Sources for Kenilworth Castle

The following lists provide a summary of the material, visual and written sources for our knowledge and understanding of Kenilworth Castle.

Engraving of the east view of Kenilworth Castle in 1729, by Samuel and Nathaniel Buck

Engraving of the east view of Kenilworth Castle in 1729, by Samuel and Nathaniel Buck

Primary Written Sources

Medieval

The works to the castle executed by the Angevin kings feature in the Pipe Rolls for the reigns of Henry II to Henry III. The originals of these documents are in The National Archives (TNA) as E372, but the transcripts were published by the Pipe Roll Society and many are available online. 

Primary records of John of Gaunt’s work for the years 1371–5 and 1379–87 are in TNA (DL42/13 and DL42/14). The Camden Society published two spans, the first of which is available online:

  • Armitage-Smith, S (ed), John of Gaunt’s Register, vol 1, Camden Society, 3rd series, 20 (London, 1911) [covering mainly 1371–3; accessed 6 August 2014]
  • Armitage-Smith, S (ed), John of Gaunt’s Register, vol 2, Camden Society, 3rd series, 21 (London, 1911) [covering mainly 1373–5; accessed 6 August 2014]
  • Lodge, EC (ed), John of Gaunt’s Register, 1379–1383, 2 vols, Camden Society, 56, 57 (London, 1937).

The annual receivers’ accounts for the lordship of Kenilworth, running from the later 14th century to the mid-16th century, can be found in TNA (DL 29/463/7539–7603). Selections from these were published in Harvey, JH, ‘Side-lights on Kenilworth Castle’, Archaeological Journal, 101 (1944), 91–107 [accessed 9 August 2014].

Two important mid 16th-century surveys of the castle give a detailed picture of its appearance before the Earl of Leicester’s work:

  • the survey of Kenilworth Castle and Abbey of c 1545 (TNA, SC12/16/22)
  • the survey of c 1563 (National Library of Wales, Chirk MS F 13310); see Molyneux, NAD, ‘Kenilworth Castle in 1563’, English Heritage Historical Review, 3 (2008), 46–61 [subscription required; accessed 6 August 2014].

 

Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester

Important material for the 16th and 17th centuries can be found throughout the State Papers in TNA (the document reference numbers beginning with SP). Complete scans are now available online [subscription required; accessed 6 August 2014], while the printed calendars can be found on British History Online [accessed 6 August 2014].  

A range of surveys survive of the castle and its contents in Dudley's day, including:

  • the survey of the manor and castle of Kenilworth made for the Earl of Leicester, September 1581 (TNA, LR2/185, fols 28r–50r)
  • the earl’s inventory of the castle in the British Library (BL) (Add MS 78176, fols 28r–45v), has been published in Goldring, E, ‘The Earl of Leicester’s inventory of Kenilworth Castle, c.1578’, English Heritage Historical Review, 2 (2007), 36–59 [subscription required; accessed 9 August 2014].

A wealth of primary material relating to Dudley’s household has been published in Adams, S, The Household Accounts and Disbursement Books of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, 1558–1561, 1584–1586, Camden Society, 5th series, 6 (Cambridge, 1995).

The Kenilworth Game Book, listing the deer in Leicester’s parks in the 1560s and 1570s and giving valuable information about who hunted there, is in the Centre for Kentish Studies (U1475/E93).

Robert Langham’s description of the queen’s visit of 1575 has been published in numerous editions. The most recent scholarly edition is Kuin, RJP (ed), Robert Langham: A Letter (Leiden, 1993).

DOWNLOAD EXTRACTS FROM ROBERT LANGHAM’S LETTERS

 

The 17th Century and Beyond

Several surveys of the castle were made in the first decade of the 17th century in connection with its sequestration by the Crown and subsequent purchase by Henry, Prince of Wales. A pair of surveys, one in TNA (SP14/48, no. 26) and one in the BL (Cotton MS Tiberius E VIII, fols 212–213v) valued the castle and its lands in 1609, while another BL document of c 1610 gives an assessment of its suitability for royal use (Cotton Vespasian F. IX, fol 271).

Parliamentary surveys of the castle and its lands of 1651 are to be found in TNA (E317/WARW/17–21).

The Hawkesworth papers, documenting the sale of the castle in 1650–51, are in a private collection. Extracts are printed in Carey-Hill, E, ‘The Hawkesworth Papers, 1601–60’, Transactions of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society, 54 (for 1929–30).

