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2009-04-30

Castle Garden Design to Woo Elizabeth

Gardens at Kenilworth Castle have been replanted in a style originally intended to woo Queen Elizabeth. Robert Dudley, a suitor, once also to Mary of Scots, hoped to win the heart of the Queen, with exotic and expensive flowers and a grand garden design, during a forthcoming visit to the castle.

Today, the castle’s garden has been recreated by English Heritage in the original Italianate Renaissance style first chosen by Dudley in the 16th century. Plants were picked for their colour, their scent and their rarity. Features including arbours, obelisks, a grand marble statue and a bejewelled aviary were installed, no expense spared.

It’s unlikely the Earl faced the same kind of controversy currently being voiced concerning the £2.5 million cost. English Heritage accepted today, on the BBC’s midday news report, that of the 400 plus properties it maintains, a larger proportionate amount has been targeted towards the ruins of Kenilworth Castle, reputedly the countries largest, and it’s garden.

There’s also an informative online report and clip from Anna Adams on the BBC website.

Robert Dudly, Earl of Leicester, was said to be Elizabeth’s favourite, and her lover. He was also said

Curtain wall of Kenilworth Castle

to be an evil murderer, his first wife having died falling down a set of stairs. His association with Mary was similarly a mysterious affair, the suggestion that Elizabeth had had this phoney relationship set up. So there is quite some doubt whether Dudley ever loved Mary. By most accounts he was a strange kind of fellow though, in this instance, he clearly had made an effort. The garden he created at Kenilworth is just one example of how much he was in love with Elizabeth. She never did marry!

The castle garden must have been a great place to visit and to take a stroll around. Why not revisit the gardens yourself? The castle would love to hear from you.

Current opening times and admission fees for the castle and garden can be found on English Heritage’s Kenilworth Castle page. There’s also a page about the Elizabethan Garden.

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