Warwick Castle (, like warren ) is a medieval shell keep castle in Warwick, the county town of Warwickshire, England. It sits on a cliff overlooking a bend in the River Avon. Warwick Castle was built by William the Conqueror in 1068 within or adjacent to Anglo-Saxon burh of Warwick. It was used as a fortification until the early 17th century, when Sir Fulke Greville converted it to a country house. It was owned by the Greville family, who became earls of Warwick in 1759, until 1978.
From 1088, the castle traditionally belonged to the Earl of Warwick, and it served as a symbol of his power. The castle was taken in 1153 by Henry of Anjou, later Henry II, when the Countess of Warwick was tricked into handing over the castle. It was again briefly lost in 1264, following a surprise attack during the Second Barons' War. It has been used to hold prisoners, including some from the Battle of Poitiers in the 14th century. Under the ownership of Richard Neville – also known as "Warwick the Kingmaker" – Warwick Castle was used in the 15th century to imprison the English king, Edward IV. Warwick Castle has been compared with Windsor Castle in terms of scale, cost, and status.
Since its construction in the 11th century, the castle has undergone structural changes with additions of towers and redesigned residential buildings. Originally a wooden motte-and-bailey, it was rebuilt as a stone shell keep in the 12th century. Repairs were necessary at various times due to slighting in battle and general decay. When Fulke Greville gained ownership in 1604, the castle was in ruins; he spent £20,000 (about £3,000,000 or $6,000,000 in 2007) on restoration work. In the 17th century the grounds were turned into a garden. Warwick Castle was purchased by The Tussauds Group in 1978 and opened as a tourist attraction. It is protected as a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Grade I listed building. The castle is a popular tourist attraction and features one of the world's largest siege engines. It is the subject of several paintings and drawings by the 18th-century Italian master Antonio Canaletto.
Warwick Castle is situated on a sandstone bluff at a bend of the River Avon. The river, which runs below the castle on the east side, has eroded the rock the castle stands on, forming a cliff. The river and cliff form natural defences. The castle is in the town of Warwick; when construction began in 1068 four houses belonging to the Abbot of Coventry were demolished to provide room. The castle's position made it strategically important in safeguarding the Midlands against rebellion. During the 12th century, King Henry I was suspicious of Roger de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Warwick. To counter the earl's influence, Henry bestowed Geoffrey de Clinton with a position of power rivalling that of the earl. The lands he was given included Kenilworth – a castle of comparative size, cost, and importance, and rebuilt in stone by Clinton – which is about to the north. Warwick Castle is about from Warwick railway station and less than from junction 15 of the M40 motorway; it is also close to Birmingham International Airport.
After the Norman conquest of England, William the Conqueror established a motte-and-bailey castle at Warwick in 1068 to maintain control of the Midlands as he advanced northwards. A motte-and-bailey castle consists of a mound – on which usually stands a keep or tower – and a bailey, which is an enclosed courtyard. William appointed Henry de Beaumont, the son of a powerful Norman family, as constable of the castle. In 1088, Henry de Beaumont was made the first Earl of Warwick. He founded the Church of All Saints within the castle walls by 1119; the Bishop of Worcester, believing that a castle was an inappropriate location for a church, removed it in 1127–28. In 1153, the wife of Roger de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Warwick, was tricked into believing that her husband was dead, and surrendered control of the castle to the invading army of Henry of Anjou, later King Henry II. According to the Gesta Regis Stephani, a 12th-century historical text, Roger de Beaumont died on hearing the news that his wife had handed over the castle. Henry later returned the castle to the Earls of Warwick as they had been supporters of his mother, Empress Matilda, in The Anarchy of 1135–54.
During the reign of King Henry II (1154–89), the motte-and-bailey was replaced with a stone castle. This new phase took the form of a shell keep with all the buildings constructed against the curtain wall. During the barons' rebellion of 1173–74, the Earl of Warwick remained loyal to King Henry II, and the castle was used to store provisions. The castle and the lands associated with the earldom passed down in the Beaumont family until 1242. When Thomas de Beaumont, 6th Earl of Warwick, died the castle and lands passed to his sister, Lady Margery, countess of Warwick in her own right. Her husband died soon after, and while she looked for a suitable husband, the castle was in the ownership of King Henry III. When she married John du Plessis in December 1242, the castle was returned to her. During the Second Barons' War of 1264–67, William Maudit, 8th Earl of Warwick, was an inactive supporter of King Henry III. The castle was taken in a surprise attack by the forces of Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, from Kenilworth Castle in 1264. The walls along the northeastern side of the castle were slighted so that it would be useless to the king. Maudit and his countess were taken to Kenilworth Castle and held until a ransom was paid. After the death of William Mauduit in 1267, the title and castle passed to his nephew William de Beauchamp, 9th Earl of Warwick. Following William's death, Warwick Castle passed through seven generations of the Beauchamp family, who over the next 180 years were responsible for most of the additions made to the castle. In 1312, Piers Gaveston, 1st Earl of Cornwall, was captured by Guy de Beauchamp, 10th Earl of Warwick, and imprisoned in Warwick Castle until his execution on 9 June 1312. A group of magnates lead by the Earl of Warwick and Thomas Plantagenet, 2nd Earl of Lancaster, accused Gaveston of stealing the royal treasure.
