Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth Castle

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Kenilworth Castle
Warwickshire, England
File:Kenilworth Castle gatehouse landscape.jpg
Kenilworth Castle, viewed from the Tiltyard
Kenilworth Castle is located in Warwickshire

Shown within Warwickshire
Type Inner and outer bailey walls with great tower
Coordinates grid reference SP2794172163
New red sandstone
Town of Kenilworth
Open to
the public
Controlled by English Heritage

Kenilworth Castle is located in the town of the same name inWarwickshire, England. Constructed from Norman through to Tudor times, the castle has been described by architectural historian Anthony Emery as “the finest surviving example of a semi-royal palace of the later middle ages, significant for its scale, form and quality of workmanship”. Kenilworth has also played an important historical role. The castle was the subject of the six-month long Siege of Kenilworth in 1266, believed to be the longest siege in English history, and formed a base for Lancastrian operations in the War of the Roses. Kenilworth was also the scene of the removal of Edward IIfrom the English throne, the French insult to Henry V in 1414 (said by John Strecche to have encouraged the Agincourt campaign), and the Earl of Leicester‘s lavish reception of Elizabeth I in 1575.

The castle was built over several centuries. Founded in the 1120s around a powerful Norman great tower, the castle was significantly enlarged by King John at the beginning of the 13th century. Huge water defences were created by damming the local streams and the resulting fortifications proved able to withstand assaults by land and water in 1266. John of Gaunt spent lavishly in the late 14th century, turning the medieval castle into a palace fortress designed in the latest perpendicular style. The Earl of Leicester then expanded the castle once again, constructing new Tudor buildings and exploiting the medieval heritage of Kenilworth to produce a fashionableRenaissance palace.

Kenilworth was partly destroyed by Parliamentary forces in 1649 to prevent it being used as a military stronghold. Ruined, only two of its buildings remain habitable today. The castle became a tourist destination from the 18th century onwards, becoming famous in the Victorian period following the publishing of Sir Walter Scott‘s novel Kenilworth in 1826. English Heritagehas managed the castle since 1984. The castle is classed as a Grade Ilisted building and as a Scheduled Monument, and is open to the public.

Architecture and landscape

Wenceslaus Hollar‘s 1649 plan of Kenilworth Castle.

Although now ruined as a result of the slighting, or deliberate partial destruction, of the castle after the English Civil War, Kenilworth illustrates five centuries of English military and civil architecture. The castle is built almost entirely from local new red sandstone.

Entrance and outer bailey wall

To the south-east of the main castle lie the Brays, a corruption of the French word braie, meaning an external fortification withpalisades. Only earthworks and fragments of masonry remain of what was an extensive 13th-century barbican structure including a stone wall and an external gatehouse guarding the main approach to the castle. The area now forms part of the car park for the castle. Beyond the Brays are the ruins of the Gallery Tower, a second gatehouse remodelled in the 15th century. The Gallery Tower originally guarded the 152-metre (500-ft) long, narrow walled-causeway that still runs from the Brays to the main castle. This causeway was called the Tiltyard, as it was used for tilting, or jousting, in medieval times. The Tiltyard causeway acted both as a dam and as part of the barbicandefences. To the east of the Tiltyard is a lower area of marshy ground, originally flooded and called the Lower Pool, and to the west an area once called the Great Mere. The Great Mere is now drained and forms a meadow, but would originally have been a large lake covering around 100 acres (4,400,000 sq ft), dammed by the Tiltyard causeway.

The outer bailey of Kenilworth Castle is usually entered through Mortimer’s Tower, today a modest ruin but originally a Norman stone gatehouse, extended in the late 13th and 16th centuries. The outer bailey wall, long and relatively low, was mainly built by King John; it has numerous buttresses but only a few towers, being designed to be primarily defended by the water system of the Great Mere and Lower Pool. The north side of the outer bailey wall was almost entirely destroyed during the slighting. Moving clockwise around the outer bailey from Mortimer’s Tower, the defences include a west-facing watergate, which would originally have led onto the Great Mere; the King’s gate, a late 17th century agricultural addition; the Swan Tower, a late 13th century tower with 16th century additions named after the swans that lived on the Great Mere; the early 13th century Lunn’s Tower; and the 14th century Water Tower, so named because it overlooked the Lower Pool.

Inner court

Kenilworth’s inner court consists of a number of buildings set against a bailey wall, originally of Norman origin, exploiting the defensive value of a natural knoll that rises up steeply from the surrounding area. The 12th-century great tower occupies the knoll itself and forms the north-east corner of the bailey. Ruined during the slighting, the great tower is notable for its huge corner turrets, essentially hugely exaggerated Norman pilaster buttresses. Its walls are 5 metres (17 ft) thick, and the towers 30 metres (100 ft) high. Although Kenilworth’s great tower is larger, it is similar to that of Brandon Castle near Coventry; both were built by the localClinton family in the 1120s. The tower can be termed a hall keep, as it is longer than it is wide. The lowest floor is filled with earth, possibly taken from the earlier motte that may have been present on the site, and is further protected by a sloping stone plintharound the base. The tall Tudor windows at the top of the tower date from the 1570s.

Much of the northern part of the inner bailey was built by the 14th-century noble John of Gaunt between 1372 and 1380. This part of the castle is considered by historian Anthony Emery to be “the finest surviving example of a semi-royal palace of the later middle ages, significant for its scale, form and quality of workmanship”. Gaunt’s architectural style emphasised rectangular design, the separation of ground floor service areas from the upper stories and a contrast of austere exteriors with lavish interiors, especially on the 1st floor of the inner bailey buildings. The result is considered “an early example of the perpendicular style“.

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John of Gaunt’s great hall, showing the vertical lines characteristic of the perpendicular style.

The most significant of Gaunt’s buildings is his great hall. The great hall replaced an earlier sequence of great halls on the same site, and was heavily influenced by Edward III‘s design at Windsor Castle. The hall consists of a “ceremonial sequence of rooms”, approached by a particularly grand staircase, now lost. From the great hall, visitors could look out to admire the Great Mere or the inner court through huge windows. Theundercroft to the hall, used by the service staff, was lit with slits, similar to design at the contemporary Wingfield Manor. The roof was built in 1376 by William Wintringham, producing the widest hall, unsupported by pillars, existing in England at the time.There is some debate amongst historians as to whether this roof was a hammerbeam design, a collar andtruss-brace design, or a combination of the two.

There was an early attempt at symmetry in the external appearance of the great hall – the Strong and Saintlowe Towers architecturally act as near symmetrical “wings” to the hall itself, while the plinth of the hall is designed to mirror that of the great tower opposite it. An unusual multi-sided tower, the Oriel, provides a counterpoint to the main doorway of the hall and was intended for private entertainment by Gaunt away from the main festivities on major occasions. The Oriel tower is based on Edward III’s “La Rose” Tower at Windsor, which had a similar function. Gaunt’s Strong Tower is so named for being entirely vaulted in stone across all its floors, an unusual and robust design. The great hall influenced the design of Bolton and Raby castles, while the hall’s roof design became famous and was copied at Arundel Castle and Westminster Hall.

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The architectural symmetry of the Strong Tower on the left, the great hall and the Saintlowe Tower on the right, viewed from the left-hand court.

Other parts of the castle built by Gaunt include the southern range of state apartments, Gaunt’s Tower and the main kitchen. Although now extensively damaged, these share the same style as the great hall; this would have unified the appearance of Gaunt’s palace in a distinct break from the more eclectic medieval tradition of design. Gaunt’s kitchen replaced the original 12th-century kitchens, built alongside the great tower in a similar fashion to the arrangement atConisbrough. Gaunt’s new kitchen was twice the size of that in equivalent castles, measuring 19 metres (66 ft) by eight metres (28 ft).

The remainder of the inner court was built by Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester, in the 1570s. He built a tower now known as Leicester’s building on the south edge of the court as a guest wing, extending out beyond the inner bailey wall for extra space. Leicester’s building was four floors high and built in a fashionable contemporary Tudor style with “brittle, thin walls and grids of windows”. The building was intended to appear well-proportioned alongside the ancient great tower, one of the reasons for its considerable height. Leicester’s building set the style for later Elizabethan country house design, especially in the Midlands, with Hardwick Hall being a classic example.

Leicester also built a loggia, or open gallery, beside the great keep to lead to the new formal gardens. The loggia was designed to elegantly frame the view as the observer slowly admired the gardens, and was a new design in 16th century, only recently imported from Italy.

Base, left-hand and right-hand courts

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Leicester’s gatehouse, built by Robert Dudley in a deliberately anachronistic style.

The rest of Kenilworth Castle’s interior is divided into three areas: the base court, stretching between Mortimer’s Tower and Leicester’s gatehouse; the left-hand court, stretching south-west around the outside of the inner court; and the right-hand court, to the north-west of the inner court. The line of trees that cuts across the base court today is a relatively modern mid-19th century addition, and originally this court would have been more open, save for the collegiate chapel that once stood in front of the stables.Destroyed in 1524, only the chapel’s foundations remain. Each of the courts was designed to be used for different purposes: the base court was considered a relatively public area, with the left and right courts used for more private occasions.

