2009 Castles of England
Take a closer look here at the ten selected castles depicted on the Castles of England Smilers sheet.
In 1068 William the Conqueror first built his fortress in Warwick of which only William’s mound now remains. Over the centuries the castle became an impressive stronghold reflecting the status of its owners and by 1088 this was the seat of the Earls of Warwick. Henry de Beaumont, son of a powerful Norman family was appointed by William as constable of the castle and in 1088 Henry was made the first Earl of Warwick. In 1153 , the wife of Roger de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Warwick, was tricked into surrendering the castle to Henry of Anjou who became King Henry II. It was during his reign that the original castle was replaced with a stone castle.
The castle passed down in the Beaumont family until 1242 and after the 6th Earl of Warwick, Thomas de Beaumont’s death the castle passed on to his sister, Lady Margery, countess of Warwick. King Henry III took care of the castle after Lady Margery’s first husband died and she was looking for another. After her marriage to John du Plessis she took back control of the castle. In 1264, the castle was taken in an attack by the forces of Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, from Kenilworth Castle due to the fact that William Maudit, 8th Earl of Warwick, did not actively support King Henry III. Maudit and his wife were taken to Kenilworth and held until a ransom was paid. William Maudit died in 1267 when the castle then passed on to William de Beauchamp, his nephew, the 9th Earl of Warwick and over the next 180 years it went through several generations of the Beauchamp family, each of whom made particular additions to the building.
Piers Gaveston, 1st Earl of Cornwall, was captured by Guy de Beauchamp, 10th Earl of Warwick and imprisoned in the castle until he was executed in June 1312. Thomas de Beauchamp, the 11th Earl, undertook several significant enhancements to the castle including a gatehouse, fortified gateway and towers. The facade overlooking the river was designed as a symbol of the power and wealth of the Beauchamp earls. After Anne de Beauchamp, the 15th Countess of Warwick, died, the line of Beauchamp’s earls came to an end with Richard Neville becoming the next Earl of Warwick through his wife’s inheritance of the title. Neville was killed however in the Battle of Barnet when fighting against King Edward IV in 1471 during the Wars of the Roses. Warwick castle then came into the hands of Neville’s son-in-law, George Plantagenet who was subsequently executed in 1478. His son, Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick was given the castle and its lands but since he was only two years old at the time it was then taken into the custody of The Crown. Edward, who had a legitimate claim to the throne was imprisoned by Edward VI, Richard III and Henry VII until he was executed for high treason by Henry VII in 1499. Edward was then the last Earl of Warwick of the title’s initial creation.
The Castle ended up in the care of The Crown from 1478 until 1547 when it was significantly repaired and renovated. In 1547 it was granted to John Dudley, with the second creation of the title the Earl of Warwick, who complained about the castle’s condition since it had fallen into decay due to age and neglect. This situation had not changed in 1601 when Sir Fulke Grevile noted that there may be nothing left of the castle except its name! In 1604 the castle was given to Sir Fulke Greville by King James I and converted into a country house. Fulke Grevile spent large sums of money on the conversion and renovation of the castle only to be murdered in Holborn by his manservant Ralph Haywood who stabbed Greville in the back after he found out he had not been included in his will.
Robert Greville, the 2nd Baron Brooke, then enhanced Warwick castle’s defenses in 1642 in anticipation of attack during the First English Civil War. As a Royalist supporter the castle was laid siege in August 1642 by a Parliamentary army. The siege was lifted on 23rd August 1642 and as a result of this and various other battles which took place both during the First and Second English Civil Wars a garrison was maintained there from 1643 to 1660. The English Council of State ordered the castle governor to disband this garrison and hand the castle to Francis Greville, 3rd Baron Brooke. The title Earl of Warwick was recreated in 1759 and bestowed upon Francis Greville, 8th Baron Brooke, who had undertook a renewed programme of improvements to Warwick castle and its grounds. Amongst the eminent people who carried out these improvements were Daniel Garret and Lancelot “Capability” Brown , the English landscape gardener. In 1802 George Greville, 2nd Earl of Warwick under the new creation, had particularly serious debts and as a result the castle and estates were given to the Earl of Galloway and John FitzPatrick, 2nd Earl of Upper Ossory in 1806. A fire extensivley damaged the castle in 1871 and gutted the Great Hall but the overall structure of the castle was unharmed.
The castle was sold by the Greville family in 1978 to the Tussaud’s Group which has restored and developed the castle and turned it into one of the country’s top tourist attractions. Displays in the castle include period furnishings and life-like waxwork models and show the life of the castle through the ages up to the late Victorian era. Why not pay the castle a visit and send us in a postcard!?