to the Tower of London as both are well preserved but TofL its cheaper and easier to get to. If you came here I would recommend at least 4 hours to see everything.
**Just for Halloween**
If you go down to the castle this week beware; pumpkins, skeletons and a few witches have taken over Warwick Castle. The castle has been well and truly Halloweenised from 22nd - 31st October 2011. The first glimpse of the decorations is in the courtyard where you pay to enter the castle, where an old fashioned cart is piled high with pumpkins and staff dressed in medieval costumes dish out bowls of warming vegetable broth to the waiting crowds.
Walking through the turnstiles I gasped as I saw what had been done to the perimeter area of the castle outside of the moat. It looked superb with pumpkins placed tastefully in clumps around the base of wrought iron lights, around the ballista and the stocks where you can have your photo taken with 'witch' or 'drunkard' signs. A grave yard has been set up with grave stones again decorated with pumpkins and even a skeleton emerging from a coffin. My photographs should give you an idea of the artistic manner in which you arrive at the draw bridge to cross the moat and enter the castle under the portcullis. Yet more spooky decorations adorn the central courtyard, the greatest spectacle being the giant steaming cauldron with black raven perched on the edge and purple robed witch standing nearby - a real draw for children to have their photographs taken with. A number of children arrived wearing their fancy dress Halloween outfits which also added to the atmosphere.
It's not just the exterior of the castle that has received the decorative treatment. The state rooms also look decidedly creepy. Three huge pumpkins residing on the vast wooden sideboard have been carved with the words 'THE HAUNTED CASTLE'. The people having lunch in the state dining room seem to have perished a number of years ago, but their skeletons are still enjoying their meal amidst the lavishly strewn cobwebs. The scientist is having fun dissecting bodies and watch out for Dracula as he tries to tempt you into his coffin. Children can come into the state rooms for story time and listen to some ghostly stories or even have a go at making spells and potions. My children are too old for this now so we didn't participate in these activities to be able to comment. For the teenager and adults plenty of scares could be had in the Seance, which is rated on the programme sheet for the day to have the highest scare factor of 'terrifying'. Listening to the warnings that people were being given on entry this activity is not for the faint hearted or people who don't like the dark. It sounded like a walk through adventure where lots of spooky happenings would be going on, but with so many other activities to participate in throughout the day, we never made it into this one.
Of the Halloween specific activities, we did go for the Ghost tour, but left after a while as we were disappointed to discover that actually this was two actors telling stories about the various ghosts who are said to inhabit the towers and not a tour around. The group of tourists who had gathered for this was quite large so I can see that it wouldn't be practical to traipse around the castle together. Information placards were dotted around the castle to give an insight into the castles ghostly history. The owls were out to demonstrate their flying, but maybe they would have preferred to wait until after dark. What a spectacular setting in which to watch the falconer display his birds. A huge eagle owl perched on a post right in front of where we were standing with the backdrop of the castle mound and towers - stunning. The owls could also be visited at other parts of the day along with the other birds of prey at the Birds of Prey mews.
Alongside all of these special seasonal activities all of Warwick Castles' regular attractions are open for visitors to enjoy. Have a walk around the castle ramparts and climb four of the towers to see far reaching views of the historic city of Warwick. A sign at the beginning does warn not to climb if you are not fit or have a heart condition. From personal experience I would advise against climbing it if you are pregnant as I ended up in hospital the day after exerting myself here, with raised blood pressure before I had my eldest daughter. In some other castles you are able to enter some of the tower rooms as you walk around but for some reason at Warwick, all of these doors are closed with no entry available, which I felt was a shame as it is then less difficult to get a feel of what times were like back in history.
If you do want to look inside a tower then one is designated as a special attraction; Merlin the Dragon Tower. A £3.60 entry charge is made to visit this and timed tickets need to be purchased. Having visited Pierrefond Castle near Paris where the BBC programme, Merlin, is actually filmed and having such a fantastic experience there we didn't feel the need to go into this area. Another tour that is available at an additional charge is the Castle Dungeon which is rated as very scary and costs £7.80 per person. We did find it annoying that when people have paid an entry fee that there are further charges inside as well, although there is more than enough to fill the 7 hours between 10 and 5 that the castle is open without needing to do these things. Archery also costs £3 per person.
The Kingmaker exhibition is however free. This is an exhibition within the main castle buildings that incorporates figures made by Madame Tussauds. Walking through a series of stone cellar like rooms with arched roofs, you are led through the preparations of Richard Neville, the then 16th Earl of Warwick's men as they get ready to go to battle to fight for the Lancastrians in the War of the Roses in 1471. This gives a real insight into what life would have been like in the castle at this time. The blacksmiths are making armour and weapons, the wheelwrights are making carts, the large working horse is there wearing his armour and even the women are preparing clothes and food for the army. There is great attention to detail with sound tracks playing and realistic smells helping to take you back 600 years in time. Signs on the walls enable those who wish to read more about the tradesmen's roles in the preparations. This is excellent for young children and should really help to grip their imagination. The tour ends in a typical tourist shop. Shops are also available at the entrance and outside the dungeons and all sell castle themed souvenirs such as books, medieval dressing up clothes for princesses and knights, tea towels and children's stationery items with castle logos and old maps to name but a few. Sweets and ice creams are also included.
Leaving the Kingmaker exhibition it may be time to walk up the winding path around the mound that was the original part of the castle dating back to 1068 when it had a wooden stockade built on it by William the Conqueror. In 1260 a stone keep replaced this, but there is now no trace of this - the top is bare - a missing essential part of a proper castle. However, from here you can see across towards the river Avon and the castle's island. The remainder of the castle was built in the latter part of the 14th century As you leave the mound a path leads to the footbridge across the river Avon and immediately ahead of you is the mighty Trebuchet. This is probably the castle's main attraction and is a fully working mock up of the magnificent weapon that was used at the time of the civil war. Twice a day a team will re-enact the firing of a fireball from this enormous wooden structure. Pumpkins adorned the Trebuchet and I was disappointed to find that a mere fireball would be fired instead of pumpkins! Visitors sit on the sloping banks on the castle side of the river to watch this spectacle. I would highly recommend watching this as it really does bring history alive and both my children were brought to the castle on school trips when they were seven to watch this for just that reason. Safety precautions are in place and the island is fully cleared of visitors 45minutes before firing is planned. Take time to walk on the island when it is open though. Great views of the imposing high walls of the living parts of the castle which abut the river banks can be gained from here. The boathouse is pretty on the banks and the island is a great natural playground with plenty of fallen logs to climb on and places to hide and seek. At advertised times through the year impressive jousting displays with brightly decorated horses and knights are held on the island and are a must to see.
While you are out walking around the grounds it is well worth walking up the conservatory and the peacock garden. The conservatory looks good from the outside but it doesn't have much in it - what a waste, it would look so good with orange and lemon trees growing inside. The colourful peacock garden has 2 types of peacock resident in it, ones sculpted from hedges and the real variety. They were a bit scruffy at this time of year with their tail feathers moulting, so sadly no impressive tail displays from them. The peacocks are free to roam and you may come across them anywhere in the castle, but especially around the picnic area!
Lastly we headed back along the base of the castle walls along the river bank to the mill. Recently the water wheel has been restored and it is so good to see that electricity is being generated at the castle again. A walk through the peaceful rose garden or a play on the Pageant playground, a fort like wooden play area, could nicely finish off your day as you head back to the entrance.
We took a picnic as I remembered that last time we visited the castle there wasn't much food available and what was there was quite pricey. However, that all seems to have changed now and food in plentiful. In the central courtyard and on the walk down to the island a number of medieval tents are home to food vendors. Do you fancy hotdogs, BBQ, jacket potatoes, fish and chips, ice cream or waffles. Our chips cost £2 for a large portion of very hot crispy chips which seemed quite reasonable. Hot and cold drinks were about £2 each, and one scoop ice creams, of every flavour under the sun were £1.90, just to give you a rough idea of prices. The Undercroft restaurant is a carvery with prices of £8.25 for adults and £5.25 for children, and there is a further restaurant at the entrance. Picnic benches are available near the Peacock garden and the river or there is masses of space to lay out a picnic blanket and enjoy the sun.
