Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The Crimson Castle: What the REAL Castle looks like

I'm going to try and share with you each week some of the places that feature in my books. I though I'd start with the eponymous castle from The Crimson Castle.

Those of you that have read The Crimson Castle will have seen in my byword that the nefarious Lord Tibald's Etone Castle was loosely based on Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire. I thought it would be fun to share a few images of the castle with you and explain a little of its history so you can get a feel for what it was like when The Crimson Castle was set.

The Norman Keep at Kenilworth
So you can see why I named it The Crimson Castle! Kenilworth Castle is made of local red stone and is quite a distinctive colour. Here in Warwickshire you often see old churches and buildings made out of this brightly coloured stone.

Kenilworth Castle is most well known for being the home of Robert Dudley, Elizabeth 1's great love, and he created a grand castle here to impress her.

However, at the time The Crimson Castle was set (late 1100's) it would have been a square Norman keep,  having been converted from a motte and bailey castle a few decades before.

The lake, which also features quite heavily in the book, was artificially created and provided a daunting obstable for potential invaders, stretching up to a mile wide and surrounding the outer wall to create a moat. This artists impression shows what it would have looked like in the early 1200's and is very much how I pictured it.

Kenilworth was actually a very small settlement, unlike Lord Tibald's demesne, and it's not really understood why such a grand castle was built there.

During the civil war, the lake was drained and one side of the Norman keep was destroyed. However, as you can see from this picture, you can still get a real sense for what the castle must have been like at the time.

If you'd like to learn a little more about the history of the castle then take a look at the English Heritage website.

*Photos courtesy oKenilworth Castle, by Derek Benn

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