A variety of documents, especially relating to the castle in the 17th century and later, is to be found in the Warwickshire Record Office (WRO). Important among these are the papers of the late 17th-century vicar of Kenilworth William Best (WRO, CR31/55) and James Fish’s 1692 estate survey (WRO, CR0143A).

The history of the castle in the 20th century, especially after it came into state ownership in 1937, can be traced through the WORK 14 series in TNA, and further relevant material found in the English Heritage Archives.

A wide range of other material in record offices around England can be found by searching Access to Archives [accessed 6 August 2014].

 

Other Printed Primary Sources

Best, W, ‘The state of the church and vicaridge of Kenilworth in the diocess of Lichfield and Coventry and in the county of Warwick, 1558 to 1716’, Warwickshire Antiquarian Magazine, 2 (1860), 57–75 [accessed 6 August 2014]

Gascoigne, G, The Glasse of Governement: A tragicall Comedie so entituled, bycause therein are handled aswell the rewardes for Vertues, as also the punishment for Vices (London, 1575)

Nichols, J, The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth, 4 vols (London, 1823)

Archaeological Sources

Most of the material from the 20th-century archaeological investigations and the related site archives can be found in the English Heritage collections store.

A number of architectural fragments from the castle can be seen incorporated in the buildings of Castle Green and around the church of St Nicholas at Kenilworth.

Recent work has identified a wide range of objects once at Kenilworth belonging to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, a number of which survive. See:

  • Goldring, E, ‘The Earl of Leicester’s inventory of Kenilworth Castle, c.1578’, English Heritage Historical Review, 2 (2007), 36–59 [subscription required; accessed 9 August 2014]
  • Goldring, E, ‘Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I and the Earl of Leicester for Kenilworth Castle’, Burlington Magazine, 147 (2005), 654–60.

Visual Sources

  • Kenilworth Castle from the east, a lost fresco from Newnham Paddox, 1620, surviving in a later copy, an oil painting in the collection of English Heritage. An engraving of the same fresco is held in Birmingham Libraries and Archives; both are reproduced in Molyneux, NAD, ‘Kenilworth Castle in 1563’, English Heritage Historical Review, 3 (2008), 46–61 [subscription required; accessed 6 August 2014]. 
  • Plan of the castle, 1656, in Dugdale, W, The Antiquities of Warwickshire Illustrated: From Records, Leiger-Books, Manuscripts, Charters, Evidences, Tombes, and Armes: Beautified With Maps, Prospects and Portraictures (London, 1656), 160 [accessed 9 August 2014]
  • Three views of Kenilworth, 1656, in Dugdale’s The Antiquities of Warwickshire, opposite 168 [accessed 9 August 2014]
  • Plan of Kenilworth estate, 1692, by James Fish (WRO, CR0143A)
  • Samuel and Nathaniel Buck, View from the east, 1729, in Views of Ruins of Castles & Abbeys in England, Part 2 (1726–39) [see above]
  • JMW Turner, View from the south, 1830, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. 

Printed Secondary Sources

Adams, S, ‘“Because I am of that countrye & mynde to plant myself there”: Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and the West Midlands’, Midland History, 20 (1995), 21–74 [subscription required; accessed 9 August 2014]

Adlard, G, Amye Robsart and the Earl of Leycester ... and a History of Kenilworth Castle (London, 1870) [accessed 9 August 2014]

Bevan, B, ‘“Great Cheer and Pleazaunt Pastime”: Elizabeth I’s progress to Kenilworth’, Country Life, 158 (1975), 409–10

Brown, PJ, Kenilworth Castle: Archaeological Excavations 1975 (London, 1976)

Brown, RA, ‘A note on Kenilworth Castle: the change to royal ownership’,  Archaeological Journal, 110 (1953), 120–24 [accessed 9 August 2014]  

Brown, RA, Colvin, HM and Taylor, AJ, The History of the King’s Works, vols 1–2: The Middle Ages (London, 1963), vol 2, 682–5

Carey-Hill, E, ‘Kenilworth Abbey’, Transactions and Proceedings of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society, 52 (1927), 184–227

Clark, GT, Mediæval Military Architecture in England, 2 vols (London, 1884)

Cranstone, DAL, Kenilworth Castle: Archaeological Excavations 1976 (London, 1977)

Crouch, D, ‘Geoffrey de Clinton and Roger, Earl of Warwick: new men and magnates in the reign of Henry I’, Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, 55: 132 (1982), 113–24