Leicester’s gatehouse was built on the north side of the base court, replacing an older gatehouse to provide a fashionable entrance from the direction of Coventry. The external design, with its symbolic towers and, originally, battlements, echoes a style popular a century or more before, closely resembling Kirby Muxloe and the Beauchamp gatehouse at Warwick Castle. By contrast the interior, with its contemporary wood panelling, is in the same, highly contemporary Elizabethan fashion of Leicester’s building in the inner court. Leicester’s gatehouse is one of the few parts of the castle to remain intact. The stables built by John Dudley in the 1550s also survive and lie along the east side of the base court. The stable block is a large building built mostly in stone, but with a timber-framed, decoratively panelled first storey designed in an anachronistic, vernacular style. Both buildings could have easily been seen from Leicester’s building and were therefore on permanent display to visitors. Leciester’s intent may have been to create a deliberately anachronistic view across the base court, echoing the older ideals of chivalry and romance alongside the more modern aspects of the redesign of the castle.

Garden and landscape


The restored Elizabethan knot gardens, designed to reproduce the appearance of the gardens in 1575.

Much of the right-hand court of Kenilworth Castle is occupied by the castle garden. For most of Kenilworth’s history the role of the castle garden, used for entertainment, would have been very distinct from that of the surrounding chase, used primarily for hunting.From the 16th century onwards there were elaborate knot gardens in the base court.The gardens today are designed to reproduce as closely as possible the primarily historical record of their original appearance in 1575, with a steep terrace along the south side of the gardens and steps leading down to eight square knot gardens. In Elizabethan gardens “the plants were almost incidental”, and instead the design focus was on sculptures, including four wooden obelisks painted to resemble porphyry and a marble fountain with a statue of two Greek mythological figures. A timber aviarycontains a range of birds. The original garden was heavily influenced by the Italian Renaissance garden at Villa d’Este.

To the north-west of the castle are earthworks marking the spot of the “Pleasance”, created in 1414 by Henry V. The Pleasance was a banqueting house built in the style of a miniature castle. Surrounded by two diamond-shaped moats with its own dock, the Pleasance was positioned on the far side of the Great Mere and had to be reached by boat. It resembled Richard II‘s retreat at Sheen from the 1380s, and was later copied by his younger brother, Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, at Greenwich in the 1430s, as well by his son, John of Lancaster at Fulbrook. The Pleasance was eventually dismantled by Henry VIII and partially moved into the left-hand court inside the castle itself, possibly to add to the anachronistic appearance. These elements were finally destroyed in the 1650s.

The inner court as seen from the base court; left to right are the 16th-century Leicester’s building; Gaunt’s 14th-century Oriel tower and great hall; and Clinton’s 12th-century great keep.


12th century

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The great tower is one of Kenilworth Castle’s earliest surviving structures.

Kenilworth Castle was founded in the early 1120s by Geoffrey de Clinton, Lord Chamberlain to Henry I. The castle’s original form is uncertain. It has been suggested that it consisted of a motte, an earthen mound surmounted by wooden buildings; however, the stone great tower may have been part of the original design. Clinton was a local rival to Roger de Beaumont, the Earl of Warwick and owner of the neighbouring Warwick Castle, and the king made Clinton the sheriff in Warwickshire to act as a counter-balance to Beaumont’s power. Clinton had begun to lose the king’s favour after 1130, and when he died in 1133 his son, also called Geoffrey, was only a minor. Geoffrey and his uncleWilliam de Clinton were forced to come to terms with Beaumont; this set-back, and the difficult years of the Anarchy (1135–54), delayed any further development of the castle.

Henry II succeeded to the throne at the end of the Anarchy but during the revolt of 1173–74 he faced a significant uprising led by his son, Henry, backed by the French crown. The conflict spread across England and Kenilworth was garrisoned by Henry II’s forces; Geoffrey II de Clinton died in this period and the castle was taken fully into royal possession, a sign of its military importance. The Clintons themselves moved on toBuckinghamshire. By this point Kenilworth Castle consisted of the great keep, the inner bailey wall, a basic causeway across the smaller lake that preceded the creation of the Great Mere, and the local chase for hunting.

13th century

Henry’s successor, Richard I, paid relatively little attention to Kenilworth but under King John significant building resumed at the castle. When John was excommunicated in 1208, he embarked on a programme of rebuilding and enhancing several major royal castles. These included CorfeOdihamDoverScarborough as well as Kenilworth. John spent £1,115 on Kenilworth Castle between 1210 and 1216, building the outer bailey wall in stone and improving the other defences, including creating Mortimer’s and Lunn’s Towers. He also significantly improved the castle’s water defences by damming the Finham and Inchford Brooks, creating the Great Mere. The result was to turn Kenilworth into one of the largest English castles of the time, with one of the largest artificial lake defences in England.[55] John was forced to cede the castle to the baronial opposition as part of the guarantee of the Magna Carta, before it reverted to royal control early in the reign of his son, Henry III.

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Kenilworth Castle seen from the west; by the 13th century, the foreground would have been occupied by the water defences of the Great Mere.

Henry III granted Kenilworth in 1244 to Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, who later became a leader in the Second Barons’ War (1263–67) against the king, using Kenilworth as the centre of his operations. Initially the conflict went badly for King Henry, and after the Battle of Lewes in 1264 he was forced to sign the Mise of Lewes, under which his son, Prince Edward, was given over to the rebels as a hostage. Edward was taken back to Kenilworth, where chroniclers considered he was held in unduly harsh conditions. Released in early 1265, Edward then defeated Montfort at theBattle of Evesham; the surviving rebels under the leadership of Henry de Hastings, Montfort’s constable at Kenilworth, regrouped at the castle the following spring. Edward’s forces proceeded to lay siege to the rebels.

Kenilworth Castle and Lake

The Siege of Kenilworth Castle in 1266 was “probably the longest in English history” according to historian Norman Pounds, and at the time was also the largest siege to have occurred in England in terms of the number of soldiers involved. Simon de Monfort’s son, Simon VI de Montfort, promised in January 1266 to hand over the castle to the king. Five months later this had not happened, and Henry III laid siege to Kenilworth Castle on 21 June. Protected by the extensive water defences, the castle withstood the attack, despite Edward targeting the weaker north wall, employing huge siege towers and even attempting a night attack using barges brought from Chester. The distance between the royal trebuchets and the walls severely reduced their effectiveness and heavier trebuchets had to be sent for from London. Papal intervention through the legateOttobuono finally resulted in the compromise of the Dictum of Kenilworth, under which the rebels were allowed to re-purchase their confiscated lands provided they surrendered the castle; the siege ended on 14 December 1266. The water defences at Kenilworth influenced the construction of later castles in Wales, most notably Caerphilly.

Henry V

Henry IV’s son, Henry V (Prince Hal) constructed a pleasure garden at the far end of the great lake, and retired here briefly after his victory at Agincourt.

Henry granted Kenilworth to his brother, Edmund Crouchback, in 1267. Edmund held many tournaments at Kenilworth in the late 13th century, including a huge event in 1279, presided over by the royal favourite Roger de Mortimer, in which a hundred knights competed for three days in the tiltyard in an event called “the Round Table“, in imitation of the popular Arthurian legends.

14th century

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The great tower (left) and John of Gaunt’s great hall (right).

Edmund Crouchback passed on the castle to his eldest son, Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, in 1298. Lancaster married Alice de Lacy, which made him the richest nobleman in England. Kenilworth became the primary castle of the Lancaster estates, replacing Bolingbroke, and acted as both a social and a financial centre for Thomas. Thomas built the first great hall at the castle from 1314 to 1317 and constructed the Water Tower along the outer bailey, as well as increasing the size of the chase. Lancaster, with support from many of the other English barons, found himself in increasing opposition to Edward II. War broke out in 1322, and Lancaster was captured at the Battle of Boroughbridge and executed. His estates, including Kenilworth, were confiscated by the crown. Edward and his wife, Isabella of France, spent Christmas 1323 at Kenilworth, amidst major celebrations.

Kenilworth Castle from the Great Mere

In 1326, however, Edward was deposed by an alliance of Isabella and her lover, Roger Mortimer. Edward was eventually captured by Isabella’s forces and the custody of the king was assigned to Henry, Earl of Lancaster, who had backed Isabella’s invasion. Henry, reoccupying most of the Lancaster lands, was made constable of Kenilworth and Edward was transported there in late 1326; Henry’s legal title to the castle was finally confirmed the following year.Kenilworth was chosen for this purpose by Isabella probably both because it was a major fortification, and also because of the symbolism of its former owners’ links to popular ideals of freedom and good government. Royal writs were issued in Edward’s name by Isabella from Kenilworth until the next year. A deputation of leading barons led by Bishop Orleton was then sent to Kenilworth to first persuade Edward to resign and, when that failed, to inform him that he had been deposed as king. Edward formally resigned as king in the great hall of the castle on 21 January 1326. As the months went by, however, it became clear that Kenilworth was proving a less than ideal location to imprison Edward. The castle was in a prominent part of the Midlands, in an area that held several nobles who still supported Edward and were believed to be trying to rescue him. Henry’s loyalty was also coming under question. In due course, Isabella and Mortimer had Edward moved by night to Berkeley Castle, where he died shortly afterwards. Isabella continued to use Kenilworth as a royal castle until her fall from power in 1330.

