KENILWORTH will be under siege over the bank holiday weekend.
The town, including the castle, will be commemorating the 750th anniversary of the Siege of Kenilworth with a reenactment and other medieval festivities.
It was one of the greatest sieges in English history. It began in the summer of 1266 when King Henry III faced an uprising from a group of rebel lords, set on curbing his power. As the seat of the recently defeated rebel leader Simon De Montfort Kenilworth Castle was at the heart of the action, and the King wanted it back.
A garrison of 1,200 people – including the lords along with their wives, children and servants – barricaded themselves within the castle walls. Obtaining siege engines and weapons, and building up impressive stocks of food, helped the castle inhabitants to withstand nearly six months of assaults from the King’s army in what would become the longest siege in medieval England.
The centrepiece of the weekend is a programme of action-packed assaults on the castle, on Sunday and Monday from 11am to 5pm, recreating key moments from the siege. The King’s men will be making the most of the weaponry of the day as they attack with a battering ram, a barrage of arrows, and an almighty catapult.
And for the first time since 1266 a specially commissioned 30 foot tall siege tower will also be used to attack the castle.
Holly Woodward of English Heritage said: “The great siege of 1266 is one of the most dramatic events in the castle’s history”, “We’re marking the anniversary with our biggest event of the year, and bringing some of medieval England’s most impressive siege weapons to the castle. Seeing a siege tower advancing towards the castle, a catapult taking aim at the walls, and a barrage of arrows firing from the ramparts is going to be quite a spectacle.
“Defending the castle for six long months was a testament to the strength of the castle, and a real feat of determination from the people of Kenilworth. This is a big anniversary for the whole town.”
The free to attend ‘Town Commemoration’ event will take place in Abbey Fields on the Saturday, from 10.30am and 5pm.
Visitors will get the chance to learn more about life in mediaeval Kenilworth through a range of authentic, hands-on living history displays and entertainment. King Henry will also be in residence in his Royal Tent as he prepares for the battle to follow.
Refreshments on the day will include traditional hog roast and the chance to try a specially commissioned ‘Siege of Kenilworth’ beer courtesy of Church Farm Brewery. Visitors will also have the chance to take away a souvenir with commemorative bookmarks and magnets commissioned for the occasion.
And local groups and organisations, who have been instrumental in supporting the Kenilworth 750 project, will also be setting up stalls.
Visit www.kenilworth750.co.uk and www.english-heritage.org.uk/kenilworth for further details, including castle tickets.