We survived the night in our suite without any visitations from former kings, or any of the other persons who had previously inhabited any part of the tower when it was a prison. We awoke to a blissfully peaceful castle with just the staff, quietly going about their business in the grounds, getting ready for the onslaught at 10am. We had ordered breakfast for 8am and with an hour to spare, we decided to have a walk around the almost deserted grounds, enjoying the peace and quiet.
Mud had drunk all the coffee in the room by now, including the very last pod which he had had first thing, leaving me with nothing but water to drink (not very chivalrous behaviour as I am sure you would agree), and so it was with some relief that we came across the Concierge during our walk and she promised to pop another couple of pods into the room for when we got back. A few minutes later we cut the walk short so that we could head back to the room to see if the coffee was there yet. It was and so Mud made me a much needed coffee whilst I made use of our access to the battlements. It was extremely blowy but worth the chill to see and take pictures of, the views.
Breakfast was served to us in the Blue Boudoir, one of the rooms in the main house open to the public but for a brief period, exclusively ours. Mud had opted for the full English with coffee, the girls had asked for and subsequently thoroughly enjoyed, American pancakes with maple syrup and blue berries followed by a banana and strawberry smoothie to drink and I had ordered a continental breakfast with a pot of tea. When the breakfast arrived we were all very happy with it. I particularly enjoyed mine which consisted of a bowl of delicious granola with which I could have plain yoghurt or milk, both of which were served in lovely little jugs. There was also a plate of mixed fruit including blue berries and raspberries which I put on the granola, a slice of melon, some pear, segments of clementine and a mix of black and green grapes and to top it all off, two tiny pain au chocolat, two tiny danish pastries and a croissant with butter and jam. I shared the pain au chocolat and some grapes with the Mudlets and thoroughly enjoyed the rest.
On the way back through the main house, we once again took advantage of having the place to ourselves and took the time to admire the state rooms and Great Hall as we passed back through them. The weaponry on display in the Great Hall was breath taking and a very imposing sight indeed, conjuring up images of the great and bloody battles of bygone days. The model war horses were huge, towering above the Mudlets, easily 17/18 hands high and very muscular looking ….. and they needed to be, as we found out later, due to the weight of the armour worn by the knights.
I had already packed our bags before breakfast and so with an hour and a half to spare before check out and our tour of the house, we decided to take our bags down to the car for security reasons before the crowds came and also because Mud didn’t feel comfortable letting the slip of a girl Concierge carry them down the steep, spiral staircase from our room. With the bags securely stowed away in the boot, we continued the tour of the grounds and the girls took full advantage of having so much space to run around in and played ‘sword fights’ with the swords and shields they’d got from one of the shops on the Sunday. It was amazing to think that, except for the groundsmen and staff, we had the whole place pretty much to ourselves.
About 9.30am, we saw Chuck, M and A arrive and waves were exchanged as they headed off for their Bird of Prey Experience. Not all the doors and gates were open at this time but we did discover that the Kingmaker Exhibition was open and so we took the opportunity to stroll through at our leisure, taking copious amounts of photos and drinking in the history that oozed from the various exhibits. It wasn’t until we got home and viewed the pictures that we appreciated just how lifelike the waxworks were and how much they added to the exhibit.
At 10am we began our tour of the house and the girls were able to try on some of the armour, hold the very heavy (though blunted for H&S reasons) swords and other weapons which formed part of the display. Poor Little Mudlets knees fair buckled under the weight of the chain mail head piece which Ben, our guide, carefully placed over her head and shoulders. Both girls also got to try on a helmet and hold the chest section of a piece of armour and, together with the weight of the swords, it was easy to see why they needed such huge, heavy horses. We were all surprised to learn that far from being made from metal, shields were actually constructed from wood and covered with leather, making them much lighter and therefore more practical for use.
One of the highlights of the tour was being taken through the hidden servant passages, an option not available during normal tours and then Ben ended the tour by taking us up to the frankly terrifying topmost heights of the Mound, another area not open to the public as the public path ends at a locked gate. The views were amazing but Mud was convinced he could feel the walls moving in the winds …… I don’t know because I was clinging onto the barriers so tightly, I would have been moving with them! Little Mudlet was more than a little scared and we were both very relieved to get back down onto firm ground.
The rest of the day was spent taking in the sights we hadn’t seen the day before such as the Time Tower which is an amazing exhibition and one we would recommend to everyone. We also saw the Bowmans Show down by the river and the last attraction we saw was the jousting which was the one thing that Little Mudlet really wanted to see. Both girls had their day made at the end of the jousting because Little Mudlet got to meet the horses used in the jousting and Middle Mudlet got a close up view of the Trebuchet which she had really wanted to see but which was roped off for most of the day, situated as it was on the Jousting arena side of the river.
The Trebuchet isn’t firing at the moment which was a shame, not because, as the media have reported, a badly aimed fireball burned down the Grade 1 Listed boathouse (that was an electrical fault apparently) but because the firing arm is damaged and they are having to have a new one cut and seasoned and that is going to take time – at least a year.
With one eye on the clock we just about had time to pop into one of the gift shops to find a present for Eldest Mudlet, her boyfriend and a friends two boys and for another trip for tea and cake at the Conservatory tea room, before it was time to leave for our four hour journey home (allowing for a stop for tea). We said our goodbyes to Chuck, M and A and set off for the car park, our minds full of all that we had seen and done.
All in all, this was an amazing experience, well worth the expense and one that we would be more than happy to repeat and the Mudlets have got a fabulous tale to tell to their friends when they go back to school, about the night they stayed in the former prison of a King, the morning they had breakfast in a Countesses Boudoir and the afternoon they saw Knights jousting by the riverside.
Part 3: “Warwick Castle: Dinner with friends“