Within the 64 acres of rolling landscaped gardens, discover the sculptured topiary peacocks and an island with a secret past.
The first mention of the gardens is during 1576, which coincided with the visit of Queen Elizabeth I, and consisted of a series of coloured gravel pathways and formal patterns of herbs and shrubs.
Between 1604 to 1628, Sir Fulke Greville’s renovation of the Castle saw the planting of new gardens which were without parallel in this part of England, however they were dug out during the Civil War to act as a further Castle defence.
It wasn’t until the 1750s when Warwick Castle transformed into a stately home that the development of the gardens became a priority. Under the instruction of the 1st Earl of Warwick, the gardens were transformed under one of Britain’s greatest landscape gardeners, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown.
It is believed that Warwick Castle was Brown’s first independent castle commission and his achievements here won him praise and national recognition. Every curve of the lawn or tree and shrub planted was carefully considered. It may look natural, but the gradient of the lawns down from the Castle to the river is actually man-made. Although there have been many changes since Brown’s time, the overall layout is still ultimately his and continues to be maintained by our passionate grounds and gardens team.
Did you know?
It is thought that Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown’s nickname was coined from his catchphrase “I see great capabilities here”.
During your visit, make sure to venture across the River Avon to the island. This is where you can see the firing of the trebuchet and where our brave knights face each other during our seasonal jousting tournaments.
The most famous use for the island was where the 5th Countess of Warwick in the 1890s housed her exotic menagerie of animals. Some of the more unusual animals included Japanese deer, a flock of Chinese geese, an emu, assorted raccoons, an Ant bear and a baby elephant! Not animals you would typically find roaming the Warwick landscape!
Did you know?
The emu in the menagerie entered the pages of emu history by chasing a bishop through the Castle grounds!
One of the most iconic elements of Warwick Castle is the stunning peacocks that roam in their garden home. This part of the garden was designed by the Victorian landscape gardener Robert Marnock and consists of a number of topiary peacocks, manicured hedges and beautiful pond and fountain. Running gently down to the river is the Pageant Field, flanked on either side by trees, such as the Cedars of Lebanon, which is a great space to sit and take in the beautiful surroundings.
Overlooking their garden home is the conservatory which was built in 1786 by local man, William Eborall. It was originally conceived to house the Warwick Vase, a magnificent piece of ancient Roman pottery excavated near Tivoli in 1771, which are now on display at the Burrell Collection in Glasgow. However a full-size replica can be seen in conservatory.
Did you know?
At Warwick Castle we have over 20 peacocks and peahens. How many can you spot as you wander around the grounds?
This restored example of a Victorian Mill is located by the south side of the Castle beside the River Avon and is a great example of the innovation used to bring electricity to the Castle. The earliest known Mill at the Castle was recorded in the early 12th century, which was approximately 90m downstream of the Castle building. By the late 14th century this position was abandoned in favour of the present site.
The Mill remained largely unchanged until a fire in 1880 that destroyed all internal milling machinery, leaving nothing but the waterwheel and outer walls standing. Despite this tragedy, fourteen years later the latest technology made use of the Mill’s space and its riverside location, in the form of a water-powered electric generating plant, one of the earliest hydroelectric power stations in the country.
The Castle continued to depend on the Mill and Engine House for its electrical power until the arrival of mains electricity in 1940 which signalled the gradual demise of the plant, leading to complete abandonment in 1954.
The mill was extensively renovated at a cost of over £2 million to return it to its former glory and opened to the public for the first time in April 2002.
The Mill and Engine House reveals a little known chapter of the Castle’s history and shows how the innovative and extravagant 5th Earl of Warwick was able to generate electricity for the Castle, including the lighting of the whole Castle for his wife’s birthday.
Did you know?
There is an ancient connection between mills and eels and this mill is no exception. It has its own trap and the eels caught were served to the guests of the Earl and Countess.