When I was a child, my favourite family day out was not at a theme park, or even at the seaside. I was a true history buff (still am) and my idea of half-term heaven was a day spent at the stunning Warwick Castle. This beautiful Medieval masterpiece is a magical place that brings historical events and characters to life in the confines of those thick castle walls. Last week I passed my love of this fabulous place to my six year old son, also turning out to be a bit of a history lover (thanks to a school project about the Staffordshire Hoard). Our first family visit was a definite success.
Warwick Castle is a real castle, so often when we talk of Castles we are faced with ruins as a result of the Civil War, but Warwick was on the winning side during that period, and so it retained all it’s magnificent. The home of such historically important characters as Warwick the Kingmaker, and the site of a murder in the 17th century that is now linked to it’s reputed haunting, Warwick has all the ingredients to make history fascinating for adults and children alike.
Our visit took part on a gloriously sunny day, which meant the chance to explore the grounds and outdoor demonstrations. We started though by touring the Great Hall and the State Rooms. Joe was fascinated by the suits of Armour, including models of armoured horses, and was very excited when one of the very helpful guides dressed him as a medieval Knight, complete with chainmail, shield and a rather large (but luckily very blunt) sword. There are plenty of guided tours, but we decided to take things at our own pace. I was fascinated by items pertaining to belong to Elizabeth 1st, and the death mask of Oliver Cromwell, whilst Joe loved unusual items like the very large cooking pot.
Towers and Ramparts
The towers and ramparts at Warwick offer some amazing views across the River Avon and Warwickshire, but Joe was a little frightened to venture up the enormous Guy’s Tower, instead venturing up the Clarence Tower with his dad. The Time Tower offers a new attraction for 2015, with an interactive display telling the history of the castle from Saxon times to the present day. Joe particularly enjoyed this, especially the talking portraits that moved out of their frames, as if by magic.
We enjoyed the unlimited pizza and salad option at the Undercroft buffet restaurant. This is part of the castle itself, so offers another fantastic experience. There are plenty of different pizza options, both meat and vegetarian, and also garlic bread and a good choice of salads. Unlimited soft drinks are also included in the price, which is £10.95 for adults and £6.95 for children. We really enjoyed the food on offer and liked the buffet option, but there are other outlets including fish and chips, hotdogs, Warwick Cream teas and The Coach House Family restaurant.
There is so much to see and do in the grounds. We watched the birds of prey display, with Joe gasping as the huge Condor swooped down over our heads. We then visited the birds of prey mews where the birds sit so perfectly I actually asked my husband if they were real (I know – durrrr!). On such a beautiful day, many people were just sitting on the river bank enjoying the day, and the area around the Conservatory and peacock garden was very busy. This is one area that I totally fell in love with, the Conservatory is just beautiful and serves a great cream tea, whilst the fact that the peacocks roam free just fascinated Joe.
One addition that I certainly don’t remember from my childhood visits is the Pageant Playground. This is a lovely, children’s wooden playground resembling a medieval fort, perhaps based on the original Warwick Castle. This is a great area for allowing parents to have a sit down while kids can run off any excess energy and indulge in battles using the shields and swords they will have picked up at the numerous gift shops (quite reasonably priced – Joe had a plastic sword and axe priced at £3 each). We finished our visit with a trip to the playground, knowing this would tire Joe out for the journey home.
Warwick Castle is a true day out, you can literally spend the whole day there absorbed in the pomp and history of the wonderful building and its spectacular grounds. It is now an established favourite with my family and we can’t wait for our next visit.
To plan a visit, find admission and opening times, please visit the Warwick Castle website here.
*We were given free admission to Warwick Castle in return for a honest review.