If you’re regular readers of the blog you’ll notice that I love a good castle and I’m a big fan of the Tudor period. We’ve been to Warwick Castle a number of times and I thought it was time to do a review. Warwick Castle is very easy to get to from Bucks as it’s just off the M40. It took us about 1hr 25 minutes to get there. From somewhere like Banbury it’s just up the road!
This review of Warwick Castle was written whilst some social distancing measures were in place. These did have an impact on how much we enjoyed our visit compared to previous visits, so I decided to separate the two out. You can read all about the social distancing measures they have in place by clicking here.
The state rooms at Warwick Castle
The state rooms at Warwick Castle as so impressive. As you first enter the hall there’s a spectacular display of armoury and weaponry. There’s a tiny suit of armour in the corner, right up to two massive horses all kitted out. There’s also the very impressive Kenilworth Buffet. It is carved from a single tree that was felled in the grounds of Kenilworth Castle (read my review of that here).
There are only a few rooms open on the ground floor, which cover a variety of periods in the castle’s history. There’s a section all about HenryVIII complete with wax works of the man himself and his many wives (who doesn’t want a selfie with a king??). There’s also Marie Antoinette’s clock, loads of stunning paintings and yet more armour. Queen Anne’s death bed is a little bit odd. It was given to the first Earl of Warwick, which seems a bit weird until you realise that GeorgeIII gave him lots of her furniture.
The upstairs is more like a stately home than what I think most of us expect a castle to look like. That’s because it’s covering a different era and it’s more homely. Not you and I homely, but there aren’t any horses in full armour kicking around. Instead there are lots of family photos. There are various wax works (some scarier than others!) telling the stories of the many people who used to live in the castle.
The castle walls and towers
During our first visit there were two different ways you could explore the castle walls and towers. You could take a shorter route that skipped most of Guy’s Tower or you could start near the Clarence Tower, go up Guy’s Tower and then along the rest. The first time we went, we chose the shorter route. This time, due to a one-way system post covid, we didn’t have a choice!
The sign says it’s 500+ steps. I think they missed at least a couple of 00’s off that sign. OMG. There are so many stairs. Each time you go up a staircase there are 5 more to climb! There are warning signs near the entrance that warn people with certain medical conditions shouldn’t climb the walls. So much so, there’s even a defibrillator on top of Guys’ Tower “just in case!!!” Terrifying. You are climbing up medieval towers with narrow spiral staircases and uneven steps. With the current route there aren’t really any exit points. Once you start, you’re committed to finishing the whole route. I’m not saying this to scare you, just prepare you.
The views from the top of all the towers are amazing, but particularly Guy’s Tower. It’s 148ft up in the air so you can see incredibly far on a clear day. Fun fact – Warwick is actually the tallest castle in the UK. The boys were a bit weary all the way up there and we didn’t stop for long, before making the looooooooonnnnnnnngggggggg descent back downstairs.
Climbing towers with a toddler!!!
I should point something out to you here. When we made this trip to review Warwick Castle Smallest Child was pretty much bang-on 3 years old. She was a flipping trouper going up all those steps (500 steps implies that pretty much 250 of those are uphill). Some of them were as high as her knee! Walking along a curtain wall, or around the top of a castle tower with a toddler is a nerve-wracking experience. You don’t get to enjoy the view because you cannot take your eye off her for a second. I didn’t want to hold her as that seemed to risky. I didn’t want to let go of her for fear of her somehow jumping the walls and falling. She really didn’t like being on the top of Guy’s Tower and basically dragged me back to the staircase. Which brings me nicely onto the descent…
Picture the scene if you will. Me, walking down a tiny, narrow, spiral staircase. That’s ok. But not walking forwards like a normal person, but with my back to the wall walking down sideways like a crab, whilst holding Smallest Child’s hand so she was safe. Not exactly easy. Add in doing this in a mask that slightly inhibits the bottom of my field of vision (the bit I needed in order to see the next step I was supposed to be taking). At the same time I didn’t really want to take it off as that meant letting go of everyone and everything. Oh, and I had our massive picnic backpack with me. Normally, not a problem, but when your back is literally against the wall, your backpack can’t be. Instead I had it over my right should hanging in front of me. Thus impeding more of my field of vision. All whilst reassuring all three kids that they were fine and nothing was going to happen. It took ages to get down and was bloomin’ hard work. I actually think it was harder going down than up because it was so awkward. I genuinely wouldn’t recommend walking the curtain walls or towers with a child under 5. Which is a shame, because they’re a big part of the experience.
At the bottom of the Caesar’s Tower is the Kingmaker exhibition. This is all about the Earl of Warwick and the role he played in the battle of the roses. Well, it’s mainly about how Medieval powerhouses went about preparing for a battle. There’s lots of wax works, props (another horse in full battle dress), lots of noise and things to look at. Each room has a plaque on the wall explaining what’s going on. I think a lot of people miss those which is a shame as, without them, you don’t necessarily know what’s going on. I’ve seen this exhibition three times, read endless books about the events, and I still enjoyed looking at it.
