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Warwick Castle - History & Restoration

A view from the restored  Mound at Warwick Castle

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.

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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 29m.


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 commissioned 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, (1911-84), 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.


 

2015

Prince of Wales Visits

The Prince of Wales visits the castle for afternoon tea with the staff.


 

2015

Time Tower Opens

In place of the Dragon Tower, a new attraction that explains the entire history of the castle is opened with audio visual effects.


 

2016

Devil Warwick Towers and Ramparts Trail Opens

The Towers and Ramparts Trail now has signage and waxworks interpretation that tells the story of the Earls of Warwick involvement in the Hundred Years War.


 

2016

Horrible Histories Maze Opens

At the location of the old Victorian Rose Garden, the Horrible Histories Maze opens with 6 different periods of history to find and get lost amongst.


 

2017

Wars of the Roses Live Launches

A brand new Wars of the Roses themed jousting and stunt show opens in the new arena on the River Island. 


 

2018

Royal Weekend Party Refresh

The Royal Weekend Party is given a refresh to bring the story of the party back to the forefront of the attraction, fill the rooms and restore some of the waxworks. New audio interpretation and informative signage are found throughout.


 

2018

The Conqueror's Fortress Opens

To celebrate the 950th anniversary of the construction of Warwick Castle, our founding story is told through an interactive exhibition up the mound.


2019

The Falconer's Quest

The UK's biggest birds of prey show launches. 

Warwick Castle from the air

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.

2008-2012South Front River Embankment Wall Repairs

Warwick Castle

Over recent years a number of restoration and conservation projects have been undertaken to maintain the beauty and authenticity of the castle.

Since 1978 major stone masonry and roofing restoration projects have been undertaken to maintain the structural integrity, beauty and authenticity of the Castle, with many areas of the mighty structure repaired at a cost of over £25 million.

After the floods in 2007, extensive repairs were required along the south front river frontage retaining wall. The works took 4 years to complete and cost over £750,000.

The boathouse was fully restored in 1989, and re-thatched in 2015; shortly after these works were complete the boathouse was completely destroyed by a devastating fire. The boathouse you see now is a faithful copy of the original building, built using traditional materials and methods and was completed in spring 2017.

In recent years projects have included major works to the eastern and courtyard elevations of the main house including the rebuilding of several chimneys, hand carved arrow loops and ornate mullion windows. Major works were also undertaken on the last phase of repairs to the castle’s south front, involving extensive stone replacement of badly weathered and crumbling stone. The project lasted more than a year and cost over £1 million.

The Mill House

At a cost of over £2 million, 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!

Warwick Castle from the river

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

Warwick Castle from the island


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