Warwick attractions unite to mark 400th anniversary of King James I visit

Photo provided by Warwick Castle.
Photo provided by Warwick Castle.

Residents and visitors in Warwick can party like it’s 1617 next month as the town commemorates the 400th anniversary of King James I’s visit.

From Friday, November 3 through to Sunday, 5 November 5, there will be a series of activities including historic tours, banquets, fireworks and Guy Fawkes crafts and Sunday services in honour of the founder of the King James bible and his relationship with the town.

Hosted by Sir Fulke Greville, the monarch - often remembered as the target of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 – enjoyed a three-day feast at Lord Leycester Hospital’s Great Hall as the iconic Warwick Castle, raided by the plotters in 1605, lay in ruins.

Here is a list of events taking place to mark the anniversary:

1) Lord Leycester Hospital (lordleycester.com)

On Friday there will be an event that recreates the ‘Grand Banquet’, which was held in King James I’s honour in 1617.

The event which includes music, dancing, food and ale, will run from 7pm to midnight.

Tickets have now sold out for the ‘The Grand Feast’.

On Saturday there will be another event featuring live music, food and entertainment in the Courtyard and Great Hall.

This takes place from 12pm to 5pm and entry costs £1.

2) Warwick Racecourse (warwick.thejockeyclub.co.uk)

Following the failed attempt on King James I’s life under the Gunpowder Plot in 1605, he declared a special bonfire to celebrate his survival.

This year’s Warwick Town Bonfire continues this tradition and promises to be bigger and better as a key event of the 400 year celebrations.

On Saturday gates will open at 5pm with hot refreshments and a children’s fun area.

The bonfire and fireworks display will start at 6.30pm.

Tickets priced at £6 and £1 for adults and children in advance. Children aged three and under can enter for free.

3) Market Hall Museum (heritage.warwickshire.gov.uk/museum-service/)

Discover what life was like in 1617 with a visit from the Museum’s Time Traveller, design your own coat of arms shield, or create a patchwork to help dress Guy Fawkes for Saturday night’s bonfire.

The Market Hall Museum is open from 10.30am to 3pm on Saturday, November 4.

Bookings are not required.

The event costs £2.50 per child but is free for Heritage and Culture Warwickshire Supporters (ID required).

4) St Mary’s Church (stmaryswarwick.co.uk)

Across all three days of the festival visitors can learn about the friendship of King James I and Sir Fulke Greville, who was a poet, dramatist, statesman, Earl of Warwick, custodian of the Castle and host of the 1617 banquet.

An historic exhibition will also show how the King James Bible came to be commissioned and its impact on today’s world.

The Sunday services at the church will feature choral music, which was enjoyed by the King.

On Saturday the Church’s tower will be open providing a bird’s eye view over the town as it prepares for the bonfire during the day.

Access to the tower will cost £3 for adults, £2.50 for students and £6 for a family {two adults up to four children).

The tower will also be open during the evening for vantage point for the fireworks,

Tickets cost £15 and include champagne and canapés.

To book email contact@stmaryswarwick.org.uk or call 01926 403940. Opening times are 10am – 4.30pm.

5) Old Shire Hall (theoldshirehall.co.uk)

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of King James I’s visit to Warwick in 1617, Warwick’s Old Shire Hall will be serving a Sunday lunch that is fit for a king!

Pre-lunch drinks will be served in the Judges’ Drawing Room where you can view a portrait of the King himself.

This is also an opportunity to view The Old Shire Hall.

Tickets cost £25 for a two course lunch.

6) Warwick Castle (warwick-castle.co.uk)

Warwick Castle’s History Team will be delivering entertaining insights into King James I – his power, his personality and his influence on the Castle, including why he gifted it to the Greville family.

Tours will run throughout the weekend and are included in the Castle’s ticket price.

For more information on the celebrations, click here.