Warwick Castle

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History & Restoration

Our history reaches back almost 11 centuries. As custodians of the Castle we take our responsibility seriously - and have spent over £6,000,000 in the last 10 years alone on restoration.

When you visit you are helping us keep the Castle alive, as well as supporting our continuing restoration programme.

The First 1,100 Years

Attacked in 1264, besieged in 1642 and damage by fire in 1871, the Castle has nevertheless survived the ever-changing fortunes of history. Warwick Castle remained under the stewardship of the Earls of Warwick and later the Greville Family as a private home until 1978. The property was then taken over by The Tussauds Group, which later became Merlin Entertainments Group in 2007 and remains under their guardianship today.

The records of a walled-building in Warwick can be traced back to the Saxon fortification which Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred the Great, used to defend against the invading Danes. The first castle to appear on the site was a wooden motte and bailey constructed in 1068 at the command of William the Conqueror. Throughout the middle ages, under successive Earls of Warwick, the Castle was gradually rebuilt in stone.

914

Earthen Rampart Constructed

With Danish invaders threatening, Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred the Great, orders the building of a 'burh' or an earthen rampart to protect the small hill top settlement of Warwick.

1068

William the Conquerer builds motte & bailey fort

William the Conqueror establishes a motte and bailey fort, consisting of a large earth mound with a timber stockade around both the top and base.

1088

Henry de Beaumont appointed 1st Earl of Warwick

William appointed one of his followers, Henry de Beaumont (c. 1088-1119), as Castellan or Constable. Five generations follow.

1242

Title passes to John Du Plessis

Thomas, the last de Beaumont Earl of Warwick, dies without an heir and the castle and estates passes to his sister Margaret, and her husband John Du Plessis.

1260

Stone replaces wood

Stone replaces wood in the Castle Construction.

1263

William Maudit succeeds as Earl of Warwick

Margaret's marriage to John du Plessis is childless and the title changes hands once more, this time to her cousin William Mauduit. Unwisely Maudit sides with the King in the Barons War.

1264

Castle successfully attacked by Simon de Montfort

Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester and leader of the rebellious barons, attacks the Castle. Mauduit and his wife are held to ransom.

1268

The de Beauchamps succeed as Earls of Warwick

On his death Mauduit is succeeded by his nephew William de Beauchamp. So begins the dynasty that will last 148 years and bring Warwick Castle to the height of its fortunes.

1312

Piers Gaveston tried for treason, sentenced to death

At a time of heightened political tension Guy de Beauchamp seizes Piers Gaveston, the king's lover, and brings him to Warwick Castle. He is tried for treason and sentenced to death.

1350

Caesar's Tower & Dungeon constructed

Caesar's Tower and Dungeon constructed during first half of 14th Century.

1395

Guy's Tower Completed

Guy's Tower is completed, reaching a height of 39m.

1397

Thomas de Beauchamp confesses to treachery

Thomas de Beauchamp (1370-97, 1399-1401) confesses to treachery and is exiled to the Isle of Man by Richard II. Only when Richard is usurped by Henry IV in 1399 does Thomas reclaim his inheritance.

1431

Earl of Warwick supervises trial of Joan of Arc

Richard de Beauchamp supervises Joan of Arc's trial for supposed heresy, and her subsequent execution by burning in the market place at Rouen in northern France.

1445

Henry de Beauchamp becomes Duke of Warwick

Henry de Beauchamp (1439-46), had grown up as a companion to the boy King Henry VI. In 1445, the king made his childhood friend the first Duke of Warwick. But he was also the last, the title dying with him in the very next year.

1449

Richard Neville becomes Earl of Warwick

Henry's only sister marries Richard Neville. During the Wars of the Roses, Neville helps to depose both Henry VI and Edward IV, winning himself the title Kingmaker.

1450

Gatehouse and barbican are completed

1471

Richard Neville, Kingmaker, dies at Battle of Barnet

Neville is defeated and dies at the battle of Barnet, the castle and the estates are awarded by Edward IV to his own brother, George, Duke of Clarence.

1478

Clarence imprisoned and killed

The Duke of Clarence is suspected of intriguing against Edward, he is imprisoned and killed. The title of Earl of Warwick is retained by Clarence's son, Edward (1478-99). However, as the last Plantagenet (and therefore a possible rival to the Tudor king, Henry VII), he is kept in the Tower of London.

1499

Another Earl of Warwick executed for treason

Edward is executed for allegedly conspiring with the second of the two pretenders to the throne, Perkin Warbeck.

1540

Further development at the Castle

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.

1572

Queen visits the Castle

Queen Elizabeth I visits the Castle.

