Choosing a Castle to Visit

Aug 29th, 2002, 06:05 PM
  #1  
Kelly
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Choosing a Castle to Visit

Hoping to get some feedback on a good Castle
to tour on a day trip from London. Have been looking at Leeds or Warwick. Both look like they are worth the time, but Warwick seems to have a lot of interesting buildings and sites in town as well. Any opinions on this? Is there another Castle that I should be looking at? I like visiting places that retain a lot of their original features and Warwick seems to fit that bill more than Leeds? Thanks!
 
Aug 29th, 2002, 06:14 PM
  #2  
gen
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I've never been to Leeds but we took our kids to Warwick a couple years ago. It was one of their favorite parts of our two weeks in England. Me, too.
 
Aug 29th, 2002, 08:08 PM
  #3  
Ani
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OK...everyone on this forum adores Warwick. Personally, as a history fanatic, I am a much bigger fan of the ruined castles, not the bad-rendition-of-Disneyland reconstructed nonsense. That being said-what are you looking for in a castle? My personal opinion, fo see the Kenilworth ruins-a mere 5 minute drive from Warwick..you'll have the best of both worlds!
 
Aug 29th, 2002, 09:37 PM
  #4  
janis
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Ani - Kenilworth IS wonderful. But there is nothing reconstructed or Disney-esque about Warwick. It was in the same family for centuries up until the late 1970's and the only "reconstruction" is the Edwardian country party in the old family quarters. Ecerything else is pretty much exactly as it was 30 or 45 or 100+ years ago.
 
Aug 30th, 2002, 07:59 AM
  #5  
Ani
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Janis...my main problem with Warwick was the cheesy tourist factor. By reconstructed and disney-esque I mean the animatronic wax figures that they have to recreate scenes etc..I am very aware of the history of the castle, but had absolutely no "feeling" of it while there-it was just too over the top for the tourist dollar-no soul left. Other than Kenilworth we went to 3 castles in N. Wales before going to Warwick--and those castles definately spoiled us.
 
Aug 30th, 2002, 08:01 AM
  #6  
Ani
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Also, just re-read the last part of your post...personally, my main history interest is pre 1650...so I guess I like to get a feel of what it was like then..not 45-100 years ago--That's why I guess it depends on what someone wants out of the experience-I know many people who've been quite satisfied by Warwick-just wasn't my thing.
 
Aug 30th, 2002, 08:34 AM
  #7  
Leslie
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I agree that Warwick had something of an artifical/amusement park feel and, yes, the Victorian era interior felt at odds with the original date of the castle, but did enjoy it with our children, nonethess. My primary reason for not recommending it is that I think it is a bit too distant from London to be done easily as a day trip.

If you literally mean "castle" then why not visit Windsor Castle. Spectacular, close to London, and a lovely town to visit as well. If a "palace" will do, then visit Hampton Court Palace.
 
Aug 30th, 2002, 08:35 AM
  #8  
Jen
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Here's another vote for Warwick, which I did not find Disneyesque at all, nor did I feel like it conveyed only 100 years of history. Nor do I recall the wax figures being animated.

Leeds castle, mentioned in the OP, really isn't even a castle, but a big country home with lovely gardens.
 
Aug 30th, 2002, 08:36 AM
  #9  
Leslie
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more recommendations....

Haven't been to Leeds, so can't comment but if "palace" or "stately home" will suffice and you've already seen Windsor and Hampton Court, then I'd enthusiastically recommend Blenheim Palace (visit Oxford too) as this is beautiful and their Churchill museum was very interesting.

Another that impressed me greatly was Woburn Abbey - home to the Duke of Bedford. Also not far from London. Woburn Abbey (a palacial home) has the most fascinating display of portraits throughout because they are all so well labeled you can really get to understand who was married to whom and other familial relationships. Plus the opulance of the interiors is mind boggling (to us Yankees!). With Woburn Abbey, you can also visit their "safari park" of wild animals.

On a similar vein, but dating to the Elizabethan era is Longleat House and Safari Park. While this also has an amusement park atmosphere, the home is authentically Elizabethan...with original (rather worn) interior finishes such as draperies and carpets. The safari park there is very much fun as well. This is the family home to the Marquese of Bath, I believe, but a little farther drive from London.
 
