by Ben Johnson
Warwick town is a destination often overlooked by visitors to this part of the country.
Whilst many visit Warwick Castle, one of the most popular tourist attractions in England, few stay on to sample the delights of this historic market town.
Narrow streets crowd around the central square where a thriving market is held every Saturday. Here you will also find The Market Hall, home to the excellent Warwickshire Museum. This 17th century Market Hall hosts exhibitions downstairs on the prehistory of Warwickshire (including a huge dinosaur exhibit!). Upstairs the history of the county continues, including the famous Sheldon Tapestry map. Also upstairs is a natural history section with plenty of hands-on activities for children.
Browsing the many antique shops in Warwick is a delight. Every other shop seems to be an Aladdin’s Cave of forgotten treasures! Not to mention the delicatessens, restaurants and cafes where you can choose from a tasty snack to an elegant meal.
A recommended venue for a light bite is the excellent tea-room housed within the Lord Leycester Hospital. This magnificent building, over 600 years old, is a little gem! The unique chantry chapel, galleried courtyard, superb Great Hall and Guildhall form what Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, established as an old soldier’s home in 1571. There are several reminders of Amy Robsart, wife of Robert Dudley, on the walls of the tea-rooms. She accidentally, if rather conveniently, fell downstairs and broke her neck, allowing her husband to woo Queen Elizabeth I. The location of the building, built into the ancient walls and West Gate of the town, is unique. The small garden here offers a quiet place to sit.
Another little oasis of calm, a lovely walled garden, is located next to St. Mary’s Church, whose tower dominates the skyline. For just £1 for adults, 50p per child, you can climb to the top for a birds eye view of Warwick, the castle, the river and the historic town buildings.
If you have children to entertain, a favourite place is the lovely folk museum at St. John’s House. This early Jacobean building houses several Victorian displays, including a schoolroom, parlour and a kitchen where you can hand-pump the water into the sink, open all the draws and take part in many activities. Dolls houses, costume displays and the museum of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment are also to be found here. The walled garden is an excellent place for a picnic, or just through the garden gate you will find Warwick’s park which borders the river. Here are formal gardens, play areas and best of all, a boathouse offering rowing and motor boats for hire.
It is not very well known, but the best views of Warwick Castle are from the river. On a sunny summer’s afternoon, it is particularly enjoyable to row slowly down the river, gazing up at the huge castle walls. But mind you watch out for the weir!
Warwick is easily accessible by both road and rail, please try our UK Travel Guide for further information.
View our interactive map of Museums in Britain for details of local galleries and museums.
Castles in England
Try our interactive map of Castles in England to browse our huge database, including further detailed information concerning Warwick Castle.
Stay at Warwick Castle!