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Kenilworth ClockTower SSE.jpg
Clock tower at the junction of The Square, Smalley Place and Abbey End
Kenilworth is located in Warwickshire
Kenilworth shown within Warwickshire
Population22,413 (2011 Census)[1]
OS grid referenceSP2971
Civil parish
  • Kenilworth
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townKenilworth
Postcode districtCV8
Dialling code01926
AmbulanceWest Midlands
EU ParliamentWest Midlands
UK Parliament
WebsiteKenilworth The Best Kept Secret in Warwickshire
List of places
52°20′28″N 1°33′58″W / 52.341°N 1.566°W / 52.341; -1.566Coordinates: 52°20′28″N 1°33′58″W / 52.341°N 1.566°W / 52.341; -1.566

Kenilworth (/ˈkɛnɪlwərθ/ KEN-il-wərth) is a town and civil parish in Warwickshire, England, about 6 miles (10 km) south-west of the centre of Coventry, 5 miles (8 km) north of Warwick and 90 miles (140 km) north-west of London. The town is 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 2011 Census recorded a parish population of 22,413.[1] Kenilworth is noted for the extensive ruins of Kenilworth Castle. Other sights include the ruins of Kenilworth Abbey in Abbey Fields park, St Nicholas' Parish Church and the town's clock tower.


Kenilworth Castle

A settlement existed at Kenilworth by the time of the Domesday Book of 1086, which records it as Chinewrde meaning "farm of a woman named Cynehild".

Geoffrey de Clinton (died 1134) initiated the building of an Augustinian priory in 1122,[2] at the same time as he initiated the building of Kenilworth Castle.[3] The priory was raised to the rank of abbey in 1450[2] and suppressed in the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530s. Thereafter, the abbey grounds next to the castle were made common land in exchange for what Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester used to enlarge the castle. Only a few walls and a storage barn of the original abbey survive.

Just off Coventry Road in Kenilworth is a field called the Parliament Piece. This may be the site where Henry III held a Parliament in August 1266, while his troops besieged Kenilworth Castle, where the late Simon de Montfort's followers, led by Henry de Hastings, were still holding out against the king's forces. This Parliament led to the Dictum of Kenilworth: a settlement that offered the rebels a way of recovering the lands that the Crown had seized from them. One copy of the Dictum is endorsed in castris apud Kenilworth — "in the camp (or castle) at Kenilworth".[citation needed] Members of the public have free access to Parliament Piece, which is owned by the Open Spaces Society and leased to Warwick District Council.

Geoffrey de Clinton had a deer park created near Kenilworth.[2] In 1488 Ralph, abbot of Kenilworth Abbey had 40 acres (16 ha) of land near Redfern northwest of the town emparked as Duck Park,[2] which despite its name was a deer park. By about 1540 there were eight deer parks near Kenilworth.[2] Two were near Rudfen: as well as Duck Park there was a 30-acre (12 ha) park that was called Little Park in 1581, was owned by Robert Briscoe in 1649 and was still called Briscoe's Park in 1785.[2] One of the eight deer parks, The Chase, can still be traced. The eastern part of its park pale is about 1 mile (1.6 km) west of the castle and the northern part forms the boundary between Chase Wood and the farm road and bridleway between Little Chase Farm and Warrior's Lodge Farm.

In about 1414 Henry V had le plesans en marais[4] — "The Pleasaunce in the Marsh"[2] — built about 0.5 miles (800 m) west of the castle.[5] This was a timber-framed banqueting house surrounded by a moated earthwork about 600 feet (180 m) by about 500 feet (150 m) that 15th century kings used instead of the castle's state apartments.[5] In the 16th century Henry VIII had the banqueting house demolished[5] and the materials re-used for new timber-framed buildings inside the castle.[2] The mere was drained in 1649 but "The Pleasaunce" earthworks survive and are a Scheduled Monument.[4]

The parish church of St Nicholas, where Elizabeth I worshipped in 1575 and James I visited in 1616

Elizabeth I visited Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester at Kenilworth Castle several times, the last of which was in 1575. Dudley entertained the Queen with pageants and banquets that cost some £1,000 per day, presenting diversions and pageants surpassing anything ever before seen in England.[6][7] These included fireworks.[8]

Warwick District Council owns and manages land across the Coventry Road at Tainter's Hill. This area of public open space was designated "for the poor of the parish" under an inclosure act in 1756 and is now registered as common land. Around this time in 1778 Kenilworth windmill was built, which was later made the town's water tower. It is now a private home, minus its sails.

In 1844 the London and Birmingham Railway opened the Coventry to Leamington Line, including Kenilworth railway station. The L&NWR had a new station built in 1883 and a new link line between Kenilworth and Berkswell in 1884 to bypass Coventry. It closed to all traffic on 3 March 1969.[9] British Rail withdrew passenger services from the Coventry to Leamington Line and closed Kenilworth Station in January 1965 in accordance with The Reshaping of British Railways report. In May 1977, British Rail reinstated passenger services but did not reopen Kenilworth station, which fell into dereliction and was eventually demolished. In 2011 Warwick Council granted John Laing plc planning permission to build a new station,[10] which was planned to open in 2013.[11][12] This was postponed by four years to December 2017.[13] In 2018, a track from Coventry was opened. There is also a track from Leamington. The train has one carriage. There was a special ticket for the first hundred to board the train.