The Marquess of Winchester's Regiment at Kenilworth Castle

Henry of Grosmont, the Duke of Lancaster, inherited the castle from his father in 1345 and remodelled the great hall with a grander interior and roof. On his death Blanche of Lancaster inherited the castle. Blanche married John of Gaunt, the third son of Edward III; their union, and combined resources, made John the second richest man in England next to the king himself. After Blanche’s death, John married Constance, who had a claim to the kingdom of Castile, and John styled himself the king of Castile and Leon.Kenilworth was one of the most important of his thirty or more castles in England. John began building at Kenilworth between 1373 and 1380 in a style designed to reinforce his royal claims in Iberia. John constructed a grander great hall, the Strong Tower, Saintlowe Tower, the state apartments and the new kitchen complex. When not campaigning abroad, John spent much of his time at Kenilworth and Leicester, and used Kenilworth even more after 1395 when his health began to decline. In his final years, John made extensive repairs to the whole of the castle complex.

15th century

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A reconstruction of Kenilworth Castle, as it would have appeared around 1575–80.

Many castles, especially royal castles were left to decay in the 15th century; Kenilworth, however, continued to be used as a centre of choice, forming a late medieval “palace fortress”. Henry IV, John of Gaunt’s son, returned Kenilworth to royal ownership when he took the throne in 1399 and made extensive use of the castle. Henry V also used Kenilworth extensively, but preferred to stay in the Pleasance, the mock castle he had built on the other side of the Great Mere.According to the contemporary chronicler John Strecche, who lived at the neighbouring Kenilworth Priory, the French openly mocked Henry in 1414 by sending him a gift of tennis balls at Kenilworth. The French aim was to imply a lack of martial prowess; according to Strecche, the gift spurred Henry’s decision to fight the Agincourt campaign. The account was used by Shakespeare as the basis for a scene in his playHenry V.

Simon Schama at kenilworth Castle

English castles, including Kenilworth, did not play a decisive role during the Wars of the Roses (1455–85), which were fought primarily in the form of pitched battles between the rival factions of the Lancastrians and the Yorkists. With the mental collapse of King Henry VI,Queen Margaret used the Duchy of Lancaster lands in the Midlands, including Kenilworth, as one of her key bases of military support. Margaret removed Henry from London in 1456 for his own safety and until 1461, Henry’s court divided almost all its time among Kenilworth, Leicester and Tutbury Castle for the purposes of protection. Kenilworth remained an important Lancastrian stronghold for the rest of the war, often acting as a military balance to the nearby castle of Warwick. With the victory of Henry VII atBosworth, Kenilworth again received royal attention; Henry visited frequently and had a tennis court constructed at the castle for his use. His son, Henry VIII, decided that Kenilworth should be maintained as a royal castle. He abandoned the Pleasance and had part of the timber construction moved into the base court of the castle.

16th century

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A marble fireplace in Leicester’s gatehouse, with Robert Dudley’s initials (R & L for Robert Leicester) and the badge of theOrder of the Garter.

The castle remained in royal hands until it was given to John Dudley in 1553. Dudley came to prominence under Henry VIII and became the leading political figure underEdward VI. Dudley was a patron of John Shute, an early exponent of classical architecture in England, and began the process of modernising Kenilworth. Before his execution in 1553 by Queen Mary for attempting to place Lady Jane Grey on the throne, Dudley had built the new stable block and widened the tiltyard to its current form.

Kenilworth was restored to Dudley’s son, Robert, Earl of Leicester, in 1563, four years after the succession of Elizabeth I to the throne. Leicester’s lands in Warwickshire were worth between £500–£700 but Leicester’s power and wealth, including monopoliesand grants of new lands, depended ultimately on his remaining a favourite of the queen.

Leicester continued his father’s modernisation of Kenilworth, attempting to ensure that Kenilworth would attract the interest of Elizabeth during her regular tours around the country. Elizabeth visited in 1566 and 1568, by which time Leicester had commissioned the royal architect Henry Hawthorne to produce plans for a dramatic, classical extension of the south side of the inner court. In the event this proved unachievable and instead Leicester employed William Spicer to rebuild and extend the castle so as to provide modern accommodation for the royal court and symbolically boost his own claims to noble heritage. After negotiation with his tenants, Leicester also increased the size of the chase once again. The result has been termed an English “Renaissance palace”.

Gaunt’s Tower

Elizabeth viewed the partially finished results at Kenilworth in 1572, but the complete effect of Leicester’s work was only apparent during the queen’s last visit in 1575. Leicester was keen to impress Elizabeth in a final attempt to convince her to marry him, and no expense was spared. Elizabeth brought an entourage of thirty-one barons and four hundred staff for the royal visit that lasted an exceptional nineteen days; twenty horsemen a day arrived at the castle to communicate royal messages. Leicester entertained the Queen and much of the neighbouring region with pageants, fireworks, bear baitingmystery plays, hunting and lavish banquets. The cost was reputed to have amounted to many thousand pounds, almost bankrupting Leicester, though it probably did not exceed £1,700 in reality. The event was considered a huge success and formed the longest stay at such a property during any of Elizabeth’s tours, yet the queen did not decide to marry Leicester.

17th century

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The interior of Leicester’s gatehouse, converted into a domestic house by Colonel Hawkesworth after the English Civil War.

Kenilworth Castle was valued at £10,401 in 1588, when Leicester died without legitimate issue and heavily in debt. In accordance with his will, the castle passed first to his brother Ambrose, Earl of Warwick, and after the latter’s death in 1590, to his illegitimate son, Sir Robert Dudley. Dudley went to Italy in 1605, and during 1611–12 arranged to sell Kenilworth Castle to Henry, the Prince of Wales. Henry died before completing the full purchase, which was finalised by his brother, Charles. When Charles became king, he gave the castle to his wife, Henrietta Maria; he bestowed the stewardship on Robert Carey, earl of Monmouth, and gave it to Carey’s sons, Henry andThomas, after their father’s death. Kenilworth remained a popular location for bothJames I and Charles and accordingly was well maintained. The most famous royal visit occurred in 1624, when Ben Jonson‘s The Masque of Owls at Kenilworth was performed for Charles.

Great Hall

Another view of the Great Hall. The lower arcading shows where the undercroft was located. This provided storage, and was lit only by narrow slit windows in the wall.

Civil war broke out in England, however, in 1642. During the early campaigns of the war Kenilworth formed a useful counter-balance to the Parliamentary stronghold of Warwick. Kenilworth was used by Charles on his advance to Edgehill in October 1642 as a base for raids on Parliamentary strongholds in the Midlands. After the battle, however, the royalist garrison was withdrawn on the approach of Lord Brooke and the castle was garrisoned by parliamentary forces. The new governor of the castle, Hastings Ingram was arrested in April 1643 as a suspected Royalist double agent. By January 1645 the Parliamentary forces in Coventry had strengthened their hold on the castle and attempts by Royalist forces to dislodge them from Warwickshire failed.Security concerns continued after the end of the first civil war in 1646, and in 1649 Parliament ordered the slighting of Kenilworth. One wall of the great tower, various parts of the outer bailey and the battlements were destroyed, but not before the building was surveyed by the antiquarian William Dugdale, who published his results in 1656.

Colonel Joseph Hawkesworth, responsible for the implementation of the slighting, acquired the estate for himself and converted Leicester’s gatehouse into a house; part of the base court was turned into a farm and many of the remaining buildings were stripped for their raw materials. In 1660 Charles II was restored to the throne and Hawkesworth was promptly evicted from Kenilworth.The Queen Mother, Henrietta Maria, briefly regained the castle, with the earls of Monmouth acting as stewards once again, but after her death Charles II gave the castle to Sir Edward Hyde, whom he created Baron Hyde of Hindon and Earl of Clarendon. The ruined castle continued to be used as a farm, with the gatehouse as the principle dwelling; the King’s Gate was added to the outer bailey wall during this period for the use of farm workers.

Kenilworth Castle from the south in 1649, adapted from the engraving by Wenceslaus Hollar. From left to right, the watergate; the relocated Pleasurance; the Strong Tower, Gaunt’s great hall and Saintlowe Tower; the state apartments and Gaunt’s Tower; the top of the great tower; Leicester’s building; Leicester’s gatehouse; Mortimer’s tower; the Tiltyard/causeway and the Gallery Tower. In the foreground is the Great Mere.

18th and 19th centuries

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Kenilworth Castle, painted by Georg Saal in the mid-19th century.

Kenilworth remained a ruin during the 18th and 19th centuries, still used as a farm but increasingly also popular as a tourist attraction. The first guidebook to the castle, A Concise history and description of Kenilworth Castle, was printed in 1777 with many later editions following in the coming decades.

