Warwickshire is at the heart of the midlands, indeed The Midland Oak at Lillington near Leamington Spa is claimed to be the 'Centre of England'.
William Shakespeare, the world's best known playwright, was born and died in STRATFORD-ON-AVON.
Many of the buildings in the town are from Shakespeare's time.
Then famous Royal Shakespeare Theatre has 1040 seats and is owned by The Royal Shakespeare Company.
Shakespeare courted his future wife, Anne Hathaway, at her picturesque family home which is now a popular visitor attraction.
The county town of WARWICK barely survived a disastrous fire in 1694 and only a handful of Tudor buildings survived.
The town is dominated by its fine medieval castle which towers above the River Avon. It was the home of the Earl's of Warwick until 1978 and, although now a great tourist attraction, is still the home of the Greville family.
Henry V111 and his six wives take pride of place in the State Rooms.
The lovely formal gardens.
A special conservatory was constructed in the 18th century in the grounds of Warwick Castle by George Greville, Earl of Warwick to house The Warwick Vase, and it now houses a replica.
The Vase, of white marble and circular in shape, was found in 1770 in the silt of a lake at Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli near Rome and was acquired by Sir William Hamilton, then English Ambassador at the Court of Naples who conveyed it to England and passed it on to his nephew the Earl of Warwick.
The Vase has two large handles formed of interwoven vine branches from which the tendrils, leaves and grape clusters spread around the upper part. The middle of the body is enfolded with the skin of a panther with head and claws above which are heads representing Satyrs. When found the Vase was in pieces and had to be restored. A curious thing is that just one of the Satyr’s heads was replaced by that of a beautiful woman said to be in the likeness of Sir William’s wife, Lady Emma Hamilton, who is best known as Lord Nelson’s mistress. It is said that as the result a quarrel between Lady Hamilton and the Italian restorer, he gave the head a Fawn’s ear!
An inscription in Latin is translated as: “This monument of ancient Rome art and magnificence, was dug out of the ruins of the Villa at Tibur, which was held in delight by Emperor Hadrian; the Knight William Hamilton, Envoy from George 111, the Great British King, to the Sicilian King Ferdinand 1V, caused it to be restored, and despatching it to his country, dedicated it to the Father Genius of Fine Arts in the year of Our Lord 1774”
The orginal Vase was acquired by the Burrrell Collection in Glasgow in 1979.
Directly north east of Warwick, ROYAL LEAMINGTON SPA became fashionable in the 18th century when iron and salt springs were discovered, leaving a legacy of fine gardens and elegant Regency and Victorian terraces.
The town became Royal when Queen Victoria visited in 1838 and a statue of the Queen was erected in front of the Town Hall in 1902 at a cost of £1500.
During WW2 a bomb blast moved the statue a couple of inches on its plinth but the Queen stood firm and has remained so ever since.
The Royal Pump Room was built in 1814 and closed in 1990. The building is now incorporated into a museum and exhibition centre.
Benjamin Satchwell discovered the spring in 1784
and proclaimed its health giving virtues.
All Saints church was built in the 19th century in the neo-Gothic style.
In the early 16th century. Nicholas Brome was the owner of Baddersley Clinton House north west of Warwick, now in the care of the National Trust.
One day he returned home and found the local priest in the parlour with his wife and they were in ‘close contact’ with each other. Brome was so incensed that he killed the priest by stabbing him with his knife. Brome was pardoned by the King and also by the Pope, but was required to do penance for his crime which entailed good work in his community.
Indeed he re-built the
church and this is
recorded by an inscription on the inside wall of the tower. tower of Baddersley Clinton
His final penance when he died was to be buried, just inside the south entrance to the church, standing up, which means that people walk on his head.
Hatton Locks, climbing the hill from
towards Warwick ,
on The Grand Union Canal, are a flight of no less than 21 locks. This spectacular feat of 18th
century engineering was constructed around 1790 Birmingham
and the locks are still very much in use by leisure canal boats.
They are known as ‘The stairway to heaven’.
The Old Forge at nearby CLAVERDON is a small half timbered building much like any other forge which was once to be found in most villages.
The unusual feature of this one is the entrance which is in the shape of
a huge horseshoe.
The Castle Inn at RADWAY in south east Warwickshire, situated on Edge Hill, actually started life as a castle albeit a sham castle. On the centenary of the Battle of Edgehill, gentleman architect and owner of Radway Grange, Sanderson Miller, erected this building on the very spot where Charles 1 raised his standard on the 23rd of October 1642, thus launching the first major encounter of the Civil War. As well as marking the site of this historic battle, the sham castle also functioned as an ornamental gatehouse for Mr Miller’s estate. The building became a pub in 1924