Denton, CR, ‘The medieval meres of Kenilworth’, Country Life, 126 (1959), 714–15

Drew, JH, ‘Notes on the water system at Kenilworth Castle’, Transactions of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society, 81 (1963), 74–7

Drew, JH, ‘Kenilworth Castle: a discussion of its entrances’, Transactions of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society, 84 (1967), 148–59

Drew, JH, ‘Kenilworth Castle and the country weavers’, Transactions and Proceedings of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society, 85 (1971), 214–16

Drew, JH, Kenilworth: An Historical Miscellany (Kenilworth, 1969)

Dugdale, W, The Antiquities of Warwickshire Illustrated: From Records, Leiger Books, Manuscripts, Charters, Evidences, Tombes, and Armes: Beautified With Maps, Prospects and Portraictures (London, 1656) [accessed 9 August 2014]

Ellis, P, ‘The Elizabethan gardens and Leicester’s stables at Kenilworth Castle’, Transactions and Proceedings of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society, 99 (1995), 81–116

Emery, A, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales 1300-1500, vol 2: East Anglia, Central England, and Wales (Cambridge 2000), 399–408

Goldring, E, ‘The Earl of Leicester's inventory of Kenilworth Castle, c 1578’, English Heritage Historical Review, 2 (2007), 36–59 [subscription required; accessed 6 August 2014]

Holliday, JR, ‘Original documents: survey of Kenilworth Castle temp. Henry VIII’, Transactions and Proceedings of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society, 7 (1876), 71–3

Johnson, MH, ‘A fragment of architecture at Kenilworth Castle, and its implications’, Durham Archaeological Journal, 14–15 (1999),173–6

Johnson, M, Behind the Castle Gate: From Medieval to Renaissance (London, 2002), 136–60

Keay, A and Watkins, J (eds), The Elizabethan Garden at Kenilworth (English Heritage, London, 2013) 

Knowles, EH, The Castle of Kenilworth: A Handbook for Visitors (Warwick, 1872)

Molyneux, NAD, ‘Kenilworth Castle in 1563’, English Heritage Historical Review, 3 (2008), 46–61 [subscription required; accessed 6 August 2014]  

Morris, RK, Kenilworth Castle (English Heritage guidebook, 2nd revised edn, London, 2010) [buy the guidebook

Morris, RK, ‘“I Was Never More in Love with an Olde Howse nor never Newe Worke Coulde be Better Bestowed”: the Earl of Leicester's remodelling of Kenilworth Castle for Queen Elizabeth I’, Antiquaries Journal, 89 (2009), 241–305 [subscription required; accessed 9 August 2014]

Morris, RK, ‘A plan for Kenilworth Castle at Longleat’, English Heritage Historical Review, 2 (2007), 22–35 [subscription required; accessed 6 August 2014]

Pevsner, N and Wedgwood, A, The Buildings of England: Warwickshire (London, 1966)

Rahtz, P, ‘Kenilworth Castle, 1960’, Transactions and Proceedings of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society, 81 (1963–4), 55–73

Renn, DF, Kenilworth Castle (English Heritage guidebook, London, 1991)

Reynolds, B, Kenilworth Castle (London, 1948; 2nd edn 1969)

Salzman, LF (ed), The Victoria History of the County of Warwick, vol 6 (London, 1951), 132–43 [accessed 9 August 2014]

Sewter, AC, ‘Queen Elizabeth at Kenilworth’, Burlington Magazine, 76 (1940), 71–6

Thompson, MW, ‘The reclamation of waste ground for the Pleasance at Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire’, Medieval Archaeology, 8 (1964), 222–3 [accessed 9 August 2014]  

Thompson, MW, ‘Two levels of the mere at Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire’, Medieval Archaeology, 9 (1965), 156–61 [accessed 9 August 2014]  

Thompson, MW, ‘Kenilworth Castle since 1962’, Medieval Archaeology, 13 (1969), 218–20 [accessed 9 August 2014]

Thompson, MW, ‘Kenilworth Castle’, Archaeological Journal, 128 (1971), 204–7

Thompson, MW, ‘Three stages in the construction of the hall at Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire’, in Ancient Monuments and their Interpretation: Essays Presented to AJ Taylor, ed MR Apted, R Gilyard-Beer and AD Saunders (London, 1977), 211–18

Thompson, MW, Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire (London, 1977; 2nd edn 1991)

Woodhouse, E, ‘Kenilworth, the Earl of Leicester’s pleasure grounds following Robert Laneham’s letter’, Garden History, 27 (1999), 27–44 [subscription required; accessed 9 August 2014]

Further references to Kenilworth Castle may be found in Medieval Archaeology, 5 (1961), 319–21; 6–7 (1963), 324; 8 (1964), 260; 10 (1966), 191; 21 (1977), 238; 36 (1992), 269; 43 (1999), 281; 46 (2002), 207–8 [accessed 9 August 2014].