The castle’s cultural prominence increased after Sir Walter Scott wrote Kenilworth in 1821 describing the royal visit of Queen Elizabeth. Very loosely based on the events of 1575, Scott’s story reinvented aspects of the castle and its history to tell the story of “the pathetic, beautiful, undisciplined heroine Amy Robsart and the steely Elizabeth I”.Although considered today as a less successful literary novel than some of his other historical works, it popularised Kenilworth Castle in the Victorian imagination as a romantic Elizabethan location. Kenilworth spawned “numerous stage adaptations andburlesques, at least eleven operas, popular redactions, and even a scene in a set ofdioramas for home display”, including Sir Arthur Sullivan‘s 1865 opera The Masque at Kenilworth.

The number of visitors increased, including Queen Victoria and Charles Dickens. Work was undertaken during the 19th century to protect the stonework from further decline, with particular efforts to remove ivy from the castle in the 1860s.

Mortimers Tower

Mortimer’s Tower was the original Norman gatehouse to the castle. It was named for a carved stone shield bearing the arms of the Mortimer family, which can e seen on the wall. You can see arrowslits and the grooves in the walls where a portcullis would have been.


The castle remained the property of the Clarendons until 1937, when Lord Clarendon found the maintenance of the castle too expensive and sold Kenilworth to the industrialist Sir John Siddeley. Siddeley, whose tax accounting in the 1930s had been at least questionable, was keen to improve his public image and gave over the running of the castle, complete with a charitable donation, to the Commissioner of Works. In 1958 his son gave the castle itself to the town of Kenilworth and English Heritagehas managed the property since 1984. The castle is classed as a Grade I listed building and as a Scheduled Monument, and is open to the public.

Kenilworth Castle

Approaching the castle from The Bray. The footbridge in the foreground is where the first of Kenilworth’s two drawbridges would have been situated,

Between 2005–09 English Heritage attempted to restore Kenilworth’s garden more closely to its Elizabethan form, using as a basis the description in the Langham letter and details from recent archaeological investigations. The reconstruction cost more than £2m and was criticised by some archaeologists as being a “matter of simulation as much as reconstruction”, due to the limited amount of factual information on the nature of the original gardens. In 2008 plans were put forward to re-create and flood the original Great Mere around the castle. As well as re-creating the look of the castle it was hoped that a new mere would be part of the ongoing flood alleviation plan for the area and that the lake could be used for boating and other waterside recreations.

Kenilworth Castle viewed from the south-west, where the Great Mere used to be.

The world’s craziest basketball court is in Munich

The world’s craziest basketball court is in Munich There is a basketball court in Germany that is about to blow your mind.

We’re not sure, outside of displaying one’s artistic integrity, why someone would choose to make a 3D-styled basketball court featuring lumps and lamps and all sorts of weirdness, but we do appreciate the results. Because it gives us an excuse to wonder what it would be like to play basketball on a court like this

The world’s craziest basketball court is in Munich

Or this:

The world’s craziest basketball court is in Munich Or this:

The world’s craziest basketball court is in MunichWhoa, man. Here’s a description of the court, from inges idée:

A regulation-sized basketball court was erected on the grove-like forecourt of the school building of the occupational school. The court consists of a soft orange-red tartan covering and two normed baskets and seems to be forced over the grid of the lamps that have been set up. The playable court has been “morphed” as in a 3D program on a computer and looks like the grounds of a rollercoaster, with heights and depths and calm and dynamic zones. The resulting paradox, which moves between a normative set of rules and pleasurable, anarchic change, requires creative engagement for its use.

It’s best if you read the preceding paragraph with the appropriate accent.

Also, we can only hope that Dirk Nowitzki(notes) never sets foot on this court. We like his ankles the way they are.

(Images courtesy of Markus Buck)

Music and mud: Glastonbury Festival 2011

Music and mud: Glastonbury Festival 2011

Glastonbury, a festival held at Worthy Farm in England, has become Europe’s largest such gathering for music fans. Its five-day run ended Sunday, after entertaining nearly 175,000 fans. Heavy rain and mud greeted the attendees, who paid 195 pounds (about $310) for a basic ticket compared to the 1 pound when the show began in 1970. The next festival will take place in 2013. – Lloyd Young (35 photos total)

Festival-goers dance to Jarvis Cocker and his band Pulp as the sunsets during the third day of the Glastonbury Festival June 25, 2011. This year’s festival featured headline acts U2, Coldplay and Beyonce. Now in its fifth decade, the event has grown from a humble gathering of 1,500 people on Michael Eavis’s Worthy dairy farm in 1970, each paying 1 pound and receiving free milk, to a giant five-day celebration of music costing 195 pounds for a basic ticket. (Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images))

Lead singer of Coldplay Chris Martin (right) performs on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival June 25. ( Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images) #

Rain clouds gather over the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival June 24. Music fans had to brave more rain today at the five-day festival which opened June 22. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images) #

A woman makes her way across a muddy field in Union Jack Wellington boots on the third day of the Glastonbury Festival June 24. (Cathal McNaughton/Reuters) #

People dance beneath umbrellas while they listen to Wu-Tang Clan during the Glastonbury Festival June 24. (Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images) #

A man drags a wheelie bin as he arrives at the Glastonbury Festival June 22. Heavy rain and mud greeted music fans as the gates to the five-day festival opened to the public this morning. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images) #

Singer Jessie J performs with a broken foot on the fourth day of the Glastonbury Festival June 25. (Cathal McNaughton/Reuters) #

A girl watches Two Door Cinema Club on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival June 24. (Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images) #

Festival-goers gather at the stone circle for the sunset during the Glastonbury Festival June 23. (Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images)#

Beyonce performs on the main Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival June 26. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images) #

Festival-goers enjoy a visual game in the late night venue Shangri-La area at the Glastonbury Festival June 27. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images) #

Beyonce fans crowd to the front of The Pyramid Stage ahead of her show during the last day of the Glastonbury Festival June 26. (Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images) #

Jarvis Cocker of Pulp performs at the Glastonbury Festival June 25. (Dave J. Hogan/Getty Images) #

People crowd around the Park Stage where Jarvis Cocker and his band Pulp were performing during the third day of the Glastonbury Festival on June 25. (Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images) #

A festival-goer walks through tepees during the third day of the Glastonbury Festival on June 25. (Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images) #

Workers attempt to sweep away and suck up some of the mud on the paths at the annual Glastonbury Festival on June 22. (Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images) #

Richard Hopkinson and Meryl Knapp who are both 70 and from Yorkshire dance outside a reggae music tent as they visit the festival for the first time in their lives June 25. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images) #

A couple embrace among the tents on the third day of the Glastonbury Festival June 24. (Cathal McNaughton/Reuters) #

The crowd reacts as the lead singer of Pendulum plays on The Pyramid Stage during the last day of the Glastonbury Festival June 26. (Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images) #

A reveler wears a hat made from empty cans of beer on the last day of the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm June 26. (Cathal McNaughton/Reuters) #

Volunteer workers begin to sort rubbish for recycling at the Glastonbury Festival recycling center June 24. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images) #

Police officers wearing identical sunglasses pose for a photograph during the last day of the Glastonbury festival June 26. (Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images) #

People shelter themselves from the sun in the hospitality area during the last day of the Glastonbury Festival June 26. (Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images) #

A young boy is sprayed with cold water to cool down during the last day of the Glastonbury Festival June 26. The festival, which started in 1970 when several hundred hippies paid 1 pound to attend, has grown into Europe’s largest music festival attracting more than 175,000 people over five days. (Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images) #

U2 performs live on the Pyramid Stage during the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm June 24. (Ian Gavan/Getty Images) #

A young girl loses her umbrella alongside festival-goers as they queue beside the car park while they wait to gain access to the annual Glastonbury Festival June 22. (Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images) #

Tom Wilder (17) from Kent, laughs after he dived in the mud at the Glastonbury Festival site at Worthy Farm June 23. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images) #

Ricky Wilson of the Kaiser Chiefs performs live on the other stage during the Glastonbury Festival June 26. (Ian Gavan/Getty) #

A member of The Black Eagles, an acrobatic show, limbos beneath a flaming bar in the Circus Big Top at the Glastonbury Festival June 25. Now in its fifth decade, the event has grown from a humble gathering of 1,500 people on Michael Eavis’s Worthy dairy farm in 1970, each paying one pound and receiving free milk, to a giant 5 day celebration of music costing 195 pounds for a basic ticket. (Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images) #

A festival-goer dances at the Glastonbury Festival June 25. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images) #

Festival-goers dance as the sun goes down in the Shangri La area on the second day of Glastonbury Festival June 23. (Cathal McNaughton/Reuters) #

BB King performs at the Glastonbury Festival June 24. (David J. Hogan/Getty Images) #

Festival-goers talk behind their wind break on the second day of Glastonbury Festival June 23. (Cathal McNaughton/Reuters) #

A festival-goer sleeps outside her tent before leaving Worthy Farm June 27. (Cathal McNaughton/Reuters) #

Festival-goers walk through rubbish left in the main arena in front of the Pyramid Stage as they begin to leave the Glastonbury Festival site June 27 at Worthy Farm. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images) #


The World’s Freakiest Looking Animals

The World’s Freakiest Looking Animals



Naked mole rat

African naked mole rats live underground and never come out. They are blind and smelly, with no fur and giant buckteeth. Yet while they’re unpleasant to look at, these cold-blooded mammals are very gentle by nature and rarely act aggressively towards humans.