**Some practical details**
Warwick Castle is part of the Merlin chain of tourist attractions in England, along with the likes of Alton Towers, the London Eye and Madam Tussauds. As such if you have a Merlin annual pass as we do you can get in for free. My daughter was able to use her Blue Peter badge for free entry too and Tesco vouchers can be converted to give drastically reduced entry admission too. For those unlucky enough to have to pay full price several packages are available:
Castle, dungeons and Merlin tower: from £26.88
Castle and Merlin Tower: from £20.64
Castle and Dungeons: from £23.04
Up to 20% can be saved by buying ahead of time online and a second day of entry can be purchased for just £1 if you haven't seen enough first time around.
Access to the castle grounds is good with concrete paths are suitable for wheelchair users, although there are quite a few gentle slopes . I did see some wheelchair lifts giving access to some internal areas. Obviously the ramparts are not accessible.
The postcode for the castle is CV34 4QU. We left the M40 at junction 15 and followed the sign posts to the castle which is only about a mile from here.
The castle charges £6 to park in the grounds, even for blue badge holders. You are required to purchase a token from a machine to operate the exit barrier. This seems excessive, but signs justify that this money is needed for the castle upkeep.
For further information about the castle and for greater historical detail than I have had space to include please go to http://www.warwick-castle.com.
I'd really recommend Warwick castle for a day out for all ages, except babies and small toddlers, and do watch out for special events going on such as these Halloween ones and it deserves a full five stars.
This review also appears on ciao under the same user name, MelissaRuth.
My husband and I decided that we were going to go away for a weekend. However, closer to the time, we decided that it would not have been a good idea, as the costs mount up! So, we settled on 2 days out around the Midlands instead. Yesterday, we went to Warwick Castle. We travelled there by car, and was easy to find using their directions from our tickets we printed at home. Also, it is very well signposted if you leave the M40 at J15.
I strongly recommend booking online. We booked the "Kingdom Ticket" online, which gave us access to the Castle, the Dungeons and the Merlin Tower. It cost us £20.58, which for two of us, was reasonable for a while day out. However, if you are going as a family, I can see that it would get expensive! You can purchase tickets for any combination of the above 3 attractions, which means you can get entry into the Dungeons and Merlin tower cheaper than if you buy tickets on the day.
You can have a wide range of different tickets, from 1 day tickets, 2 day tickets, flexi tickets, group bookings, Warwick annual passes or Merlin annual passes! I would recommend booking online, as you can print your tickets at home and go straight to the turnstiles when you get to the Castle, rather than standing in the ticket office line.
When we arrived, we were given a leaflet about the Castle, which had a brief synopsis of each part of the Castle, so we could decide where we wanted to go and a map. Also, straight after we arrived, we were given directions to the Lodge Shop so that we could go and collect our time of entry into the Dungeons.
When we arrived, there were still 10 minutes to go before it opened, however there were families with children waiting around for the gates to open, so an actor dressed up in period costume came out to entertain the kids, which I thought was a nice touch.
Great Hall and State Rooms: We went here first, and I really enjoyed it. The Great Hall was open to the public, even though it was being set up for a wedding and the tables had been dressed ready for a sit down dinner. The Great Hall sets the scene of battles, with Armour and Swords from all periods of history and giving details of the battles which have been fought. There were 2 actors in the Great Hall who stayed in character at all times and were really fascinating. They would walk past having loud conversations as though they really were the Aristocracy and greet everyone at the door with "Hello! Welcome to my house! Well... Fathers house...". The State Rooms were really interesting to me as well, as they were dressed as different time periods, such as "Late 19th Century", "Early 18th Century" etc. It told you a bit about what each room was used for, for example, the Drawing room. Having inherited my dads interest in history, this was definitely a must-see of Warwick Castle.
Merlin, The Dragon Tower: We went here next, as when we booked online, we had to chose a time for entry into The Dragon Tower. Again, there were actors dressed in period costume who gave you a bit of background about the history, however it was subject to a bit of 'historical licence' as it included details about characters from the BBC programme Merlin. The actor who was inside was very good and really got the kids involved. I enjoyed this aspect, although I knew nothing about the BBC programme, if you have seen it, it is probably a must-see atteaction, as it also includes props from the BBC show, such as a battle shield carried by one of the characters.
The Dungeons: We went here next. I was quite excited to see the Dungeons, as I am quite a fan of Thrillers etc. Having previously visited the London Dungeons, I could see quite a few similarities, for example, the Courtroom scene and the "Labyrinth of Lost Souls" which were pretty much the same! However, there were some differences, such as the information about the plague being in a different scene from the London Dungeons. The live actors were what really made in come alive, though, in my opinion, as they really gave it their all and made the atmosphere electric.
Kingmaker: I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the Castle. It follows Richard Neville, the Kingmaker, as the household prepares for the Battle of Barnet in 1471. You can follow the preparations for the battle, such as the making of weapons, the armour etc and showed how everyone in the household had a part to play in making the men ready for battle; even down to women and children sewing battle costumes, the Blacksmith putting horseshoes on the horses and the table of herbs to create medicines with! Also, the smells around the displays are supposed to be true to life as to how it would have smelt at the time... including the rather pungent smells :-s Also, there is a running commentary on the walls, which told you of the realities for battle, including the one that stated that the life expectancy for the time was your late 20's!
Secrets and Scandals of the Royal Weekend Party: Again, this part of the Castle had live actors who really made the scene come alive. It tells the scene from the point of view of Daisy, the Wife of the Duke of Warwick. You go on a journey through the preparations for a party for the Aristocracy of Victorian society. Not only the plans for the party, but also of the life of Victorian Aristocracy, for example, the common knowledge that Maynard, the son of Daisy, was not fathered by the Duke of Warwick!
Towers and Ramparts: Not for the faint hearted! This walk takes you around the Towers and Ramparts of the Castle, with 530 steps, it really makes for a good walk! My legs were fairly jelly-like as I got back to floor level! It is highly recommended, as it gives some brilliant views of the Castle, Warwick and Leamington! It is a one way walk, so if you decide you don't like the height, you can't go back! You ascend the steps of Guys Tower and Caesars Tower. Guys Tower really is magnificent, especially as it is still standing from 1395 and really is an attraction of Warwick Castle in itself!
The Mill and Engine House: This attraction was most interesting. It features the water wheel which originally helped to power the Castle before the arrival of mains electricity in Warwick in the 1940. The water wheel originally fell into disrepair, however it was restored by Warwick Castle and the funds that are paid by the public from your entrance fee; there was no external funding for the project. It takes you back to the innovation which powered the castle and changed the life of the occupants. Although I'm not engineering minded, it was definitely recommended!
Princess Tower: We didn't go here, however small children can go and learn what it takes to become a princess, have story time and an audience with Warwick royalty!
Goal: An underground cavern in the castle outlines some of the punishments which befell some of the prisoners of the Castle, including descriptions and chains which still hang on the walls. Also, you can see inscriptions in the walls made by the incarcerated. A truly creepy experience, I thought, more so than the dungeons.
Pageant playground: An adventure playground for children of all ages, including Toddlers, as a mini playground is also included.
Jousting and Warwick Warriors: We did not see these shows, as they are summer attractions, which end in the last week of september, however, from the descriptions, they would be worth a summer visit.
Flight of the Eagles: This was definitely enjoyable. We didn't intend to see the Birds of Prey, as we hadn't realised it was on, but as we came out of an attraction, the bird handler was starting his show in the courtyard, so we saw it. It featured some incredible birds of prey, although I don't know much about different birds of prey, it was really informative and seeing these huge birds swoop around the castle, over your heads and landing on the Ramparts was an incredible sight.
The Trebuchet: I didn't see this happen, which was a shame. However, you can see the world largest siege machine being fired on a twice daily basis.
Most of the Attractions are set around the central courtyard of the Castle. The map you are provided with makes for a much easier experience of finding your way around!
