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Royal Leamington Spa and Kenilworth Castle Tour

4th October 2014

8.30am

Northwich Memorial Court
Chesterway
Northwich
Cheshire
CW9 5QJ

Tickets £20.00

Saturday 4 October
Coach leaves Northwich Memorial Hall at 8.30am
Other pick-ups available - click here for details
£20.00 - entry fees are extra

Royal Leamington Spa is a fashionable and elegant town in the heart of South Warwickshire. With Georgian and Victorian architecture, tree-lined avenues and squares and glorious gardens, it offers a unique experience to its visitors, and has been described as ‘the best bits of London, all in a ten-minute walk’.

The magnificent Royal Pump Rooms are now a cultural and tourism complex, housing the town's Museum, Art Gallery, Library and Tourist Information Centre. In the museum, there are displays on the historic use of the Pump Rooms and Spa Treatments and the chance to sample the water!

See the Art Gallery collection here.

Crossing the road from the Royal Pump Rooms are the Jephson Gardens, which are perfect for a gentle stroll. These Grade II listed gardens of horticultural excellence include a sensory garden, a temperate glasshouse, a refurbished boathouse and children's play area. There is a new riverside restaurant and the charmingly restored Victorian tearoom.

Click here for a map of Royal Leamington Spa, and Visitor Guide here.

After lunch we visit Kenilworth Castle (EH).

Kenilworth is one of England’s most magnificent castles. Once standing at the heart of a 1,600-ha (4,000-acre) hunting ground, and surrounded by a vast man-made lake, it represented a rich prize to the generations of royal and almost-royal great men who owned and embellished it: among them Geoffrey de Clinton, John of Gaunt, Henry V, and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Even in melancholy decay its influence has been far-reaching, thanks, in part, to Walter Scott’s best-selling romance, Kenilworth, which brought the castle new fame.

The first castle was established in the 1120s by the royal chamberlain, Geoffrey de Clinton. He built most of the Norman keep, and founded the nearby priory. In the early 13th century, King John added an outer circuit of stone walls, and a dam to hold back a great lake, thus creating one of the kingdom’s most impressive castles. Subsequently the castle was developed as a palace. John of Gaunt, son of Edward III, constructed the great hall and associated apartments. In the 15th century, the castle was the favoured residence of the Lancastrian kings, drawn here by the excellent hunting. Henry V built a retreat – the Pleasance in the Marsh – at the far end of the lake.


The great hall, built by John of Gaunt between 1373 and 1380, was the architectural centrepiece of the castle's inner court. In 1563, Elizabeth I granted the castle to her favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. He turned Kenilworth into a great Renaissance 'prodigy house', designed to receive the queen and her court on their ceremonial 'progresses' around her realm.

Striking evidence of Dudley's transformation can still be seen everywhere at Kenilworth, not least inthe form of the new garden, recreated by English Heritage on the basis of a contemporary description, representing the one that Dudley had made for the 19 days of festivities laid on for Elizabeth I's visit in 1575. The castle's fortifications were dismantled in 1650, after the Civil War. In 1821, the ivy-clad ruins became famous as the setting for Sir Walter Scott’s novel, ‘Kenilworth’, which romanticised the story of Robert Dudley, Elizabeth I and Amy Robsart. In 1958, Lord Kenilworth gave the castle to the town, and since 1984, it has been managed by English Heritage.

See Paintings on display here.

Click here for more information on Kenilworth Castle.

Click here to read "Kenilworth" by Sir Walker Scott.


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