Two-headed turtle

A rare example of conjoined turtle twins, this two-headed, red-eared slider turtle is named Limerick and lives at the Captain Nemo’s Aquarium pet store in East Norriton, Pa. A manager of the store bought the creature from an exotic-turtle collector in 2007. While the turtle swims a bit awkwardly, it is otherwise healthy, the owner said.


Wrinkle-faced bat

This Central American bat looks old, even as a baby. But in fact, the wrinkles are a useful part of its anatomy, a recent study found. Apparently the intricate grooves and flaps around its nostrils help the creature’s sonar sense of echo-location.



This creature sits firmly on both sides of the fence: undeniably creepy, yet totally adorable too. Unfortunately, these bat-eared lemurs have their appearance working against them in their native Madagascar. The odd-looking creature is considered a bad omen by many indigenous inhabitants of the island and is often killed on sight. This one, called Kintana, was born at the England’s Bristol Zoo Gardens.



This fierce-looking deep-sea dweller has to forage for dinner in the dark depths of the ocean, so its fangs come in handy to grab on to prey. Even the fish’s tongue has razor-like teeth.



These salamanders are native only to two lakes in central Mexico. Because one of these lakes has been drained, and the other is polluted and diminished, axolotls are considered critically endangered in the wild. Because of their special ability to regenerate body parts, they are popular as research subjects in the lab. Here a green fluorescent protein lights up an axolotl under blue light.


Tube-nosed fruit bat

While this guy’s pretty cute, too, there’s definitely a sinister aspect to its Yoda-like stare and horns. The bat species was discovered in Papua New Guinea, and is thought to play an important role in dispersing seeds in the forest.

Special Report: A little house of secrets on the Great Plains

Special Report: A little house of secrets on the Great Plains


By Kelly Carr and Brian Grow | Reuters – Tue, Jun 28, 2011

SHELL GAMES: A Reuters Investigation

Articles in this series are exploring the extent and impact of corporate secrecy in the United States.

The building at 2710 Thomes Avenue, is pictured in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in this undated photograph.

The building at 2710 Thomes Avenue, is pictured in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in this undated photograph.

CHEYENNE/ATLANTA (Reuters) – The secretive business havens of Cyprus and the Cayman Islands face a potent rival: Cheyenne, Wyoming.

At a single address in this sleepy city of 60,000 people, more than 2,000 companies are registered. The building, 2710 Thomes Avenue, isn’t a shimmering skyscraper filled with A-list corporations. It’s a 1,700-square-foot brick house with a manicured lawn, a few blocks from the State Capitol.

Neighbors say they see little activity there besides regular mail deliveries and a woman who steps outside for smoke breaks. Inside, however, the walls of the main room are covered floor to ceiling with numbered mailboxes labeled as corporate “suites.” A bulky copy machine sits in the kitchen. In the living room, a woman in a headset answers calls and sorts bushels of mail.

This building at 2710 Thomes Avenue, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, is pictured in an undated photograph.

This building at 2710 Thomes Avenue, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, is pictured in an undated photograph

A Reuters investigation has found the house at 2710 Thomes Avenue serves as a little Cayman Island on the Great Plains. It is the headquarters for Wyoming Corporate Services, a business-incorporation specialist that establishes firms which can be used as “shell” companies, paper entities able to hide assets.

Wyoming Corporate Services will help clients create a company, and more: set up a bank account for it; add a lawyer as a corporate director to invoke attorney-client privilege; even appoint stand-in directors and officers as high as CEO. Among its offerings is a variety of shell known as a “shelf” company, which comes with years of regulatory filings behind it, lending a greater feeling of solidity.

“A corporation is a legal person created by state statute that can be used as a fall guy, a servant, a good friend or a decoy,” the company’s website boasts. “A person you control… yet cannot be held accountable for its actions. Imagine the possibilities!”

Among the entities registered at 2710 Thomes, Reuters found, is a shelf company sheltering real-estate assets controlled by a jailed former prime minister of Ukraine, according to allegations made by a political rival in a federal court in California.

The owner of another shelf company at the address was indicted in April for allegedly helping online-poker operators evade a U.S. ban on Internet gambling. The owner of two other firms there was banned from government contracting in January for selling counterfeit truck parts to the Pentagon.


All the activity at 2710 Thomes is part of a little-noticed industry in the U.S.: the mass production of paper businesses. Scores of mass incorporators like Wyoming Corporate Services have set up shop. The hotbeds of the industry are three states with a light regulatory touch-Delaware, Wyoming and Nevada.

The pervasiveness of corporate secrecy on America’s shores stands in stark contrast to Washington’s message to the rest of the world. Since the September 11 attacks in 2001, the U.S. has been calling forcefully for greater transparency in global transactions, to lift the veil on shadowy money flows. During a debate in 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama singled out Ugland House in the Cayman Islands, reportedly home to some 12,000 offshore corporations, as “either the biggest building or the biggest tax scam on record.”

Yet on U.S. soil, similar activity is perfectly legal. The incorporation industry, overseen by officials in the 50 states, has few rules. Convicted felons can operate firms which create companies, and buy them with no background checks.

No states license mass incorporators, and only a few require them to formally register with state authorities. None collect the names and addresses of “beneficial owners,” the individuals with a controlling interest in corporations, according to a 2009 report by the National Association of Secretaries of State, a group for state officials overseeing incorporation. Wyoming and Nevada allow the real owners of corporations to hide behind “nominee” officers and directors with no direct role in the business, often executives of the mass incorporator.

“In the U.S., (business incorporation) is completely unregulated,” says Jason Sharman, a professor at Griffith University in Nathan, Australia, who is preparing a study for the World Bank on corporate formation worldwide. “Somalia has slightly higher standards than Wyoming and Nevada.”

An estimated 2 million corporations and limited liability companies are created each year in the U.S., according to Senate investigators. The Treasury Department has singled out LLCs as particularly vulnerable to being used as shell companies, as they can be owned by anyone and managed anonymously. Delaware, Nevada and Wyoming had 688,000 LLCs on file in 2009, up from 624,000 in 2007.

Treasury and state banking regulators say banks have flagged billions of dollars in suspicious transactions involving U.S. shell companies in recent years. On June 10, a federal judge in Oregon ordered a company registered there to pay $60 million for defrauding a Ukrainian government agency through sham transactions involving shell companies. The civil lawsuit described a network of U.S.-registered shells connected to fraud in Eastern Europe and Afghanistan.

A growing niche in the shell business is shelf corporations. Like paper-only shells, which enable the secrecy-minded to hide real ownership of assets, shelf companies are set up by firms like Wyoming Corporate Services, then left “on the shelf” to season for years. They’re then sold later to owners looking for a quick way to secure bank loans, bid on contracts, and project financial stability. To speed up business activity, shelf corporations can often be purchased with established bank accounts, credit histories and tax returns filed with the Internal Revenue Service.

“They just slot in your names, and you walk away with the company. Presto!” says Daniel E. Karson, executive managing director at investigative firm Kroll Inc. “The purpose is to conceal ownership.”

On its website, Wyoming Corporate Services currently lists more than 700 shelf companies for sale in 37 states. The older they are, the more expensive, like Scotch whisky. Brookside Management Inc., formed in December 2004, sells for $5,995, while Knotty Management LLC, formed in May, costs just $645. In Delaware, incorporator Harvard Business Services markets First Family LLC, created in May 1997, for $10,000.

“If they’re signing a large contract, they may not want it to look like they’ve just formed a company,” said Brett Melson, director of U.S. sales at Harvard Business Services. But he added: “Unsavory characters can do a lot of bad things with the companies.”

Shell and shelf companies do serve legitimate purposes. They provide a quick and cheap way for entrepreneurs to jump into business and create jobs. Businesses can use them to protect trade secrets. Politicians or other public figures may use a shell company to hold their home so that people with ill intent have a harder time locating them.

The state of Wyoming says it cracked down on incorporation services in 2009 after discovering that nearly 5,700 companies were registered to post-office boxes. New laws require companies to have a physical presence in the state through an owner or a registered agent, and make it a felony to submit false filings.

“What we want to have is good, quality legitimate businesses,” said Patricia O’Brien, Wyoming’s Deputy Secretary of State. “We don’t regulate what the business itself does, but we are not recruiting businesses here that are questionable or illegal.”

Wyoming Corporate Services is run by Gerald Pitts, its 54-year-old founder and president. On paper, he is a prolific businessman. Incorporation data provided by Westlaw, a unit of Thomson Reuters, show that Pitts is listed as a director, president or principal for at least 41 companies registered at 2710 Thomes Avenue.

Another 248 firms name Edge Financial Inc., another incorporation service, as their “manager.” Gerald Pitts is the president of Edge Financial, according to records on file with the Wyoming secretary of state’s office.

