The Gatehouse was built by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester in 1571 as part of his grand plan to woo Queen Elizabeth I. It is now set up as it may have looked when the last caretaker left in the late 1930s. The top floor also houses an exhibition on the royal love story of Elizabeth and Dudley.
‘The Queen and the Castle: Robert Dudley’s Kenilworth’ Exhibition
Explore the famous relationship between Elizabeth I and her favourite courtier, Robert Dudley in this inspiring and interactive exhibition. The exhibition reveals some fascinating facts about Elizabeth’s visit to the castle in 1575. It features paintings of the Queen, her favourite, as well as an original tapestry commissioned by Robert Dudley.
The Elizabethan Bedroom
Walk around the impressive ‘Tester’ bed in the Elizabethan Bedroom which originates from the 1590s. It is shorter in length than we are used to. This is not because people were shorter in those days but because people actually slept sitting up!
The Drawing Room shows what life was like in the Gatehouse in the early 20th century. The Siddeley room next door challenges children to draw their own postcard from Kenilworth Castle. The best cards and drawings are displayed in our Stables exhibition.
The Oak Room
Find Robert Dudley’s family motto (‘Droit en Loyal’) on the grand Alabaster fireplace. The Oak room also features the ragged staff and the Leicester cinquefoil that represented Dudley. This magnificent fireplace was once painted red, blue and gold. If you look closely you may still be able to spot some of the gold paint in the crevices.
Above the fireplace is a grand wooden carving, which in a previous life was once the headboard of a bed. That bed is thought to have belonged to Elizabeth I on her stay at the castle in 1575. In the Tudor period it would have been brightly painted and gilded.
Weddings in the Gatehouse
Centuries after the royal romance ended, modern lovers are still inspired by the romantic qualities of the castle. The Dining Room and the Oak Room are available to hire for wedding ceremonies and receptions. Couples can even choose to hold their reception in a marquee in the grounds.