There are gift shops located around the Castle, one on your way in/out and one by the dungeons, which contains plenty of the touristy type souvenirs, historical books and of course, wooden swords and shields for the kids!
There are food outlets around the courtyard, i.e. "Courtyard hotdogs", "Courtyard Grill" and "Courtyard BBQ" where you could buy a variety of food. However, it is quite pricey. There are no objections to you taking your own picnic with you. There is plenty of grassy space for you to sit down, park benches and picnic benches for you to make use of!
While you sit down, actors wonder around and speak to you about your day. Someone came to help us figure out where we wanted to go next, which I thought was nice.
I found that this was one of the best days out I have ever been on. It was very interesting, I learnt a lot about history and also was able to appreciate the historical aspects as I have an interest in history. Also, as you go around , you can speak to the actors around the place. I found that one of the actors in the Great Hall was really informative and gave me more insight into the period than was given by the information, it was clearly a passion of his and was able to make that come across to the customer. All around the Castle, the actors are incredibly helpful, informative and descriptive. There is a wide range of things to see, and really is a great family day as there are so many different attractions and shows to see.
We have just spent the bank holiday weekend up at Alton Towers. To break up the journey home we decided to visit Warwick Castle on the way.
*What is it and where is it?*
Warwick Castle describes itself as 'Britain's Ultimate Castle'. It is a large castle with many attractions including a Princess Tower, the Central Courtyard and a Gaol (jail). You also get the opportunity to see the interior of the castle and there are many things going on outside including jousting and catapult firing. There is also now 'The Castle Dungeon' which involves a tour around the castles dungeons with live actors (there is an additional charge for this).
Warwick Castle is located in Warwick. It is easily accessible from road and rail. The castle is easy to find, we followed the brown signs and found that it was signposted really well from the motorway. The castle is less than 2 miles from junction 15 off of the M40. For those using sat nav the postcode is CV34 4QU but like I said, we didn't bother using ours as it was so easy to find. Warwick train station is just 1 mile from Warwick Castle so it is easy to reach by public transport too.
*Arriving at the castle*
When we got to the castle, 20 minutes after it opening there was a large queue to get into the grounds down the main road outside! When you get into the grounds the car parks are well signposted but we had to park a 10 minute walk away from the castle itself because it was very busy. If you are disabled there are spaces near the entrance of the castle, however it is worth noting that because the castle is a heritage site there are narrow doorways and steep steps so it may be better to ring ahead and see if it will be suitable for you. You do have to pay for car parking, it is £8.00 for premium car parking which is next to admissions or £5 for parking everywhere else.
So when we finally got to admissions there was a long queue to buy tickets. As we have Merlin Annual Passes, we were allowed to join the queue to go straight through and we were in within 5 minutes so we weren't waiting too long.
There were lots of people about dressed in character costumes such as knights, guards and princesses, there was even a horse. All of the staff were taking their time to speak to as many people as possible, especially the children which I thought was a nice touch making us feel very welcome.
These are a few of the attractions that are included with the standard entrance fee
The Mound: The Mound was built in 1068 and was very important in the castles defence system. You walk up long ramps to get up to the top, then once you get to the top it provides a brilliant viewing point for the grounds. When you leave to go back down there are a few steps. It would probably be ok for pushchairs if you can carry them up/down a few steps however I would not recommend it for those relying on a wheelchair. This attraction took us about 20 minutes, however I imagine the top would be a nice place to sit for half an hour and possibly have lunch.
The Princess Tower: The Princess Tower is home to Princess Arabella, here little princesses are invited to play and try on their very own princess costumes. You are not allowed to just go into the tower when you like, you will need to secure tickets to the 'show' for particular times throughout the day. Tickets are free but are limited so it is important to get them early on in the day.
The Royal Weekend Party (1898): In 1898, the Countess of Warwick hosted a party and invited guests such as the future Edward VII and Winston Churchill. Here, we see what happened at this party and also see some of the outfits and furnishings that were there at the time. This was really interesting and the kids enjoyed it aswell which was good as I was unsure if they would. There was plenty to see and there were also staff in costume in there acting in character which made it fun. This part of the castle took us around 30 minutes.
The Great Hall and the State Rooms: The Great Hall is of course the largest room in the castle and here you will find armour, weapons and an impressive fireplace. There was plenty to see in here and again there were staff acting in character which the kids found to be great fun. Also here you get to see the Red Drawing Room, the Dining Room and also learn more about Henry VII and his six wives. The kids found this bit especially interesting as they have recently studied this at school. These rooms were really interesting and we all enjoyed having a look around. There was plenty to see and you could quite easily spend an hour looking around here. Photography is permitted which is nice as there is plenty to take pictures of!
The Trebuchet: This is a large catapult set in the grounds of the garden. Twice a day, they will fire the catapult allowing the visitors a chance to see how it works. This is very impressive and it is really interesting to see how it works. The showing of the Trebuchet from start to finish takes about 20 minutes.
The Tower: It is also worth taking a climb up to the castles towers, it is 530 steps but there are plenty of points to stop and have a rest if you need to. This is very impressive and the view from the top is beautiful. The kids were amazed at the staircases and found them much more fun than ours at home! This will take around 30 minutes.
Pageant Playground: This is the large playground on site for children. There is plenty to do here including slides, ropes, swings, tubes and rock climbing. There is also a smaller playground for toddlers to play in.
*The Castle Dungeon*
The Castle Dungeon is new for the castle, it has an additional charge of £7.50 per person for a tour which lasts around 40 minutes. Now I have to admit, I was a little bit scared about going in here and so were the kids! It is not recommended for the under 10's and if you leave for any reason there is no refund. However we wanted to go in and experience it and we are all really glad that we did.
You will go round the dungeons in a group of about 20, you are on your own walking around the dungeon however you cannot get lost. There are live actors waiting for you at certain points of the dungeons so you are not really alone, only walking from room to room.
The dungeons take you back to 1345 when the plague was taking lives. You will see a nurse who tells you about the plague, you will also visit a torture room, a court room and even experience an execution!
The visitors are encouraged to take part in the tour and somebody is asked to join in in every room. Beware, you don't really get a choice whether or not you join in, one girl was picked and she asked if she had to and she was basically told yes! Therefore, I spent the entire tour staring at the ground praying not to get picked. However, 3 times out of 4 opportunities my partner did get picked - its ok though he did come out in one piece!
We all enjoyed our tour, it was scary but not as bad as we had anticipated! We will be visiting the other dungeons such as the one in London. I think it is worth the £7.50 entrance fee as it was fun and we all came out saying it was probably the favourite part of our day.
*Eating and Shopping*
There is an indoor restaurant which serves Carvery (charging something like £7.95 for adults and £4.95 for children) or otherwise there are plenty of stands offering food such as BBQ, pancakes and hotdogs. Prices are quite high, for example a burger/hotdog from the BBQ is priced at £4.25 and does not come with any sides or drinks.
You are welcome to bring your own food and there are plenty of places to sit and eat a picnic, the central courtyard was full of people having their lunch and there are also plenty of other places to sit.
There is a main gift shop on the way out of the park or there are two smaller shops within the castle itself, one of which also sells dungeon merchandise. There was plenty available here and prices were reasonable, for example a small notepad with a pen cost £2.50.
It is worth noting you can currently save 20% online by booking in advance.
Otherwise, if you are paying on the door expect to pay:
Child (4-16): £11.95
Family (2+2): £55.00
You can also buy all inclusive tickets at the kiosk for both the castle and the dungeons, these work out slightly cheaper than buying them separately, for example and adult it £25.45 and a child is £17.50.
Currently there seems to be a 2 for 1 offer on which is certainly worth checking out!
We really enjoyed our day here and we will certainly visit again. Ticket prices are high but booking online proves to be a lot cheaper and therefore a much more reasonable day out. The castle is fantastic for families as there is so much for everyone to do. The castle is probably best for a nice summers day as a lot of the attractions are outside.