 

Secondary Sources (Unpublished)

English Heritage keeps copies of some of these reports in the library at the Historic England Archive, Swindon, open to the public Tuesday–Friday 9.30–17.00. It is recommended that you contact the librarian in advance to avoid disappointment (library@historic-england.org.uk, 01793 414630/414632).

English Heritage Research Department Reports can be downloaded from the Historic England Research Reports database.

Booth, GMD, ‘A survey of documentary and pictorial sources for Kenilworth Castle Gatehouse’, report, Warwickshire Museum, Warwick (1992)

Boucher, A, Eisel, J and Morris, RK, ‘Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire: archaeological resource assessment of the mere and associated features’, 3 vols, report, Archaeological Investigations Ltd, Hereford Archaeology Series, 502, Hereford (2001)

Brown, G, ‘The Elizabethan Garden at Kenilworth Castle [earthwork survey]’, English Heritage, Archaeological Investigation Report Series A1/3/2005 (2005)

Clark, J, ‘The buildings and art collection of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester’, MA thesis, Courtauld Institute of Art, London (1981)

Coutts, C, ‘Archaeological observation in the outer court of Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire’, report, Warwickshire Museum, Warwick (2001)

Cromwell, T, Jennings, S and Clark, T, ‘Kenilworth Castle Gallery Tower evaluation 2004 archive summary report’, English Heritage, Research Department Report 39/2004 (2004)

Dix, Brian and Prentice, J, ‘Archaeological evaluation in the Elizabethan Garden, Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire, September 2004’, report, Northamptonshire Archaeology (2004)

Dix, B and Prentice, J, ‘Summary of the 2005 season of excavation within the Elizabethan Garden at Kenilworth Castle’, report, Northamptonshire Archaeology (2006)

Dix, B and Prentice, J, ‘Assessment report on the excavations within the former Elizabethan Garden at Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire’, Northamptonshire Archaeology, Report 07/30 (2007)

Elks, D, ‘A report for English Heritage on a geophysical survey carried out at Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire’, report, Warwickshire Museum, Warwick (2003)

Fryer, H, Rutherford, S, Adams, S, Demidowicz, G, Dix, B, Goldring, E, Molyneux, N, Price, S and Morris, R, ‘Kenilworth Castle: Elizabethan Garden research project’, report for English Heritage, Parklands Consortium (2006)

Grogan N, ‘Kenilworth Castle, excavation archive: a summary catalogue’, report, Warwickshire County Council (1991)

Howard, RE, Litton CD and Arnold, AJ, ‘Tree-ring analysis of timbers from Lord Leicester's stable, Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire’, English Heritage, Research Department Report 21/2006 (2006)

Howard, RE, Litton CD and Arnold, AJ, ‘Leicester’s Gatehouse, Kenilworth Castle, Kenilworth, Warwickshire: tree-ring analysis of timbers’, English Heritage, Research Department Report 8/2007 (2007)

Jones, C, ‘Archaeological observation of test pits at Kenilworth Castle Mere, Warwickshire (Finham Brook flood alleviation scheme)’, Warwickshire County Council, Report 9909 (1999)

Linford, PK, Linford, NT and Martin, L, ‘Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire: report on geophysical surveys, June and July 2004’, English Heritage, Research Department Report 29/2005 (2004)

Miles, DWH, ‘The tree-ring dating of Lord Leicester's stables, Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire’, English Heritage, Research Department Report 17/2005 (2005)

Morris, RK, ‘Kenilworth Castle Elizabethan Garden project: Excavations 2005: worked stones report’ (2006)

Mould, C and Sterenberg, J, ‘Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire: an archaeological watching brief’, Birmingham University Field Archaeology Unit, Report 296, Birmingham (1994)

Warwickshire County Council, ‘Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire: archaeological evaluation’, report for English Heritage, Warwick (1990)

Watson, C, ‘Edition of the Kenilworth cartulary’, PhD thesis, University of London (1966)

 

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