Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire

~ History ~

1120's ~ Geoffrey de Clinton, treasurer and chamberlain to King Henry I, builds himself a castle at Kenilworth. The King, having suspicions about the loyalty of the Earl of Warwick is keen to promote and bankroll his man to counter the Earl's influence. Geoffrey is also appointed sheriff.

1133 ~ Geoffrey dies leaving his infant heir, also names Geoffrey to enherit his estates under his uncle, William de Clinton. William agree's for his nephew to be married to the Earls infant daughter Agnes upon them reaching adulthood.

1135 ~ King Stephen's accession to the throne further weakens the de Clinton's influence.

1173 ~ Kenilworth Castle is garrisoned for King Henry II during the 'great rebellion' on his sons. The castle is considered to be of such strategic importance that the King decides to take Kenilworth into Royal control.

1235 ~ Extensive building works at the castle are completed.

1244 ~ The custody of Kenilworth Castle is given to Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester and brother-in-law to the King. Simon sets about strengthening the castle's fortifications further still/

1258 ~ Simon leads rebellious barons against King Henry III that starts a civil war not seen since the days of the King's father John.

1265 ~ The bloody civil war finally comes to an end at the Battle of Evesham, where Simon's followers make a last stand at Kenilworth Castle.

1266 ~ Simon's eldest son, also named Simon, promises to surrender his father's castle to the King, but de Montfort's supporters refuse. A siege of the castle begins.

The King's patience snaps when one of his messengers returns from the castle with his hand severed by the rebels as a clear message to the King. Royal forces are further strengthened with the arrival of stone-throwing engines that pound the castle walls. They are however thwarted by the superior range of weaponary of the defending forces. The kings sends for larger stone throwing engines from London, the trebuchet.

The King also orders for barges from Chester so as the mere that surrounds the castle can be crossed to attack the walls.

Six months of assults repeatedly repelled, without any food or relief for the garrison, eventually gives way to startvation and disease. The remnants of the garrision finally surrender.

Immediately after the surrender of the castle, King Henry III grants it to his younger son, Edmund.

1279 ~ Kenilworth Castle is the setting for an Arthurian tournament in the honour of Edmund's brother, King Edward I who brings knights from across the realm to say their final farewell to King Edward's ally and close friend, Roger Mortimer.

1298 ~ Edmund's son Thomas recieves the grant for his fathers lands.

1322 ~ Thomas is executed for rebelling against King Edward II after the Battle of Boroughbridge.

1326 ~ Thomas's younger Henry brother executes revenge against the King when he captures teh fleeing King in South Wales after barons and his own wife Isabel turn against the King and his foreign favourites.

The King is brought to Kenilworth Castle where he is forced to abdicate.

1327 ~ The estates of the Lancastrian Henry are restored, including Kenilworth Castle.

1345 ~ Henry is succeeded by his son, Henry of Grosmont, who is a comrade in arms of King Edward III, in the wars with Flanders, France and Scotland. He becomes founder of King Edward's Order of the Garter.

1351 ~ Henry is created Duke of Lancaster.

1361 ~ Henry's son-in-law John of Gaunt enherits Kenilworth Castle upon his death. The following year he is created Duke of Lancaster.

1368 ~ John's wife Blanche dies.

1371 ~ John enters into a marriage of political convenience with Constanza, daughter and heiress of Pedro, the recently assassinated King of Castile and Leon in Spain.

1372 ~ John assumes the tile 'King of Castile and Leon'.

1373 ~ Major building work is undertaken at the 'Kings' castle of Kenilworth.

1399 ~ John's son becomes King Henry IV.

1414 ~ King Henry V is at Kenilworth Castle when he receives the insulting gift of tennis balls from the French Dauphin, provoking the King's campaign in France.

1415 ~ King Henry V's forces decimate the French forces at the Battle of Agincourt.

1450's ~ King Henry VI and his queen regularly reside at Kenilworth during the Wards of the Roses against their Yorkist cousins.

1485 ~ Following the Lancastrian victory over the Yorkist King Rchard III at the Battle of Bosworth, King Henry VII is a regular visitor to Kenilworth Castle.

1553 ~ John Dudley and later his fourth son Robert, are granted Kenilworth Castle. Major building work is undertaken at the castle.

John is executed for his opposition to the Catholic Queen Mary in favour of his daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Grey.

1564 ~ Robert Dudley is created Earl of Leicester.

1560-75 ~ Queen Elizabeth is a regular visitor to Robert at Kenilworth Castle.

1558 ~ Robert dies leaving no heir. Kenilworth Castle reverts to the Crown.

1626 ~ At King Charles I marriage Kenilworth Castle is granted to his queen, Henrietta Maria, held under stewardship by the Earl of Monmouth.

1642 ~ King Charles I withdraws the Royalist garrison from Kenilworth Castle after the Battle of Edgehill against Parliamentary forces. The castle is left to Parliamentary troops to garrison.

1648 ~ Following further Royalist uprisings Parliament order the slighting of Kenilworth so as it can no longer serve as a fortress. This work is undertaken the following year where walls and towers are part demolished.

1660 ~ Upon the Restoration of King Charles II to the throne, Kenilworth is granted back to his mother Henrietta Maria.

The castle gradually falls into further ruin and eventually abandoned.


Castle Green, Kenilworth





Kenilworth Castle is one of the largest and most significant castles in all of England.

Set upon a low sandstone hill at the crossroads of two ancient roads, teh castle has played an important role in the History of England and its Kings and Queens.

Today the castle is much ruined from its heyday when it was regarded as one of the Kingdom's most impregnable fortresses. It takes some imagination to visualise the moat that once proved to be one of its most omportant defences, as well as the outer walls and barbicans, now long long. There is however plenty still to see of the red stone keep and its surrounding palatial buildings with its fabulous Elizabethian gardens.

A must for anyone interested in English History and castles.