Although I’m home now, I still wanted to let you all know what I did while I was in the UK. I had some excellent adventures that I don’t want to forget about.
When John and I were planning my visit, I made a joke that we were going to find every ruined castle in the area and visit it. He scoffed at that idea and said that he would come up with a plan that he felt was more fun; he didn’t.
Kenilworth Castle was actually quite interesting (for me). It is in Warwickshire and is just a ruin these days but they had a great audio tour and I had my first cream tea of the trip, so I was very pleased. John and Cat went to the pub. Kenilworth Castle was started in the 1120s by King Henry I’s treasurer, Geoffrey de Clinton. It was further expanded and strengthened by King John in 1210-1215 in the hopes of preventing the barons from gaining access. Unfortunately, he made it so strong that about 50 years later, his son had to lay seige to the castle for 6 months in order to retake it from Simon de Monfort, the earl of Leicester. John Dudley built the second, more ornate, building in the 1570s as a place for Elizabeth I to stay when she visited. Dudley hoped to marry her… it didn’t work. Apparently, though, the castle was a sight to be seen at that point. It was ruined during the Civil War, 1649, and broken up for materials. It was restored in the 19th century as a ruin, which is what we have today.
While I was having my tea, there was a tour group of older people also having tea. They began to talk about when they have tea. One of the ladies mentioned her shock that some people had scones and cream for breakfast. THE HORROR!!!! The woman she was speaking with replied, “They are foreigners though, probably American.” It made me laugh. Anyway, the views of the surrounding countryside from Kenilworth were really lovely.
The entrance fee for Kenilworth Castle was £8, but the man at the door convinced me to buy a week membership to English Heritage for £21. English Heritage runs many sites around Britain, into which I get free admission, and has relationships with many other sites that gets me a discount to them. I also got a book that lists all of the English Heritage sites, which was quite useful for the rest of my “old broken things” journey. However, I can’t imagine these sites will change much in the next couple or 10 years so the book will be useful for later explorations too (a £10 value). Needless to say, I’m very glad I bought it, I really feel I got my money’s worth!
After Kenilworth, we drove to Warwick, which is a little town with a non-ruined castle. Unfortunately, the castle costs about £21 to get in and is VERY touristy, so we didn’t go in (although I do think I got a discount with my membership). I find that I prefer the ruins, which have a lot of historical information and not a lot of tourists, it feels more authentic to me. Anyway, we walked around Warwick, which was cute and touristy, and had some old buildings that I liked. John was horrified when I took a picture of a tea-shop.
The next day, Cat had to work (I think) so John and I went through my very useful English Heritage book and found the castle ruins for the day. The main plan was to wander through the countryside of the Peak District in Derbyshire, but we (read “I”) thought it would be a good idea to see more castles on the say, and I wanted to make my membership pay off.
Kirby Muxlowe Castle
First ruin of the day was Kirby Muxlowe Castle. It was basically just a gate house, a tower, and a moat. Unfortunately, it was closed that day, but really, there didn’t seem to be much to see. We were almost attacked by geese, however, which was exciting. They were hissing like CRAZY!
Next we went to Bolsover Castle, which was the main castle of the day, anyway. It had one ruined part and two non-ruined parts, which John appreciated.
Sir Charles Cavendish, built the little castle (the castle-y part above) and his son, William, who inherited in 1617 really loved his horses, so there was a large and impressive stable facility.
Next was the ruined part, built in the 1660s, which was where the family actually lived. It was really quite large and it is hard to imagine how it looked.
Finally, we walked through the main part of the castle, which is not ruined and actually has parts which have recently been restored. It was built by Sir Charles to be a pleasure palace in the early 17th century and finished by William. For this one we opted not to get the audio tour, for whatever reason, so we really had no idea what we were looking at. There were some signs at the rooms, but really we were just wandering around blind.
Off of the bedroom there were these highly decorated rooms that looked like large, walk-in closets. The ceilings were painted with these silly-looking cherubs and Jesus doing a jig in the middle. I have no idea what that was about, but John basically hid from the horror of it.
At one point we went into a tiny, dark, empty room, which was on a strange middle level, and we just couldn’t figure out what the heck it was. As we were leaving, I noticed that there was very faint writing on the outside of the door. Apparently the room we were in was the Cheese Room.
In the cellars there was this large room that was once the beer cellar that had two different video recordings projected on the walls. Both recordings had people talking but neither had sound, so we had no idea what they were saying. In fact, it was a bit creepy.
Finally, there were beautiful views of the countryside from the top and front of the main castle as well.
So that was the majority of the broken things with some green things, next mostly green things.