Warwick Castle, Warwick, Warwickshire

Courtyard, Warwick Castle
Postmarked 1906
Publisher: Valentine

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Warwick Castle is a medieval castle developed from a wooden fort, originally built by William the Conqueror during 1068. Warwick is the county town of Warwickshire, England, situated on a meander of the River Avon. The original wooden motte-and-bailey castle was rebuilt in stone during the 12th century. During the Hundred Years War, the facade opposite the town was refortified, resulting in one of the most recognisable examples of 14th-century military architecture. It was used as a stronghold until the early 17th century, when it was granted to Sir Fulke Greville by James I in 1604. Greville converted it to a country house.
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Caesar’s and Guy’s Towers are residential and may have been inspired by French models (for example Bricquebec). Both towers are machicolated and Caesar’s Tower features a unique double parapet. The two towers are also vaulted in stone on every storey. Caesar’s Tower contained a grim basement dungeon; according to local legend dating back to at least 1644 it is also known as Poitiers Tower, either because prisoners from the Battle of Poitiers in 1356 may have been imprisoned there, or because the ransoms raised from the battle helped to pay for its construction. The gatehouse features murder holes, two drawbridges, a gate, and portcullises – gates made from wood or metal. The towers of the gatehouse were machicolated.

Situated at a crossing point over the River Avon on the Fosse Way, an old Roman Road that was still in use in medieval times, there has been a fortification at Warwick for two thousand years. After the departure of the Romans, the Anglo Saxons established a fortified burh here which was extensive enough to withstanding assaults by the Danes. Around 1068, following the Norman conquest, a timber motte and bailey castle was built here by Henry de Beaumont who had been created Earl of Warwick. Rebuilt in stone in the latter half of the twelfth century, it was nevertheless poorly prepared for conflict when it saw action during the second Baron’s War (1264-7). Rebels from nearby Kenilworth Castle loyal to Simon de Montfort mounted a surprise attack on Warwick Castle and took the then Earl, William Maudit, captive.
Castles Forts Battles

“The castles of England, their story and structure”, James Mackenzie, 1897 pp. 362

Warwick is an excellent example, in remarkably perfect preservation, of the transition period, when the dreary prison-like stronghold, with it scanty accommodation clustered within the walls of the bailey, if not contained within the defensible building itself, was giving place to a more domestic type, demanded by a higher state of civilisation and refinement. Externally as strong as ever, with embattled and machicolated walls and strong flanking towers wherever necessary, the element of domestic comfort was being introduced, and magnificent suites of apartments and offices were now constructed under the main roof, “gradually preparing, as it were, for the time when the wall of enceinte would be dismissed altogether.” Berkeley Castle is another fine example of the same period almost equally perfect.

Warwick was built partly at the end of the fourteenth cent was not finished until the fifteenth ; and it is impossible to trace any part of the castle as erected by Turkill for William the Conqueror, which, again, may have stood on the site of still earlier buildings. It seems to have stood nearly 200 years, hut in the time of Henry III. (1256) it was besieged and taken, and a great part of it destroyed. In this state it lay until the time of Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, who died in 1369, and who rebuilt it. To this period therefore, must be referred the Hall and the whole of the earlier portions of the domestic buildings. He also built the magnificent tower known as Caesar’s Tower, and probably the gateway.

His son Thomas continued the building, and erected the multangular tower (N.E.), known as Guy’s Tower, which he completed in 1394, the 17 Richard II. In the reign of Edward IV., George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence, resided here, and employed himself in making additions to the castle. It is probable that he erected the entrance gateway on the N. side, the loopholes of which appear to be intended for artillery. He had other works in hand, when his career was cut short by his brother in 1478.

From that time little care seems to have been taken with the building, until James I. granted it to Sir Fulke Greville, who found it in a ruinous condition, the principal part of it being used as a county gaol. He expended a large sum in repairs, and in adding to both the E. and W. ends of the main building. Since then various alterations and additions have been made, such as the erection of a dining-room in front of the hall, and of some offices outside the barbican. In 1871 there was a serious fire, which burnt part of the private apartments of the castle, when a number of the curiosities and works of art were destroyed.
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The domestic buildings are on two main floors ; the basement, containing the kitchens and cellars, bakehouse, &c., the whole being vaulted and groined ; and the principal floor having the great hall, with the modern dining-room in front of it, communicating on the E. and W. with the State apartments and bedrooms ; and the chapel on the N.W. of the hall.
“The castles of England, their story and structure, vol I”, James Mackenzie, 1897 pp. 363-5

