Monday, October 24, 2011

Warwick Castle

Wow, I've been dragging out these pictures for quite some time, I'm still working through photos from our road trip a month ago!  Well, this time I'm just gonna post all the pictures I want to share from Warwick Castle in a single post so this one will be kind of long.  Warwick is not an English Heritage site; it's a privately run tourist attraction that's kind of trying to be Disneyland with more torture.  Or something.  Their website is pretty slick and calls it "Britain's ultimate castle" although to be honest, it was probably not even in our top 5 castles list.  Actually, their website seems different from the first time I looked at it before we went on this trip...then it was all done up with Flash and noise and it was kind of irritating.  Hmm.  Let's move on to pictures, shall we?

The place is pretty big so this isn't even the biggest part of it, but it's the part of the castle you see on the way in to the barbican (which is that bit on the left that sticks out from the castle walls).  The barbican protected the entrance to the castle with two portcullises, arrow slits for archers, and of course murder holes through which defenders could pour all kinds of not-fun things on invaders.  Ruin your whole day, that could.

Several of the exhibits had to do with Richard Neville, the 16th Earl of Warwick, nicknamed "Kingmaker" after his exploits during the Wars of the Roses.  This exhibit, peopled with wax figures done by Madame Tussaud's wax museum, shows preparations for battle:  making bows and arrows, shoeing horses, etc.

This exhibit is of one dude (Warwick himself, maybe?) making a rousing speech to the troops as they prepare for battle.  They had sound playing in the room, which was okay the first time you heard it or maybe even the second, but we stayed in here for quite a while as Lee really wanted a picture without any other people in it besides the wax dummies.  Then the sound effects got old real fast.

So all these pictures are in the order in which they were taken, but I took out so many that this kind of seems disjointed.  Oh well, I shall soldier on regardless.  After we toured the Kingmaker exhibit, we went back out into the courtyard and saw this bird taking off as part of the falconry show.  Then we found some stairs to climb.

This was taken from "the Mound", which has been the site of a fortress of some type since at least the Norman conquest.  The tower in the center is now called the Princess Tower and has a bunch of fairy tale/princess stuff in it but we were told it was just for kids (well FINE then, I wanted to go but nyeh).  The Great Hall and state rooms are to the left of the tower.

In the middle is the barbican from the inside, and to the left is Guy's Tower, built in the 14th century.

Part of the wall up on the Mound, just 'cause I liked the shapes in the crenellations.

Here's a view away from the castle from the Mound; lots of clouds heading in.

Wasn't sure which one I liked best so I'm posting the horizontal and vertical shots : )

And a silhouettey one with the town church spire in it.

Twice a day they have a display of how the trebuchet works, and we discovered that we could see it just fine from where we were up on the Mound, so we waited around about 20 minutes for that to start.  What is a trebuchet, you ask?

It's that catapult thingy in the lower right hand corner throwing a flaming ball of...something.  The trebuchet is powered by a couple of dudes in giant hamster wheels who crank the arm of the trebuchet down, and then it's released to throw cannonballs or fire or fiery cannonballs or people you don't like at whatever it is you're fighting with, be it army or castle or whatever.  It takes forever for the thing to be primed though, so I think I'd rather stick with a bow and arrow; much shorter reload time.  That's assuming I could actually shoot a bow and arrow, which I cannot do with any accuracy.

You can still see the projectile almost straight above the trebuchet...

And it's so high up it's almost out of the shot in this one.  Kind of fun to see how the thing worked since it was a big part of medieval siege warfare.  After the show was over, we walked down from the Mound along the outside of the castle walls and found...

A peacock.  They actually have a peacock garden on the grounds, so we saw several of them walking around.  Why is it that rich people keep peacocks?  Even Lucius Malfoy had some (and his were white).  When I was little, my great-grandmother would take us out to this park called Mooney's Grove and Adam and I would chase the peacocks around.  They're FAST.  One of the guys who worked at the park saw us one day and gave us a few peacock feathers he'd picked up around the grounds though, so that was cool.  And then I think he told us to quit chasing the peacocks, not that we ever got close enough to make them worry much.

