A visitor's guide to Warwick
PUBLISHED: 16:07 17 April 2019
We’ve assembled a brief guide to help you to get the most from your visit to Banbury, sponsored by British Motor Museum
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Warwick has been in constant habitation since as early as the sixth century, so is rich in tradition, legend and intrigue. With its riverside location, imposing castle, half-timbered houses and Georgian buildings, the town tells a tale with every street corner, beam and stone. A devastating fire in 1694 burned down many of its medieval buildings, but among the survivors were the old Guildhall, now known as Lord Leycester Hospital, and other properties around Oken's House and in Smith Street. Today, the shops, parks and gardens, and a full-on programme of events, make Warwick a must-visit town, year-round.
Most noted for... its castle. There's evidence of a fortified settlement here that pre-dates the tenth century medieval structure, but the stone façade and towers are an imposing and unmissable part of the town.
While you're here... pay a visit to the church of St Mary and see the full size copper gilt effigy of Richard Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick on his marble tomb – it's a fine example of medieval metalwork.
But try not to... miss Warwickshire open studios. Between June 15-30, 2019, there are 151 venues showing more than 300 artists' work. Head to the Market Hall Museum to see some of the talented exhibitors based in central Warwick.
Who's who...Kings, queens and nobility have associations with Warwick including Robert Dudley, known as Queen Elizabeth I's favourite. Local author JRR Tolkien was married at the Catholic church of St Mary Immaculate, and spent time in the town. Tolkien scholars consider that his fictional Edoras and Minas Tirith were both modelled on historic Warwick. Boxing legend Randolph Turpin is honoured with a statue in Market Square. He won the world middleweight title, beating Sugar Ray Robinson in London in 1951, and later held the British light heavyweight title.
Warwick is an outstanding example of a surviving castle and celebrated its 950th anniversary in 2018. Stroll the grounds and you can't help but appreciate the medieval towers, fortified walls and elegant Jacobean country house. Displays of jousting, and a trebuchet show, where you can see the world's largest working siege machine in action, take you back in time. The castle dungeons, and the spooky goings-on in watergate tower, are not for faint-hearted visitors! For those who seek gentler pursuits, watch the birds of prey flying or learn more about archery.
Warwick hosts classical and contemporary music festivals, a food festival in May, a classic car show in August, Warwick Words history festival in autumn, and the traditional Victorian shopping evening in November – but that's just a snapshot of the town's goings-on! Warwick's 40th annual folk festival runs between July 25-28, 2019, with a line-up that includes the legendary Billy Bragg. Besides music, expect talks and workshops, food and drink events and a festival fringe that includes Morris teams and Ceilidh bands. Check out the crafts fair, Fairtrade stands, and music stalls while you're there.
The Thomas Oken Tea Rooms have more than 30 loose-leaf teas on offer, plus locally roasted coffee and a selection of beers, wines, ciders and soft drinks. The 500-year-old building is named after one of Warwick's principal merchants, whose legacy still pays for good causes in the town today.
Move here for...
A four bedroom Grade II listed stone malt house set around a courtyard, with the added attraction of a garden and a studio-office. One of the rare historic buildings that escaped the great fire of 1694, the building has had several interesting former residents, and has been used as a film and television location.
Eat at: Tailors Restaurant
Why? This Market Place restaurant is run by the talented chefs Dan Cavell and Mark Fry. The pair use local fresh ingredients, have a penchant for foraged foods, and were Observer Food Monthly UK restaurant of the year award runners-up in both 2017 and 2018.
Drink at: The Rose & Crown
Why? Just off the Market Place, The Rose & Crown is a favourite with locals, and regularly wins accolades. It has a fine wine list and sells quality draught beers. It also has 13 en-suite B&B rooms.
Stay at: The Tilted Wig
Why? There are five smart and stylish rooms, all en-suite, a decent bar and a modern menu that mixes the hearty, the tasty and the refined.