Visit Warwick and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Warwick, Warwickshire. This is one of the least spoilt county towns in England, set at the hub of radiating roads: the A41, A46, A425 and A445. The town stands on a north rise from the River Avon which is crossed by two bridges, the Castle Bridge and the Old Bridge in the castle grounds. It was this dominant situation that accounted for its early importance. One of the daughters of Alfred the Great, Ethelfieda, raised a fortress on the mound here to ward off attacks from the Danelaw. By the time of the Norman Conquest, it became a royal borough, increasing considerably in size and importance. Shortly after the Conqueror's death it was given to Henry de Newburgh, who began the present castle and became the 1st Earl of Warwick. He was the predecessor of the Beauchamp family who held the title for the following 400 years. After this line became extinct, Queen Elizabeth revived the earldom, conferring it upon the Dudley family who still hold the title.
A small remainder of the medieval town encircles the present centre, the result of a terrible fire which broke out in the centre of old Warwick in 1694, burning down more than 250 dwellings and a very considerable part of the cathedral-like St Mary's Church. The damage was such that practically the entire town had to be rebuilt.
Some of the most delightful pre-1694 houses are to be found in Castle Street. Outstanding is the isolated timbered house of Thomas Oken which, carefully restored, is now a Doll Museum, with an interesting collection assembled by Mrs Joy Robinson.
Most famous of all the remaining medieval houses is Lord Leycester's Hospital by Warwick's West Gate. Originally the Guild House of St George, by the end of the 14th century it had become the home of the united and powerful Guilds of the Holy Trinity and Our Lady. Their powers were such that the affairs of Warwick were virtually governed from here. After Henry VIII's dissolution of the guilds, the buildings, considerably rebuilt, became the beautiful timbered, gabled, and terraced structure seen fronting the street today. It was transformed in 1571 by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, into almshouses or a hospice for old and disabled “brethren”, usually soldiers who had served with the fighting earls.Other famed houses of the period are Tinker's Hatch at No. 105 High Street and Tudor House in West Street. Out at Bridge End is Brome Place built in the mid-l5th century.
Of the post-conflagration period, the Court House in Jury Street shows that rebuilt Warwick reflected the power of the wealthy burgesses as well as the earls. Francis Smith built it between 1725 and 1728 with an Italianate Doric colonnaded fašade of rusticated stone. The eye is held by a statue of Justice by Thomas Staynor. Among its treasures are the Great Mace of 1672 and Thomas Oken's painted chest. The one-storied, pedimented Shire Hall in Northgate Street built in 1753 has fine coffered and stucco ceilings and an original octagonal lantern. Landor House (1692) has a doorway with a pediment on brackets. Walter Savage Landor, poet and essayist, is one of Warwick's most distinguished sons. Other examples of this remarkable period are Eastgate House in Jury Street and the Pageant House which is late Georgian.
Apart from the castle, the dominant architectural feature of Warwick is the lovely Church of St Mary with its 174-ft tower and pinnacle. Situated on one of the highest points of Warwick, it is on the site of an early Norman church. The great fire destroyed the nave and aisles of the Norman and 14th-century building; only the crypt, the chancel and the south transept can really give a true idea of its collegiate splendour. The crypt has enormous Norman circular piers with four diagonal shafts and scalloped capitals. An impression of tremendous strength is gained, suggesting it must even then have supported an enormous building. The chancel's soaring roof is a perfect example of the vision of Perpendicular architecture. In the centre is the tomb of Richard Beau-champ, the Earl of Warwick who figures in the story of the burning of Joan of Arc. One of the great figures of the Middle Ages, he commanded Calais for Henry V. The tomb constructed by John Borde in Purbeck marble with the effigy cast by William Austen, a Londoner, is one of the most beautiful in Europe. The Beauchamp Chapel is incomparable. Other tombs of interest are built to the memory of the later Dudleys. Ambrose, who died in 1590, was given the vacant title by Queen Elizabeth. The tomb of Robert, his brother, is exuberantly heraldic. The Chapter House, which has been restored, contains a monument to Fulke Greville, the poet who was counsellor to Queen Elizabeth and James I, and yet another famous son of this city.
Another Warwick place of worship of contrasting interest is the old Friends' Meeting House built in 1695 with its original simple furnishings.
Warwick Castle must compare favourably with any of the great fortress houses of Europe, not even excluding Windsor. The outlines of the original motte or keep with its bailey which contained the domestic buildings are still visible. None of the present buildings date back before the 13th century. It is still the home of the Earls of Warwick. The outstanding buildings are Caesar's Tower, the Gatehouse or Clock Tower, Guy's Tower, which is 128 ft high, and the south range housing the living quarters of the present earl, dramatically set above the winding river. The guides in Warwick Castle are expert and well worth listening to. The great hall must be seen, so, too, the state dining-room. The fine library was carefully restored after the fire in 1871.
In the conservatory is the famous Warwick Vase found by Sir William Hamilton in the grounds of Hadrian's villa at Tivoli. It is attributed by scholars to Lysippus.
The castle contains a fine collection of Classical paintings from all over Europe.
The magnificent gardens were laid out by Capability Brown, who began his work here in 1753.
The Old Bridge across the Avon was built in the late 14th century and has romantically overgrown arches.
Nearby cities: Birmingham, Coventry
Nearby towns: Henley-in-Arden, Kenilworth, Knowle, Royal Leamington Spa, Southam, Stratford-upon-Avon
Nearby villages: Alveston, Ashow, Baginton, Bearley, Bishops Itchington, Bishops Tachbrook, Black Hill, Bubbenhall, Canley, Charlecote, Claverdon, Dorridge, Gaydon, Grove Park, Guys Cliffe, Hampton Lucy, Harbury, Hatton, Honiley, Kingswood, Lapworth, Leek Wootton, Lighthorne, Lillington, Milverton, Norton Lindsey, Offchurch, Packwood, Preston Bagot, Rowington, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Sherbourne, Shottery, Shrewley, Snitterfield, Stivichall, Stoneleigh, Temple Balsall, Tile Hill, Ufton, Wasperton, Wellesbourne, Wellesbourne Mountford, Whitnash, Wilmcote, Wolverton
Have you decided to visit Warwick or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Warwick bed and breakfast (a Warwick B&B or Warwick b and b)
- a Warwick guesthouse
- a Warwick hotel (or motel)
- a Warwick self-catering establishment, or
- other Warwick accommodation