Wonderful Warwick: Susie Verrill's day out at Warwick Castle
Last week we visited Warwick Castle having never been before (it’s about a 45 minute drive from us) and honestly, we had the best time! We took a friend, along with our baby son & three year old and there was so much for all of us to get stuck in to (not to mention, Pringles in every shop/café so… what’s not to love?)
It’s under the management of Merlin, which I wasn’t expecting (I rocked up flexing my English Heritage membership card only to be a bit disappointed) but it means there are a few more interactive gimmicky elements and that only made it a lot more enjoyable for the younger folk in our party. While yes, there was plenty to read as we went round the ruins, we also experienced a jousting tournament (on one of the hottest days too by the way, I can only imagine how sweaty the poor actors were), a huge trebuchet being fired and a birds of prey display. Milo tried his hand at archery and while there were plenty of gift shops on offer, I never felt as though you were pushed to buy things, which can sometimes be a bit of a bugbear with me and the larger attractions (more on that here...).
The staff were all wonderfully in character and polite (one even ran the length of the site to grab us a replacement shield when the velvet from ours very quickly dropped off); Milo was thrilled to spot real knights and princesses and there was plenty of space to run around/enjoy a picnic when we’d had enough of exploring. We only actually arrived at midday thinking we’d have more than enough time to get through everything but we absolutely could have spent longer there; we’re already planning a second visit soon (where we’re also going to try to stay over in one of their knights lodges/medieval glamping!) and maybe brave it round the dungeons.
The jousting display was a real theatrical performance and a really fun way for Milo to get properly involved in his surroundings. You could choose which side to be on for the War Of The Roses and everyone’s encouraged to cheer and boo as it all unfolds. Throw in some horses, fire, kidnap and children of all ages were hooked. It was reasonably long but at almost four, Milo was happy to sit through it and wouldn’t stop talking about it the rest of the day.
When it came to the trebuchet, it’s really quite remarkable. The machine’s the largest working authentic replica in the world and it works on man power alone so five of the castle workers (four acting as hamsters on essentially hamster wheels and one doing all the ropes) would get it prepared as the crowd watch on from across the river. We were lucky enough to be able to sit a little closer (thanks to the kindness of the staff) and to say it’s formidable is an understatement.
As castles go, it’s certainly somewhere with enough to keep everyone happy and none of us came away feeling underwhelmed. We’ve visited historical sites with the boys previously and wondered whether it was a tad boring or didn’t offer enough in the way of stimulation but that’s certainly not the case here. And anywhere with rubber purple dragons is a total win in a three year old’s book! Food-wise I’d suggest possibly bringing some snacks along for the ride if you don’t want the whole family to be munching on burgers, turkey legs and chocolate bars but there were picnic spots galore and there’s even a Costa tucked away for parents to grab an emergency perk-me-up if needed.
I don’t want to spoil the surprises too much but from the stamp collecting you can do throughout the maze, from the steps up to the most amazing view of the grounds; prams, pushchairs, wheelchairs, little children, the elderly, there’s no-one who wouldn’t enjoy a visit. My only word of warning comes in the form of the birds of prey; the poor friend we took with us ended up with a talon to the face during one of the displays and I think it was a tad more painful than his embarrassed wincing indicated. Although obviously… hilarious for all of us to watch.
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