Information for record number MWA3226:
Kenilworth Castle Park, Kenilworth

Summary Kenilworth Chase is the site of a medieval deer park, a 15th century pleasance, and a 16th century gardens associated with a medieval royal castle.
What Is It?  
Type: Deer Park, Pleasance, Lake, Fishpond, Park Pale
Period: Post-medieval - Modern (1100 AD - 2050 AD)
Where Is It?  
Parish: Kenilworth
District: Warwick, Warwickshire
Grid Reference: SP 26 72
(Data represented on this map shows the current selected record as a single point, this is for illustrative purposes only and does not represent an accurate or complete representation of archaeological sites or features)
Level of Protection National - Old SMR PrefRef (Grade: )
Registered Park or Garden (Grade: II)
Registered Park or Garden (Grade: II*)
Sites & Monuments Record

Source Number  

9 Kenilworth Castle is a 120 haeactre site which comprises the site of medieval and 16th century gardens extending to 2 heactres; the site of the early 15th century Pleasance and fishponds extending to 8 heacttres, and the area of the Great Mere, a defensive and ornamental lake. To the north the boundary is formed by Purlieu Lane, a track which serves High House Farm 600m west of Castle Green, and which continues 270m further west to the site of the Pleasance. Purlieu Lane was formed or adapted from an existing route by the Earl of Leicester in the late 16th century to provide access to the Chase, a hunting ground which he created 530m west of the Pleasance. The boundary 300m south of the Castle is marked by a ditch and hedge planted on a mound; this represents the northern pale of the medieval park which lay to the south of the Great Mere. To the west and south the site includes the site of the Mere which has been in agricultural use since the mid 17th century. This forms a shallow depression through which the Inchford Brook flows from the south-west and the Finham Brook from the north. Finham Brook flows east through the site of the medieval dam or Tiltyard south of the Castle before crossing Castle Road to enter the site of Kenilworth Abbey. ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES Kenilworth Castle is today approached from Castle Road to the east. The tarmac drive crosses a ditch with masonry to the north surviving from a medieval dam which held water in an outer moat. The present car park occupies a level area of ground to the south-east of the site of the Great Mere which is known as The Brays. Enclosed by irregular earth banks and mature trees to the west, south and east, this area was used for staging tournaments in the medieval period. From the drive and car park a footpath leads north-west across the earth dam which until the mid 17th century retained the Great Mere to the west. A late 20th century single-span bridge with a stone-flagged deck and simple metal railings crosses the site of the medieval floodgate. Adjacent to the bridge stand the remains of the Gallery Tower, a rectangular structure which was converted in the early 16th century to serve as a stand for tournaments held on the dam, which is today known as the Tiltyard. Leicester's Gatehouse stands towards the north-east corner of the walled Castle enclosure, and comprises a three-storey stone Tower with four octagonal corner turrets. The Gatehouse was approached from Castle Green to the north by a bridge across the northern moat, the remains of which survive as a deep ditch and bank to the west of the building. A wide gothic arched gateway, today closed by a pair of cast-iron railed gates, leads through the curtain wall 80m south-west of the keep to steep grass banks to the north-east of and the site of the Mere. This gateway is now disused, but from the 13th century served as a watergate leading to a landing stage from which boats crossed the Mere to the Pleasance. PRINCIPAL building The ruins of Kenilworth Castle represent a complex medieval fortress and late medieval and Tudor palace. The Castle is built from local red sandstone and comprises an inner court surrounded by the keep, great hall, Strong Tower and Saintlowe Tower. gardenS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS The gardens within the curtain wall comprise 19th and early 20th century informal grounds to the south-west, south and east of the ruins, and the site of the 16th century formal gardens to the north. To the south-west, south and east of the buildings forming the inner court, lawns slope down towards the outer curtain wall. A gravel walk extends 100m north-north-east from Mortimer's Tower to the south facade of Leicester's Gatehouse. The inner court is today laid to grass, and only the foundations of the walls and buildings which separated it from the outer court to the east survive. To the west of the Gatehouse a gravel walk descends a shallow flight of stone steps flanked by stone ball finials to a cruciform parterre comprising, to the west of the walk, two square areas of lawn. Descending a further shallow flight of stone steps the axial north walk enters a square garden bounded to the west and north by high stone walls. 