There are three shows that take place. The first one of the day is the trebuchet firing. This is really good fun, but it’s a LOT of build-up for just a few seconds of action. Worth watching once, not really worth seeing again. At the time of writing this review the trebuchet firing isn’t taking place at Warwick Castle because of social distancing.
The bowman’s show is an absolute must-see. He is hilarious and he’s passionate about history! The bowman also makes his own arrows and most of the time he’s a very good shot. He will teach your kids to swear at you, and they love it! In normal times he does a couple of shows a day and they’re very popular. During social distancing he’s doing it throughout the day to smaller crowds.
The falconry show is lovely. They have up to 60 birds flying and have eagles, owls, falcons and much more. We really enjoy a good falconry show and loved it the last time we visited Warwick Castle. Unfortunately it was just too busy when we visited Warwick Castle this time to do the review, so we decided to skip it. Normally I would thoroughly recommend going along.
The Time Tower
This is a audio visual, multi-media tour through 1,100 years of history at Warwick Castle. You’re shepherded from room to room as a group. You stop in each room and watch a video (talking paintings etc) that covers a certain part of the story. Once that’s finished a door opens and you go through to the next room. I’m aware I’m making this sound pretty crap but it wasn’t open during our most recent visit to Warwick Castle so I’m having to do this review from a 3+ year old memory. I’ve had a baby since then, things get foggy. I do remember that I found it interesting though and the kids enjoyed the interactive element of it.
The Horrible Histories Maze
The theory behind this maze is brilliant. We’re big fans of the books here at FTwtK towers and so the kids desperately wanted to visit the maze. There are four different sections – Slimy Stuarts, Viscious Vikings, Measley Middle Ages and Frightful First World War. Each section has a centre piece relating to that period of history and you’ve got to find your way between all the sections and out again. The centre pieces are things like a Viking ship, a WWI trench, a witches hut etc.
When we visited they had put a one-way system in place so you weren’t really in a maze at all. The interactive elements have been removed. It was a necessity but did make it a hell of a lot less maze like! I know it has so much potential though. Have a look at this video another blogger made to get a better idea of what’s there during “normal” times.
What else is at Warwick Castle?
There are peacocks everywhere, but mostly in and around the peacock garden. Just sitting on the top of hedges, as you do! If you’re VERY, very lucky you might come across one displaying their feathers which is very special. There are also beautiful gardens, the river, a mill and the engine house.
They regularly run events for children during the holidays. When we went there was a free BYOW (bring your own weapon) Knight school. Didn’t remember your broadsword? Don’t worry, you can buy swords for between £5 and £13.50 each. We watched a few of these sessions and they looked like so much fun! I nearly picked up a stick to join in myself! There’s also archery classes (£5 per person).
Our Warwick Castle Review
I do love visiting Warwick Castle. There’s so much history, and plenty to see. The kids had a brilliant time, but I do think it’s best if they’re at least 5 to make the most out of of it. The castle walls and state rooms are mostly looking rather than hands on, so some kids might find it boring. I think the vast majority will love it though. Biggest Child seemed slightly surprised there wasn’t a playground area, but realistically that’s what the maze is all about. Each time I have visited I’ve been there for a full day, which is always a sign of a good day out in my books!
Warwick Castle doesn’t fall into the treat day out review category, but it’s worth it. The ticket price varies according to the day and time of year. For the latest prices, and to book, click here (affiliate link)
There are often voucher schemes that give you a discount, and corporate schemes such as CSSC can also get discounted entry. If you have a Gardener’s World 2-4-1 card this can be used here.
Parking / How to get there
There are three different car parks. If the Stratford Road car park (CV34 6AH) is full then you’re automatically directed to the Field car park. This is about a 15 minute walk back to the castle. These car parks cost £6 per day. The Stables car park (CV34 4QU) is £10 per day but is right next to the admissions kiosk.
There are several toilets throughout the site, including baby change.
There are several places selling food, and actually at a relatively reasonable price. Picnics are welcome as well though.
Want to make more of your trip to Warwick Castle?
There is also the Knights Village which is right next to the castle. As well as entry to the castle there’s themed accommodation, evening entertainment, a medieval banqueting hall. You can choose from glamping or beautiful wooden lodges. Click here for all the information and to book (Affiliate link)
Hi, I’m Vicky. My husband and I live in Aylesbury with our three children; a 10 year old son, an 8 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. I (mostly) love spending time together as a family. We visit all kinds of places and we’re quite happy to drive a fair distance for a decent day out. A few years ago I decided to set up Free Time with the Kids as a way to share our experiences of these family days out. You know, the essential information you need to know before your visit that can be surprisingly hard to find out. Where do I park? How much will it cost me to get in? Are there any discounts available? Are there loos? Can I take a picnic or get food? My aim is to be your go-to guide for all your free and cheap family days out across Bucks, Beds, Oxon, Herts & slightly beyond. 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
I sometimes use affiliate links if there is something that I genuinely think will be of interest and that I think is relevant to the post. I will always indiciate if a link is an affiliate link. I do earn a small commission for these, and that goes towards the running costs of the site. Any discounts mentioned may only be available for a short time so please double check prices before booking.