The market town of Kenilworth is in Warwickshire and borders Coventry approximately 6 miles (10 km) to the south, Warwick approximately 8 miles (10 km) to the north and London approximately 90 miles (140 km) to the northwest.
The town lies on Finham Brook, a tributary of the River Sowe, which joins the River Avon about 2 miles (3 km) north-east of the town centre. The parish of Kenilworth has a population of 22,413. The town is known for its extensive ruins of Kenilworth Castle, the ruins of Kenilworth Abbey in Abbey Fields Park, St Nicholas’s Parish Church, and its clock tower.
History of Kenilworth
At the time of the 1086 Domesday Book, Kenilworth was known as Chinewrde, meaning “farm of a woman named Cynehild”.
Geoffrey de Clinton had a deer park built near Kenilworth. In 1488, Ralph, abbot of Kenilworth Abbey, leased 40 acres (16 ha) of land near Redfern, north-west of the town, for use as Duck Park, which was in fact a deer park. The Kenilworth area had eight deer parks by 1540. Another Park near Rudfen was called Little Park in 1581 and covered 30 acres (12 ha). A park named Briscoe’s Park was still there in 1785 when Robert Briscoe owned it. There is still trace of one of eight deer parks, The Chase. In its eastern part, the park pale stretches out about one mile (1.6 km) west of the castle, and in its northern part, it forms a boundary between Chase Wood and the farm road and bridleway between Little Chase Farm and Warrior’s Lodge Farm.
Henry V built le plesans en marais about 0.5 miles (800 m) west of the castle in 1414. During the 15th century, kings used this timber-framed banqueting house instead of the castle’s state apartments because it was surrounded by a moated earthwork of 600 feet (182 m) by 500 feet (150 m). During the 16th century, Henry VIII demolished the banqueting house and replaced the materials with timber-framed buildings within the castle. The mere was drained in 1649, but the earthworks of “The Pleasaunce” were preserved as a Scheduled Monument.
The Queen visited Robert Dudley, the 1st Earl of Leicester, several times, most recently in 1575. Dudley entertained the Queen with pageants and banquets costing some £1,000 per day that surpassed anything seen in England before. These included fireworks.
Tainter’s Hill, across the Coventry Road, is owned and managed by Warwick District Council. This open space, which is registered as common land, was designated under an inclosure act in 1756 for the poor in this parish. 1778 saw the construction of Kenilworth windmill. It was later used as the town’s water tower, but now serves as a private residence with bare sails.
Coventry to Leamington line, with Kenilworth railway station, was opened by the London and Birmingham Railway in 1844. An additional link line was built between Kenilworth and Berkswell in 1884 by the L&NWR to bypass Coventry. As a consequence of The Reshaping of British Railways report, British Rail ceased passenger services on the Coventry to Leamington Line on 3 March 1969. British Rail reinstated passenger service in May 1977, but did not reopen Kenilworth station, which was left derelict and eventually demolished. Warwick Council granted planning permission to John Laing plc in 2011 for the construction of a new station set to open in 2013. However, the final opening date was set for 2018.
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