Kenilworth Castle, Kenilworth, Warwickshire

Kentworth Castle | Warwick
[Kenilworth Castle]
Publisher: Woolstone Bros, London

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Kenilworth Castle, in the town of Kenilworth in Warwickshire, England, was founded during the Norman conquest of England; with development through to the Tudor period. It has been described by the architectural historian Anthony Emery as “the finest surviving example of a semi-royal palace of the later middle ages, significant for its scale, form and quality of workmanship”. Kenilworth played an important historical role: it was the subject of the six-month-long siege of Kenilworth in 1266, thought to be the longest siege in Medieval English history, and formed a base for Lancastrian operations in the Wars of the Roses. Kenilworth was the scene of the removal of Edward II from the English throne, the perceived French insult to Henry V in 1414 of a gift of tennis balls (said by John Strecche to have prompted the campaign that led to the Battle of Agincourt), and the Earl of Leicester’s lavish reception of Elizabeth I in 1575. It has been described as “one of two major castles in Britain which may be classified as water-castles or lake-fortresses…”.

The castle was built over several centuries. Founded in the 1120s around a powerful Norman great tower, the castle was significantly enlarged by King John at the beginning of the 13th century. Huge water defences were created by damming the local streams, and the resulting fortifications proved able to withstand assaults by land and water in 1266. John of Gaunt spent lavishly in the late 14th century, turning the medieval castle into a palace fortress designed in the latest perpendicular style. The Earl of Leicester then expanded the castle during his tenure in the 16th century, constructing new Tudor buildings and exploiting the medieval heritage of Kenilworth to produce a fashionable Renaissance palace.

Kenilworth Castle Plan, 17th centry
from Wikimedia Commons

  • The first castle was established in the 1120s by the royal chamberlain, Geoffrey de Clinton, who built most of the Norman keep.
  • In the early 13th century King John added an outer circuit of stone walls and a dam to hold back a great lake, so creating one of the most formidable fortresses in the kingdom.
  • In 1266 Simon de Montfort held Kenilworth against the king through an extraordinary six-month siege – the longest in English medieval history.
  • In the 14th century John of Gaunt, son of King Edward III, developed the castle into a palace, building the great hall and lavish apartments.
  • The castle was a favoured residence of the Lancastrian kings in the later Middle Ages – Henry V even built a retreat here at the far end of the lake.
  • In 1563 Elizabeth I granted the castle to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, who transformed Kenilworth into a magnificent palace. Famously he entertained the queen here for 19 days of festivities in 1575.
  • The castle’s fortifications were dismantled in 1650 after the English Civil War. Later, the ruins became famous thanks in part to Walter Scott’s 1821 novel Kenilworth, which romanticised the story of Robert Dudley, his wife Amy Robsart, and Elizabeth I.

English Heritage

The Gatehouse and Entrance to Kenilworth Castle
(The space for the stamp says “Write with the Waverley Pen”)

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Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shottery, England

Anne Hathawy’s Cottage, Startford-on-Avon
Publisher: Valentine

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Anne Hathaway’s Cottage is a twelve-roomed farmhouse where Anne Hathaway, the wife of William Shakespeare, lived as a child in the village of Shottery, Warwickshire, England, about 1 mile (1.6 km) west of Stratford-upon-Avon. Spacious, and with several bedrooms, it is now set in extensive gardens. The earliest part of the house was built prior to the 15th century; the higher part is 17th century. The house was known as Hewlands Farm in Shakespeare’s day and had more than 90 acres (36 hectares) of land attached to it; to call it a cottage is really a misnomer, as it is much larger than the term usually means. As in many houses of the period, it has multiple chimneys to spread the heat evenly throughout the house during winter. The largest chimney was used for cooking. It also has visible timber framing, typical of vernacular Tudor architecture.

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage is timber framed (sitting on a limestone plinth) with dormer windows and a thatched roof. The core of the present cottage was constructed as a farmhouse by Old Stratford Manor in around 1463. . . . Originally a three room farmhouse, the family continued to develop its structure to suit their needs.
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Ann Hathaway’s Cottage, Shottery, Stratford-on-Avon
Postmarked 1904
Publisher: Raphael Tuck & Sons

Interior of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage
Publisher: Harvey Barton & Son, Bristol

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