Our favourite part of the castle was the dungeons and I would recommend checking these out if you are planning on visiting the castle, it adds a lot more to the day and gives you something different which you cannot experience on the rest of the castle grounds.
The castle is a really beautiful place to visit and was a big hit with all of us. It seems to be a very popular attraction as it was absolutely packed yesterday!
To find out more, please visit http://www.warwick-castle.co.uk/default.aspx?css=1 or telephone 0871 265 2000
Thanks for reading :)
~~~~For one Knight only~~~
Proudly announcing the ever so slightly much anticipated tale of our long planned, mini-weekend quest for the family in Warwick, brought to you in association with a freebie points overnighter at the nearby Holiday Inn Express.
Our most recent visit in July, coincided with some kind of music festival weekend of events going on at the castle An eclectic mix indeed with Friday night starring JLS, Saturday night a Queen tribute and a Sunday night the British Proms. We came down on the Saturday night - and all the omens were good. Flicking onto John Barrowman's light entertainment cheese fest - none other than Dionne "Warwick" was the guest star - meant to be or what?!
But, I hear you cynics cry, this is so much more than just a castle, this is a Madame Tussauds / London Dungeon / Chessington / SeaLife family marketing production.
Don't let that put you off - the key here is preparation, and especially at this time of year you'll find the supermarkets are awash with 2-for-1 deals at these properties.
As you'll hopefully come to agree as you read on, for 3 adults and a babba, £10 a head (as apposed to the standard £19.95 or even £22.95 with Dungeon per adult) for a quality attraction like this, has to be money well spent in my book.
They still manage to sneak in an extra £4 all day parking charge for the Castle Grounds, but let's face it, with our son already dressed in Early Learning Centre's finest full body armour, shield and foam sword; there can be no turning back.
It's time to take the Castle by Storm.
~~~~~The Devlin is in the Detail~~~~
After the epic 5 minute woodland stroll from the car park, we are greeted at the gate in true noble fashion.
A battle scarred knight greets us all and gives our little soldier some exciting news. At 1.15pm, all the brave warrior children will meet by the Trebuchet display (more on that later) to help Devlin the Dragon Slayer on his brave quest. Let's just say, one completely satisfied customer, before we'd even paid our way in.
His mate, the "rat catcher", maybe not quite so exciting (although I could certainly see a career for him in afternoon cabaret), but still very much a part of the whole stage setting routine.
~~~~The Pageant Playground~~~~
Over the years, having lived for a time in and around Birmingham, me and the good lady had paid a few visits to the Castle and had always enjoyed our days there. But here we were with babba in tow, racking our brains as to whether we'd ever actually seen a playground area. Once again Warwick delivered the goods.
Just through the entrance gates, on the left hand side, there's a little wooden banner, proclaiming the way to the Pageant playground. Like so many of these naturalistic play areas you find these days, the wooden theme runs throughout, with miniature forts, slides, swings and seesaws suitable for a range of different ages.
The big highlight for our little fella was most definitely the zip slide, suitable for aged 5 or over (or big 4 year olds in our case - providing daddy was on hand at the other end to steady the impact), where they sit on the black rubber circle and hopefully keep a firm grip on the rope.
Being world renowned for my propensity to sniff out a tea break at the earliest opportunity, naturally it didn't pass my attention that there's a hot drinks and snacks stall on hand with a couple of picnic tables to help build the strength for all the wall climbing adventuring to come.
~~~~Once more unto the breach dear friends~~~~
Arriving at the Castle gates around 10.45am gave us the chance to catch the last parts of an archery demonstration by an extremely knowledgeable and entertaining chap who we'd both remembered from a few years back. No question in my mind- all the Castle team really do genuinely seem to enjoy what they do - it shines through.
Another treat was to see the lowering and raising of the original portcullis. Again the same chap really did his utmost to create the atmosphere, fire up the imaginations, his voice projecting here, there and everywhere. Taking us back to the days of the War of the Roses, and the critical role that Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick played in determining the eventual outcome. Whipped into a frenzy, by our leader, we began to cry out "Warwick oh Warwick!" to show our loyalties.
However given that he eventually sided with Henry Tudor of Lancashire following dutifully as a crowd we were then encouraged to pledge allegiance to said county in order to gain admittance. Needless to say, my proud Yorkie wife, managed to conveniently skip that bit, and once they got the flimsy looking wooden block securing the gate back in position, we charged on through.
~~~~We're the Kings of the Castle~~~
Of course, the first mission for any knight worth his salt is to boldly climb to the flag of the tallest tower in order to rescue any fair maiden who might happen to be in the vicinity. Through the gates and round to the right, there's an inviting looking walkway from which to begin your quest.
That's all well and good, but as ever, be prepared. Overall, there are some 150 steps to ascend, and the main central tower, consists of a classic dimly lit and spiralling original stone staircase that just seems to go on and on. So if you've got little ones with you, make sure they are ok with the dark, and if they are likely to struggle physically, be certain you've got enough muscle power and surefootedness to get to them safely to the top.
The views over the castle grounds, Warwick and the surrounding countryside are spectacular though, and I recommend taking a few minutes rest to soak them up and prepare for the downward trip. Just to set little one at ease, I took on the descent (which does have railings all the way) backwards, one step at a time, and it wasn't too tricky in the end. There's a couple smaller towers and exhibits to explore, so it's a mercifully gradual return to terra firma.
~~~~Feasting time - just like days of yore~~~~
Funnily enough, all that walking had helped me work up a bit of an appetite. Walk out through the gate at the far end of the courtyard, and hey presto - plenty more food options.
Now, the Mowenpick icecream stall was always going to be a big draw, but we took our time, looked at the jacket potatoes, sandwich options and other stalls further up the grassy bank before finally settling on a nutritionally optimized Sunday lunch.
OK I admit it, it was pancakes all round!
Still, I chose a savoury ham and cheese version which was very filling (but leaving enough room to help my son polish off his chocolate variety). Over to our right, a falconry display was in full swing, a mighty eagle sweeping through the sky. Time for us lads to spread our wings a little and take on a fresh challenge. No better way, I know to gain a stitch and get dizzy straight after eating than rolling down the grassy bank and then charging back up.
Eventually my wife put an end to the madness and rewarded us each with a mighty chocolate cone. Frankly those looming sky hawks were starting to unnerve her, so we returned to the main courtyard.
~~~~Wax, battle hacks or dungeon cracks anyone?~~~~
Over by the main gateway, there's the relatively recent edition to the Castle, the Warwick Dungeon. As it was a separately priced attraction and given my son's distinct lack of age and fortitude for such matters, we skipped the Dungeon.
Grannie was permitted a few minutes to take in the Kingmaker exhibit which tells the story of said Neville, and how he eventually met his own demise at the Battle of Barnet (seemed a funny meeting place for a Yorks vs Lancs scrap to me but hey that's history for you). Feeding in from the mother chain once more, there's a special Victorian weekend party waxwork exhibition in recognition of the castle's role in more recent times. With a few live actors thrown in to add to the occasion.
If none of that appeals, you can always take a quick stroll around the great hall and armoury displays. If you are after a proper meal, there's a splendid courtyard restaurant to be discovered.
And finally for any little princesses in waiting there's a special Princess tower on hand to be explored.
Our little fella's attention was drawn to the once maligned rat catcher, who appeared to have some kind of rat hurling contest (featuring ultimately lifelike bean bags) for the gathered childlike masses. But he was merely the warm up act, as they prepared to reel out the big guns.
As the time rolled around to 1pm, it was time to gather on the river bank. The crossing temporarily closed, all eyes on the mighty wooden contraption being prepared across the way.
This apparently was the ultimate siege weapon back in the day. Basically tons of rock, pinning down one enormous catapult mechanism. How does it get the fire power?
Basically one enormous human version of a hamster wheel - that's how! As our miked up armour clad host bellowed out the facts on this stunning piece of ancient weaponry, we witnessed the collective scrabbling of a bold collective of humanity, cranking it up for all they were worth. Turns out they are no elite combat force, merely the willing volunteers picked out from today's visitors.
