On our first trip to the UK, we took a side trip to Cornwall to see the small village where the TV series Doc Martin was filmed. This time, we decided to take an all-day bus excursion to Oxford University, the setting for both the Inspector Morse and Inspector Lewis series. Packaged with the tour was a visit to Warwick Castle, a place we knew nothing about, and Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s hometown. They are very different, so I decided it best to do an abbreviated blog for each, starting with the castle. The tour happened to occur on a holiday weekend early in the school year, so the castle was incredibly crowded, as you shall see.
As you might guess, castles are extremely expensive to maintain, so often the owners will surrender them to the government. In these cases the structures are generally prevented from further decay, but are not restored in any sense. Warwick is different. In 1978, the earl of Warwick was paid $2.5M by the Tussauds (the wax museum people) for a 99-year lease of the facility. They, in turn, used the entire facility as a giant wax museum, creating a family environment that is both fun and educational. They then added jousting and other events, turning the entire place into a year-round Renaissance Fair!