1604

James I grants Castle to Fulke Greville

James I presents the now dilapidated castle to Sir Fulke Greville. (The title Earl of Warwick, however, was conferred upon Lord Rich in 1618 and it remained in his family until 1759).

1628

Greville murdered by manservant

Greville, is murdered by a discontented manservant. His ghost is said to haunt the tower in which he lodged.

1642

Castle withstands siege

Royalist soldiers, taken during the Civil War, were imprisoned in the Dungeon, one of them scratching a note onto the dungeon wall…

1695

King visits Castle

King William III visits Warwick Castle.

1750

Capability Brown landscapes Warwick Castle

Lancelot 'Capability' Brown is commisioned to landscape the gardens.

1759

Castle and Earldom reunited

Francis Greville successfully petitions for the title Earl of Warwick, so reuniting the earldom and the castle once more.

1763

State dining room completed

State dining room completed by leading English craftsmen.

1786

Conservatory built

Conservatory is built by local mason, William Eborall.

1858

Queen lunches at the Castle

Queen Victoria lunches at the Castle.

1871

Fire damages the Castle

Fire sweeps through the Private Apartments, damaging the Great Hall before being controlled.

1890

Countess of Warwick keeps Menagerie

The island is used to keep Japanese deer, a flock of Chinese geese, an emu, assorted racoons, an ant bear and a baby elephant. The Mill is converted to an electricity generating plant, providing electric lighting for the castle and power for an electric launch and car.

1938

The 7th Earl goes to Hollywood

The 7th Greville Earl, Charles Guy, (1928-84), using the stage name of Michael Brooke, tries his hand at breaking into Hollywood films. His career peaked with a supporting role in Dawn Patrol (1938) starring Errol Flynn and David Niven.

1978

Tussaud's Group buys Warwick Castle

In November 1978, Warwick Castle is sold to The Tussaud's Group.

1982

Royal Weekend Party opens

The Royal Weekend Party attraction is opened within the Castle. The expertise of the Tussaud's Studios is used, introducing wax portraits into the Castle for the first time.

1986

The Victorian Rose Garden restored

The Victorian Rose Garden is opened by HRH The Princess of Wales in 1986 having been restored back to its original design.

1994

Kingmaker opens

The largest investment, the multi-million pound Kingmaker attraction, in the mediaeval undercroft, opens.

1996

The Queen and Prince Phillip visit the Castle

HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh are given a tour of Kingmaker during their visit to the castle in November 1996. On this visit Her Majesty also unveils a commemorative sword.

2000

Death or Glory, the Armoury attraction, opens

To mark the millennium, The Armoury is refurbished and the 'Death or Glory' attraction opens 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

Victorian Mill

The Castle Mill & Engine House opened following extensive renovation.

2004

Warwick Ghosts - Alive!

Nearly 400 years after his brutal murder, Sir Fulke Greville is back… Warwick Castle's famously haunted Ghost Tower gets a terrifying fear infusion with Warwick Ghosts - Alive, a spooky live action experience that quite literally brings the story of one of the Castle's most famous ghosts to life, nearly 400 years after his murder. Using a mix of live actors and atmospheric sound, visual and light effects the story of Sir Fulke Greville's tragic murder is recreated.

2005

Trebuchet

The World’s largest trebuchet arrived at Warwick Castle, measuring 18 metres high and weighing in at 22 tonnes.

2007

Dream of Battle opens

2009

The Castle Dungeons open

The Castle Dungeon opens and is a truly horrific experience detailing the darkest, scariest and bloodiest times throughout the Castle’s history.

2010

The Princess Tower opens in its new location.

2011

Merlin: The Dragon Tower

The Arthurian legend is brought to live with the opening of Merlin: The Dragon Tower.

2013

Warwick Castle Unlocked

Four never-before-seen rooms are opened for the first time. The ancient rooms shed light on the defining chapters in Warwick Castle’s past to reveal tales of battle, siege, murder, power struggles and hauntings.

Restoration

Warwick Castle is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and Grade 1 listed building, therefore requires constant investment and upkeep for future generations to appreciate and enjoy. Maintaining a national monument involves extensive costs and the Castle receives no grants or financial support from the government or any public body. Funds for this work are raised solely from guests’ admission revenue.

Since taking stewardship of Warwick Castle we have spent over £6,000,000 in the last 10 years alone on Restoration projects.