Under Thomas de Beauchamp, 11th Earl, the castle defences were significantly enhanced in 1330–60 on the north eastern side by the addition of a gatehouse, a barbican (a form of fortified gateway), and a tower on either side of the reconstructed wall, named Caesar's Tower and Guy's Tower. The Watergate Tower also dates from this period.
The barbican at Warwick is considered to be a fine example of such castle defences. Caesar's and Guy's Towers are both machicolated; machicolations are openings in the top of a tower through which objects can be dropped on attackers. Although the towers are residential, they are considered "masterpieces of fourteenth-century military architecture". Caesar's Tower contained a "grim" basement dungeon; according to local legend dating back to at least 1644 it is also known as Poitiers Tower either because prisoners from the Battle of Poitiers in 1356 may have been imprisoned there or because the ransoms raised from the battle helped to pay for its construction. The gatehouse has been described as "the quintessence of the twin-towered design", featuring murder holes, two drawbridges, a gate, and portcullises – gates made from wood or metal. The towers of the gatehouse were machicolated.
The reconstruction of the gatehouse and the east façade was funded by the spoils of the Battle of Poitiers. However, the eastern façade overlooking the river was designed as a symbol of the power and wealth of the Beauchamp earls and would have been "of minimal defensive value"; this followed a trend of 14th-century castles being more statements of power than designed exclusively for military use. The presence of windows in the east façade is a rarity amongst castles as it weakens the structure, permissible at Warwick Castle because the River Avon and the cliff provide a natural and almost insurmountable defence.
The line of Beauchamp earls ended in 1449 when Anne de Beauchamp, 15th Countess of Warwick, died. Richard Neville became the next Earl of Warwick through his wife's inheritance of the title. During the summer of 1469, Neville rebelled against King Edward IV and imprisoned him in Warwick Castle. Neville attempted to rule in the king's name; however, constant protests by the king's supporters forced the Earl to release the king. Neville was subsequently killed in the Battle of Barnet, fighting against King Edward IV in 1471 during the Wars of the Roses. Warwick Castle then passed from Neville to his son-in-law, George Plantagenet. George Plantagenet was executed in 1478 and his lands passed onto Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick; however, Edward Plantagenet was only two when his father died so his lands were taken in the custody of The Crown. He had a claim to the throne and was imprisoned first by Edward IV, then Richard III, and finally by Henry VII. He was held in the Tower of London until he was executed for high treason by Henry VII in 1499; Edward was the last Earl of Warwick of the title's first creation.
In the early 1480s King Richard III instigated the building of two gun towers, Bear and Clarence Towers, which were left unfinished on his death in 1485; with their own well and ovens, the towers were an independent stronghold from the rest of the castle, possibly in case of mutiny by the garrison. With the advent of gunpowder the position of Keeper of the Artillery was created in 1486.
While in the care of The Crown, Warwick Castle underwent repairs and renovations using about 500 loads of stone. The castle, as well as lands associated with the earldom, was in Crown care from 1478 until 1547, when they were granted to John Dudley with the second creation of the title the Earl of Warwick. When making his appeal for ownership of the castle Dudley said of the castle's condition: "... the castle of its self is not able to lodge a good baron with his train, for all the one side of the said castle with also the dungeon tower is clearly ruinated and down to the ground".
Warwick Castle had fallen into decay due to its age and neglect, and despite his remarks Dudley did not initiate any repairs to the castle. Queen Elizabeth I visited the castle in 1566 during a tour of the country, and again 1572 for four nights. A timber building was erected in the castle for her to stay in, and Ambrose Dudley, 3rd Earl of Warwick, left the castle to the Queen during her visits. When Ambrose Dudley died in 1589 the title of Earl of Warwick became extinct for the second time. A survey from 1590 recorded that the castle was still in a state of disrepair, noting that lead had been stolen from the roofs of some of the castle's buildings including the chapel. In 1601 Sir Fulke Greville remarked that "the little stone building there was, mightily in decay ... so as in very short time there will be nothing left but a name of Warwick".