50m west of the Gatehouse and north of the keep is the site of the late 16th century garden created by the Earl of Leicester. The curtain wall to the north was demolished in the mid 17th century, and was later replaced by a brick and stone wall on a course slightly further north. The bank represents the remains of a terrace constructed by Leicester in 1570 as a platform from which the garden could be viewed; a large archway to the west of the keep formed the principal access from the buildings of the inner court and was also formed in 1570. The garden is approximately rectangular on plan, tapering to the north-east, and is laid out as a parterre with perimeter gravel walks and further gravel walks dividing the grass panels within the parterre. To the west a cruciform arrangement of four rectangular lawns is laid out with four box-edged beds of varying sizes on each lawn. At the centre of the west parterre is a circular lawn. To the east a pair of further rectangular lawns are laid out with similar arrangements of box-edged beds planted with low herbs and lavender. The south terrace, which stood some ten feet above the parterre, was twelve feet wide and ornamented with obelisks, spheres and Leicester's heraldic emblem, the bear and ragged staff, with arbours to east and west. Opposite the terrace, on the north side of the garden, an aviary of timber construction was gilded and painted with representations of precious stones. The garden was divided into quarters with grass walks edged with sand, with an obelisk surmounted by an orb of porphyry at the centre of each quarter; these were surrounded by fragrant herbs and fruit trees. At the centre of the garden was a basin containing a marble fountain some eight feet high which comprised a pair of athletes supporting an orb surmounted by a bear and ragged staff. To the west of the garden and separated from it by a stone wall concealed by a beech hedge, a roughly triangular area north-west of the Strong Tower is enclosed to the west by the curtain wall, and to the south by a lateral wall which connects the curtain wall to the west-facing slope below the Strong Tower.This area was the site to which Henry VIII removed the banqueting house from Henry V's Pleasance in the early 16th century. The site of the Pleasance lies 1km west-north-west of the Castle, today approached along Purlieu Lane to the north and north-west of the Castle. The site of the Pleasance now comprises a roughly diamond-shaped raised platform surrounded by two substantial concentric ditches; the ditches are separated by a flat-topped terrace walk. The outer ditch extends south-east towards the site of the Mere at the south-east corner of the enclosure. This was the site of the Plesauns en Marys created by Henry V in 1417 which comprised a large stone building with corner Towers set within a rectangular enclosure, and a timber banqueting house. The Mere, in origin an early 13th century defensive lake formed by expanding an existing artificial pool south-west of the Castle, covered 450 heactres. There was a further, smaller defensive lake, the Lower pool, to the east and immediately below the Tiltyard dam. There was a further moat to the north of the Castle, the remains of which survive to the south of Castle Green and Purlieu Lane. The Mere increasingly assumed an ornamental function enhancing the setting of the Castle in the late medieval period; in the late 16th century it played an important role in the elaborate entertainment arranged for Queen Elizabeth's visit. park The site of the two parks associated with Kenilworth Castle are today in agricultural use. The Old or Great park, containing some 740 acres in 1581 was stocked with 'deer and wild beasts' and lay to the south of the Mere and to the north of Rouncil Lane; it existed by the 11th century and was disparked in the mid 17th century. The Chase, which included areas known as Queen's park and King's Wood, lay to the west of the Mere and Pleasance; its pale remains visible 500m west of the site of the Pleasance. Of 12th century origin, the Chase was considerably extended in 1302 and again by the Earl of Leicester in the late 16th century when it was stocked with red deer; the Chase was also disparked in the 17th century. OTHER LAND The Castle Fish Ponds, a group of late medieval rectangular pools survive as archaeological features 670m south-east of the Castle, extending 240m south of Castle Road.
1 In 1165 and 1187 the Pipe Rolls contain references to the park which surrounded Kenilworth Castle. Further references occur in the 13th century. It was considerably enlarged in 1302. In Elizabeth's reign the park or chase was again considerably enlarged, particularly towards the West, impaling part of Blackwell within it and also a large nook, extending from Rudfen Lane towards the pool. With the establishment of the Commonwealth the Woods were cut down and the park and Chase destroyed (see PRN 3227 and 3228).
2 Dugdale shows 'the Chace', a park extending to the North from Blackwell to the Hundred boundary on the Southwest. It is separated from the 'Olde park' by the Inchford Brook. From SP2672 to SP2671 a single ditch represents the boundary of the Chase.
6 A programme of resistivity survey and Ground Penetrating Radar Survey centred upon SP 280 722 recorded several anomalies which had a high potential to be of archaeological origin. These included high and low resistance area anomalies, complex Ground Penetrating Radar responses and inclined events. Due to the small area of the survey the significance of these features is unknown and may require further investigation.
7 Lovie reports that park/chase disparked. Chase Wood to West preserves name; Pleasaunce is earthwork remains to East of Chase Wood on edge of former Great Meer. Chase now agricultural land.
8 Portable Antiquities Scheme find provenance information: Date found: 2006-05-09T23:00:00Z Methods of discovery: Metal detector
10 Kenilworth and Warwick Castle comprised the largest of the deer parks in the county and largely comprised of fallow deer. The deer park was created in 1165 by Geoffrey de Clinton and later expanded to include parts of The Chase, Rudfen and Queens park.

