3D Model of Kenilworth Castle – A Work in Progress

For a number of years a KHAS member has been researching and creating a virtual 3D model of Kenilworth Castle as it might have been in 1645. Here are some preview images of the current model.

Firstly, a view of the whole castle site from the direction of The Brayes:

Kenilworth Castle from the direction of The Brayes

The next image is of the inner bailey from the direction of The Water Tower:

The inner bailey from the direction of The Water Tower

This image shows The Keep taken from above the roof of the state apartments:

The Keep from above the roof of the state apartments.

The last image is a view from the minstrel’s gallery in the Great Hall:

View from the minstrel’s gallery in the Great Hall.

This model is still a work in progress at present and will no doubt spark some debates on the details. The model is being produced by the same KHAS member who produced the 3D model of The Abbey of St Mary, Kenilworth which can be seen here. We await its completion with anticipation!

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Preparing to Repair the Breach in the Tiltyard, 1964 – Then & Now

The Tiltyard near Mortimer's Tower, 1964
The Tiltyard near Mortimer’s Tower, 1964

Here’s a view which is almost impossible to recreate today – a view through the breach in the tiltyard beneath Mortimer’s Tower, taken in 1964.

The ‘then’ photograph probably shows the end of the stone bridge eastern side wall in the bottom left. In which case the camera was about three metres below the general level of the ‘tiltyard’, hence why it’s not possible to perfectly match the two locations.

As per previous Then & Now postings, it’s unclear when this particular breach dates from. It could date from when Parliament ordered Colonel Hawkesworth to put the castle’s defences beyond repair in 1649, or it could date from a later collapse caused by flood waters.

The ‘then’ photo shows the truncated tiltyard mound in front of Mortimer’s Tower, which is once again the main entrance to the castle today, following the Tiltyard’s repair in 1965 when the Ministry of Public Building and Works completed filling it in again. The ‘then’ photo shows the mound stripped of grass, presumably as preparation for the repairs.

Many thanks to David Brock for his assistance in putting the accompanying text together. His work on this subject is too extensive to summarise here, but readers can find further contributions by David in the society’s annual Kenilworth History publication, such as his article “Development of the Fourth Side of the Castle” in KH2015.

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Laying the Pipes Under the Tiltyard, 1964 – Then & Now

Building the tunnels under the Tiltyard, 1964
Building the tunnels under the Tiltyard, 1964

It was widely assumed that Colonel Hawkesworth drained the mere and breached the Tiltyard dam to render the former royalist stronghold indefensible. However an article on page 32 in Kenilworth History 2015:

“The question has often been asked when the breach in the dam was made? This is not known. Hawkesworth may have just opened the sluice under the dam on a permanent basis. Then a hundred years of floods weakened the masonry and caused cavitation around the barrel vault which finally collapsed – before 1821”.

In the 1964 picture we can see the concrete pipes have been laid to culvert Finham Brook so that the breach can be filled in at last.

Many thanks to David Brock for his assistance in putting the accompanying text together. His work on this subject is too extensive to summarise here, but readers can find further contributions by David in the society’s annual Kenilworth History publication, such as his article “Development of the Fourth Side of the Castle” in KH2015.

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Filling in the Gap in the Tiltyard, 1964 – Then & Now

The Tiltyard from Mortimer's Tower, 1964
The Tiltyard from Mortimer’s Tower, 1964

The ‘then’ photo shows the preparations for filling in a gap in the castle’s Tiltyard by the Ministry of Public Building and Works in 1964 . The restored Tiltyard entrance opened in 1967, replacing the lower walkway which sits beside the Tiltyard.

The dam was probably constructed in three phases; initially circa 1125, then subsequently raised by King John and lastly the western lane and bridge possibly 17th century. It is not known when the castle’s great defensive lake, created by the dam, was first called a Mere nor when the breach, shown here being repaired in 1964, was first called Hawkesworth’s Gap.

At the end of the Civil War in 1649, Cromwell’s Parliamentarians were determined to ensure that the former Royalist strongholds would never again provide a safe haven for those who opposed the new republican parliament’s powers. So, Colonel Joseph Hawkesworth, MP was appointed to ‘slight’ or damage the castle beyond repair and it is said he breached the Tiltyard to drain the mere as part of the slighting.

Two former breaches through the dam can now be seen, the first at the lowest point where the Brook now flows and the second at the spillway location. The latter was shown in an earlier T&N photo of John Drew & Charles Blick on the stonework of the possible Tiltyard Mill Leat. It is not known when either breach was formed. However, the general ground level at the Spillway was about four metres above the Brook so the Mere could not have been fully drained and returned to farmland use by this breach.

Hawkesworth took possession of the remainder of the castle, converting and living in the gatehouse, having also slighted the keep and sold off much of the fixtures and fittings of the palatial state rooms. He was ousted from the castle following the restoration of Charles II.

Many thanks to David Brock for his assistance in putting the accompanying text together. His work on this subject is too extensive to summarise here, but readers can find further contributions by David in the society’s annual Kenilworth History publication, such as his article “Development of the Fourth Side of the Castle” in KH2015.

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The Castle from the Air – Then & Now

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.

The Castle from the Air
The Castle from the Air

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!

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Tilt Yard Mill, 1964 – Then & Now

Castle Mill Sluice
Charles Blick and John Drew at Tilt Yard Mill site, 1964

1964 – Charles Blick and John Drew at Tilt Yard Mill site. Now obscured by the more recent 1960s bridge and undergrowth, this 1964 picture shows the excavation of one of a number of watermills surrounding the castle and abbey.

As Rob Steward put it in Kenilworth History 1997/98 “To control the water of the new ‘Mere’, a sluice and mill were built at the south end of the ‘Dam’ at ‘Floodgate Tower’ discharging into a channel on the south side of the ‘Lower Pool’, where it picked up the outflow from the Brays mill.”

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The Castle from the Brays, 1907 – Then & Now

Mortimer's Tower
Mortimer’s Tower

The Castle from the Brays. – Old post card postmarked 1907. Mortimer’s Tower was originally a Norman stone gatehouse, extended in the late 13th and 16th centuries. Following the slighting of the castle by Colonel Hawkesworth at the end of the Civil War, the Tiltyard became impassable and thus in the ‘then’ picture it is shown as fenced off, with access to the castle via other entrances.

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Manticora – Then & Now

John Drew Manticora
John Drew points to the Manticore

March 1966 – John Drew indicating position of ‘the Manticora’ carved on the wall which sits opposite the castle’s modern gift shop. A manticore is a Persian legendary creature similar to the Egyptian sphinx. It has the body of a red lion, a human head with three rows of sharp teeth, sometimes bat-like wings, and a trumpet-like voice.

The picture below, also taken in 1966, shows a close-up of the manticore with a ruler for scale:

The Manticora
The Manticore

More details on the origins of the manticore and is use in English heraldry can be found on Wikipedia.

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