After nigh-on 10 minutes of prepping (really you don't want to miss with this thing given the time it takes to reload!), we were rewarded with the stunning visual of a 200 pound wooden ball, being hurled a good 500 metres through the air (mercifully in a controlled way into an entirely empty part of the river grounds) before we were swept along to our next adventure.
~~~~The wise adult keepeth his trap shut~~~~
Our Dragon hunter was in full voice, leading the crowd up the bank to a clearing of trees. He gathered all the little warriors into a circle and fiercely ensured their attention (and possibly that of any health and safety officers present) by expertly wielding a silver tipped spear as his tale began to unfold. He told of the Dragon Slayer, who was getting too old for it all, and how his brave son Devlin came through when the Castle needed him most.
Best of all , he secured an investment of £200,000 from Theo and Duncan (ok maybe not but it was certainly an impressive pitch...). He then set the children a few riddles to give them the opportunity to get a map that would lead them to the dragon's lair.
Wary of the surrounding parentage, he warned that it would have to be the child answering on their own - strictly no help was allowed. Question after question passed our brave little four year old fella by. In the end, his sad look of desperation to find an answer was just too much for me to bear. The whole group were particularly foxed by the following - "I am heavy going forwards but not backwards". My razor sharp brain could take it no more. A careless whisper was all it took - I should've known better...
A solitary, tiny hand goes up - "What's the answer brave soldier?" "Ton" replies little man with complete confidence. "Explain?" says the Dragon man...."Errrrr...."
The game was up, all eyes on me, the Daddy who just wanted to make his son proud. "I think 10 press ups should do it" he said with a mischievous glint in the eye.
My son, well practiced in supporting the team, dutifully got down on his hands and knees ready to oblige "Not you, your Dad!"
Luckily my arms well practiced from the art of responding to "Can I 'ave a carry?" were able to deliver the 10 in good style. To a raucous applause, I took my bow.
Memories are made of the cheeky little grin as our treasure was rewarded with his map. I'd do it again, I tell you. We'll be back!
Warwick castle is one of the best days out I have had in a really long time. It was a boring Friday night some months ago and with no plans for the weekend ahead I decided I wanted to go out for the day. So I spent the night searching either cheap days out or places with vouchers that I could go visit.
Warwick castle was top of the list so the next day my mum, sister and I drove to Warwick for the day.
First of all I want to say that normally it is quite expensive, £20.43 for castle and dungeon, or £15.33 for castle alone,so if there is a large party of you the price can really stack up. Luckily we had some online vouchers for buy one get one free, these didn't include the dungeon entrance but that was only £7 each so as we had saved money on the main tickets we bought that separately.
Despite the fact that it is expensive and I don't think we would have gone otherwise, it is clear from the moment that you step onto the castle grounds that you certainly get a lot for you money.
The castle itself is intact and in incredibly good condition, unlike most local landmarks, and there is so much to visit you almost don't know where to start. There is a 'battle' section where you watch a short video on the castle preparing for battle. Then outside there is a section of grass set up for archery and you can have a go. My sister and mum both had a go while I declined, and took photos of their attempts instead.
Then we went for a walk along the top of the battlement. They warn you that it is a long long walk and that once you've started it you have to finish as its all one way. We bravely decided to try it, you had to walk up hundreds of steps to get to the top of the first bit then you walk along the top of one side of the castle in the open air. It was freezing cold and the wind was obviously very strong but the view was absolutely amazing. You could see the whole of the castle grounds brilliantly as well as the surrounding views of the Warwickshire countryside, it was breathtaking. We walked up one of the towers to see abit higher then across and round the rest of the castle top walkway and then came down.
Once down we went to watch a falcon show for a while. At regular intervals in the day they put on battle re-enactments and falconry shows both of which are very impressive. They are very popular though with huge crowds so if you really want a good seat you need to note the time and get there early.
There was a huge pink banner hanging from one of the towers announcing the 'princess tower experience' which looked fantastic. The signs proclaimed this was aimed at girls and we excitedly joined the queue although left it when we realised it was for very young children only. But if you had children it looked like a fantastic tour and opportunity to dress up in princess outfits.
Next we went on a tour of the dungeon which was one of the funniest and scariest parts of the day. The tour guides were characters in costume and took you on a tour through various rooms in the dungeons where other actors were stationed to jump out, scare us and also gives us talks on methods of torture etc. I definitely wouldn't have taken children into it, I was scared enough myself!!
The actors picked volunteers in each room and I was unlucky enough to be one. I had to sit with my head on a block while they pretended to chop my head off. At the same time they did this they dimmed the lights and squirted the room with water. My poor mum on the front row screamed the loudest when this happened.
We left feeling pretty shaken although still giggling and had a photo taken by some gallows to take home as a souvenir.
Feeling like we needed a rest after that we stopped for food in the medieval themed restaurant. We had a really nice cream team, having already grabbed sandwiches in another of the food places there. There was a fairly decent range of food to buy on the day, not too badly priced and you got to eat in a themed banquet hall which was lovely.
In the afternoon we went on the tour round the main bit of the house, through the great hall and through some of the rooms. These were all themed in a much later period, some were Victorian and some were a late as the 2nd world war. The rooms were all very interesting to look around and we even found one room that had period style jackets and hats for you to try on, which of course we did.
We then realised we had missed out a part of castle where they had mannequins made up to depict the troops preparing for battle. This was very interesting to walk around and had lots of photo opportunities.
The best bit of the day for me however was the fantastic gift shop. Not only did they sell the usual mugs, pens etc that you find in such places but they also had dress up outfits, princess hats and toy swords. I came away with a jesters hat, a princess crown hair band and some funny pens for various friends. My best buy of the day however was a printed family tree of my dads family name that I gave him for Christmas. It was £15 but was a detailed A4 description of the origins of the name, along with the family crest and the family motto. As my name is very unusual and you never see it anywhere I was really chuffed with this.
Warwick Castle was always the favourite place to visit when my girls were young and living only 40 minutes away meant we could visit often.
When you arrive there is ample parking in one of the many car parks and you then walk around the outside of the castle to the entrance.
Inside the castle you are hit by the stunning beauty of the extensive ground and gardens. You stroll along to the castle and in 'The Kingmaker'
where you wonder through various scenes of waxwork figures depicting the activities and life during the times of King Henry VI.
From there you walk through the underground dungeon which clearly show the shackles in the wall used to chain people in a torturous way.
Once outside a short climb of the stone steps will take you to the ghost tower from where you have fantastic views of the castle grounds, .... a brilliant photo opportunity.
For me the best part of the visit is walking around the stunning state rooms, inside the castle itself, showing the beautiful costumes and the lavish fabrics and furniture of the times.
Bank holiday weekend visits are highly recommended as they have a fantastic show of jousting, archery and a falconer showing his spectacular birds of prey. There is also a variety of other activities all depicting medieval life which you can become actively involved in........ the kids love it !
All in all Warwick Castle, in my opinion, is a fantastic day out for people of all ages. Take a picnic and sit amongst the peacocks in the stunning grounds or have a hearty meal in the castle's restaurant......you won't be disappointed!
Visit : www.warwick-castle.co.uk for opening times, entrance fees and directions.
Warwick Castle was the first castle in England that I ever visited (about 11 years ago). I thought it was absolutely beautiful at the time and vowed to return there one day. Earlier this year my parents came for a visit from South Africa and I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to revisit Warwick Castle.
Warwick Castle is situated in the midlands quite close to Stratford Upon-Avon. It was originally built in the 14th century as a medieval fortress. The castle is currently owned by Madame Tussaud's and they have used numerous wax figures to help illustrate the interesting history of the castle.
We spent the entire day at Warwick and somehow still didn't get to see everything on offer. The main attractions in the castle are:
- Great hall and staterooms
- The royal weekend party
- The kingmaker attraction
- The ghost tower (I missed this one due to lack of time!)
- The underground dungeon
- The gatehouse
- The armoury
- Guy's tower
- Rampart and towers (great photo opportunity from the towers)
- The gardens
Warwick Castle also offers daily attractions which children and adults love:
- The trebuchet. You get to see them use this ancient weapon and it is very impressive to watch.