Source No: 10
Source Type: Article in serial
Title: Symbols of Status in Medieval Warwickshire (1000-1500)
Author/originator: Hook D
Date: 2014
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: 117
Source No: 7
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: Warwickshire Register Review Data Tables (Warwick)
Author/originator: Lovie, Jonathan
Date: 1997
Page Number:
Source No: 5
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: Register of Parks and Gardens of special historic interest in England
Author/originator: English Heritage
Date: 1994
Page Number:
Source No: 1
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: Victoria County History, vol 2, Warwickshire
Author/originator: Page W (ed)
Date: 1908
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: 2
Source No: 4
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: Deer Parks
Author/originator: Shirley E
Date: 1867
Page Number: 156-7
Source No: 6
Source Type: Geophysical Survey Report
Title: A Report for English Heritage on a Geophysical Survey Carried out at Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire
Author/originator: Stratascan
Date: 2003
Page Number:
Source No: 8
Source Type: Internet Data
Title: Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) Database
Author/originator: British Museum
Page Number:
Source No: 9
Source Type: Statuatory List
Title: National Heritage List for England
Author/originator: Historic England
Page Number:
Source No: 3
Source Type: Map
Title: Antiq of Warwickshire
Author/originator: Dugdale W
Date: 1656
Page Number: Knightlow Hundr
Source No: 2
Source Type: Record Card/Form
Title: OS Card 25NE6
Author/originator: Ordnance Survey
Date: 1968
Page Number:
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Word or Phrase
none Registered Park or Garden Parks and gardens that are considered to be of historic importance are placed on a register. The register comprises a variety of town gardens, public parks and country estates. The main purpose of the register is to help ensure that the features and qualities that make the parks and gardens special are safeguarded if changes are being considered which could affect them.

The gardens on the register are divided into three grades in order to give some guidance about their significance, in a similar way to Listed Buildings. The majority of parks and gardens on the Register are of sufficient interest as to be designated as grade II. Some, however, are recognised as being of exceptional historic interest and are awarded a star giving them grade II* status. A small number are of international importance, and are classified as grade I.
source OS Card Ordnance Survey Record Card. Before the 1970s the Ordnance Survey (OS) were responsible for recording archaeological monuments during mapping exercises. This helped the Ordnance Survey to decide which monuments to publish on maps. During these exercises the details of the monuments were written down on record cards. Copies of some of the cards are kept at the Warwickshire Sites and Monuments Record. The responsibility for recording archaeological monuments later passed to the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments. back
technique Geophysical Survey The measuring and recording of electrical resistivity or magnetism in order to determine the existence and outline of buried features such as walls and ditches. Geophysical techniques include resistivity survey, magnetometer survey and ground penetrating radar. View Image back
technique Resistivity Survey A resistivity survey measures the electrical resistance of the soil and any buried features within it. Where there are buried pits and ditches, there is less resistance to the flow of electricity. Where there are archaeological remains made from stone, for example a wall, the resistance is greater. These differences in resistance are measured and recorded by archaeologists using a resistivity meter. The measurements can then be used to plot features that exist below the ground. See also geophysical survey. back
technique Ground Penetrating Radar Ground-penetrating radar is a geophysical technique that sends electromagnetic pulses into the ground and records the pattern of their reflection. A radar antenna is towed along the ground surface and radar waves are sent into the ground. As they reflect off any archaeological buried features some of the waves are reflected back to the surface and are measured by another receiving antenna. The radar travel times are measured and stored on a computer. The readings can then be plotted to create a three dimensional picture of the features below the ground. See also geophysical survey. back
technique Earthwork Earthworks can take the form of banks, ditches and mounds. They are usually created for a specific purpose. A bank, for example, might be the remains of a boundary between two or more fields. Some earthworks may be all that remains of a collapsed building, for example, the grassed-over remains of building foundations.

