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For Knights and Princesses!
Warwick Castle (Warwick)
Member Name: lyndsey1989
Warwick Castle (Warwick)
Advantages: Lots to do for everyone, educational
Disadvantages: Full priced tickets are quite expensive, dungeons are an additional charge
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 :)
Summary: Brilliant day out, recommended
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