And that way of life has thrived for centuries, creating an intriguing trove of tales – as you will find on a visit to Roman Alcester, the castles at Warwick and Kenilworth, Shakespeare’s Stratford and the Gunpowder Plot Village of Dunchurch. Quirky surprises are thick on the ground, too, including the Atherstone Ball Game that dates from medieval times. Check our town maps for nearby attractions, trails, pubs and restaurants, and have a memorable visit.
The ancient market town of Alcester – 'Aluana' in Roman times – clusters where the River Alne joins the River Arrow in southwest Warwickshire. Its medieval street pattern prevails remarkably intact and there are plenty of enticing ‘tueries’ (alleyways), historic pubs and half-timbered buildings to admire on an unhurried stroll around.
Atherstone, on the old Roman Watling Street in northern Warwickshire, was famed from Tudor days for making hats. In modern times it is re-inventing itself as a book town and leisure destination, and townsfolk still revel every Shrove Tuesday in a boisterous ball game played since the 13th century.
Take a leaf out of William Shakespeare’s book to visit this picturesque riverside village in southwest Warwickshire. Aside from tales of the Bard’s merry antics here, it’s a lovely place for gentle walks, picnics and boating, and if you are lucky you might glimpse the electric flash of a kingfisher.
This old coaching town on the rivers Cole and Blythe in northern Warwickshire is surrounded by lovely countryside and boasts a number of quirky curiosities. It is also surprisingly close to Birmingham and the National Exhibition Centre, as well as The Belfry if you fancy a round of golf.
Discover eastern Warwickshire’s ‘Gunpowder Plot Village’, known also as an erstwhile base for notorious highwayman Dick Turpin. Fortunately, life has calmed over the centuries and Dunchurch is now more celebrated as a Best Kept Village and conservation area, with charming historic buildings topped by traditional Warwickshire thatched roofs.
Signs into Nuneaton and Bedworth highlight that you are entering George Eliot Country. The great 19th-century writer was born on the Arbury Estate in 1819, and she distilled childhood experiences and settings from her native north Warwickshire into works like The Mill on the Floss and Scenes of Clerical Life.
Here’s a real treat: a ‘street town’ whose famous mile-long High Street reveals the very best of English rural townscapes. Saunter past black-and-white, half-timbered buildings, red brick and plaster, from the 12th to 18th centuries. Visit churches and a 16th-century parlour serving scrumptious Henley ice cream.
Domesday Book recorded Kenilworth as a small settlement in a clearing of the Forest of Arden, but the building of its famous castle soon propelled it into the maelstrom of royal politics and intrigue. Today, England’s largest castle ruins, the Old Town, and green spaces that include four nature reserves make for a fascinating visit.
Lapworth is certainly a well-connected village thanks to its location on the junction of two canals, in the protected Birmingham ‘green belt’. Uncover links to the Gunpowder Plot, too, and visit some magnificent historic houses. Or stretch your legs on a country walk.
Polesworth grew around a shallow crossing point of the River Anker, and when the Coventry Canal arrived in the 1770s clay and coal industries flourished. However, these days this northern Warwickshire outpost is more noted for its religious heritage, and former mining has been ‘greened’ into parkland for public enjoyment.
Royal Leamington Spa certainly cuts an independent dash, fusing together stylish spa heritage with a quirky cocktail of one-off shops and modern entertainment. Wide boulevards and Georgian, Regency and Victorian architecture provide the elegant backdrop, beautiful gardens and parks invite relaxation, eateries entice you to indulge.
Explore the town that has been the birthplace not only of rugby football, but also Sir Frank Whittle’s jet engine and Dennis Gabor’s holography. Tucked in eastern Warwickshire’s countryside, Rugby is full of surprises and has links to an astonishing range of writers from Rupert Brooke to Salman Rushdie.
Shipston flourished as a centre for sheep trade – its very name, ‘sheepwashtown’, comes from the practice of washing animals in the river. Georgian houses and inns recall later prosperity from velvet-woollen weaving. Its location, deep in rural south Warwickshire, also makes Shipston an idyllic gateway to the Cotswolds.
A stopping place for Welsh drovers and, later, stagecoaches to London, Southam boasts some unusual claims to fame: not least a holy well with reputedly healing waters and the fact that the town minted its own coins in medieval times – the 14th-century building is now an atmospheric pub.
Stoneleigh, in the ancient Forest of Arden, originally housed local estate workers, and to this day it retains a charming character thanks to an array of timber-framed and thatched cottages, sandstone almshouses and a venerable church. Its proximity to Royal Leamington Spa and Kenilworth adds to your reasons to visit.
World renowned as the birthplace of William Shakespeare and home of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford is an iconic melting pot of culture and history. Follow in the Bard’s steps along the River Avon and around black-and-white timbered buildings, and be inspired by the town’s exciting literary festivals.
Set in strategic and scenic splendour on the banks of the River Avon, Warwick exudes rich character and charm. Explore the awesome medieval castle, secret Victorian gardens, fascinating museums, and specialist and antiques shops. Folk and literary festivals, and horse racing all year round, add to the lively atmosphere.
A cluster of villages and attractions around riverside Wellesbourne in southern Warwickshire provides some great days out. You could even take a pleasure flight in a Cessna from Wellesbourne Airfield to enjoy breathtaking views of Stratford-upon-Avon and the Cotswolds.
Wootton Wawen is a fascinating village and it is also linked to Wilmcote by a leisurely walk along the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal. Visit each place in turn to enjoy quite contrasting glimpses of local heritage, from a Saxon Sanctuary to a Tudor farm and Shakespeare connections.
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