- Meet the falconer. The falconer displays his birds and tells you how they were used throughout history.
- Archery. My husband and father were fascinated by this display.
Warwick also has an events programme which you can view on their website www.warwick-castle.co.uk.
Opening times: summer (until 30 September) 10am - 6pm
Winter 10am - 5pm
Entrance fees: Adults £17.95, Children £10.00, Seniors £11.95
NB. If you are feeling peckish and need something to eat try the pies at the castle's restaurant . . . they are to die for!
Home of Knights and Dungeons
My wife and I took a right hand fork on the A44 to Stratford un Avon to look at the very appealing Warwick Castle earlier last month (August 2009), a trip down memory lane when we took our young children to see this magnificent monument to our heritage.
Now they had grown up and left home gave us the opportunity to look at the history of our bloody conflicts that took part over the years. It was over twenty years since we had taken our children and it has changed. With so much going on with attraction throughout the days, keep the children occupied and interested in the history of this country through the attractions. The history has a long line of Royal involvement so I concentrate on the history of the building construction.
The History begins in the 11th Century when Danish invaders threatening, an invasion. The daughter of Alfred the Great (Ethelfleda), ordered the building of a 'burgh' or an earthen rampart to protect the small hill top settlement of Warwick from the Danes.
In 1068 William the Conqueror, built bailey fort, consisting of a large earth mound with a timber stockade around both the top and base of the hill. And twenty years later appointed Henry de Beaumont (c. 1088-1119), as Castellan or Constable.
In 1260 the construction of the castle was rebuilt with stone replacing wood.
1350 Caesar's Tower and Dungeon constructed and 1395 Guy's Tower was completed, reaching a height of 39m
1450 Gatehouse and barbican are completed
1540 Improvements include a new roof for the kitchens, reinforcement of the south front, the building of Spy Tower and an extension to the State Rooms for a royal visit.
1642 Royalist soldiers, taken during the Civil War, were imprisoned in the Dungeon, one of them scratching a note onto the dungeon wall.
1750 Lancelot 'Capability' Brown is commissioned to landscape the gardens. 1763 The State dining room completed by leading English craftsmen.
1871 Fire swept through the Private Apartments, damaging the Great Hall before being controlled
1890 The Mill is converted to an electricity generating plant, providing electric lighting for the castle and power for an electric launch and car.
1978 In November 1978, Warwick Castle was sold to The Tussaud's Group
2000 To mark the millennium, The Armory is refurbished and the 'Death or Glory' attraction opened in February 2000, telling the stories of battles over the centuries, as well as hosting events including Jousting Knights and Christmas Festivals. 2001 New special events include Jousting Nights and The Christmas Festival. 2002 The Castle Mill & Engine House opened following extensive renovation.
Finally in 2005 The World's largest trebuchet (med evil siege engine) arrived at Warwick Castle, measuring 18 meters high and weighing in at 22 tons and is quite an attraction on their show nights. (See Events on Warwick Castle web site).
There is a play area as soon as you enter from the courtyard and of course plenty of burger bars and refreshments (No wonder there are so many obese people in the UK).
The first bit of entertainment was an archer giving a well detailed talk and demonstration on archery and the history of the medieval era.
Then we went around the side of the castle where there is a working water mill that helps power the electric in the castle. This is a working museum with history of the mechanics of the mill.
As we walked around by the river Avon which runs through the beautiful and picturesque country side, we saw a demonstration of Jousting and sword fighting with knights in shining armour which was very entertaining.
After having a picnic by the river, we walked to the falconry where the birds of prey awaited their turn to fly and display their predatory skills to the many visitors with spectacular shows as they flew only feet above our heads with their six feet plus wing spans.
Next was the conservatory with tropical plants and trees, which was bbuilt by local mason, William Eborall in 1786
There were few plants and this I found slightly disappointing by the size of the area, but it was very hot and humid in there, so I guess that was just as well. There is a beautiful view of the park and grounds from there and benches to sit and admire and appreciate the atmosphere of years gone by. Here you could also hear the eerie screeching sound of the many peacocks in all their splendour.
Our final visit was to the main castle museum where there is a tour of the great hall which is spectacular with all the jousting spears, swords, guns and other arms and armour through the ages. There are waxwork figures from Madam Tussaud's that are very realistic and you can sense their eyes following you around the room (Watch out! Because King Henry V111 is there with his six wives and he might have you head off) However you have to go down to the Castle Dungeon for that, which like many of the Tussaud's Dungeons are fun, entertaining and very well managed.
My wife and I were somewhat put out with the extra charges which mounted up and felt a bit of sympathy with the families with children. Although there were concessions we found that not only the admittance but also the car parking.
The prices we paid: 2-adults
£19.95p admittance, + £3.50p field car park (£6.00p park next to admissions) = £42.40p That was after the price increase.
(£17.95 Caste admittance + £5 For Dungeon) For a family ticket for the ultimate (2-adult and 2-children it will set you back £80.00p (£70.00p booking on line)
The price for the audio tours including castle admission £22.16p adult £15.00p Child
1 go of 5 arrows archery =£3.00p and 10 arrows = £5.00p (But watch out for sub-standard equipment, some arrows I found bent, fletches worn out and knocks loose and worn and strings also worn.) As an archer myself I wasn't impressed.
It pays to book on line with up 12% savings and concessions on group bookings.
Is it worth it? Yes in some ways for a show piece with lots going on but I feel it is a bit too expensive if you just want a visit.
How to get there?
* By train
Warwick Station is approximately one mile from the Castle and has
link to London Marylebone and Birmingham Snow Hill
* By road
The Castle is well signposted, two miles from junction 15 of the M40 making it easy from both north M42 and M5 North and South
* This venue has limited disabled access - please contact the venue directly for specific details
Please note that for this event, we are acting as disclosed agent for a third party supplier.
Warwick Castle was on my list of touristy things to do when I stayed overnight in a hotel in Stratford this year. Located in Warwick, the castle is probably Warwickshire's biggest, most popular, and most expensive, attraction. At around £20 per adult ticket it's not cheap, but as a one-off visit it's definitely somewhere noteworthy to say you've been and depending on the weather the day you go, could prove to be a day-long visit.
There are several ways and places to pay for your ticket, though buying in advance online if possible is probably the cheapest method unless you have an alternative discount voucher. On the day, ticket prices are as follows:
Child (4-16) £10
Disabled or carer £8.95
Entry can also be redeemed via a Merlin pass, Tesco clubcard vouchers and special attraction discount vouchers. I used the latter, which was a buy one get one free ticket after shopping in Tesco, though similar are available elsewhere and frequently popping up so it's a good idea to keep an eye out for them.
£20 for one ticket in my opinion is very high, especially considering this doesn't get you entry in to the dungeon, a sideline attraction within the Castle, as this is an additional charge. Online, I was told this would cost £5, however when I got to the Castle there was a sign saying that the current special offer was dungeon entry for only £7.50 - £2.50 more than I was told it was going to be and they called that a special offer!
I decided not to bother with the dungeon so unfortunately I can't comment on this, and was a little disappointed because I was quite looking forward to it. I was quite glad I gave it a miss afterwards though as walking around the castle grounds took up the 4 hours I intended on spending there anyway.
Getting to the castle is relatively straightforward, though parking is a slightly different matter. I was lucky enough to go on quite a warm, sunny day, but obviously many others took the opportunity to make the most of the weather because the place was packed out! I was directed through the first car park, then past the second, and I ended up in the last overflow car park because there were so many visitors. I couldn't believe just how many cars there were; I expected it to be popular but seeing hundreds of cars in each parking zone, or should I say field, was crazy. There are attendants along the way to ensure you're headed in the right direction, so they're well prepared for visitors flocking there in their hundreds.
Considering the ticket prices I would have expected the parking to have been included, but this is at an additional charge also. The field I parked in cost £3.50 which latest the whole stay, so at least you can park up and not have to worry about rushing back to your car if you're paying within a time limit. If you've parked, you'll need to get a coin from a machine which you then insert into another machine on your way out of the car park, and you can get this from the castle entrance at any time.