Companies registered at 2710 Thomes Avenue have been named in a dozen civil lawsuits alleging unpaid taxes, securities fraud and trademark infringement since 2007, a review of Westlaw data shows. State and federal tax authorities have filed liens against companies registered at the address seeking to collect more than $300,000 in unpaid taxes, according to Westlaw.

Pitts says Wyoming Corporate Services fully complies with the law and doesn’t have any knowledge of how clients use the companies he registers. “However, we recognize that business entities (whether aged, shell or traditional) may be used for both good and ill,” Pitts wrote in an email to Reuters. “WCS will always cooperate with law enforcement agencies who request information or assistance. WCS does not provide any product or service with the intent that it be used to violate the law.”


Gerald Pitts and his own incorporation firms have never been sued or sanctioned, according to federal and state court records. Wyoming officials said Wyoming Corporate Services operates legally. “If they do it by cubby holes and they are really representing each person, they meet the law,” said O’Brien, the deputy secretary of state.

But clients of his have run into trouble.

Among those registered at the little house in Cheyenne are two small companies formed through Wyoming Corporate Services that sold knock-off truck parts to the U.S. Department of Defense, according to a Reuters review of two federal contracting databases and findings from an investigation by the Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency. The owner of those firms, Atilla Kan, awaits sentencing on a 2007 conviction for wire fraud in a related matter.

Also linked to 2710 Thomes is former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, who was once ranked the eighth-most corrupt official in the world by watchdog group Transparency International. He is now serving an eight-year jail term in California for a 2004 conviction on money-laundering and extortion charges. According to court records, that scheme used shell companies and offshore bank accounts to hide stolen Ukrainian government funds.

Court records submitted in Lazarenko’s criminal case and documents from a separate civil lawsuit, as well as interviews with lawyers familiar with the matter, indicate Lazarenko controls a shelf company incorporated in Cheyenne that owns an estimated $72 million in real estate in Ukraine through other companies.

The U.S. government continues to seek more than $250 million from bank accounts in Antigua, Barbuda, Guernsey and other countries that it says were controlled by Lazarenko and his associates, according to a forfeiture action filed by the Department of Justice.

The paper trail linking Lazarenko to the real estate in Ukraine is labyrinthine. At the heart of it is a shelf company called Capital Investments Group, registered at 2710 Thomes Avenue.

U.S. lawyers for a Ukrainian businessman named Gennady Korban submitted documents claiming that Lazarenko is the true owner of Capital Investments Group and other U.S. companies.

Lazarenko and Korban are rivals in Ukraine, and for years have traded allegations of corruption and assassination. An organization chart accompanying Korban’s submission alleges Capital Investments Group owns 99.99 percent of a Ukrainian firm called OOO Capital Investments Group. That company, the chart claims, is the owner of another company, OOO Ukrainsky Tyutyun, where Pavlo Lazarenko is a director. Each of the firms and several others are used as corporate fronts to control properties in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, the filing alleges.

Seven properties are named in the 2009 filing by Korban, including 55 Pushkin Street and 58 Komsomolskaya Street. The dossier on Capital Investments Group claims that other directors of the alleged front companies include Lazarenko’s wife, son and mother-in-law.

Federal prosecutors successfully urged the court in late 2009 to disregard Korban’s submissions, arguing that it would take too much time to vet his account and thus delay his resentencing after a lengthy appeal.

A few months later, in February 2010, Capital Investments Group sued Korban and others in federal court in Delaware. That lawsuit claims two properties in the Ukraine controlled by Capital Investments Group – 55 Pushkin Street and 58 Komsomolskaya Street – were stolen from it using forged documents.

The lawsuit says Capital Investments was formed in September 2005. It is registered at 2710 Thomes Avenue, and Gerald Pitts, the court documents say, is “President, Secretary, Chairman and director.”

But Capital Investments Group doesn’t disclose the name of its owners. Daniel Horowitz and Martin Garbus, attorneys for the company, have represented Pavlo Lazarenko in other U.S. and Ukrainian litigation. They declined to provide the owners’ names, citing client confidentiality, and wouldn’t comment on Lazarenko’s links to CIG.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in San Francisco declined to comment. Asked about his association with Lazarenko and Capital Investments Group, Gerald Pitts declined to provide information on specific clients. Pitts said he is aware of the Delaware lawsuit and “is cooperating fully with authorities in the matter.”


Another man linked to 2710 Thomes is Ira N. Rubin. Prosecutors allege he created a Rube Goldberg-style network of shell and shelf corporations to further his scams.

In December 2006, the Federal Trade Commission sued Rubin for fraud in federal court in Tampa. Documents in the civil lawsuit allege Rubin used at least 18 different front companies to obscure his role as a credit-card processor for telemarketing scams.

These operations, the FTC alleged, offered subprime credit cards that charged an upfront fee debited from customers’ bank accounts, but the cards were never delivered. The complaint also alleged Rubin processed payments for online gambling rings and pharmacy websites selling controlled substances.

One company in that network was Elite Funding Group Inc. It was registered at 2710 Thomes Avenue in August 2004 and offered for sale by Wyoming Corporate Services for $1,095. Gerald Pitts was listed in public documents as the original director, wrote an investigator hired by the FTC in a January 2007 report filed in federal court in Tampa. Pitts had resigned six months earlier as director and was replaced by Rubin, according to court records.

Rubin’s maze-like network served as the back office for alleged consumer scams operating from Canada, the Philippines, Cyprus and the U.S., with names like Freedom Pharmacy and Fun Time Bingo. His companies took consumer bank account information obtained by the clients, charged the accounts via an electronic transactions network that enables direct debits, kept a portion of the proceeds, and forwarded the rest to the alleged fraudsters, according to documents in the FTC’s civil lawsuit.

To minimize scrutiny, Rubin used at least 18 different firms to handle his operations. A firm called Global Marketing Group processed payments for telemarketers offering bogus credit cards, the FTC alleged. Elite Funding, the Wyoming shelf corporation, was a subsidiary of Global Marketing. Rubin used Elite to open bank accounts with Wells Fargo Bank which held more than $300,000 in proceeds from the payment processing, according to court records.

Just hours after Rubin was visited by a court-appointed receiver in the case in December 2006, $249,000 vanished from the Wells Fargo account. Rubin refused to say if he transferred the money, citing his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination. At least $125,000 then made its way to a bank account in Chennai, India, and has never been recovered, according to documents in the civil lawsuit.

Why use a shelf company? “To hide who they are and what they are doing. In the case of Ira Rubin, he had a payment processing empire that worked on behalf of many different industries, all of which were engaged in illegal conduct,” said James Davis, an attorney with the Federal Trade Commission. “It was to his benefit to make it as difficult as possible for law enforcement to connect these companies back to him.”

In 2008, Rubin fled to Costa Rica to avoid arrest for contempt in the civil case. Authorities allege he went on to run another payment-processing operation from abroad: This March 10, he and 10 others were indicted in New York for allegedly running a massive scheme to hide payments made by U.S. customers to the three largest online-poker websites, in violation of a ban passed by Congress in 2006. He was extradited from Guatemala the same month. On June 8, a New York judge denied bail for Rubin. (

Stuart Meissner, an attorney for Rubin, said his client was not available for comment. Pitts declined to comment.


The loopholes in U.S. disclosure of bank-account and shell-company ownership have drawn fire.

The U.S. was declared “non-compliant” in four out of 40 categories monitored by the Financial Action Task Force, an international group fighting money laundering and terrorism finance, in a 2006 evaluation report, its most recent. Two of those ratings relate to scant information collected on the owners of corporations. The task force named Wyoming, Nevada and Delaware as secrecy havens. Only three states – Alaska, Arizona and Montana – require regular disclosure of corporate shareholders in some form, according to the 2009 report by the National Association of Secretaries of State.

Some lawmakers want tighter rules. Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee’s Permanent Subcommittee for Investigations, has introduced the Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act each year since 2008. The bill would require states to obtain and update information about the real owners of companies, and impose civil and criminal sanctions for filing false information.

“Criminals use U.S. shell companies to commit financial fraud, drug trafficking, even terrorist financing, in part because our states don’t require anyone to name the owners of the companies they form,” Levin said in an email to Reuters.

The bill has been beaten back by a coalition of state officials and business groups, citing concerns about the cost of implementing the new law and federal government infringement on state incorporation rights.

A leading opponent is the National Association of Secretaries of State. Kay Stimson, a spokeswoman, said in an email that the Levin bill “would have placed new burdens upon states and legitimate, law-abiding businesses-many of which are struggling to stay afloat during these difficult financial times-while continuing to provide lawbreakers with the means to evade the law.”

An aide for Levin said the bill is expected to be re-introduced soon. The new bill will add provisions requiring incorporation agents who sell shelf companies to provide beneficial owner data, said a Senate aide familiar with it.


Shell companies remain a headache for law-enforcement authorities. Officials say court-ordered subpoenas served on incorporators of shell and shelf corporations generally do deliver the names of the real owners hiding behind nominees. But if the owners are not U.S. citizens or companies, the investigation often hits a dead-end, they say.

