Christmas Is Coming – “Enchanted Kenilworth” at Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire

On Friday 15 December we went to an Enchanted Kenilworth event at our local English Heritage castle in Kenilworth.

Enchanted Kenilworth - view of the castle on 15 Dec 2017 - photo credit Abigail Robinson
Enchanted Kenilworth – view of the castle on 15 Dec 2017 – photo credit Abigail Robinson

As English Heritage members we’ve visited this castle many times but it was so beautiful to see the trees, castle ruins and grounds illuminated with imaginative light displays. We particularly enjoyed the large projected image of Elizabeth I

image of Elizabeth I projected onto Leicester's Building at Kenilworth Castle 15 Dec 2017 - photo credit Abigail Robinson
image of Elizabeth I projected onto Leicester’s Building at Kenilworth Castle 15 Dec 2017 – photo credit Abigail Robinson

on the side of Leicester’s Building – which was constructed specially to accommodate the royal party and all the guests during Elizabeth’s famous 19-day visit to Kenilworth Castle in July 1575, during which Sir Robert  Dudley, Earl of Leicester, made his last attempt to win her hand in marriage.

Also we loved “the ghostly party” in John of Gaunt’s Great Hall.

images of dancing figures on the wall of John of Gaunt's Great Hall at Kenilworth Castle 15 Dec 2017 - photo credit Abigail Robinson
images of dancing figures on the wall of John of Gaunt’s Great Hall at Kenilworth Castle 15 Dec 2017 – photo credit Abigail Robinson

Dancing figures of light appeared on the walls, and before us a banqueting table was laid out with goblets – just a mere shadow of the lavish parties which John of Gaunt threw here during the 1360’s having turned the fortress castle into a palace.

The Elizabethan Garden looked enchanting with the central statue on the fountain fully illuminated and lights dancing and playing in the garden.

Illuminated fountain statue in the Elizabethan Garden at Kenilwoth Castle 15 Dec 2017 - photo credit Abigail Robinson
Illuminated fountain statue in the Elizabethan Garden at Kenilwoth Castle 15 Dec 2017 – photo credit Abigail Robinson

Sir Robert Dudley missed a trick when he tried to impress Elizabeth I with his creation of the original garden here – if he’d put on a light display like that after dark, I think he might have succeeded in winning her hand after all…

 

 

 

Ancient Civilisations: Reflections From Stonehenge

Last week I was sitting in the café at the new English Heritage Visitors Centre  near Stonehenge, listening to a conversation between two American visitors.

Stonehenge  Aug 2014 (photo credit Abigail Robinson)
Stonehenge Aug 2014 (photo credit Abigail Robinson)

“Well,” said one, “I definitely think it was three things; a church, a burial ground and a place of healing.”

“You don’t mean church,” said her friend.

“Oh no. Well, a holy place. That sort of thing.”

People love speculating about why those who created Stonehenge went to so much trouble to transport huge stones from West Wales to Salisbury Plain to construct their monument which took many hundreds of years – at a time, 5000 years ago, when their own lifespan would probably have been only about 30 years.

Because of the wonderful new exhibition English Heritage have designed in the Visitor Centre, our minds are now filled with all the most up-to-date theories based upon the latest research. And we are now imagining those Neolithic people in a new light, and wondering about their skills in planning and design and organisation, in engineering and architecture and building – skills which are far beyond those we might have credited to them even a couple of decades ago – if we’d ever thought about them, that is.

Before this visit, I last went round Stonehenge a year ago, and even then I was moved by the story that English Heritage tell us through their wonderful audio guide.

view through a trilithon (photo credit Abigail Robinson)
view through a trilithon (photo credit Abigail Robinson)

But now I have new reflections. They are about the rise and fall of civilisations on this planet – and how easy it is for us to forget, or disregard, the sophistication and skill of previous civilisations that have disappeared.

Only a few centuries back, we are told, people “had no concept of prehistory.” In James I’s time, Inigo Jones researched Stonehenge and concluded it had been built by the Romans.

But no.  Now we learn that this magnificent structure was begun by people who lived in 3000 BC.

How sure can we be that our own immensely sophisticated civilisation won’t disappear, to be lost to time, and forgotten by future races? Will they, I speculate, rediscover us and be amazed at the things we were able to achieve, which they would never have credited to us?

How many of us believe that all we have discovered and attained will last forever?

What will we leave behind for the people 3000 years into the future to wonder at and and admire? What will be left of us, to fuel their imagination, in just the same way that Stonehenge now fuels ours?