Monkey is really starting to show an interest in history much to my delight. I’m a big fan of all things castle related and last weekend we were getting in the Christmas spirit at Warwick Castle. It’s been just over two years since I last visited with Monkey, and I was interested to see what he remembered, and whether he’d brave the ramparts this time around.
Warwick Castle is easily found just off the M40 on the outskirts of Warwick in Warwickshire. There is a parking charge of £6 to park in the grounds, purchase a token from a machine before the main ticket kiosk area.
We were all looking forward to seeing the Great Hall and other rooms within the castle, all decked out for Christmas. We only have a small tree at home, so I knew Monkey would be in awe of a tree over 20 feet tall. But there were other delights to enjoy before we reached the Great Hall.
Warwick Castle is such an impressive building, and beautifully preserved. It’s somewhere you can’t help but stop to admire.
Before we entered the inner courtyard of the castle we needed to assess if Daddy P had been a good boy this year and whether he’d be getting any presents from Santa. Clearly not!
With that revelation, we decided that Daddy P had better make amends by navigating us through the new Horrible Histories Maze. I’ve heard of Horrible Histories but not in detail, it would appear Monkey knows all about the series from school, and was soon off in search in Rattus Rattus. Children pick up a free Time Passport and travel through six time periods in search of Rattus Rattus. There’s information and activities to complete along the way and they can stamp their passports in each time period.
The maze is fairly easy-going and Monkey loved going from one time period to another and finding the stamp stations. The way out of the maze (for the kids) was a big hit as Monkey climbed over the assault course. When you’ve found all six stamps you can collect a reward from the Stables or Courtyard gift shop.
Within the main castle courtyard there’s so much to keep you entertained. The Castle Dungeon is a 50 minute walk through attraction, but this isn’t included in the main ticket entry price unless you are a Premium Merlin Pass holder. Monkey doesn’t like ‘pretend people’ very much so I knew that it wouldn’t bother him if we didn’t see the dungeons on this visit. One for the future.
He also decided that he didn’t fancy the Kingmaker exhibit, I think th fact he had to walk through a corridor before seeing what lay ahead freaked him out a bit. He’s a rather timid little boy. So whilst Daddy P and Monkey had a walk around the courtyard I joined Richard Neville back in 1471 as he rallied his troops for battle. It’s a great attraction, with lots of scenes to take in, you can have your photo taken whilst charging with your sword into battle and I thought it was very well done. You really get a good feeling of what life was like at the Castle at that time.
Getting in the Christmas spirit at Warwick Castle we headed to the Great Hall to start our visit of the castle rooms. We were in for a Christmas Tree delight as various rooms showed us different ways to decorate a Christmas Tree. We also got to see the very bed that Queen Anne had died upon at Kensington Palace and joined the Countess of Warwick and her Royal guests for a weekend house party. We might even have spotted Henry VIII and his wives along the way.
The Christmas theme kept Monkey’s attention throughout the time we spent inside the various rooms. He even warmed to the models that were preparing for their dinner party. There’s so much to take in, it’s the kind of thing you could do again and again, and spot something different every time.
The ramparts were calling and the weather was holding on a crisp November day. Guy’s Tower was closed for maintenance when we visited, but we were still able to explore Bear Tower, Barbican Tower and Caesars Tower and their connecting ramparts. Monkey coped well with the spiral staircases and none were too arduous.
No visit to Warwick Castle is complete without a bit of peacock spotting, and we weren’t to be disappointed on this visit. Although none could be persuaded to show us their glorious plumage, there were plenty to spot around the grounds.
One thing Monkey did remember from our last visit was the Mill and Engine House located at the rear of the castle, on the bank of the River Avon. We got to admire some other guests trying their hand at Archery (small fee applies) and looked over the river towards the Trebuchet as we walked towards the water-mill.
It’s hard to believe that the castle was powered by the Mill until 1940.
Whilst we were getting in the Christmas spirit at Warwick Castle we noticed that there were two Birds of Prey demonstrations in the grounds. We’ve seen this display before and it’s possible to get really close to the action.
Also included in the ticket price is the Time Tower experience. This went down really well with a nearly 7-year-old Monkey as you get taken back in time to the first settlement at Warwick in the 900’s. The tour takes you through the ages and shows children in a really simple to understand way, how the castle was lived in over the years. Part of the display wasn’t working properly during our visit, but it didn’t stop Monkey enjoying the overall experience.
The Mould is right next to the Time Tower, and is always a favourite to walk up and admire the views across Warwickshire.
If you feel like getting festive at Warwick Castle this year it’s worth knowing that Stories with Santa sessions are included in the entry price. The sessions run every weekend in December and every day from 19th – 24th.
You cal also arrange a Santa Breakfast and Santa Sleepover – visit the website for more information, pricing and bookings.
We decided to have a hot meal in the warmth of the Undercroft Restaurant (next to the Time Tower) and treated ourselves to a Carvery Roast dinner with unlimited hot and cold drinks. The Coach House Restaurant next to the main entrance was also open as was the Castle Burger Kitchen if you fancied eating outside. There are also numerous picnic benches dotted around the grounds for those more organised than us.
We really enjoyed getting in the Christmas spirit at Warwick Castle, and I could see Monkey just absorbing the history of the place. We’ll definitely be back a lot in the coming years I think, it’s a gem of a place to have within an hour from home and well worth a visit.
Have you been?