There are additional hurdles. Wyoming Corporate Services charges $2,500 per year to supply an attorney who can provide an extra shield. Cheyenne attorney Graham Norris Jr. tells prospective clients sent to him by WCS that he will create a company on their behalf. That way, he says, he can invoke attorney-client privilege-adding a layer of privacy anytime there is an inquiry about their identities.

“When you do need to contact Wyoming Corporate Services, you may do so through me,” advises a June 13 “Dear Client” letter supplied by Norris to Reuters. “If you contact them directly, there is a greater risk they may disclose that information in response to a subpoena; remember there is no privilege with Wyoming Corporate Services, only with your attorney.”

For a fee, clients can request that Norris file a motion to quash any subpoena, the letter says. It warns that in cases where fraud or criminal conduct is alleged, a court might order Norris to name the owners. Still, after any inquiry about identity, the letter says, Norris must inform the client-and “I must also decline to answer the inquiry.”

Investigators say they are sometimes loath to use subpoenas for the very reason highlighted in Norris’ letter-fear of tipping off targets. “In the initial stages of investigation, when we encounter a domestic shell corporation, we know we can’t subpoena the company that sold the corporation to the end users, because we don’t want the target to find out they are being investigated,” says FTC attorney James Davis.

Other U.S. agencies raise similar complaints about shells. The 2006 U.S. Money Laundering Threat Assessment, prepared by 16 federal agencies, devotes a chapter to the ways U.S. shell companies can be attractive vehicles to hide ill-gotten funds. It includes a chart to show why money launderers might like to create shells in Wyoming, Nevada or Delaware, which offer the highest levels of corporate anonymity.

The information in the chart is credited to the Web site of a firm called Corporations Today-an incorporation service run by Gerald Pitts in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

(Reporting by Kelly Carr in Cheyenne and Brian Grow in Atlanta; additional reporting by Dan Levine in San Francisco, Jen Rogers and Jaime Hellman in Cheyenne; research by Mary Kivimaki of Westlaw; editing by Claudia Parsons and Michael Williams)

Inflatable Shark Among 300 New Species Discovered in Philippines

Inflatable Shark Among 300 New Species Discovered in Philippines

By Charles Q. Choi , LiveScience Contributor | – Mon, Jun 27, 2011

A treasure trove of hundreds of new species may have been discovered in the Philippines, including a bizarre sea star that feeds exclusively on sunken driftwood and a deep-sea, shrimp-eating shark that swells up to scare off other predators.

Scientists braved leeches and a host of venomous creatures from the mountains to the sea to uncover more than 300 species that are likely new to science. These findings include dozens of new insects and spiders, more than 50 colorful new sea slugs and a number of deep-sea armored corals “which protect themselves against predatory nibbles from fish by growing large, spiky plates,” said researcher Terrence Gosliner, dean of science and research collections at the California Academy of Sciences and leader of the 2011 Philippine Biodiversity Expedition.

Researchers at the California Academy of Sciences and their colleagues from the University of the Philippines and the National Museum of the Philippines conducted a 42-day expedition this past spring to survey Luzon Island, the largest island in the Philippine archipelago, as well as its surrounding waters.

These swell sharks can make like giants by inflating their bellies with water. View more images on (Photo credit: Stephanie Stone, California Academy of Sciences)

A new species of swell shark from the deep sea. To scare off predators, this shark can inflate its stomach with water to bulk up. View more images on (Photo credit: Stephanie Stone, California Academy of Sciences)

Challenging field work

Working in the field is always a challenge, Gosliner noted. “We had our work both on the coral reefs and rain forest interrupted by an early typhoon; we were out of the water for two days,” he said.

“One of the biologists working in the mountains was sleeping in a hammock; during the night, one of the trees his hammock was tied to was uprooted and he was suddenly on the ground,” Gosliner added. “One researcher knelt on a venomous lionfish and later found himself on a mountain kneeling on poisonous plants.”

A new species of Nembrotha nudibranch (also known as a sea slug) that was discovered during the California Academy of Sciences’ 2011 Philippine Biodiversity Expedition. View more images on (Photo credit: Terry Gosliner, California Academy of Sciences)

The hard-won result of their efforts was the most comprehensive scientific survey effort ever conducted in the Philippines.

“I have been working in the Philippines on my own research for 20 years — I thought it would be great to bring a large team of researchers together to study from mountaintops to the deep sea, to determine if all of these places harbor new species,” Gosliner said. “I was delighted that my hunch proved to be correct.”

A new species of Phyllidia nudibranch (also known as a sea slug) that was discovered during the California Academy of Sciences’ 2011 Philippine Biodiversity Expedition. View more images on (Photo credit: Terry Gosliner, California Academy of Sciences)

Their novel discoveries include a cicada that makes a distinctive “laughing” call, a crab whose pincers are lined with needlelike teeth, and a wormlike pipefish that hides among colonies of soft coral. In addition, they discovered a possible new species of swell shark — a shark that pumps water into its stomach to puff up — which unlike its relatives possesses a very distinctive camouflaged color pattern.

A likely new species of Petalomera crab from the deep sea, discovered during a 2011 expedition to the Philippines. View more images on (Photo credit: California Academy of Sciences)

A number of species live in places rarely, if ever, visited by people, such as a primitive plant called a spikemoss from the perilously steep upper slopes of Mount Isarog and a snake eel from the bottom of the ocean. Many others have avoided detection in the past because of their diminutive size, such asgoblin spiders and barnacles that all measure just a few millimeters long.

“One of the likely new urchins is very small — it’s called a pea urchin, and yes, it’s about the size of a pea,” Gosliner said.

This colorful worm is likely a new species of the genus Myrianida, which was found in coral rubble in the Philippines. View more images on (Photo credit: Chrissy Piotrowski, California Academy of Sciences)

Hot hotspots

All these new findings help support the idea that the Philippines “is one of the hottest of the hotspots for diverse and threatened life on Earth,” Gosliner said. “We found new species during nearly every dive and hike as we surveyed the country’s reefs, rainforests and the ocean floor.” [10 Species You Can Kiss Goodbye]

In fact, the researchers suggest the waters of the Philippines may house more species than any other marine environment on Earth. The deep-water channel they sampled is nutrient-rich, allowing life to flourish, and has existed for about 60 million years, giving species a great deal of time to evolve. “All of those factors together have led to the high diversity,” Gosliner told LiveScience.

The researchers are sharing their results with Filipino agencies and international groups to develop strategies to best protect the island nation’s extraordinarily rich life. This includes outlining the most important places for establishing or expanding marine protected areas, suggested locations for reforestation and reduction of plastic waste.

“We are hoping the findings will result in recommendations that will translate into policies that will produce a more sustainable future for Filipinos while simultaneously protecting the unique biodiversity,” Gosliner said.

“This expedition has led us to want to undertake more expeditions to the Philippines in other unexplored areas,” he added.

The scientists will present their preliminary results on June 30, during the California Academy of Sciences’ weekly NightLife event.

Featured Creatures

Featured CreaturesCredit: Terry Gosliner, California Academy of Sciences.Researchers at the California Academy of Sciences and their colleagues from the University of the Philippines and the National Museum of the Philippines conducted a 42-day expedition this past spring to survey Luzon Island, the largest island in the Philippine archipelago, as well as its surrounding waters. The results were huge: They discovered more than 300 new species, from colorful sea slugs (shown here: aeolid nudibranch, or sea slug) to deep-sea armored corals and inflatable sharks. See for yourself!

Pink Coral

Pink CoralCredit: Gary Williams, California Academy of Sciences.A remarkably tall (up to a half meter), tree-like soft coral seen only in the deeper waters of a few dive sites in the Philippines. This animal is an unidentified and likely new species of the genus Umbeliulifera. At night, all parts of the animal are fully extended for feeding on plankton.

Got Wood?

 Got Wood?Credit: California Academy of Sciences.A new species of deep-water sea star in the family Caymanostellidae that digests wood.
Red Urchin
Red UrchinCredit: California Academy of Sciences.A potential new species of the urchin Echinothrix, with a distinctive red color that differentiates it from the more brownish, white-banded Echinothrix calamaris.
Tiny Barnacle

Tiny BarnacleCredit: Terry Gosliner, California Academy of Sciences.A new species of barnacle (bulge in the center of the photo) in the family Oxynaspididae living symbiotically on a black coral.

