20. The Queen's Bedchamber
A 1588 Inventory itemised 35 beds in some detail. The bedsteads were typically of walnut with a sparver (a tent-like canopy suspended from the ceiling). The curtains and canopies were of silk, satin and velvet, in reds, greens, blues and orange, decorated in gold and silver, and with fringes of lace, tassels, loops and buttons.
During her royal progress in 1575, Elizabeth I arrived at Kenilworth on the 9th July, and stayed for a record 19 days. With an entourage including 400 servants, the cost to her host would have reached £1,000 per day (equivalent now to over 3 million pounds per day). It has been suggested that a young Shakespeare, aged 11, would have been aware of these lavish entertainments, and that he recalled them for ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’.
As a demonstration of wealth and power, the festivities during the queen’s visit included 3 separate spectacular firework displays, held over the mere, each lasting up to 2 hours and one including canon fire. The fireworks, viewed from these chambers, would also have been seen and heard 20 miles away, with the noise deafening to those spectators at the castle - familiar with only the quiet rural sound levels of the time.