Castle Green, Off Castle Road, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, CV8 1NG
I got this place completely backwards. From the website and description I thought that we would spend most of our time in the gardens and just a little while looking around the ruins. I was wrong, it was the other way around.
We went during the holidays so they had some themed events going on. There was sword skills, a Tudor princess and lots of armour you can try on. The guy who was running the activities was really funny – all the kids were given foam swords and had to practice a battle with the adults. All of the kids had a great time running around attacking each other (so did the adults), but smallest child seemed to have had the most fun. Turns out she really wants to be leading a rebel Tudor army! He also had (what I hope were replica) weapons that the kids could touch – and was more than happy to explain exactly what they could all done.
The castle is in ruins, but there is so much of them that it took hours to explore. There are three main areas to look around. As you look at the castle there is the Elizabethan tower on your left that you can still walk up. It’s about a million floors up (or at least that’s how it felt with smallest child in her carrier) but the views from the top were spectacular. There are some long drops so I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re not keen on heights.
The castle keep on the right is MASSIVE. It’s hard to get perspective from this photo but the walls are 98 feet high!!!!!!!! Thankfully you can only get to the first floor in this building, I’m not sure I’d want to go any higher.
At the back there is the Great Hall and there are several other sections were you can still get to the first floors and lots of other ruins at ground level. There is also a basement room which is delightfully dark and spooky.
Make sure that you don’t miss the ruins that are on either side of the stables areas. Dotted around the site there are several complete rooms that you can go into. There are various boards around that tell you what would have been happening in each of the rooms, but it’s also quite fun to try and guess what the smaller rooms might have been used for. I was probably much more dramatic than the reality but the kids and I had great fun making it up! The boys had so much fun running in and out of the rooms and ruins.
Because they are ruins they are not pushchair friendly at all. There’s lots of partial walls, uneven surfaces and steps. I dumped the pushchair near one of the walls and stuck smallest child in the carrier, and I wasn’t alone. It’s worth knowing that there are also several steep slopes that it’s easy to lose a child in or down!
The gatehouse is still intact and there are several rooms that you can explore. There’s also a little games room and a couple of exhibitions for you to look around. There isn’t a huge amount for you to do in here, but we were looking around for about 45 minutes. (This is also where the baby change is.)
The Elizabethan gardens were a bit of a disappointment – they are actually quite small and when we visited there wasn’t a lot too them, but then it was Feb half term and most gardens are looking a bit dreary then. There’s a little aviary, but the bottom of it is at adult’s waist height. The boys couldn’t really see anything and even when I lifted her up smallest child couldn’t really see much which was a shame.
We didn’t get chance to have a wander around the wider estate but they are various walks that you can do. We completely missed the little museum and interactive exhibit at the end of the cafe! Apparently there’s dressing up and there’s a model of how the castle would have looked when it was complete. Silly thing to miss really!
Kenilworth Castle is a medium sized castle in terms of the grounds, and it very much is a ruined castle, so there’s no playground area and there’s not a huge amount of facilities, but that’s actually part of the charm of this place. It’s all about scrambling around the ruins and imagining what it might have been like to live there!
Quick note – if you’re desperate for the loo when you arrive maybe don’t use the one in the welcome centre. It’s right next to the tills and is more like a large cupboard than the loos. I swear you’d probably be able to hear everything that happens in there!!!
We had a quick cake in the cafe. The food was nice enough and reasonably priced. A kids lunch bag is £4.50. There was plenty of seating outside and inside.
Entry – a family ticket is £33.90. English Heritage and CSSC members get in FREE
Parking – There is a small car park across the road. By the time we left it was full. If you’re travelling any distance then I’d recommend getting there early. There’s a £2 daily charge, which is refunded for visitors and members.
Toilets – There’s a very public feeling loo at the welcome centre. There are also toilets near the stables block and in the gatehouse.
Food – There’s a cafe on site but picnics are also very welcome.
Rating – 4 / 5. This is very much an outdoors day (The only shelter is in the cafe and the gatehouse). It’s such a lovely space to just let the kids run free. Do be careful of the steep drops and slopes though. We nearly had one broken ankle after a particularly fast run down an embankment.
I’m Vicky and I am a mum of three living in Aylesbury. I set up Free Time with the Kids to review free and cheap family days out in Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire, mainly because I kept forgetting all the fabulous places that were recommended to me!! I love getting out and about with the kids (and hubby of course) and we have adventures all over the place. My reviews tell you all the things you need to know about the family days out and activites we’ve done such as how much it costs, if there’s parking, toilets and if there’s a cafe or if picnics are allowed. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via Facebook
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