Saturday, October 31, 2009

Castles, Gardens and All Hallow’s Eve

Heather - Saturday 31 Oct 2009. Kenilworth Castle is amazing. Building was commenced in around 1200 and has been extended in 3 stages over the next 500 years and occupied by Kings until it was ordered desecrated by royalty in 1700’s in order to keep out the Welsh. Talk about the bill for renovation. Well worth seeing the ruins which are remarkably in tact. The strange thing was that while the castle was destroyed the Gate House next to it was not and has kept farmers graziers comfortably homed for the next 300 years. The manor house is currently occupied however it was open on the day we visited and contained displays of the visit of Queen Victoria, the Earl of Leicester and the untimely death of his wife including original documents. 

Kenilworth CastleKenilworth Castle
Kenilworth Castle

The gardens have been restored if not the castle and they are really lovely. A shame we are not seeing them in spring or summer. We have plenty of pictures for mum of the knot garden created by the Earl of Leicester for Queen Victoria and her privy garden. 

The tapestries, beddings and curtains are original and the fabrics are in remarkable tact. Green seems to have been the colour in the Victorian age. The lady of the house generally appears to be the one who tapestries the curtain. We also found out that the reason for the small windows in the castle was to keep the castle warm. No double glazing).

Following the castle ruins, we went to Warwick to see an functioning castle. It turned out in fact to be a version of Disneyland. At least the money will assist with the upkeep. We were there rather late and so only walked around the outside.

Whilst in Warwick we also visited the museum of the local regiment, the Warwickshire Yeoman, the Teddy Bear Lancers. Information of this regiment has only recently been gathered with World War II gentlemen now in their eighties. A large amount of memorabilia, uniforms and historical accounts have been gathered. They were certainly a force to be reckoned with from the Boer War to today.

Two things of note for me in Warwick were the air raid shelter and the public lavatories. The first rather speaks for itself as it appears to be rather forgotten and neglected. It was well built for the speed at which it would have needed to be constructed to protect families and loved ones etc.

As for the hand washing system in the public lavatories, you had to push a button for soap, one for water and one for hot air. They were not in order however and a kindly American lady happily demonstrated the facility as she herself had dried soap on her hands before finding the water button which enthusiastically splashed you with water rather than your hands.

All Hallow’s Eve seems to be a notable event in England as everywhere we went we saw families dressed up in various costumes from the very early morning. As one person stated, this has occurred only recently with American influence.

Being All Hallow’s Eve, we arrived late in the evening at our accommodation at Shenstone, near Lichfield only to find they had no record of us and their internet system was down. 

All text and photographs are Copyright ©2009 Paul Anslow. All rights reserved.