Caludon Castle Ruins – Coventry, England - Atlas Obscura

Coventry, England

Caludon Castle Ruins

This ruin in a suburban park may be the place where Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" was first performed. 

The history of what is now Caludon Castle Park has no shortage of legends. Before the Norman invasion of 1066, the land was held by the famous Lady Godiva, the legendary noblewoman who rode naked on her horse through the streets of Coventry. The first significant building on the storied site was a moated manor house built in 1279, and later fortified, earning it the name Caludon Castle.

In the 15th century, the castle came into the ownership of the powerful Berkeley family of Gloucestershire, and it became their favorite residence following a major rebuild that also created a lake adjacent to the moat. (The approach road off the street today is along the remains of the dam.)

It is recorded that between 1592 and 1605 the Berkeley family’s lifestyle was one of opulence, and they enjoyed performances by famous musicians of the day and numerous productions of important plays. Local belief is that in 1595, the site was the location of the first performance of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, commissioned by the family as part of the celebrations of the marriage of Lord Thomas Berkeley and Elizabeth Carey.

Little is left of the castle now, as it was destroyed by Parliamentary troops following the English Civil War in reprisal to Coventry’s royalist sympathies. But the remaining wall, originally part of the banquet hall, is very impressive. Both the original moat around the one around the rebuilt house are clearly visible, though the latter is largely hidden by trees until you get up close.

Know Before You Go

There is free parking in the Caludon Castle Park and the park is free to enter. Bus routes 9 and 9a serve the nearby University Hospital from Coventry rail station. Just to the west of the older moat, the parks department maintains an impressive flower meadow, which is worth a visit in its own right.

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