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Elizabeth I gave Kenilworth Castle to her favorite Robert Dudley earl of Leicester in 1563. He converted Kenilworth into a great prodigy house for her entertainment , which culminated in 19 days of festivities in 1575.
The castles fortifications were dismantled in 1650 after the Civil War. The ivy clad ruins became famous as the setting fo Sir Walter Scott's novel Kenilworth. The castle was given by Lord Kenilworth to the Town of Kenilworth in 1958.
Today, visitors can view an exhibition on the story of the special relationship which includes items on loan from museums and private collections. Kenilworth Castle is an English Heritage site and has recently undergone a multi million pound investment project. The gatehouse, originally built for Elizabeth 1, has been renovated and is now dressed and furnished as it might have appeared in the 1930's. The Elizabethan garden has also been painstakingly restored to replicate its original glory from 1575, complete with fountains, aviary and ornate borders.
Visitors can take meander through the ruins at their own pace, take an hour long audio tour and enjoy a picnic in the grounds. There is a visitor centre, tea shop and gift shop.