Under Robert Greville, 2nd Baron Brooke, Warwick Castle's defences were enhanced in January to May 1642 in preparation for attack during the First English Civil War. The garden walls were raised, bulwarks – barricades of beams and soil to mount artillery – were constructed and gunpowder and wheels for two cannons were obtained. Robert Greville was a Royalist supporter, and on 7 August 1642 a Parliamentarian army laid siege to the castle. He was not in the castle at the time and the garrison was under the command of Spencer Compton, 2nd Earl of Northampton, who was Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire. Parliamentarian General William Dugdale called for Lord Northampton to surrender the castle, but he was refused. The besieging army opened fire on the castle, to little effect. According to Richard Bulstrode:
The siege was lifted on 23 August 1642 when the garrison was relieved by the forces of Arthur Capell, 1st Baron Capell of Hadham, and the Parliamentarians were forced to retreat to Worcester. After the Battle of Edgehill in 1642 – the first pitched battle of the English Civil War – prisoners were held in Caesar's and Guy's Towers. During the Second English Civil War prisoners were again held at the castle, including those from the Battle of Worcester in 1651. A garrison was maintained in the castle complete with artillery and supplies from 1643 to 1660, at its strongest it numbered 302 soldiers. In 1660 the English Council of State ordered the castle governor to disband the garrison and hand over the castle to Francis Greville, 3rd Baron Brooke. The state apartments were found to be outmoded and in poor repair. Under Roger and William Hurlbutt, master carpenters of Warwick, extensive modernization of the interiors was undertaken, 1669-78. To ensure that they would be in the latest taste, William was sent down to Dorset to make careful notes of the interiors recently finished at Kingston Lacy for Sir Ralph Bankes to designs by Sir Roger Pratt. On 4 November 1695 the castle was in sufficient state to host a visit by King William III.
Francis Greville, 8th Baron Brooke, undertook a renewed programme of improvements to Warwick Castle and its grounds. The 8th Baron Brooke was also bestowed with the title Earl of Warwick in 1759, the fourth creation of the title. With the recreation of the title, the castle was back in the ownership of the earls of Warwick. Daniel Garrett's work at Warwick is documented in 1748; Howard Colvin attributed to him the Gothick interior of the Chapel. Lancelot \"Capability\" Brown had been on hand since 1749. Brown, who was still head gardener at Stowe at the time and had yet to make his reputation as the main exponent of the English landscape garden, was called in by Lord Brooke to give Warwick Castle a more \"natural\" connection to its river. Brown simplified the long narrow stretch by sweeping it into a lawn that dropped right to the riverbank, stopped at each end by bold clumps of native trees. A serpentine drive gave an impression of greater distance between the front gates and the castle entrance.
Horace Walpole saw Brown's maturing scheme in 1751 and remarked in a letter: \"The castle is enchanting. The view pleased me more than I can express; the river Avon tumbled down a cascade at the foot of it. It is well laid out by one Brown who has set up on a few ideas of Kent and Mr Southcote.
In 1754 the poet Thomas Gray, a member of Walpole's Gothicising circle, commented disdainfully on the activity at the castle:
Gray's mention of Argyle Buildings, Westminster, London, elicited a connotation of an inappropriately modern Georgian urban development, for the buildings in Argyll Street were a speculation to designs of James Gibbs, 1736-40.
Greville commissioned Italian painter Antonio Canaletto to paint Warwick Castle in 1747, while the castle grounds and gardens were undergoing landscaping by Brown. Five paintings and three drawings of the castle by Canaletto are known, making it the artist's most often represented building in Britain. Canaletto's work on Warwick Castle has been described as \"unique in the history of art as a series of views of an English house by a major continental master\". As well as the gardens, Greville commissioned Brown to rebuild the exterior entrance porch and stairway to the Great Hall. Brown also contributed Gothick designs for a wooden bridge over the Avon (1758). He was still at work on Warwick Castle in 1760. Timothy Lightoler was responsible for the porch being extended and extra rooms added adjacent to it in 1763–69. and during the same years William Lindley provided a new Dining Room and other interior alterations. In 1786-88 the local builder William Eboral was commissioned to build the new greenhouse conservatory, with as its principal ornament the Warwick Vase, recently purchased in Rome.
In 1802 George Greville, 2nd Earl of Warwick of the new creation, had debts amounting to £115,000 (about £8,000,000 or $16,000,000 in 2007). The earl's estates, including Warwick Castle, were given to the Earl of Galloway and John FitzPatrick, 2nd Earl of Upper Ossory, in 1806, but the castle was returned to the earls of Warwick in 1813. The Great Hall was reroofed and repaired in Gothic taste in 1830-31 by Ambrose Poynter.Anthony Salvin was responsible for restoring the Watergate Tower in 1861–63. The castle was extensively damaged by a fire in 1871 that started to the east of the Great Hall. Although the Great Hall was gutted, the overall structure was unharmed. Restoration and reparations carried out by Salvin during 1872–75 were subsidised by donations from the public; the cost of the work was £9,651 (about £600,000 or $1,200,000 in 2007).
