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Kenilworth castle

Kenilworth castle (War.) combined strong fortifications with palatial residential accommodation. From the first the castle seems to have included extensive water defences and these were enlarged during John's reign when it was in royal hands. The effectiveness of the defences was demonstrated when supporters of Simon de Montfort held the castle for a year against Henry III after the battle of Evesham and were able to surrender on terms in December 1266. The future Edward I was present at the siege and it has been suggested that the importance of water defences in his later castles was taken from Kenilworth. In the later Middle Ages the castle belonged to the duchy of Lancaster and was developed as a palace by John of Gaunt and later by Henry V, who had a pleasure garden with a small harbour created across the mere. Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester, also undertook major building work at the castle, to which Elizabeth was a visitor; one such visit is vividly described in Scott's Kenilworth.

Lynda Rollason

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