The project, which includes the addition of a Tudor bowling green, marks the anniversary of the famous 19-day visit to the Warwickshire castle by Queen Elizabeth I.
Groups can now visit the refreshed Elizabethan garden as part of a day out at Kenilworth Castle along with a special exhibition about a royal love story.
The one-acre walled garden was created by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester as a love letter to Queen Elizabeth I, who granted the castle to him in 1563, with no expense spared. In today’s money Robert Dudley would have spent millions on his attempt to get the Queen’s hand in marriage.
Although Elizabeth I never married, her fourth and final visit to the castle in July 1575 lasted for 19 days, the longest she had stayed at a courtier’s house. The private pleasure garden, which drew inspiration from the latest gardens in Italy and France, was a delight for all the senses. Beautiful birdsong sang out from the aviary, the scent of vibrant roses lingered in the air and juicy plump strawberries could be picked and savoured.
Sadly the gardens were completely lost during, and after, the Civil War, but in 2009, English Heritage faithfully recreated them using archaeological investigations and a detailed description by Courtier Robert Langham - who was let into the garden while the Queen was out hunting.
About the project
To celebrate the anniversary of the Queen’s visit, the team at Kenilworth have rejuvenated the garden with replanting, relaying paths and additions such as a Tudor bowling green outside the garden, and a reconstructed oak garden gate, possibly where Robert Langham entered the garden 400 years ago.
John Watkins, head of gardens and landscapes at English Heritage, said: “The Langham letter that was so valuable to the garden reconstruction described in detail a grand formal garden laid out and planted to please the senses.
“Visitors today, as described in 1575, during Elizabeth I’s visit, can enjoy the architecture and geometry of the garden, the diversity of form and colour and form in the planting, the sweet scent of roses, strawberries, carnations and stocks, the sound of water and singing birds.”
As well as enjoying the refreshed garden at Kenilworth, groups can:
- Explore the exhibition telling the royal love story in the Elizabethan gatehouse.
- Climbe the series of viewing platforms within the ruined four-storey Leicester’s Building to take in the same vistas that Queen Elizabeth I would have enjoyed when she visited the castle.
- Visit the Norman keep and medieval great hall, a favourite residence of early Tudor kings.
- Head to the The Tudor Stables containing an exhibition tracing the tumultuous 900-year history of the castle from the 12th century to the 1930s.
- Relive the glamour of early motoring in the exhibition celebrating the life and achievements of Kenilworth’s last owner, John Davenport Siddeley.
Pre-booked guided tours of the castle ruin or the Elizabethan Garden are available (minimum of 12, maximum of 30 per tour with one guide). Call 01926 857482 for prices and to book.
Groups can also pre-book a lunch or cream tea in the Kenilworth Castle tearoom, located in the Tudor stables (which can seat 50 people inside and 30 people outside).
Coach drivers and tour leaders (one each per group) can enjoy a free lunch and group members within their party will receive a 10% discount to take advantage of the local specialities and many English Heritage favourites on the menu.
This offer is only available on pre-booked visits of groups of 11 or more and must be used on the day of the visit. For more information and to book call 01926 852078.