warwick castle looking up from the river avon a place to visit

A Brief History of Warwick Castle

The town of Warwick has a long and illustrious history, and has been permanently inhabited since the 6th Century. Warwick’s close proximity to the river Avon and Fosse Way, both important trading routes, gave it great strategic significance through the centuries. Under the threat of invading Danes from the North, Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred the Great, established a fortified dwelling or “burh” at Warwick in 914AD. During an invasion by the Danes in 1050AD much of Warwick was burnt to the ground. In 1068AD William the Conqueror ordered the building of the first castle to appear on the site with a view to protecting the midlands as he headed north to quell rebellion. Originally a wooden “motte and bailey” constructed within the original buhr, by 1220, Warwick Castle had undergone a major transformation and stone replaced wood as the principal building material. Every century since has seen the castle extended, and its fortifications tested in times of war and conflict.

Throughout the 14th and 15th centuries, an extensive rebuilding programme enhanced Warwick Castle yet again with the completion of two imposing towers that still dominate the east of the castle, Caesar’s tower and the twelve-sided Guy’s Tower with the accommodation, including the Great Hall further enhanced. It was during this period that the East Gate was built and along with the west gatehouse are all that remains of the walls which once surrounded the town. St Peters Chapel was built above the Eastgate in around 1426AD.

Warwick Castle was still used as a fortification until the early 17th Century when it was subsequently converted into a country house, which included the landscaping of the surrounding gardens.

Below is the famous painting Warwick Castle, the East front by Canaletto 1752.

warwick castle painting by Canaletto 1752

In 1796 the entrance lodge and main driveway were completed. Warwick Castle as it remains today was completed by 1800, although a fire in 1871 meant that the private accommodation was extensively damaged and subsequently refurbished. The castle is now protected as Scheduled Ancient Monument and Grade I listed building. Warwick Castle traditionally belongs to The Earl of Warwick and since 1088 has passed through generations of the Beaumont, Beauchamp, Neville and Greville families until it was sold in 1978 to The Tussauds Group, and in 2007 was bought by Merlin Entertainments, who operate the site.

Today Warwick Castle is a massively popular tourist attraction where memories of Medieval England are brought back to life; it has all the facilities expected from a modern venue in a castle which dates back to the 11th century. Warwick Castle is open every day except Christmas Day and has an exciting programme of events throughout the year. Details can be found on The Warwick Castle website.

East Gate and St Peter’s Chapel is the perfect choice of accommodation for a visit to Warwick Castle. Literally on the doorstep, our luxury holiday accommodation is situated a short five minutes’ stroll from the Mill Street entrance to historic Warwick Castle, and is itself part of the fabric of this great town. It is really worth a visit, and so are we! Contact us today to book your holiday

Close by are:

  • Several National Trust properties
  • Stratford-upon-Avon (20 mins)
  • Cotswolds (30 mins)
  • Birmingham Airport (25 mins)
  • Train Station (10 minute walk)