We had a lovely day out at Kenilworth Castle today. It’s a perfect excursion for the days between Christmas and New Year – crisp, bright and festive. We all had fun exploring and LP tired himself out clambering over the ruined ramparts, so now he is having a snooze while twilight falls, and I’m writing this in the glow of our Christmas tree lights.
I can’t believe it’s been over six weeks since I last published something! It’s not like I forgot – Facebook’s “helpful” reminders kept it at the front of my brain. As someone familiar with “mom guilt”, I’m not going to beat myself up though. It is what it is. We’ve been busy with LP’s second (!) birthday, present shopping, cake making and then straight onto Christmas shopping, parties, wrapping and the big day itself.
I had no idea that there was so much to see at the castle – I’d always heard that it was just ruins, but the grounds are extensive and although the main castle is in pieces, there are still plenty of stone staircases and landings to discover, with wintery views of the countryside through the arrow slits. There’s also a furnished gatehouse which was decorated for the season:
Inside the gatehouse
The castle was originally Medieval, built in 1110, but it’s most illustrious period was the 1560s, when Queen Elizabeth II gave it to Robert Dudley, the man she would have married if it was acceptable to marry a subject. She spent enough time there to have her own quarters and ‘privy garden’. They’ve restored the Tudor garden according to the detailed description of Robert Langley, an official of Dudley’s house. It’s easy to imagine the courtiers walking the manicured squares, conspiring along the paths.
The Queen’s privy garden and aviary
Like with Packwood House, this is a great place for toddlers to experience freely – running around the gardens, climbing over the sandstone blocks, picking up the gravel and – carefully! – going up and down steps and into the old chambers and basements. Some of the heights are quite dizzying!
LP can be seen below, knocking on doors, running through garden paths, admiring the exotic birds and listening to echoes in the ancient food store.
The toddler’s eye view of Kenilworth Castle
I definitely recommend this as a day out for a toddler. Under 5s are free and it’s £10.10 for adults. It’s normally only open at weekends but they open during Christmas week. There is a baby change in the gatehouse, although prams and pushchairs need to be left at the entrance. If you go – take a tip from me and drive around to the main entrance, instead of trying to take the path around the side of the castle, opposite the Queen and Castle pub. We didn’t realise it was the side entrance and had a bit of challenge getting the pram up the steep, muddy footpath! *Facepalm*
There was also sloe gin tasting taking place – so we brought ourselves a little souvenir to enjoy at home. I think I’ll go and make myself one now… Merry Christmas.