Monday, 4 June 2012

Day 25 – Warwick Castle

Today was another day with a reasonably long drive ahead of us.  We had slight detours, as per usual, in other words we got lost, but, by doing this we have seen some wonderful small villages and always got to our destination!!  We had to go to Warwick Castle today as we pre bought the tickets online.  If you buy them at least 7 days ahead you can save 40%, but silly us, we bought them 6 days ahead.  Kylie read comments last night about Warwick Castle by visitors, there was a mixed bag of comments, if we didn’t pre-purchase the tickets ahead of time we might not have gone BUT I am so glad we did.  This is an amazing place.  There was oodles of parking available and as usual you had to pay, in my opinion for the price they charge for entry parking should be free.  The first visions of the castle are amazing, as it is up on a hill and is so big.  Near the entrance was a stockade, so we got a lady to take our photo in it, I was the village idiot and Kylie, the drunkard.  There is a restored Victorian rose garden that was opened by Princess Diana near the entrance, so we had a meander through that as well.

Warwick Castle is over 1,000 years old it was under the stewardess of the Earls of Warwick till 1978, it is now owned by Merlin Entertainments Group (they also own Madame Tussauds) who have spent over £6,000,000 in the last 10 years alone on restoration.  Here is a timeline on the history and restoration

Upon entry we were greeted by many dressed in costumes from the time.  We watched rat-throwing and decided to have a go, talk about embarrassing ourselves!  First throw of Kylies was straight up in the air, I laughed so much that I did exactly the same :-/ … next throw was straight along the ground for both of us … the rat-catcher condemned us back to Australia, but we decided to go to the Goal instead!  This was a very dark, damp, miserable place.  Many previous occupants were left there to die without food or water.  We went on a ghost tour after this, where a very entertaining chap took us on a 30 minute tour and told some funny stories of treachery, murder and ‘carry-ons’.  Then we were off to explore the castle ourselves.

The Kingmaker exhibition was first up, this is various displays of times in the castle throughout it’s history under the rule of the various kings.  It is great the group who own Tussaud’s, own this as the displays as so life like with the waxwork models.  So much money has been spent on presentation.

 The Victorian house section was so funny.  It was lovingly restored as it was in that period of time, with hidden extras!  A lady named Daisy lived there and told the story of her affairs with several notable men.  As there are many hidden rooms everywhere, you could hear recordings of so called “carrying on’s” behind the hidden doors!  It was well done.

The great hall was magnificent with displays of armour and weaponry.  This lead onto an older section of the building that was from the 1700’s all decked out magnificently.  The oak panelling and detail of plaster work is mind blowing.  At the end was a room with Henry VIII and his wives.  Of course my camera went flat during this section so I have no pictures from here on, just a few on my phone.

There is a ‘walk’ through the towers that has 520 stairs.  Warnings are placed at the beginning about how many stairs, how you cannot go back etc.  So off we went, the first section wasn’t too bad, we had wonderful views over the castle grounds, then it started, tiny spiral staircases that went on and on and on … the views at top were amazing, views over the whole of Warwick, of course no photos L.  Just when you thought it was over, more tiny spiral staircases and even higher up, some people were so red and hot I thought they were going to collapse.  It was about 28 degrees, nice and warm to me, but hot to the English, they were acting as if it was 38 degrees. The downward climb was just as bad, the stairs are so small, you really had to concentrate not to over step them.
The finale was the trebuchet, which is the largest in the world, measuring 18 metres high and weighing in at 22 tonnes.  We walked back to the car through the peacock gardens, which have topiaries of peacocks and also real ones wandering around showing everyone their wonderful display of feathers!

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