The creepiest trees on Earth

The creepiest trees on Earth

This terrifying screaming tree was captured in Hither Hills State Park, Montauk, New York. (Photo: brothergrimm/

This terrifying screaming tree was captured in Hither Hills State Park, Montauk, New York. (Photo: brothergrimm/

A Medusa-like tree. (Photo: beefus/

A Medusa-like tree. (Photo: beefus/

An alligator eye caught on the bark of a tree. (Photo: doyle_saylor/ An alligator eye caught on the bark of a tree. (Photo: doyle_saylor/

Cousin It? Poodle? No, a grass tree in the Brisbane Ranges National Park. (Photo: williewonker/ It? Poodle? No, a grass tree in the Brisbane Ranges National Park. (Photo: williewonker/

A tree illuminated by the glow of the moon. (Photo: innerdemon/

A tree illuminated by the glow of the moon. (Photo: innerdemon/

Tree conveniently moving its shadow towards the bench. (Photo: heathocampo/

Tree conveniently moving its shadow towards the bench. (Photo: heathocampo/

The Howling Banshee – taken by Paludiario, this ethereal picture is awesome and one of the best we have seen. (Photo: angelfebrero/

The Howling Banshee – taken by Paludiario, this ethereal picture is awesome and one of the best we have seen. (Photo: angelfebrero/

A hungry tree feasting on a rock. (Photo: quabidt/

A hungry tree feasting on a rock. (Photo: quabidt/

This flaming fig tree is illuminated by the sun as it begins to rise. (Photo: frog n fries/

This flaming fig tree is illuminated by the sun as it begins to rise. (Photo: frog n fries/


Castle Stalker

Castle Stalker

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Castle Stalker (Scottish GaelicCaisteal an Stalcaire) is a four-storey tower houseor keep picturesquely set on a tidal islet on Loch Laich, an inlet off Loch Linnhe. It is located about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) north east of Port AppinArgyllScotland, and is visible from the A828 road around mid-way between Oban and Glen Coe. The islet is accessible (with difficulty) from the shore at low tide. The name “Stalker” comes from the Gaelic Stalcaire, meaning “hunter” or “falconer”, and should therefore be pronounced stal-ker, with the l sounded, not as in the pronunciation of the Englishword stalker. In recent times the castle was brought to fame by the Monty Pythonteam, appearing in their film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It also appeared in the film Highlander: Endgame.

File:Castle Stalker - - 204092.jpg


The Castle’s implausibly picturesque appearance, with its bewitching island setting against a dramatic backdrop of mountains, has made it a favourite subject for postcards and calendars, and something of a cliché image of Scottish Highland scenery. Castle Stalker is entirely authentic; it is one of the best-preserved medieval tower-houses surviving in western Scotland. It forms part of the Lynn of Lorn National Scenic Area, one of 40 in Scotland


The original castle was a small fort, built around 1320 by Clan MacDougall who were then Lords of Lorn. Around 1388 the Stewartstook over the Lordship of Lorn, and it is believed that they built the castle in its present form around the 1440s. The Stewart’s relative King James IV of Scotland visited the castle, and a drunken bet around 1620 resulted in the castle passing to Clan Campbell. After changing hands between these clans a couple of times the Campbells finally abandoned the castle around 1840, when it lost its roof. Then in 1908 a Stewart bought the castle and carried out basic conservation work, and in 1965 Lt. Col. D. R. Stewart Allward acquired the castle and over about ten years fully restored it. Castle Stalker remains in private ownership and is not generally open to the public, although visits can be made by appointment.

File:Castle Stalker Scotland.jpg

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

While most castle scenes in the popular movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) were filmed in and around Doune Castle, Castle Stalker appears in the final scene as “Castle Aaaaarrrrrrggghhh”. First we see the castle from a distance, next John Cleeseuses his outrageous French accent to taunt Arthur from its battlements, then finally a massive attack is launched at the castle.





ASCII code was drawn in Crop Circle at Poirino, Italy on June 20, 2011

ASCII code was drawn in Crop Circle at Poirino, Italy on June 20, 2011

A new crop picture which appeared near Poirino, Italy on June 20, 2011 shows at its centre a large seven-pointed star, which clearly resembles another star-like crop picture from Lane End Down in southern England during July of 2005.

That 2005 crop picture predicted the outburst of comet 17P Holmestwo years later in October of 2007. Could another cometary outburst be imminent?

Even more interestingly, a series of seven rays along the outside of that new crop picture at Poirino are written in eight-bit ASCII code, and seem to identify the crop artist as “Ea” or “Enki”  who was a tall blond extra-terrestrial god in ancient Sumeria. According to ancient legends, he and Innanna created modern humans by hybridizing sperm from the male gods with eggs taken from local aboriginals, already living on Earth tens of thousands of years ago.

Crop Circle Poirino – 2011

The precise ASCII code which was drawn at Poirino goes as follows, reading clockwise around its large seven-pointed star:

01000101 E

01100001 a

01000101 E

01101110 n

01101011 k

01101001 i

00100000 space

That amazing crop picture also shows a series of “stars” around its seven edges, but it is not clear whether those symbols represent astronomical images around an exploding comet (as for Lane End Down 2005), or rather some clever mathematical code? Counting each set of “stars” individually, we seem to see “5.334444″.

Last summer in 2010 at Poirino, the precise number of “stars” in a similar crop picture specified the famous equation E = mc2 in decimal ASCII code.

Crop Circle Poirino – 2010

Crop Circle Lane End Down in southern England – 2005

Source and author: cropcircleconnector

The Greatest Mysteries of the Moon

The Greatest Mysteries of the Moon

By Adam Hadhazy, Life’s Little Mysteries Contributor
24 June 2011 12:06 PM ET

Each Friday this summer, Life’s Little Mysteries presents The Greatest Mysteries of the Cosmos, starting with our solar system.

Although it is the closest celestial body to us, the moon still harbors secrets aplenty. “Closest,” of course, is a relative term: The great gray and white orb in our sky never veers much nearer than 225,000 miles (362,000 kilometers), and getting there is no easy feat, especially in the case of manned missions. No human has left boot prints in the lunar regolith since 1972.

Yet over that nearly four-decade absence, nations around the world have dispatched a number of probes and conducted gobs of research on our only natural satellite. Meanwhile, lunar rocks originally ferried back by the Apollo program decades ago are still offering up vital clues about the history of the moon.

Future missions by both robots and people should help solve some of the key puzzles, which are:

How did the moon get there?

Cultures worldwide have long offered up myths to explain the moon’s existence. Nowadays scientists have other ideas of what really happened.

Many lines of evidence — including the moon’s smallish core, its complement of certain elements, and computer simulations rewinding the Earth-moon orbital dance over eons — point to the moon being spawned in a giant impact. According to this theory, about 4.5 billion years ago a Mars-size body slammed into a young, molten Earth, and that collision gouged out the material that would coalesce into our lunar neighbor. [Will the Asteroid Apophis Hit Earth in 2036?]

This picture has problems, however. The theoretical impactor, dubbed Theia, should have left residue with distinctive characteristics, but they have not been detected. And the amount of certain substances in the moon — too much water (frozen), for example — does not readily mesh with a hot, cataclysmic origin scenario.

“Blue” moon

Indeed, it is the presence of a great deal more water in and on the moon than expected that has really thrown researchers for a loop. “The more astronomers look, the more we find water in different places and depths,” said Neil Comins, a professor of physics at the University of Maine.

Water ice has turned up in craters near the poles, particularly in a plume kicked up by the deliberate impact of NASA’s LCROSS probe in 2009. Studies have suggested the interior of the moon is far wetter than ever supposed (though still hyper-arid compared with modern-day Earth). Recent re-examinations of the rock samples brought back to Earth by astronauts have even yielded signs of agua.

Icy comets likely delivered a substantial portion of this water when they smashed into the moon, but scientists are still scratching their heads. “It’s really an open question about the origin and distribution of water on the moon,” Comins said. [How Much Water Is On Earth?]

Why two-faced?

The moon is “tidally locked” to Earth, meaning only one hemisphere faces us. We know that side well, with its dark regions called maria, or “seas,” of cooled magma.

Oddly, however, these maria are virtually absent from the back side of the moon, as has been revealed to us by probes (and seen in person by Apollo 8 astronauts). The proverbial “dark side of the moon” also is much more pockmarked by craters.

The starkly different hemispheres have been partly explained by the far side having a thicker crust — perhaps by 9 miles (15 km) or so — than the near side. “This made it easier for the crust on our side to have cracked” under the onslaught of meteorites, which released maria-forming magma from deeper in the moon, said Comins. But that crustal asymmetry is an enigma itself.

The extra cratering, meanwhile, could stem from greater exposure to space on the far side than on the Earth-shielded near side. A greater modeling of the moon’s interior and a better understanding of the damage wrought by impacting bodies might help explain this strange two-facedness.

Bonus boggler: Key to our existence?

At a quarter of the diameter and more than 1 percent of Earth’s mass, our moon is a hefty one: the fifth largest natural satellite in the solar system, and the biggest compared with its host body.

With the moon’s considerable mass, its gravity stabilizes the “wobble” in Earth’s axis, moderating our seasonal shifts. Plus, the moon causes marine tides on Earth that might have helped “stir the primordial soup,” as Comins told Life’s Little Mysteries — maybe getting the chemistry of life into gear more than 3 billion years ago. [What If the Moon Had Never Formed?]

In short, astronomers have wondered if Earthlike worlds need large moons like ours in order for life to develop.

An answer might be waiting for us next door, so to speak — on Mars. The Red Planet sports two measly, little moons, thought to be captured asteroids. Should Martian life ever be found — unlikely, but not out of the question — that would aid in squashing the moon-assisted habitability debate.

“When we go to Mars and determine if and how far life evolved there,” Comins said, “that will help us better understand how life could have formed here without the moon.”