In the winter, when the sun is lower in the sky than during the other seasons, earthworks have larger shadows. From the air, archaeologists are able to see the patterns of the earthworks more easily. Earthworks can sometimes be confusing when viewed at ground level, but from above, the general plan is much clearer.

Archaeologists often carry out an aerial survey or an earthwork survey to help them understand the lumps and bumps they can see on the ground.
period Modern The Modern Period, about 1915 AD to the present (the 20th and 21st centuries AD)

In recent years archaeologists have realised the importance of recording modern sites. They do this so that in the future people will be able to look at the remains to help them understand the events to which they are related.
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period Medieval 1066 AD to 1539 AD (the 11th century AD to the 16th century AD)

The medieval period comes after the Saxon period and before the post medieval period.

The Medieval period begins in 1066 AD.
This was the year that the Normans, led by William the Conqueror (1066 – 1087), invaded England and defeated Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings in East Sussex.
The Medieval period includes the first half of the Tudor period (1485 – 1603 AD), when the Tudor family reigned in England and eventually in Scotland too.

The end of the Medieval period is marked by Henry VIII’s (1509 – 1547) order for the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the years running up to 1539 AD. The whole of this period is sometimes called the Middle Ages.
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period modern About 1915 AD to the present (the 20th and 21st centuries AD)