The railway brought industrialists from Birmingham and Coventry who developed the residential area around the town's railway station.[citation needed] In the 19th century the town had some fine large mansions with landscaped gardens; these were demolished after the First World War and Second World War for housing developments. The names of these survive in the names of some roads and areas of the town. For example, Towers Close was built on the grounds of Rouncil Towers. Some large trees from their grounds survive, including giant sequoias from the Moorlands and Rouncil Towers.

Parish church of St John the Evangelist

The town's growth occasioned the addition of a second Church of England parish church, St John's, which is on Warwick Road in Knights Meadow. It was designed by Ewan Christian and built in 1851–52.[14] It is a Gothic Revival building with a south-west bell tower and broach spire.[14]

After 1883, the original 1844 railway station on Warwick Road was partly rebuilt at the opposite end of Station Road at the rear of the King's Arms and Castle Hotel public house, now used as a cafe. The building was demolished in 1983, but the railway station stonework remains. A copy of the exterior of the King's Arms was built on the site and redeveloped in 2007 as a chain restaurant. The building's distinctive pillars have been retained as copies on its Warwick Road frontage. Sir Walter Scott stayed there when he was researching his novel Kenilworth.[15]

In 1884 the Parish Church of St Nicholas established a mission room in an upstairs room above the Co-Op in Park Road.[16] It attracted a congregation of 150 people and in 1885 moved to new premises.[16] In 1905 the congregation moved to a new "tin tabernacle" iron building that had been newly erected in Albion Street and consecrated as Saint Barnabas Mission Church,[16] a daughter church of St Nicholas.

The railway boosted Kenilworth's market gardening.[citation needed] There were reputedly 40 nurseries growing market-garden produce in Kenilworth, but all have now been redeveloped for housing. The last was Guest's Nursery, which was developed as 23 houses in 2002. The Victorian era saw a large expansion of the town to the west of Abbey Fields and on land around Warwick Road. Most of the buildings along Warwick Road date from this period and later but a few earlier cottages survive.[citation needed]

The former mansion on Forrest Road, built around 1901, still stands. It is believed that a William Forrest bought the surrounding land, except that of the terrace to the north of Abbey End, and built the house, either for himself or for his family. The house was split into three separate residential lots in the 1970s, the main part of the house forming 'Hillcrest', the west wing of the house with the main grand staircase and gardens forming 'Max Gate', and the billiards room forming the bungalow "South Brent". The former landscaped gardens to the east and west of the property have been built on for residential purposes, but the south and north gardens still belong to the house. Some main features have been lost during the transition internally, but externally the house still keeps its grand bay windows, tiled walls, high chimney stacks and other features, which can be seen in the new flats, Mulberry Court on Abbey End. Warwick Road is now the main commercial centre of the town[citation needed]

Most of the older existing buildings of Kenilworth are in Castle Green, New Row and High Street. High Street has many of the older buildings in Kenilworth, with long established shops. The age of these buildings make it appear that this is the original settlement, but in fact this is simply the oldest existing part of the town. The original settlement along the present day Warwick Road has been subject to continuous redevelopment since the 12th century and now retains few of its original buildings. Many of the houses around Castle Green are built of stone salvaged in the 17th century when the castle walls were slighted after the English Civil War.[citation needed]

In May 1961, the Kenilworth Society was formed as a result of concerns about a group of 17th-century listed cottages adjacent to the Finham Brook in Bridge Street.[17] The Society's objectives are to promote consciousness of Kenilworth's character and to encourage its preservation.

Kenilworth was struck by an F0/T1 tornado on 23 November 1981, as part of the record-breaking nationwide tornado outbreak on that day.[18]

Modern Kenilworth[edit]

Warwick Road on the B4103, the main road through Kenilworth, near the parish church of St John the Evangelist

Modern Kenilworth is a dormitory town for commuters to Coventry as well as Birmingham and Leamington Spa. Despite its proximity to the University of Warwick at Gibbet Hill in Coventry, it has only a small population of mostly postgraduate students and some staff.

In 2008, Waitrose opened a supermarket in Kenilworth,[19] and hardware chain Robert Dyas opened a new-format store in November 2011. There are plans to renovate the existing public library buildings. The town's old youth centre was demolished in 2007 to make way for the new supermarket, and a new one was built. The Cross, a pub restaurant, received a Michelin star in 2014.[20]

Since 2010, Kenilworth has been part of the Kenilworth and Southam constituency.

In the centre of Kenilworth stands a Kugel ball water feature, called the Millennium Globe.[21]


Districts within the town include Abbey End, Burton Green, Castle End, Crackley, Knight's Meadow, Ladyes Hill, St Johns, Whitemoor and Windy Arbour.


