As a self-confessed Anglophile, I love the opportunity to explore Britain’s castles because you can learn so much about our history from these ancient sites. Not all castles are dog friendly, so when we discovered that Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire not only allows dogs within the grounds but also inside some of the buildings too* we just had to take Elsa!
Kenilworth Castle dates as far back as the 1120’s and over the centuries it became a fortress, a palace, a base for Kings to go hunting and Elizabeth I’s retreat, where she took part in elaborate festivities. Today it’s managed by English Heritage and they are doing a wonderful job of maintaining what’s left of the structure so that visitors can continue to learn about, and enjoy this important site.
The ruins of the red sandstone structure are very striking. Elsa absolutely loves climbing over rocky walls and stairs so she was in her element while we huffed and puffed along behind her. My favourite part was climbing up to where ‘The Private Rooms’ and ‘The Northern Rooms’ were in Leicester’s Building and imagining what this place must have been like when Queen Elizabeth and the Earl of Leicester danced the night away together. I’m sure these walls would have plenty of stories to tell if they could speak!
I found the painting that was depicted on the information board particularly amusing because it looked like Elsa’s ancestor had snuck into the foreground and was sat staring back at us! It made me wonder about the fortunate few dogs who would have lived such privileged lives back in the 1500’s – in the days when very few ordinary, working-class people would have had the means to own dogs purely as pets… unless the dog earned their keep somehow, perhaps as a guard dog or rat-catcher.
Along with the extensive grounds that you can explore with your dog, you can also take them inside Leicester’s Tower too, so you can view all of the artefacts and replicas on display and learn more about the structure of Kenilworth Castle and those who have lived there.
The Elizabethan garden was still recovering from winter when we visited, so we didn’t witness it in its full grandeur and glory, but still enjoyed seeing the birds in the aviary.
Dogs are not allowed inside the restaurant, so this is the only area that you’d struggle with if you were on your own and wanted to get a drink or a bite to eat. (You could always take a picnic with you instead.) Elsa and I normally have my husband with us, so they settled at a table outside while I placed our order. We shared a halloumi and roasted vegetable sandwich and a scone. The food was absolutely delicious!
Beyond the castle grounds the surrounding area is a large, open, grassy stretch of land and we saw plenty of pooches enjoying a sunny afternoon walk when we visited. These areas seem to be freely accessible to the public, whereas there is a charge for humans to enter the castle itself, dogs can visit for free!
- Dogs are welcome in the gift shop (you have to walk through it to pay for entry anyway).
- There is a car park at the castle that charges a fee for parking, but this can be redeemed in the gift shop.
- *Please double-check which areas of the site are dog friendly with the guides.
What are you waiting for? Take your paws to Warwickshire and visit Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Garden!
Castle Green, Off Castle Road, Kenilworth, Warwickshire CV8 1NG
Search for more dog friendly English Heritage sites online: www.english-heritage.org.uk