Stratford Upon Avon

No visit to the Cotswolds would be complete without some time spent in Warwickshire, a county in the center of England famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare.  Warwickshire is the site of many charming towns including Stratford Upon Avon, which can immerse tourists in the history of the region.  There are also many stately houses, gardens, and grounds to explore, all of which display something of England’s cultural heritage.

Of all the towns in Warwickshire, Stratford-Upon-Avon is probably the most famous.  This is where William Shakespeare was born in 1564.  A number of his family homes are located here, including the house he grew up in.  You’ll be able to get a feel for the era in which he lived and see how his life and times impacted his work, as well as visit other locations which played a pivotal role in his lifetime.

If you’re into medieval history, you won’t want to miss visiting the city of Warwick.  Here you’ll find Warwick Castle, an incredibly well preserved castle with a history dating back to 914 AD.  The castle has been under the control of William the Conqueror and many other famous historical figures, and currently hosts a number of exciting events.  Daily shows include the raising of the portcullis, the firing of the largest working Trebuchet in the world, the bowman show, the flight of the eagles show and more.  Step back in time and see what it was like to live and work in a proper medieval castle.

Another impressive castle is the Kenilworth Castle, located in the town by the same name.  This castle has been the property of Henry III and Queen Elizabeth.  It’s a well-preserved ruin, but a ruin nonetheless, whereas the Warwick Castle has been restored.  The restored castle is impressive to behold, but for a quieter experience, the Kenilworth Castle is also well worth adding to your itinerary.

For those who love cathedrals, the Coventry Cathedral is a must-see site, located in the city of Coventry.  The Cathedral is a world-class architectural mélange that combines the ruins of a 14th century cathedral (firebombs in 1940 destroyed most of the original building) with a new cathedral designed in the 20th century.  On one side, you’ll see familiar gothic architecture, and on the other, a transition to a monolithic building that features a triumphant bronze statue of St. Michael triumphing over the devil.  The new building has a distinctive grid-work of rectangular stained glass windows which are immediately recognizable.  It’s a one-of-a-kind place which combines new and old into a single majestic focal point.

Warwickshire has a number of stately homes and gardens which are wonderful if you enjoy a quieter atmosphere and want to take in the natural beauty of the region.  Arbury Hall, located southwest of Nuneaton, is a beautiful Elizabethan mansion with gothic motifs that were added in the 18th century by Sir Roger Newdegate.  The famous Victorian novelist George Eliot was born in Arbury Hall.  You may also want to visit the Compton Verney mansion which is just 7 miles east of Stratford-upon-Avon.  This house has gorgeous, spacious lawns and lakes and lovely cedar trees.  Coughton Court in Stratford is another beautiful house in the Tudor style with a lovely courtyard and an imposing façade.  Coughton Court houses a collection of Catholic artifacts and has an intriguing family history.

You also will want to check out other intriguing sites like the Chesterton Windmill which aren’t so easily categorized.  This unusual windmill stands on an architectural base with high arches and was indeed used as a working windmill clear up until the early 20th century.  Its original purpose is unknown—it may not have been intended as a windmill in the beginning.  It may even have been planned as an observatory at one point.  It’s a lovely vantage to take photos.

As you can see, there is a lot to do and see in Warwickshire, so you’ll definitely want to do some research and plan ahead, and, of course, book your accommodations in advance.  England’s countryside is one of the most fascinating in the world, and no matter what you’re interested in, you’re sure to find plenty to keep you coming back time and again.

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Warwickshire Official Website

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