Warwick Castle is protected against unauthorised change as a Scheduled Ancient Monument, in recognition of its status as a \"nationally important\" archaeological site or historic building. The castle is a Grade I listed building; it is listed with the castle's boundary walls, stables, conservatory, mill and lodge. In 1978 Warwick Castle became a member of the Treasure Houses of England, a heritage consortium founded by ten of the foremost privately-owned stately homes in England with the aim of marketing and promoting themselves as tourist venues. In 1978, Warwick Castle was sold to Tussauds, a large visitor attraction operator. Tussauds performed extensive restorations to the castle and grounds in addition to opening its gates to the public. In 2001, Warwick Castle was named one of Britain's \\"Top 10 historic houses and monuments\\" by the British Tourist Authority; the list included Tower of London, Stonehenge, and Edinburgh Castle. Warwick Castle was recognised as Britain's best castle by the Good Britain Guide 2003.
In June 2005, Warwick Castle became home to one of the world's largest working siege engines. The trebuchet is tall, made from over 300 pieces of oak and weighs . The machine, which was made in Wiltshire, takes eight men half an hour to load and release. It is designed to be capable of hurling projectiles distances of up to and as high as and can throw up to of ammunition at a time. On 21 August 2006, the trebuchet claimed the record as the most powerful catapult in the world when it sent a projectile weighing a distance of at a speed of , beating the previous record of held by the Dutch. The war machine is situated on the banks of the River Avon which runs below the castle.
During a break-in on 23 June 2006, a £20,000 stained glass window was damaged and a ceremonial sword was stolen by three teenagers. The sword was later found in a hedge outside a house in the Castle Close area and was returned to the care of Warwick Castle. During the winter of 2006–07, Warwick Castle had the largest ice slide in the country at . However its ice rink did not freeze over because of the unusually warm weather. Fourteen metric tons (fifteen short tons) of ice were shipped in from Grimsby to help the rink freeze over. Seasonal attractions include "Warwick, Ghosts Alive," "Flight of the Eagles'" (a bird show, featuring bald eagles, vultures, and sea eagles), an archery display, and the "Kingmaker" Exhibit. In May 2007 Tussauds was purchased by Merlin Entertainments who continue to operate the castle on a lease, having sold the freehold to Nick Leslau's Prestbury Group on 17 July 2007.
The current castle, built in stone during the reign of King Henry II, is on the same site as the earlier Norman motte-and-bailey castle. A keep used to stand on the motte which is on the south west of the site, although most of the structure now dates from the post-medieval period. In the 17th century the motte was landscaped with the addition of a path. The bailey was incorporated into the new castle and is surrounded by stone curtain walls.
When Warwick Castle was rebuilt in the reign of King Henry II it had a new layout with the buildings against the curtain walls. The castle is surrounded by a dry moat on the northern side where there is no protection from the river or the old motte; the perimeter of the walls is long by wide. The two entrances to castle are in the north and west walls. There was originally a drawbridge over the moat in the north east. In the centre of the north west wall is a gateway with Clarence and Bears towers on either side; this is a 15th century addition to the fortifications of the castle. The residential buildings line the eastern side of the castle, facing the River Avon. These buildings include the great hall, the library, bedrooms, and the chapel.
Formal gardens belonging to Warwick Castle were first recorded in 1534. Landscaping in the 17th century added spiral paths to the castle motte during Fulke Greville's programme of restoration. Francis Greville commissioned Lancelot Brown to relandscape the castle grounds; he began working on the grounds and park in 1749 and had completed his work by 1757, having spent about £2,293 (about £250,000 or $500,000 in 2007) on the project. The gardens cover . Robert Marnock created formal gardens in the castle's grounds in 1868–69.
Started in 1743 and originally known as Temple Park, Castle Park is located to the south of the castle. Its original name derived from the Knights Templar, who used to own a manor in Warwick. Houses around the perimeter of the park were demolished and the land they stood on incorporated into the park. Attempts to make profits from the park in the late 18th century included leasing it for grazing, growing wheat, and keeping sheep.
A water-powered mill in the castle grounds was probably built under Henry de Beaumont, 1st Earl of Warwick. By 1398 the mill had been relocated to just outside the eastern castle walls, on the west bank of the River Avon. Both mills were subject to flooding. By 1644, an engine house had been added to the mill. The mill was reused as an electricity generating plant after it had stopped being used to grind, but once Warwick Castle was fitted with mains electricity in 1940, the mill was no longer required and was dismantled in 1954.