No I’ve not been playing chess. A couple of weeks ago I went to Warwickshire for the weekend to go around some castles and visit the local area.
A huge chunk of the alternative history novel I’ve been writing is set in this neck of the woods so I thought it would be a good idea to see what the places were actually like. It was also a good excuse for a holiday (but a working one, of course!)
There has been a castle in Kenilworth since the 1120s and improvements were made by King John, his descendant, John of Gaunt and became a residence for the Lancastrian Kings. Elizabeth I gave the castle to Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester and he transformed it into a palace fit for a queen. No expense was spared when the queen came to visit him and Dudley almost bankrupted himself in an effort to entertain his sovereign. In the years following the Civil War, the castle fell into ruin, which inspired the poet, Sir Walter Scott and many other artists and writers, including Charles Dickens.
The next day I went to Warwick Castle. Like Kenilworth, this is a fascinating place and perfect for all the family. This castle has a history that spans eleven hundred years since Aethelflead of the Mercians (daughter of Alfred the Great) build a burgh to defend the region against Norse invaders. The castle itself was started by William the Conqueror and many improvements were made during the Middle Ages. The castle also played major roles during the Baronial Wars of the thirteenth century and the Wars of the Roses in the fifteenth. The castle was neglected during the Tudor period and was granted to a courtier of James I to Sir Fulke Greville, who began to restore it. After the Civil War, the castle was restored further and has played host to a zoo and society balls. Now it is a tourist attraction and is the perfect place for people of all ages to enjoy history.