This remarkable pair of aerial photos shows the castle from the air, taken from the west. The ‘then’ photo dates from before the Elizabethan garden had first been restored in the 1970s. The ‘now photo’ dates from 2016 showing the Elizabethan garden, now bedding in nicely following an archaeological dig in 2006 and the completion of its restoration in 2009.
Elsewhere in the castle’s outer bailey we can see that numerous shrubs and encroaching vegetation have been removed from the grounds and walls. The addition of stairs and walkways into Leicester’s Building is not visible at all from this angle, which is testament to the sensitivity of the work that was carried out.
In the distance of the ‘now’ photo, Oxpen Meadow in the Abbey Fields, the site of the Priory Pool, has been permanently re-flooded since the ‘then’ photo was taken. The meadow had regularly been flooded for skating in winter since Victorian times. The ford is also in flood in the ‘now’ photo.
A special thank you to Creeves Aerial Photography (formerly Coventry & Warwickshire Aerial Photography) who carried out a special commission to produce the ‘now’ photo. Readers with a Facebook account can follow the Creeves page which contains an album of Kenilworth aerial photos as well as photos from all over the local area. Without him this Then & Now would not have been possible!
This pair of aerial photos, from 1947 and 2016 respectively, shows a rare mid-twentieth century aerial view of Kenilworth Castle and its modern day equivalent:
The ‘then’ photo shows the end cottage on Castle Green before its demolition and behind it stretches a sparsely populated Clinton Lane with very little in the way of modern development in evidence. The rows of Victorian terraced houses down the southern end of Clinton Lane and the cul-de-sac at Avenue Road can be seen but beyond that in 1947 there were mostly open fields all the way up to the junction with Beehive Hill.
East of Avenue Road could be seen the glasshouses of the Castle Nurseries, the site of which is now occupied by Denton Close and De Montfort Road. Beyond lay the open land which is believed to have belonged to the Prior of St Mary’s Priory, hence the modern names of Priorsfield Road and Priorsfield School, the latter of which can just be made out two thirds of the way down Clinton Lane in the modern image. This belief is based on the fact that the name ‘Priorsfield’ appears on James Fish’s estate survey map of 1692 (WRO, CR0143A) which is sufficiently recently after the Dissolution for it to be authentic.
In the foreground, of course, is Kenilworth Castle itself. In the 1947 photo it remains relatively un-landscaped. The Elizabethan gardens were not replanted until 1975, and then again in 2009 for their eventual faithful restoration based on more rigorous archæological evidence of the original Tudor layout. The keep looks to have been undergoing repairs, which is an ongoing battle with a 900 year old structure.