Walking from the last car park to the castle itself was quite a trek. I was surprised at how large the grounds actually are, so be prepared to walk for 20-25 minutes to and from the castle. The walk is well-sign posted though, so you can't get lost!
On reaching the entrance, you'll find toilets, food and drinks stands, the ticket office, etc. Then, once you're ready, you go through electronic barriers into the main castle grounds.
I was surprised at just how big the castle is. I knew it was going to be large because of the long walk around it to get from the car park to the entrance, but I was amazed to see just how much ground there is when you get in. Take this as a warning to wear comfy shoes and be prepared for some walking!
The castle grounds are divided into different areas for you to wonder around and peruse in your own time. There's a lot here to do and look at, so it's best to leave a few hours for your visit and make the most of it.
On the day I went, because it was nice weather, there were plenty of displays on. Much was aimed at children in my opinion, and as the place was packed full of people including a great deal of children who looked amused and having a good time, I would say there's enough to keep the younger ones entertained.
What I thought was so good about Warwick Castle was the fact that it was so well organised in the sense that everything up to date, there was plenty to do and they cater to a wide range of ages.
When walking around, you're spoilt for choice for food, snacks, drinks & ice-creams. There's plenty of stands and seating so it does feel like you could spend a good few hours there and just relax and enjoy the day.
There is some beautiful scenery to look around, walk through and sit by. One area, for example, was a garden in its own right, beautifully landscaped with paths, flowers and water features.
The castle itself, the remains, were well-kept and there is enough there to walk up and around.
There are souvenir shops for you to peruse and purchase knick-knacks to remember your day by, or to take home as presents. I'm not one for these sorts of stores, so I saved some money here.
I came away with plenty of photos, which is always nice so that you have something to remember the visit by.
The only niggle I had about it was the fact it was so busy when I went. The queues at the stands for food & drinks were quite long and I found myself getting too hot and feeling a little too overcrowded.
When you get into the Castle you're given a map, which may sound silly but it actually comes in useful because it is a large place and it's good to have it on hand if you're feeling a bit confused (like I did when it got busy and I couldn't remember where the toilets were).
I was pleased with the time I spent at the castle, especially as I wasn't overly keen on going at first. It made for an interesting day out, but I don't think I would have been as positive about it had it have been raining.
This is one of those landmark places to visit in the UK that's so well-known and popular that it's good to be able to tell people you've been there, done that and bought the t-shirt.
Although the ticket prices are high, as a one-off experience it is somewhere I would recommend (especially if you can get a discount or use a buy-one-get-one-free voucher). There's enough to keep you entertained (plus you get a weeks worth of exercise in one day from walking around the grounds) and it's suitable for all ages, whether or not castles are your cup of tea.
It is difficult to review Warwick Castle for one simple reason - do you do so as a site of historic natural beauty or as an attraction owned and run by the Merlin group, but here goes.
The castle itself which was originally built on the orders of William The Conquerer from 1068 as a motte and bailey and situated in the very heart of the town of Warwick. It was rebuilt by the Earl of Leciester in 1264, who imprisoned the then Earl of Warwick in it! (Rather mean of him!)
The castle has a long history, and supported the House of York during the Wars of The Roses. In the early 1870's it suffered extensive fire damage. Like most castles, it has secure defences - one of which is the beautiful river Avon that flows around one side of it. When you visit take the tour and explore the ramparts and look at the scenery for yourself.
Many famous guests have stopped at the castle, including the Duke of York (no not the current one) and Winston Churchill, you'll find many familiar faces as you view castle rooms whilst on your visit.
I visited Warwick Castle at Easter with my partner, her daughter and her mum. Parking at the castle was full by 11am and we parked at the Race Course, which is a significant walk away - many more local ones are for less than 3 hours. Still, it gave us an opportunity of seeing other parts of the castle and Warwick's history.
The visit was planned as my Merlin pass was due to run out a month later so was trying to get just one more attraction in before hand. The rest of my group weren't so lucky, so we spent a considerable time queing (nearly an hour) and on top of the entrance fee an additional charge applied to the new Dungeon experience - which when you pay, are alloted a time slot - make sure you get there at the time!
I had mixed feelings that although I'd wanted to visit for many years, I wouldn't find it that exciting, and yes I was right.
As you walk towards the ramparts, all around the grass banks are groups of people wearing and enacting the sort of life that would exist during the 14-15th century as if preparing for a battle.
The first thing we looked at was a bird of prey display on the front lawn, which you have to admit was really good featuring eagles, a vulture and smaller hawks - which included eagles making big loops of the battlements.
There are also reenactments of battles during the War of the Roses and of using seige weaponry (unfortunately we missed the latter). They performed like the sealed knot (reenact civil war battles), but despite all the hype and watching groups of solidiers marching just didn't look authentic - and how many times have you seen someone die, and then 5 minutes later (yes you were spotted) start fighting again!
I'm very much affraid of heights, but I thought I'd try the rampart and towere tour. Was I mad - I think I must have been absolutely!!! It wasn't so much the steep steps and the lack of something to hold on to - it was all those bloody steps - 5 hundred of them! And yes, only 2 of us walked up.
The other main part of the visit is the state room and great hall tours which has alot of interesting artefacts and quite lifelike wax models inclusing Winston Churchill and the Duke of York (pre 1920's) and Henry VIII with all 6 wives - yes and all with their head on!
As for the dungeon tour, I am squeamish, and enduring a wait of more than an hour past our alloted time (after being told to come back 5 minutes beforehand) it certainly didn't help. But, our experience was not that good, it was more the actors trying to frighten you than anything horrible. At one point one of the characters the cook, tried to tell you about the plague and how she'd cut up the doctor to mind out why he'd died, and then pulled back the sheet and opened up his insides which was so clearly rubber and plastic. I wonder what she'd do if someone did an autopsy in front of her - I bet she'd feint! U'm afraid I can't rate it at all, and a disappointment seeing we had to pay extra to get in.
What else is there, well there's a number of stalls selling food and drink (although you can only top your coca cola bottles up at one location - on the grass next to the castle entrance), a restaurant, gift shop and the odd toilet.
Now that I've been there, yes I enjoyed the castle itself, but as an attraction I have very mixed views and I really can't make up my mind whether I'd want to go back again or not. Overall, I've rated it at 3, 4.5 for the castle, 2 for the attraction.
Warwick castle is a beautiful medieval castle, It was built by William the Conqueror in 1068 and is a gorgeous piece of English heritage, I'm not going to bore you all with too much history of the place as you could easily see that on Wikipedia etc, so I will try and explain more from a family day out point of view and will also mention the experience I have encountered on the more corporate and entertaining side of the venue. (I hope that makes sense )
I do not live too far from Warwick so I have visited the castle many times both as a child and now as a mother myself, the castle can be seen from all around the town and is built next to the river Avon, on top of a hill and is truly a most charming site you could hope to see, its signposted very well throughout the town and also travelling there, (M40) you will not miss the numerous signs.
It currently belongs to the Tussards group whom brought it in the 70's, and over the years its become a lot more commercial and is one of the UK's most visited attractions now, although I do not feel this detracts from the beauty and magic of the castle.
When I was a little girl my parents took me there many times, especially in the summer for picnics etc and I can remember vividly finding it so spellbinding and used to imagine I was a princess and there were magical fairies all around the castle, and id be running around while my dad pretending he was a dragon and my brother would try and slay him, its just the most beautiful and magical place and I have so many fond memories of visiting there as a child.
Upon visiting there now with my children, I have tried to recreate some of the good times I had their as a child, and thankfully it has worked, my children love having picnics in the grounds and also love role playing, they are a prince and a princess, and this time its mummy who is the dragon and daddy is the king..... did not bargain I would end up as the dragon, but oh well!! I think the grounds of Warwick castle are the best thing in my opinion and me and my family love this part of Warwick castle the best.