Warwick Castle Restoration Work

 
DateRepairs
Unknown Spy Tower Masonry Repairs
April 1981 Conservatory
September 1981 Car & Coach parks
October 1981 Boundary Walls
April 1982 Royal Weekend Party
October 1982 River Island Bridge
July 1983 South Front Phase I
June 1984 Lodge
October 1985 Boathouse
March 1986 Bennett & Fearn buildings
December 1987 Blue Boudoir
August 1989 Stables
September 1989 3, Stratford Road
December 1989 Wallwalk (between Bear Tower & Clarence Tower)
December 1990 Caesar’s Tower Maisonary Repairs
December 1990 Boundary Walls
May 1991 Caesar’s Tower & East Front wallwalk
May 1991 Victoria Rose Garden
June 1992 Castle Lane near Car Park
September 1992 Conservatory Pavilion
September 1992 Riverside Pavilion
November 1992 The Mill Phase I
November 1992 The Mill
May 1993 Fire precautions
July 1993 Estate management building
November 1993 South Front Phase II
December 1993 Kingmaker Exhibition
February 1994 Grounds & gardens buildings
March 1994 Kenilworth bedroom roof
March 1994 Spiral stairs, Handrails & Emergency lighting
December 1994 Chapel Roof
April 1995 Bridge Repairs
April 1995 Boundary Walls
April 1995 Boundary Walls
May 1995 Undercroft Passage Ceiling
September 1995 Ethelfleda’s Mound Path Improvements
September 1995 Watergate Tower Roof
January 1996 Retaining wall
June 1996 Nursery Roof
June 1996 Nursery Floor
October 1997 Guy’s tower roof & wallwalk
October 1997 Boundary Walls
December 1997 Spiral Staircase & Emergency Lighting
December 1997 Spiral Staircase
September 1998 NW Domestic Roof
April 2000 Stables restaurant
April 2000 Audio Pavilion
July 2000 Great Hall Roof
February 2002 Riverside Pavilion
March 2002 Mill & Engine House reinstatement
March 2002 Creation of Caesar’s Tower Path
March 2002 The Mill
June 2004 Mediaeval Doorway
2008-2012 South Front River Embankment Wall Repairs
2013 Warwick Castle Unlocked opens 4 new never seen before rooms

The Mill House

At a cost of over £2million, the Mill and Engine House project has returned the historic building and machines to their former glory. Recreating the electrical powerplant of the Castle’s Victorian age was a challenge. For example, only one firm in the country possessed the necessary expertise and equipment to produce the hand-rolled, wrought iron blades required for the restoration of the waterwheel. These restorations would not have been possible without the expertise and passion of the professionals involved, but most importantly the revenue generated from visitor admissions to conserve this unique example of Victorian innovation.

The Chapel

The colourful decoration of the ceiling only reappeared in 1995 during a restoration programme to correct damp in the chapel walls. Careful removal of layers of whitewash revealed the series of painted heraldic shields of the Greville family that, according to visitors’ journals, were probably installed in the 1740s.

Retaining portions of the 14th Century Mediaeval Castle

As part of an ongoing restoration programme, visitors can now walk through many of the Mediaeval rooms and see our precious artefacts and treasures closer than ever before!

Earls of Warwick

1088-1119

Henry De Newburgh

1119-1153

Roger De Newburgh

1153-1184

William De Newburgh

1184-1203

Waleran De Newburgh

1203-1229

Henry De Newburgh

1229-1242

Thomas De Newburgh

1242-1263

John Du Plessis

1263-1268

William Mauduit

1268-1298

William De Beauchamp

1298-1315

Guy De Beauchamp

1329-1369

Thomas De Beauchamp

1369-1401

Thomas De Beauchamp

1401-1439

Richard Beauchamp

1439-1446

Henry Beauchamp (also first and only Duke, 1445-1446)

1446-1449

Anne Beauchamp

1449-1471

Richard Neville (The Kingmaker)

1472-1478

George Plantagent (Duke of Clarence)

1478-1499

Edward Plantagent

1499-1547

Crown Property (1499-1509, Henry VII, 1509-47, Henry VIII)

1547-1553

John Dudley I

1553-1554

John Dudley II

1561-1590

Ambrose Dudley

1590-1604

Crown Property (1590-1603, Elizabeth I, 1603-04, James I)

1604-1628

Sir Fulke Greville (owned the castle as Baron Brooke while the Earldom was held by the Rich family. The Greville's were granted the Earldom in 1759)

1618-1619

Robert Rich I

1619-1658

Robert Rich II

1621-1628

Sir Fulke Greville

1658-1659

Robert Rich III

1659-1673

Charles Rich

1673-1675

Robert Rich IV

1675-1701

Edward Rich I

1701-1721

Edward Henry Rich

1721-1759

Edward Rich II

1759-1773

Francis Greville

1773-1816

George Greville

1816-1853

Henry Richard Greville

1853-1893

George Guy Greville

1893-1924

Francis Richard Greville

1924-1928

Leopold Guy Greville

1928-1984

Charles Guy Greville

1984-1996

David Greville

1996-

Guy Greville

Caesar's Tower at Dawn

Caesar's Tower at Dawn

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