Kenilworth Castle dates back to the 12th century, but for us Tudor history lovers it's the link with Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, that gets us excited. Leicester, who was of course Elizabeth I's good friend and favourite, and, I believe, the love of her life, was granted the castle in 1563. In 1575, the Queen visited Kenilworth Castle for 19 days, the longest visit she made to any courtier, and Leicester made many changes to the castle in anticipation of her visit, including creating a chase, building a gatehouse and bridge over the mere, building a four-storey block of state apartments, and creating a beautiful privy garden. He also commissioned special entertainments for the queen in a last-ditch attempt to woo her.
On arrival, we were warmed (there was a bit of a cold wind!) by a tasting of mead and ginger wine - yum! - before braving the wind to view the castle.
Today, much of the castle, including the great hall and state apartments, is in ruins, but the gatehouse still stands complete, as do the stables, and English Heritage has built stairs and viewing platforms in the ruins of the apartments so that visitors can enjoy the views over the surrounding countryside, just like Elizabeth did. An original fire place, with Leicester's initials, RL, from the state apartments can now be found in the gatehouse and there is an exhibition about the Dudleys and Elizabeth on the top floor of the gatehouse.
The castle really is beautiful and I always feel very moved walking around it and thinking of everything Leicester did for Elizabeth.
We then moved on to Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre, the battlefield, of course, being where the Tudor dynasty began on 22nd August 1485, when Henry VII defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field. We visited the exhibition which tells the story of these two kings and the battle, as well as giving information on weaponry and warfare, the theories about the location of the battle, and the legacy of the Tudors. Those who were willing to brave the rather chilly wind were able to do the battlefield walk, which included the sundial memorial to the two kings and the well where Richard III is said to have drunk from shortly before he was killed in the battle. We also enjoyed the all-important gift shop!
Then, it was time to head back to the Arden Hotel to pack for tomorrow's move to London before enjoying a three-course meal.
Find out more about next year's tours at https://www.britishhistorytours.com/history-tours - we'd love to meet you!