A Fun Day at Warwick Castle – Part 2

courtyard-from-the-motte-and-bailey

View of the courtyard from the motte-and-bailey

In Part 1 of this post, I wrote about the construction and design of the various buildings that have become the Warwick Castle we see today. In this post I’d like to show some of the fun activities laid on at the time of our visit in August 2015 and a few of the displays and waxworks inside parts of the castle.

First, here’s the plan of the castle again for easy reference if need be:

warwick-castle-plan

The first thing we noticed on the gloriously sunny day we drove out to Warwick was the number of stalls and activities set up both in the outer ward (outside the curtain wall) and around the courtyard:

Warwick Castle was bought by The Madame Tussauds Group in 1978 and opened as a major tourist attraction. Throughout the summer holidays, fun events and activities are staged at the Castle, all aimed at attracting and entertaining families and hopefully, helping children to develop an interest in history. Entry isn’t free, nor is the castle owned/managed by either the National Trust or English Heritage, and families with several children would find it an expensive day out. In addition, there’s an extra fee for anyone wanting to enter the dungeon in Caesar’s Tower. A little about the dungeon later…

Most of the permanent displays are set out in the Great Hall, State Rooms and family apartments inside the collection of buildings along the eastern side of the castle, flanked by the River Avon. The waxwork figures are impressive, to say the least. These two photos show the inner/courtyard side of the buildings  along the east side of the castle and a close-up of the entrance, which takes us into the State Rooms and many displays:


The first place we come to is the Great Hall. This was originally built in the 13th century, then rebuilt in the 17th century for visiting guests of the Earl of Warwick. It was further restored in 1871 following a great fire which left it in ruin. The displays in here are all connected with weapons and armour:

Next we headed to the rooms in the undercroft devoted to ‘The Kingmaker’, Richard Neville (1428-71). Neville was  the 16th Earl of Warwick, who took command of the castle in 1449. He was a good administrator who did much to modernise and improve the castle, and in the second half of the 15th century he became the most powerful man in Britain. The exhibits describe his life and subsequent death at the Battle of Barnet. They also show his life at the castle, as well as the lives of others who lived there. Here’s a selection of the many photos we took – some of which were ruined by glary lights.

I won’t include photos of the various State Rooms here (i.e. rooms such as the formal dining room) just a few photos taken in the adjacent family rooms, which displayed events and characters from A Royal Weekend Party. This was a party given/organised by Frances (fondly known as ‘Daisy’) Countess of Warwick in 1898. The principal guest was the then Prince of Wales, later Edward V111. It is believed that the Prince of Wales’ infatuation with Daisy was the inspiration for the song that starts:

Daisy, Daisy. give me your answer do

The song was written by English songwriter Harry Dacre (pen-name of Frank Dean) in 1892;

And this is a cute little YouTube video of the famous song, from kidsmusicshop1:

To finish this post, here’s a little bit about the gaol and dungeon inside Caesar’s Tower:

The rooms inside Caesar’s Tower are interesting to visit, although it was only permitted as part of a guided tour – and cost an extra £9.00 to get in. We were led round various rooms to watch a series of short dramatizations – some of which were a bit gory (all pretend!). One was in a torture chamber and another was a medical ‘operation’! Yet another was a medieval court scene whereby a judge pronounced ridiculously unjust punishments on prisoners who had supposedly committed some small crime – like stealing a cabbage. Needless to say, members of the audience were picked to play these unfortunate prisoners (my husband being one of them!). It was just a shame that photography wasn’t allowed.

Eventually we headed underground to the dungeon. This was similar to most dungeons I’ve seen elsewhere, with very little light and graffiti on the walls from prisoners of centuries ago. And awful torture chambers.

This image is from Wikipedia:

675px-warwick_castle_torture

A gibbet on display in the basement of Caesar’s Tower at Warwick Castle. Author: Chensiyuan. Creative Commons

Apologies for the glary patch on this information board!

prisoners-and-the-dungeon

But the most interesting thing in this dungeon was this:

oubliette-at-warwick

This grille on the dungeon floor is the opening into what is called an oubliette – a very chilling thing indeed. Any unfortunate prisoner put into to this tiny space – not even big enough for him to stand up in – was effectively forgotten and left there to die.

info-about-oubliette

In the third post about Warwick Castle, I’ll eventually get round to writing about the event we actually went to Warwick to see: the joust.

*****

About milliethom

I am a reader and writer of historical fiction with a keen interest in the Earth's history and all it involves, both physically and socially. I like nothing better than to be outdoors, especially in faraway places, and baking is something I do when my eyes need respite from my computer screen.
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35 Responses to A Fun Day at Warwick Castle – Part 2

  1. Heartafire says:

    This is so fascinating, I would love to visit this castle! and of course, the Dungeon!

    • milliethom says:

      Thanks Holly. I’m sure you’d love a visit to Warwick. It’s a great castle and a day spent there is lots of fun. There’s a cafe/restaurant, as well as plenty of picnic areas. On events day, there are food stalls, too. The dungeon is well worth seeing!

  2. draliman says:

    Lots of fun to be had, and history to be learned!