The A46 bypass opened in June 1974.[22] Both Birmingham International Airport and the M6, M42 and M40 motorways are within 10 miles (16 km) of the town.

There is a regular bus service to Coventry and Leamington Spa railway stations, and Warwick Parkway is 11 to 14 minutes' drive away. In June 2013 it was announced that the government would grant £5 million for the reopening of Kenilworth Station, around half of the proposed total cost.[23] The station has direct links to Coventry and Leamington Spa and opened on 30 April 2018.[24]


Kenilworth Town FC, in Gypsy Lane south of the town, played in the Midland Combination until June 2011, when it resigned,[25] preferring to spend money on ground improvements rather than field a team. The team re-entered the English football pyramid in the 2013–14 season and were placed in the Midland Football League Division 3, the 12th highest tier in the English league system.

Kenilworth Wardens FC[26] is based at Kenilworth Wardens,[27] a Community Amateur Sports Club located on Glasshouse Lane to the east of the town.

Kenilworth RFC[28] is the town's rugby union club. It fields three senior sides and hosts a large minis, juniors and colts section. The ground is also located in Glasshouse Lane.

Kenilworth Tennis, Squash and Croquet Club,[29] at the north of the town on Crackley Lane, has nine tennis courts, five squash and racketball courts and two croquet lawns.

Kenilworth has two cricket clubs. Kenilworth Wardens[30] plays at Glasshouse Lane and fields five senior teams and a juniors section starting from seven years old. Kenilworth Cricket Club[31] fields three senior teams and plays at the Warwick Road pitch south of the town.

Kenilworth Runners,[32] which meets at the Wardens, caters for runners of all ages and abilities.

Octavian Droobers is the local orienteering club, using its maps of Abbey Fields and Kenilworth Common on which to stage events.

Kenilworth Wheelers,[33] meets every Saturday and Sunday morning throughout the year for a road ride. During the summer months regular evening training rides catering for all abilities from novice to racer take place.

Abbey Fields Swimming Pool is in Abbey Fields in the middle of the town. It has a 25m x 10m indoor pool and an outdoor pool that is open from May to September. It is also the home of Kenilworth Swimming Club and the Kenilworth Masters Swimming Club.[34]

Kenilworth Golf Club[35] is located on the north-east side of the town. It features a mature 18-hole parkland course, plus a small six-hole par 3 course.

Castle Farm Recreation Centre has a four-court badminton hall which can accommodate basketball, volleyball, netball, table tennis, short mat bowls and children's parties. The hall is available for use by members of the public, in addition to sports clubs which make block bookings throughout the year.

Two Castles Run[edit]

The Two Castles Run began in 1983 as a fun run between Warwick Castle and Kenilworth Castle.[36] Since then it has grown into an English Athletics-licensed[37] run with 3,000 entrants in 2010. The field increased to 4,000 places from 2011. In 2010 and 2011 it had the status of the Warwickshire Amateur Athletic Association 10 Kilometre Championship. In 2012 all 4,000 places were sold within 25 hours of the event opening. The race is organised by Kenilworth Rotary Club[38] in conjunction with the Leamington Cycling and Athletic Club[39] and is held each June.[40]



The Talisman Theatre was founded as the Talisman Players in 1942 and moved to its current 156-seat auditorium in Barrow Road in 1969.[41] It was awarded eight NODA awards between 2004 and 2014.[42]

The Priory Theatre was founded in 1932 as the Kenilworth Players.[43] Kenilworth's former Unitarian/Christadelphian chapel, a Perpendicular Gothic Revival building[2] dating from 1816 was converted into a 119-seat theatre building for the company in 1945–1946.[43] It was gutted by fire in 1976 but was restored and in September 1978 was reopened.[43]

Kenilworth Arts Festival[edit]

The first Kenilworth Festival was held in 1935. After a 70-year interval, Kenilworth Festival was revived by members of the local community in 2005. Between 2005 and 2015, events were held almost every year, with varying degrees of success.[44] The company became a social enterprise in 2010.[45]

In 2015/16, a new team took over planning of the festival and oversaw a change in direction, with a new name, new branding and a new mission statement. As Kenilworth Arts Festival, the core focus of the festival became to "celebrate and support high quality, original work within the contemporary arts."

The inaugural Kenilworth Arts Festival took place in September 2016. The line-up included acclaimed singer-songwriters Rachel Sermanni and Luke Jackson, legendary jazz pianist Jason Rebello, BAFTA fellow Andrew Davies, classical duo The Ayoub Sisters, nature-writer Rob Cowen and poets David Morley, Sarah Howe, Jo Bell and Luke Kennard. A free open-air event, Fiesta, attended by over 4,000 people, featured live music; a storytelling den; children's theatre, and many interactive arts activities for people of all ages. It was led by organisations such as Compton Verney Art Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre and Kenilworth Books.

Kenilworth Arts Festival 2018 took place on 20–29 September.

Famous people[edit]

In order of birth:

Twin towns[edit]

Kenilworth is twinned with:

Kenilworth has friendship links with:


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External links[edit]