In recent years archaeologists have realised the importance of recording modern sites. They do this so that in the future people will be able to look at the remains to help them understand the events to which they are related.
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monument POOL * A small body of water, either natural or artificial. back
monument HOUSE * A building for human habitation, especially a dwelling place. Use more specific type where known. back
monument SITE * Unclassifiable site with minimal information. Specify site type wherever possible. back
monument FORTRESS * A major fortified place, often a town, capable of containing a large force. If Roman use LEGIONARY FORTRESS. back
monument ARCHAEOLOGICAL FEATURE * Use only for features assumed to be archaeological but which cannot be identified more precisely without further investigation .Use more specific term where known back
monument FISHPOND * A pond used for the rearing, breeding, sorting and storing of fish. back
monument GREAT HALL * A large communal room often occupying the full height of the building, used for functions such as meetings, entertainments etc. Traditionally found in medieval buildings but also found in later buildings emulating medieval architecture. back
monument FOUNTAIN * An artificial aperture from which water springs. The water supply usually came from a lake or reservoir higher up in order to ensure the necessary flow and pressure. More recently fountains have been powered by pumps. back
monument LANDING STAGE * A platform, sometimes floating, for the landing of passengers and goods from vessels. back
monument BUILDING * A structure with a roof to provide shelter from the weather for occupants or contents. Use specific type where known. back
monument LAKE * A large body of water surrounded by land. back
monument DEER PARK * A large park for keeping deer. In medieval times the prime purpose was for hunting. back
monument STONE * Use only where stone is natural or where there is no indication of function. back
monument FORMAL GARDEN * A garden of regular, linear or geometrical design, often associated with the traditional Italian, French and Dutch styles. back
monument PARK * An enclosed piece of land, generally large in area, used for hunting, the cultivation of trees, for grazing sheep and cattle or visual enjoyment. Use more specific type where known. back
monument KEEP * The major tower of a fortification, often acting as its last defence. back
monument TURRET * A small tower or bartizan, which was often placed at the angles of a castle, to increase the flanking ability, some only serving as corner buttresses. Also used to describe the small rectangular towers situated between the milecastles along Hadrians Wall. back
monument BOUNDARY * The limit to an area as defined on a map or by a marker of some form, eg. BOUNDARY WALL. Use specific type where known. back
monument AVIARY * A house, enclosure or large cage for the keeping and breeding of birds. back
monument FEATURE * Areas of indeterminate function. back
monument TOWER * A tall building, either round, square or polygonal in plan, used for a variety of purposes, including defence, as a landmark, for the hanging of bells, industrial functions, etc. Use more specific type where known. back
monument POND * A body of still water often artificially formed for a specific purpose. Use specifc type where known. back
monument RECTANGULAR ENCLOSURE * A rectangular shaped area of land enclosed by a boundary ditch, bank, wall, palisade or similar barrier. back
monument MOAT * A wide ditch surrounding a building, usually filled with water. Use for moated sites, not defensive moats. Use with relevant site type where known, eg. MANOR HOUSE, GARDEN, etc. back
monument ARBOUR * A lattice work bower or shady retreat covered with climbing plants. back
monument FACADE * Use wider site type where known. Only use term where no other part of original building survives. back
monument ABBEY * A religious house governed by an abbot or abbess. Use with narrow terms of DOUBLE HOUSE, MONASTERY or NUNNERY. back
monument DRIVE * A road/carriage way giving access from the main road to the house, stables. back
monument OBELISK * A tall, tapering pillar with a pyramidal top, generally square on plan. Used in England from the late 16th century as a public, funerary or garden monument. back
monument ROAD * A way between different places, used by horses, travellers on foot and vehicles. back
monument WALK * A place or path for walking in a park or garden. Use more specific type where possible. back
monument CASTLE * A fortress and dwelling, usually medieval in origin, and often consisting of a keep, curtain wall and towers etc. back
monument PALACE * A substantial house in a town or the country (particularly associated with medieval London). Use more specific monument types where known. back
monument PARTERRE * A level space in a garden occupied by ornamental flower beds. back
monument GATEHOUSE * A gateway with one or more chambers over the entrance arch; the flanking towers housing stairs and additional rooms. Use with wider site type where known. back
monument BRIDGE * A structure of wood, stone, iron, brick or concrete, etc, with one or more intervals under it to span a river or other space. Use specific type where known. back
monument HUNDRED BOUNDARY * The limit line of a medieval local administrative unit of a hundred. back
monument PLATFORM * Unspecified. Use specific type where known. back
monument ENCLOSURE * An area of land enclosed by a boundary ditch, bank, wall, palisade or other similar barrier. Use specific type where known. back
monument WOOD * A tract of land with trees, sometimes acting as a boundary or barrier, usually smaller and less wild than a forest. back
monument PARK PALE * A wooden stake fence, often associated with deer hunting. back
monument RAILINGS * A fence or barrier made of metal or wooden rails. back
monument CAR PARK * A place where cars and other road vehicles may be parked and left. back
monument GATEWAY * A substantial structure supporting or surrounding a gate. May be ornate or monumental, and have associated structures such as lodges, tollbooths, guard houses etc. back
monument DITCH * A long and narrow hollow or trench dug in the ground, often used to carry water though it may be dry for much of the year. back
monument SQUARE * An open space or area, usually square in plan, in a town or city, enclosed by residential and/or commercial buildings, frequently containing a garden or laid out with trees. back
monument GARDEN * An enclosed piece of ground devoted to the cultivation of flowers, fruit or vegetables and/or recreational purposes. Use more specific type where known. back
monument STRUCTURE * A construction of unknown function, either extant or implied by archaeological evidence. If known, use more specific type. back
monument HEDGE * Usually a row of bushes or small trees planted closely together to form a boundary between pieces of land or at the sides of a road. back
monument TILTYARD * A long, narrow yard used for jousting. back
monument CROSS * A free-standing structure, in the form of a cross (+), symbolizing the structure on which Jesus Christ was crucified and sacred to the Christian faith. Use specific type where known. back
monument PLEASANCE * An area attached to a house, or part of an estate used for pleasure and recreation. back
monument GATE * A movable stucture which enables or prevents entrance to be gained. Usually situated in a wall or similar barrier and supported by gate posts. back
monument LAWN * A flat, and usually level area of mown and cultivated grass, attached to a house. back
monument STEPS * A series of flat-topped structures, usually made of stone or wood, used to facilitate a person's movement from one level to another. back
monument ORNAMENTAL LAKE * An artificial lake, often made by damming a stream. A common feature of landscape parks. back
monument FOOTPATH * A path for pedestrians only. back
monument MOUND * A natural or artificial elevation of earth or stones, such as the earth heaped upon a grave. Use more specific type where known. back
monument FARM * A tract of land, often including a farmhouse and ancillary buildings, used for the purpose of cultivation and the rearing of livestock, etc. Use more specific type where known. back
monument CURTAIN WALL * A wall between two towers or pavilions, usually surrounding a building, and often forming a major part of the defences. back
monument WALL * An enclosing structure composed of bricks, stones or similar materials, laid in courses. Use specific type where known. back
monument EARTHWORK * A bank or mound of earth used as a rampart or fortification. back
monument DAM * A barrier of concrete or earth, etc, built across a river to create a reservoir of water for domestic and/or industrial usage. back
monument TERRACE * A row of houses attached to and adjoining one another and planned and built as one unit. back
monument BANQUETING HOUSE * A hall, apartment or large room, designed or used primarily for festive or state functions. back

* Copyright of English Heritage (1999)

English Heritage National Monuments Record