  3. Shivangi says:

    This was such an interesting read Millie. Thank you for taking us on another historical tour😀

  4. atkokosplace says:

    Wow, a castle! How exciting it must have been! I sang that some many times as a child and to my children. Neat to know a bit about who it was written for! I must go back and read part one! Thank you for taking us on the tour!

    • milliethom says:

      Thanks, Koko. We all love castles, don’t we? There’s something romantic about them, and so many stories are set in them in the past. There are quite a few haunted ones around, too! Warwick is one of the best castles for visiting with children, especially when the special events are on.
      The song ‘Daisy’ is so well known and is a fun little tune. I admit, until we visited Warwick Castle, I had no idea who wrote it or why.
      Glad you enjoyed the tour.

  5. I would love to do reenacting there! 🙂

  6. cherylfoston says:

    Looks like a lot of fun. The castles are wonderful!

    • milliethom says:

      I adore castles, Cheryl. We have so many of them in Britain and I’ve visited dozens. Many are just ruins, but there are quite a few well maintained ones, like Warwick. For children, there are regular fun events and activities throughout the year. In lovely, sunny weather, it’s a perfect day out.

  7. Michael says:

    It’s like a serial Millie and I am enjoying it..its hard to imagine how anyone could be treated so badly for crimes so minor and as for being forgotten, what did you have to do to warrant that treatment? Thanks so much for sharing all this with me..

    • milliethom says:

      I started out to write a single post about Warwick, Michael, but realised I had far too much for a single post. I tried fitting it all into two, but they were so loooong! Next one will be that last – until I go to Warwick again. Then it will be just one post. 🙂
      The dungeons of those times were such awful places and inmates were shown no mercy. The oubliette is a horrifying thing. What an awful way to die. But history is full of examples of harsh punishments for minor deeds. For a starving peasant to have a hand hacked off for stealing an apple, loaf or cabbage, is hard to understand.
      Thank you for reading, Michael.

      • Michael says:

        Yes indeed Millie and for some crimes they sent them to Australia and look what happened from all that…lol…we colonials started to beat you at cricket…lol

      • milliethom says:

        Ha ha. Well said, Michael – although Nick would probably argue that last bit with you. (He’s a Yorkshireman, and all Yorkshire-born males think they’re the only people on earth who know how to play cricket!)
        But yes, sending people to the other side of the world seems unbelievable to us today. So much of our history makes us cringe.

      • Michael says:

        You can tell Nick my favourite Yorkshire cricketer was Fred Truman. I loved his commentary on the games, he told the most amazing stories with so much humour and I was lucky to read his life story one time. I think he did a lot to change the culture of English cricket for the better I might add. I have searched for copies of his radio interviews but they don’t seem to be available now.
        The ashes are coming Nick, beware the new breed of Aussie cricketer…lol

  8. milliethom says:

    Fred Truman is a legend for his personality alone. Even I admired him – and I’m from Lancashire! Nick’s just had a laugh at your comment but no contradiction, I noted. He did, however, say something unrepeatable about rugby…. 😀

  9. Susan Langer says:

    Nice armchair travel visit. Love your pictures. 🙂

    • milliethom says:

      Thanks, Susan. We have dozens of photos of this day out. I did intend to write just one post about Warwick, but it just seemed to keep on growing. I’ll have to seriously rein myself in! Lol. 🙂

  10. irinadim says:

    Fascinating post with fantastic photos, a lovely song for Daisy, and then the horror of the Dungeon, particularly the oubliette. Humans can be so cruel.

    • milliethom says:

      I can’t stop singing ‘Daisy’ since I wrote that post. I’m driving Nick round the bend! Lol.
      The oubliette is a horrifying thought, and illustrates well the saying about ‘man’s inhumanity to man’. Being locked down there until you died doesn’t bear thinking about.

  11. Beautiful and barbaric, just like the human spirit. My soon-to-be-ten boy (who learned a lot about the Medieval and Renaissance periods this yr) enjoyed the post.

    • milliethom says:

      Thank you! Your description fits this period of history particularly well – although I doubt the human spirit has changed since then. The oubliette is especially barbaric and is, effectively, a very long, dawn-out form of execution.
      I’m glad my post was useful for your son. I loved teaching about the medieval period.

  12. Kay G. says:

    So sad to think of those in that tiny space beneath the grill. Chilling to think of it.

  13. Joy Pixley says:

    So many interesting things to see there! I admit, I would be happy to pay all the extra admittance fees to get in. It’s amazing to see those suits of armor and try to imagine what it would be like to move around in them, much less try to fight without falling over. Are the figures in the inside dioramas really wax works? My goodness, I thought they were real! I’ve been reading “A History of Costume” by Carl Kohler so of course I’m most fascinated with all the details of the outfits.

    I’ve read that some of those terrible torture devices were actually made up later and weren’t used, but the oubliette was, and even without “Medieval torture devices” those dungeons must have been horrible beyond what we can even imagine these days. Thank goodness the justice system has advanced since then, at least for most parts of the world!

  14. inesephoto says:

    Amazing post, Millie, your photographs are fascinating! What a cool place to visit, and a great source of knowledge. And the video is so sweet 🙂

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