The castle has many other things to offer such as;
Brilliant displays of furniture and tapestries
Dungeons and torture rooms
Grand and stunning stately rooms (there is a lovely display of a running bath, and you can smell the lavender going into the bath, it's so lovely)
Ghost tower ( don't take the little ones up, my daughter screamed her lungs out ...maybe because her big brother had his jumper over his head shouting "ooooooooooooo" at the top of his voice pretending he was a ghost...little monkey!)
Numerous towers to climb and ruins to explore (wear comfy shoes and also be careful as some of the stairs are very narrow and quite dangerous for small children or elderly people)
Weapon collection featuring armour, swords etc
There are load more great things to see and experience other than those already mentioned for e.g. there is now a new playground for the children which is really nice, it has a castle type themed playgym with swings, slides, the nets to climb up etc. It's very safe and my children really loved it.
There are also some seats nearby for the mummies and daddies to have a rest, or in my hubbies case a sleep!! Can not take him anywhere!!
I am looking forward to going again soon, as I would really like to experience the playground again in better weather and also in a few weeks time they open the new exhibition of the castle dungeon, and I would love to go and see that.
Anyway in summary it's a great day out for all ages, and myself and my family always thoroughly enjoy ourselves, it can be whatever you want it to be, whether that be informative, relaxing, creative or whether you are like us and pretend to be princesses and dragons etc....its all good fun.
Prices are as follows
Child 10.00 (this is for children four to sixteen)
Senior 11.95 (60 +0
Family 45.00 (2 adults and 2 children)
If you book online though you get an extra 10 percent off.
5th January - 3rd April 2009 10-5
4th April - 1st November 2009 10-6
(Another tip is if you save up your club card vouchers or I think nectar might do them as well, then trips like this can be funded through them)
****The corporate and dining experience with Warwick Castle********
I work for a large company who's head office is in Warwick, so we tend to have quite a few events and meetings etc at Warwick castle and I must say they are absolutely fantastic and well worth every penny spent.
Some of my colleagues have experienced both the kingmakers banquet and also the highwayman's dinner and both experiences were absolutely brilliant, especially the highwayman's one.
Myself and my family really would like to try out there new event for this year, it's the dungeons after dark the description of the evening is as listed below, and it sounds great. I know the prices are quite steep but for a night out, especially for a special occasion I think its well worth it. I have put all details below as I thought being such a new event then most people may not have heard of it, and thought it would be of interest to some fellow dooyooers.
****The Caste Dungeon evening****
Do you dare enter The Castle Dungeon after dark?
Deep in the heart of the Castle courtyard lies The Castle Dungeon where the plague is taking no prisoners.
Prepare to experience the darkest, bloodiest and most frightening times in Warwick Castle's history. The Castle Dungeon will provide the ultimate evening of scarily good entertainment complimented by plenty of food and wine, if you still have the stomach for it!
Private tours, drinks receptions and evening dinners are all great ways to experience Warwick Castle's newest attraction. Stay close together and beware, things get more sinister after dark.
The package costs £49.00 per person (inclusive of VAT) and includes:
* A trip through The Castle Dungeon
* A delicious three course dinner served in the Castle's Undercroft by candlelight
* Unlimited beer, wine and soft drinks throughout the evening meal, which may come in handy for steadying your nerves!
The evening starts at 7.15pm and concludes at 11pm
tomato & sorrell broth
chicken wrapped in smoked bacon topped with puff pastry cranberry red wine jus served with potatoes and seasonal vegetables
individual pepper stuffed with leek and mushroom risotto (vegetarian option)
cherry & apple crumble served with cream
coffee & traditional fudge
(As per details on www.warwickcastle.co.uk)
I would defiantly recommend any company whom are looking for a teambuilding event also to check out the website as they cater for many needs and their customer service is amazing.
Anyway whether you are looking for a family day a corporate event a romantic or entertaining evening, Warwick castle has it all.
I had not been to Warwick Castle since I was a kid at school (believe me thats a long time ago!) and a friend and myself decided to spend the day there a couple of weeks ago. We had been looking for a day out that wasnt far away (Ilive in Midlands) and didn't cost too much but was also a 'good day out' . In the end we chose Warwick Castle and what a great da we had,
I booked online throughLast Minute.com who were doing a special price promotion. The advert was a bit confusing but I took it to mean 2 people for £10. This was a great saving on the proper price of £15.95 per adult if you pay at the gate or a few pound less if you book in advance. I thought it was £17.95 each when I went but have checked this online and I must have been wrong.
We went on a Saturday and got there jsut after they opened at 10 am and there was a slight queque but not much of a wait. I fully expected the price to be £10 each when i got to the front but no it was 2 for £10 which was an absolute bargain.
On the day I went there were no special events on. At half term and holidays they tend to do things like jousting, falconry displays and things of that nature but we were both still thrilled.
I remember when i went there as a kid going up a really high, wining staircase turret things and was so scared I got a panic attack and wanted to see if I could find it again! We started off by going all up to the top of the towers and walking along a rampart kind of thing. The views from the top were great but it took an awful lot of step climbing to get there so would not be possible for anyone with walking disabilites or heart problems either.
After we had climbed up all the things we could climb up I couldnt find the one I remembered from before but noticed there were a couple of places where you could not access and maybe it had been one of those.
From there we went to the main apartments which were reproduced as a royal weekend party in 1898 given in honour of the then Prince of Wales omplete with Madame Tussaud type waxworks .
The best bit for me though was the Great Hall! Loads of armour and things including knights in armour on horses!! And swords which you can pick up !They are chained to the wall but you can still get a feel for how heavy they were. There are some more rooms here as well with a waxwork of Henry V111 and some of his wives which are very realistic. There are also some lovely stained glass windows on the gallery which I took some lovely photographs of even though that kind of things really doesnt interest me.
Outside there are some gardens which I only visited fleetingly as it was a bit cold and a large hothouse with various large plants in. There is a peacock garden but There were only a couple of peacocks about as they must have been in the warm somewhere.
I also visited the mill house which is where electricy was generated from the river and there is the biggest battery I have ever seen there. This leads to a really nice walk along the river but there are some works been done due to flood damage I think it was said so there is some building works here at the moment.
there are a couple of places which sell hot and cold drinks which were reasonably priced I guess. I cant remember exactly but I think a large cup of tea was about £1.30 ish. If you want food there are a couple of restaurants there which sells hot food but I did not go in either so cannot comment. Toilet faciliteswere pleasant enough and were dotted about so there was always one not too far away.
If you have children there is a childrens play area for them to let off a bit of steam and aghost tower to keep them entertained but there was a queue here so I didnt wait.
All in all it was great day out for adults as well as kids. There is the usual souvenir shop selling replica swords as well as the usual sweets, soft toys and fridge magnet kind of things.
Prices seem to vary depending on when you go and if you book in advance or not. At the moment price on the gate is !15.95 adults and £10.45 children or a bit ess if you book in advance. There is an offer at the moemnt also of £30 for 2 adults and 2 children if you book in advance.
For Christmas they are putting an lots of things. ther are ice sculptured, a groot, christmas trees and treasure trils type of things but check their site or prices as they go up at the end of November. i think they are also having a craft weekend as well.
Its a great place to visit but have a scout about for prices as there are oftren special offers on. Otherwise a family of four could be an expensive day out
Warwick Castle is quite an old castle and has now been transformed into a day out for the family. Prices are: adult £17.95, child £10.95, senior £12.95, student £15.95 family £52.00. Now I think these prices are quite steep for what you get.
When I went I first met an arrow shooter, aiming at a board, which was actually entertaining and fun to watch and quite fun.
As we then entered the castle it all looked big and old, with a few modern touches to it.
The castle also has some places to eat, but you do pay that little bit more, and there are also places to eat a pick-nic.
The castles have a track route to follow and you can pop into various room with model people back in the time it was set in to.
I personally found the whole thing quite boring as it was all looking and no dooing, so don't think its suitable for little ones that want to be using their hands, or people like me that don't find history interesting.
The Warwick Castle describes itself as 'Britain's greatest mediaeval experience'.