This Then & Now comparison shows a surprisingly altered Queen & Castle; ‘then’ as it appeared in its days as a hotel, and ‘now’ as it appears in June 2021. The ‘then’ image is undated but we can perhaps infer its age from the sign proclaiming it to have “Good stabling, Tea Gardens” on the right of the image. On the left, the sign on the gable end declares “Queen & Castle Hotel – Large Parties & Cyclists Catered For”, so we know it must have been taken after the 1880 invention of the safety bicycle, unless there were once regular crowds of Penny Farthing cyclists wobbling their way to see the castle!
In fact, a slightly clearer copy of our postcard on the Our Warwickshire website dates it as having been taken sometime in the 1910s.
You’d have to look closely at the building today to realise, as this comparison shows clearly, that the right hand end of the building is much newer than the left. More detective work is required to determine when exactly the old snug on the right was demolished and replaced by the new wing, but it was certainly before this 1950s image on the Our Warwickshire website, in which the new wing can clearly be seen.
Rob Steward states in The Inns and Roads of Kenilworth (Odibourne Press, 2000) that the earliest reference to a licensee for what was then called The Castle Inn was a Hannah Richards in 1835. The premises was subsequently renamed as The Queen & Castle to avoid confusion with the nearby Virgins Inn & Castle Tavern.
As Robin Leach wrote in Kenilworth History 2021 (p.16), there was a mini-rush of castle-related public house re-brandings, to capitalise on all things Castle related, to meet the demands of the flow of visitors following the publication of Walter Scott’s Kenilworth in 1821. Hence, we had The Queen & Castle, Virgins Inn & Castle Tavern and Kings Arms & Castle all with castle suffixes inserted round about the same time.