March 29th 2008 17:36
Kenilworth Castle by David Stowell, under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike License 2.0 on Wikimedia Commons. Part of the UK Geograph Project. Thank you David Stowell for sharing this image.
Kenilworth Castle Was the Home of Queen Elizabeth I's Favourite, Robert Dudley
Queen Elizabeth I was called the Virgin Queen, and did not marry, but in works of fiction, and perhaps in real life, she did enjoy some romance. Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester was the man who came closest to enticing the Queen to marry him.
The high point of his courtship came with Dudley's entertainment of Her Majesty at Kenilworth Castle, where the parties were legendary. In the summer of 1575, Dudley held a three-week long extravaganza with the object of impressing the Queen and winning her hand in marriage.
The party was indeed impressive - "music, masques, morris dancing, bearbaiting, hunting, lavish banquets and extravagant firework displays", to quote The Independent newspaper (The Great Kenilworth Booze-Up: how to party like it's 1575, by Andy Smith, 17 December 2007).
She said no.
Visiting Kenilworth Today
Kenilworth is run by English Heritage and has been undergoing significant renovation and restoration. It is open to visitors. Most of the castle is a ruin, but a beautiful one. The first time I saw it, the red bricks of the old walls were glowing like a sunset. Trite as that description might be, it's also accurate. This place has a charm and warmth to it that only red stone can give.
English Heritage suggests just over two hours for a visit to the castle, gatehouse, stables, tea room and shop. During 2008, the Elizabethan gardens are being recreated, with opening scheduled for 2009.
Kenilworth Castle is near Warwick and Coventry, and can be reached via train and bus, or bus alone.
By car from London, it is about two hours' drive (from the centre of London) with a distance of 104 miles or about 168 km. It's not far from Stratford-upon-Avon, and those travelling by car can easily visit both places on the same day. Look for bus or coach tours from London or Birmingham.
More info: Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare's Pretty Town
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