Aug 30th, 2002, 09:44 AM
  #10  
janis
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You have to understand Warwick It is one of the finest Medieval Castles anywhere. But it was also a family home and modified by a little or a lot by just about every generation for hundreds of years. It is a living bldg. It has been contiunously inhabited up until it was sold to Tussaud's Group. That "cheesy" wax exhibition you talk about is not animitronics. They are traditional wax figures and are an exact representation of a real house party held at the castle for the Prince of Wales. If you noticed the photographs the wax figures are only of people who actually attended that party.

I feel it puts a connection between the medieval castle - which is unchanged - and the REAL home it was for centuries.

Those rooms were not open when the castle was in private hands - they were their private apartments. The rest - dungeon, Guy's Tower, etc are hold overs from long before.
 
Aug 30th, 2002, 10:20 AM
  #11  
Ani
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Actually I appreciated the Prince of Wales themed area...I was talking about the figures in the "dungeon" and preparing for war with Richard III...some of those downstairs ARE animatronic-or whatever, they move and everything.
 
Aug 30th, 2002, 01:09 PM
  #12  
starspinners
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Kelly.. Dover Castle is an option and it is an easy day trip from London. As I recall, I think it was 1997 that I was last there, it has a lot of 'original feaures' There has been some sort of structure on that site since the Iron Age, but what is there now is mostly 12th century masonary.
My husband especially enjoyed it more than all the other castles we have seen in our various trips to England..
 
Aug 30th, 2002, 01:51 PM
  #13  
xxx
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ani, to slam Warwick because of two small exhibits that 80% of visitors don't even see is a bit much don't you think? Those are in a side area under the great Hall and most people don't bother with them. One can spend hours at Warwick and see nary a moving figure. You must have been bored that day.
 
Aug 30th, 2002, 01:52 PM
  #14  
janis
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Another really amazing thing at Dover is the Roman Lighthouse.
 
Aug 30th, 2002, 02:50 PM
  #15  
Ani
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xxx---LOOK, we did spend hours at Warwick-and i also had done a lot of research about it prior to going--all i'm trying to say is, one of the main reasons I wanted to go to UK was castles...I visited 3 large ones in Wales, as well as 2 very small ruins b/c I was aware of the history of them and they were solemn and lovely...I PERSONALLY found Warwick to be slammed with tourists (we stood in the courtyard of Beaumaris all by our lonesome-not a sole in site)-and yes, much of it (and we saw ALL of it) I found to be cheesy after my Wales experience---and after being run into by about 23 thousand screaming children--decided it wasn't for me..This was actually the castle I had been looking forward to most. Again-my PERSONAL opinion-this poster asked about opinions remember? jackass.
 
Aug 30th, 2002, 02:52 PM
  #16  
Ani
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To Kelly-one ammendment I would like to make after re-reading your post--you are looking for a castle that has retained much of its original features and I did not take that into account-ruins wouldn't be good for that-Warwick would. enjoy!
 
Aug 30th, 2002, 03:16 PM
  #17  
Bob
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Been to Warwick...nice and worth the trip.

Been to Windsor..also worth the trip.

Last summer we did Blenheim and enjoyed that very much. Churchill was born there and is buried nearby. You can tour the large castle part and then take a second tour of actual living quarters of the owners. Easy trip out of London.

Bottom line: You will not go wrong with any of the castles above. They are all worth the visit. Just pick one and go for it.
 
Aug 30th, 2002, 03:28 PM
  #18  
Sam
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Sometimes people differentiate between a castle (basically a fortress, thus mostly very old) and a palace (basically a fancy residence, thsu includes most places built in the last few hundred years, including Blenheim etc.).
 
Aug 30th, 2002, 04:59 PM
  #19  
Don
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I have been to both castles. Warwick sounds more like what you are looking for. I was there in March and did not have a problem with crowds. You can go up into the tops of some of the towers and walk along the walls. There was also a decent archery exhibition. I would like to say that Leeds is nice but in a different way. The ground are excellent with peacocks and other fowl wondering around. The cellar entrance dates back to the Norman days. The tour shows you lots of nice rooms with interesting furnishings. However, you are not going to be walking on castle walls or climbing in towers. Personally, I envy the one poster who has been to Wales to see the castles there. I hope to make it myself someday.
 
Aug 30th, 2002, 05:01 PM
  #20  
Kelly
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Thank you all very much for your opinions. I'm still leaning towards Warwick as it sounds like there is a lot to see, but I appreciate the warning of some touristy aspects of it.
I have seen Windsor and the crowds got to me a bit. I'll check out Dover Castle information too and Longleat as well as I'll be in Bath for 2 days. Again - thanks everyone!
 

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