Camp Like A King: Warwick Castle Offers Guests a Slice of the Middle Ages
A castle in England is allowing people to have an amazingly immersive experience. One of the country’s most historic castles is now offering guests the opportunity to experience life in medieval England. Warwick Castle is offering luxurious ‘Glamping’ accommodation and great entertainment to its guests. It is the latest in a series of offerings at historic sites in England and elsewhere that seeks to benefit from the rising popularity of Glamping and the demand for unique tourist experiences.
This castle, on the River Avon in Warwickshire, was originally built by William the Conqueror in 1068 in order to control the area. It was extensively rebuilt in the medieval period. The castle was owned by the famous Richard Neville, known as the ‘Kingmaker’, one of the most important figures in the Wars of the Roses. Warwick Castle was a fortress until the 17 th century when it was turned into a country house by the Grenville Family. According to the Shropshire Star, it was a ‘regular haunt of aristocracy and high society in the Victorian era and early 20th century’. The building was the home of the aristocratic Grenville family until the 1970s.
Merlin Entertainments provides extensive maintenance for the property. (CC BY-SA 4.0)
There has been extensive investment in the castle in recent years, by the new owners, a private entertainment company. In the grounds, there are many tents arranged in avenues. They are provided, reports the Scottish Sun with ‘bed, linen, towels, plus wooden floors, electricity points and Wi-Fi’ and they are much more luxurious than traditional camping. No matter the weather, these tents are always comfortable. This year, the castle is offering new even more luxurious camps known as the King’s Tents, that come with four-poster beds and are furnished in medieval style. It is also possible to rent one of the woodland lodges in the grounds of the castle.
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Throughout the summer, guests can camp like a medieval king in the tents on the Avenue of Kings at Warwick Castle. (Warwick-castle.com)
A medieval experience
The castle seeks to provide its visitors with an immersive experience. Large breakfasts and dinners are served in the Banquet Hall. The meals are roughly based on medieval recipes. Every evening guests can have the Kingmaker Family Feast, with meats and vegetables which they can share, just like at a medieval banquet. Of course, there are modern foods available, especially for kids, but even they have been given a medieval twist.
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Family Feasts are served daily in the banqueting hall. (Warwick-castle.com)
There are many various types of entertainment, very much focusing on the connections of the castle with the bloody Wars of the Roses when the Lancastrians and the Yorkists fought for the crown of England. On an island in the river, there are re-enactments of the Wars of the Roses, including sword fights and jousts. Guests are asked to pledge their loyalty to one of the factions. A new live show based on dragon slaying is commencing in August.
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A medieval display in Warwick Castle (CC BY-SA 2.0)
In the Riverside Arena, there is a giant replica trebuchet, a medieval siege engine. This is believed to be the largest working trebuchet in the world. This replica is 6 meters (18 ft) high, weighs 22-tonne and can throw a heavy missile over 150 meters (450 ft). Watching the Trebuchet in action is one of the high points of any visit to the castle.
The trebuchet at Warwick Castle. (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Among the other attractions in the castle are regular displays of Falconry, a popular medieval pastime. Visitors can also see the jail, chapel, staterooms and the great hall. In the dungeon, there is according to the Shropshire Star ‘live actors bringing some gruesome scenes and tales to life’. In general, the focus is very much on family entertainment, there is plenty for kids to do. Including storytelling and a school for knights.
A knight on horseback passing a lodge. ((Warwick-castle.com)
The Preservation of the Castle
Merlin Entertainments, the owners of the castle plan to continue to invest millions of pounds in the complex in the future. They are adding new facilities and entertainments every year. They are also helping to restore the structure of the castle. The fortress, some of which dates back to the 14th century, needs regular work to ensure that its structure is maintained. While the entertainments provided at the castle may not be to everyone’s taste, there is no doubt that it is helping to preserve one of England’s most historic and storied castles.
Top image: Warwick Castle from the bridge over the River Avon, Warwick, Warwickshire, UK. (CC BY SA 4.0)
By Ed Whelan