Family Days Out in Warwickshire: Warwick Castle

We're coming to the end of our year as Merlin Pass Ambassadors, so are having a fast whizz round to all the places we haven't visited yet.  It has been quite difficult for us as everything is so far away from where we are down on the south coast, but with a bit more time on our hands over the next couple of months we will be visiting as many as we can.  One of those on our list was Warwick Castle, at the lower edge of the Midlands, just off the M40.

Our first stop was the Pageant Playground, which is perfect for mini historians to burn off some cooped up car steam before exploring further.  We managed to find a picnic bench touched by sun and, armed with our trusty Thermos had snacks and tea while playing.

Next stop was the Horrible Histories Maze where we found interesting artefacts and grim facts from various historical periods, from Vikings all the way through to the First World War.  The girls loved exploring it all, and learnt loads, which you can read more about here.  They were full of questions and wanted to know more about all the six different eras, as well as offering their own knowledge and expertise of different areas.

We really enjoyed the well-placed historical replicas as they enabled the children to get a bit 'hands on' and to really see how things would have been worn and used, rather than viewing them solely at a distance in a museum.  It's a great interactive area and gives a great feel for the history of several periods.

Even getting out of the Maze is an assault course!

The girls were keen to hot foot it into the castle, where a sunny bench was a welcome warm spot to eat lunch, before heading indoors to discover more.

The Gaol, Kingmaker and Royal Weekend Party areas were all closed for repairs and maintenance, unfortunately, but the Great Hall and State Rooms yielded an interesting collection of odds and ends, including armour, waxworks and decorative features.  We loved the pretty little chapel, too.

The girls were very interested in a mirrored table reflecting the decorated ceiling above; this pretty window pane; a child-size suit of armour, just like his daddy's; and a set of child-size furniture.

The collection did feel rather ad hoc, without any particular theme or even order.  One room featuring Queen Elizabeth's riding saddle, another Queen Anne's deathbed, but very with little background or story or even theme to it.  It rather gave the impression that having some 'old stuff' was sufficient, and that visitors wouldn't be interested enough to want to know more about it, which was a shame.  More signage, background to more items and perhaps a better plan would make more of the collection.  However, it is a great introduction to historical artefacts and stately home d├ęcor for children, a great starting point to explore other castles, stately homes and museums for more depth to the items on display.

We loved the Time Tower feature which really helped bring the history of the castle throughout its many building phases to life.  It showed the additions and uses of the castle, from its earliest origins though the Norman building and up to the 20th century. We all enjoyed the lively presentation featuring actors recreating people from the castle's past throughout history.

Next we climbed The Mound, the original motte and bailey castle, to admire the trebuchet (largest working siege machine in the world) and jousting arena on an island in the river, and the views towards Stratford and across the county.  The views back towards the castle were lovely as the sun had come out again.

We finished our day having a walk around the grounds and ending up in the Victorian formal gardens outside the Conservatory Tea House, where the resident peacocks were keen to delight.  Visiting at the time of year we did, we were lucky to have the place virtually to ourselves, but will definitely go back later in the year to see the trebuchet in action and the other areas open.

We really enjoyed the day, particularly the peacocks, exploring the castle, and "seeing real things up close" as Lara put it.  A great day out for all the family.

Find out more about visiting Warwick Castle at

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