Well, I tried to pull the sword from the stone, but I guess I'm just not the true-born King of England.  Plus, you know, GIRL.  So if the legend was that whoever pulled out the sword was the true ruler (non-gender specific) of England, I might've had a shot.

Lee and I then went to the start of the parapet walk, which had a sign saying that it involved over 500 stairs and once you started, you had to finish it, so of *course* we had to do that.  This is taken from atop Guy's Tower and you can see the much smaller Bear and Clarence Towers.  The original plan was for them to be as tall as Guy's Tower but then Richard III (who was driving that particular project) got busy with other things when he became king, so they stayed small.

Looking out over the courtyard towards the Mound and the state apartments on the left.

There's the town of Warwick, which is a pretty decent size.

And here's Lee standing over thin air on the tower : )  The guide book says that the holes were left there so that defenders could drop things on people or shoot at them from the top of the tower, even if they were hugging close to the castle walls.  They put a lot of thought into how to defend the castle, and from the torture exhibit we saw, even more thought into how to do incredibly cruel things to people who ticked them off.

More of Warwick, this one taken from Caesar's Tower on the other side of the barbican from Guy's Tower.  Doesn't that just look like you'd imagine an English village should look?

Lee trying to squeeze through a teensy passage on top of Caesar's tower.  Kind of makes you wonder why they built things this way with teeny tiny passages between, but it's that way with houses too.  There are several buildings I walk past every day with my dogs that only have maybe 12 to 18 inches between them.

That is the river Avon, upon which Stratford sits (more on that next time).

One last photo from inside the Great Hall.  They had lots of armor and weaponry all over the place.

We also toured the state apartments, which are again done up with wax figures, this time depicting a grand weekend party in 1898 given by Francis Greville, fifth Earl of Warwick, and his wife Daisy.  (Sorry, we didn't take any pictures of this part.)  They were part of the "Marlborough House set" led by Edward, then Prince of Wales and eldest son of Queen Victoria.  From what they said in the exhibit, many members of the Marlborough House set engaged in affairs with one another; Daisy was for some years the mistress of the future king, who was nicknamed Edward the Caresser (I laughed at that, it's an historical joke).  At least two of Daisy's children were fathered by men other than the one she was married to, and she was rather indiscreet about her affairs with the rich and powerful.  Could you imagine being Daisy's husband through all that?

So there you have Warwick Castle.  I'm off to bed; I feel like I might be starting to get sick and I really don't want to.  I've got less than a month left before my parental units get here and lots to do between now and then, so this would be a bad time to get the sniffles.  Nighty-night!


Giffysk8s said...

Yea! More photos! I am loving your trip.

I have to say that the photo of the bird in flight is so incredibly cool! Were you the photographer?

I also love the photo with the clouds rolling in. Such beautiful lighting!

And I know that you must have taken the silhouettey photo just for me. It has shadows, branches, and a church spire (close enough to a steeple for me ha ha), all of which I love to photograph. Thank you! :)

As for the sword in the stone: I, for one, am thankful that you are not the true-born King of England. If you were, then a peasant like me wouldn't be able to be your friend.

So sorry that you aren't feel well. I tried really hard not to share my cold with you via the Interwebs. :(

Wishing you a restful night's sleep!

Giffysk8s said...

I, of course, meant "not feeling well."

mistyhosey said...

I am totally loving your pics of England. Makes me miss it so much and makes me consider moving there. It is awesome that you and Lee get to experience all these amazing places.

CCsMom said...

STILL haven't had the chance to really read this and take it all in. Hopefully tonight when I get home. Just didn't want you to think I was ignoring you or anything. I ENJOY reading of your adventures and can't wait to have some of my own WITH YOU!!! Love you!!! Mom