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Britain's Ultimate Castle!
Warwick Castle (Warwick)
Member Name: HelenW
Warwick Castle (Warwick)
Disadvantages: Possibly the cost, however it really is worth it.
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.
Summary: Incredible day out!
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