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Gate Tower (1571)

Gate Tower (1571)

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1872

Shelfmark: 7817.s.2

Item number: 64

Length: 15

Width: 20

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

View of Leicester’s Gatehouse at Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire. Kenilworth is the largest castle ruin in England and was one of the country’s most magnificent noble residences. The Elizabethan gatehouse was built in the 16th century by Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester, as the new main entrance to the castle on the north side. A rectangular building with octagonal corner turrets, it was reached by a bridge over the moat. Leicester was a favourite of Elizabeth I and the castle was given to him by the Queen in 1563. It was the setting for a celebrated royal visit in 1575, when Elizabeth was entertained with spectacular pageantry for 19 days. To make it fit for such a distinguished guest, Leicester remodelled the medieval structure of the castle into an Elizabethan palace. In addition to the gatehouse he built a formal pleasure garden, and a range of lodgings in the Inner Court known as Leicester’s Building.

Reverend Knowles notes sarcastically that: “About 1571, Leicester meddled with everything. Outside, he remodelled the Floodgate Tower and Tiltyard; and replaced the ancient barns and stables by a new range. Then, taking into his head that a new garden after the French fashion was needful for his full magnificence, he availed himself of the acre or so inside the north wall; but, to do this, he must change the north entrance, and put it further eastward, as otherwise the road would cross the middle of his Garden, which he meant to keep strictly private. So he turned the Tower into Aviaries, and broke through the Castle wall with his new Gate Tower.”

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