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Historic England Research Records

Kenilworth Castle Gardens

Hob Uid: 1106832
Location :
Warwickshire
Warwick
Kenilworth
Grid Ref : SP2784072338
Summary : Kenilworth Castle gardens. The earliest documented garden at the castle was during the ownership of John of Gaunt in 1374, and in 1463 Edward IV ordered a 'jousting place' to be made in the middle of the garden. These may have been situated on the site of the present garden, reconstructed to reflect Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester's lay out at the time of Elizabeth I's visit. The remodelling of the garden for this royal visit was no doubt linked to the remodelling of the adjacent forebuilding of the great tower with its classical loggia in circa 1569. Some of the basic layout is known from contemporary descriptions and paintings, and it was inspired from French and Italian Renaissance models with a marble fountain, classical aviary and obelisks. The designer of the 1575 garden is unknown, but may well have been Dudley's gardener Adrian, thought to have been French. The Italian marble fountain may have been sculpted by the royal craftsman Cornelius Cure. During the Stuart period some changes may have been made to the garden, although little survived the Civil War except the fountain which disappeared shortly afterwards. The privy garden became a kitchen garden and orchard up until the early 20th century. The gardens within the curtain wall dates to the 19th and early 20th century.In 1975 a Tudor garden was planted on the site, based on Sir William Dugdale's plan of 1656; subsequent excavations by English Heritage in 2005-6 revealed details of the garden, and this combined with a description of the garden in a letter from Robert Langham (an official in Leicester's household), led to a new reconstruction of an Elizabethan garden in 2009. This features a renaissance aviary, carved arbours and an imposing marble fountain.
More information : Garden laid out at Kenilworth Castle by Robert Dudley prior to Elizabeth I's visit in 1575. It was a formal, ornamental garden which occupied an area of almost 1 hectare and was divided into quarters with the walks meeting at a fountain. A levelled terrace is visible parallel to the northern wall of the keep and this is believed to be the remains of a terraced walkway from which the gardens could be viewed. This garden had disappeared by the mid 17th century, the site under cultivation until the 1930s. It was partly excavated in 1970 and reconstructed in 1973 using a 17th century plan and description. Further garden remains are visible within the outer court, situated immediately to the west of the Great Hall. Here the ground surface has been considerably raised and levelled and the area is thought to be the remains of a second ornamental garden which was added by either John of Gaunt or Robert Dudley and provided fine views over the mere. Scheduled. (1)

Gardens to Kenilworth Castle covering an area of 10 hectares. One of the earliest documented gardens was laid out by Robert Dudley prior to Queen Elizabeth I's visit in 1575. The layout is known from contemporary descriptions and paintings. Its broad outline plan was replanted in 1970. The gardens within the curtain wall dates to the 19th and early 20th century. (2)

An earthwork survey was carried out of the Elizabethan gardens at Kenilworth in October 2004. The work was undertaken at a scale of 1:500 and was part of a larger project that intends to re-interpret the gardens based on further excavation, geophysical survey and documentary research.
The earthworks lie in two areas along the northern side of the curtain wall. The largest area is immediately in front of the Norman keep and consists of a long terrace spanning the full length of the keep. To the north of the terrace, in an area of parterres, there were no earthworks visible.
The second area of earthworks lies to the west of the keep. Here a low, spread platform against the curtain wall is probably the remains of a building. Against the keep is a large mound wich may have contained further buildings.
A full description of the survey can be seen in the archive report. (3-4)

Report on the excavation of the gardens carried out in the 1970s and first half of the 1980s. (5)

A new reconstruction of an Elizabethan garden, commissioned by English Heritage and benefiting from recent advances in garden history was opened in 2009. This features a rennaisance aviary, carved arbours and an imposing marble fountain. The gardens within the curtain wall dates to the 19th and early 20th century. (6)

New revised guidebook. (7)

Geophysical surveys were undertaken in 2004 by English Heritage to investigate with the possibility of then reconstructing, the Elizabethan garden at Kenilworth Castle. The area was surveyed to the north of the keep. Anomalies were identified that were then investigated by trial excavation trenches. (8)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 04-Jan-96
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Source Number : 2
Source : Register of parks and gardens of special historic interest in England
Source details : Warwickshire
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Vol(s) : Part 42
Source Number : 3
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : English Heritage: Earthwork Survey of Elizabethan Gardens, Kenilworth
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Source Number : 4
Source : The Elizabethan garden at Kenilworth Castle: Archaeological Investigation reports series
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Vol(s) : Mar-05
Source Number : 5
Source : The Elizabethan gardens and Leicester's stables at Kenilworth Castle [excavations between 1970 and 1984 by Beric Morley, Peter Brown, and Tim Crump]
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Source Number : 6
Source : Garden History Society newsletter
Source details : "The New Elizabethan garden at Kenilworth Castle", article by Jennifer Meir
Page(s) : 19-20
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Vol(s) : 83 SPRING 2009
Source Number : 7
Source : Kenilworth Castle (English Heritage Guidebooks)
Source details :
Page(s) : 30-May
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Source Number : 8
Source : Centre for Archaeology Report series
Source details : 'Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire. Report on geophysical surveys, June and July 2004' by N Linford, P Linford, and L Martin
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Monument Types:
Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Warwickshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 7332
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : WA 1
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 21576
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Register of Parks and Gardens Legacy No.
External Cross Reference Number : GD1472
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SP 27 SE 49
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 333875
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1106434
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 333868
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 333892
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : KENILWORTH CASTLE: THE ELIZABETHAN GARDEN
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2004-01-01
End Date : 2005-12-31
Associated Activities : KENILWORTH CASTLE ELIZABETHAN GARDEN
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 2004-10-01
End Date : 2004-10-01
Associated Activities : KENILWORTH CASTLE: ELIZABETHAN GARDEN
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2006-01-01
End Date : 2008-12-31