Atherstone Travel Guide

  • Looking along Long Street
    Looking along Long Street
    by leics
  • Witherley
    Witherley
    by leics
  • Market square and St Mary's
    Market square and St Mary's
    by leics

Atherstone Things to Do

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    Stately home? Nope..it's a station! 1 more image

    by leics Updated Dec 8, 2012

    ....just because it is the most magnificent Victorian Gothic 'power and glory' statement you are likely to come across in an English small-town railway station building.

    The Victorians *were* proud of themselves, their power, their Empire, their industry and their railways. So it's not really surprising that their railway stations usually reflected that pride: they are often beautiful structures.

    But Atherstone's must take the prize for sheer twiddliness!

    I've seen it (and been intrigued it) many times from the back, when I've passed by on the train, but I was very pleased to see its magnificent frontage as well.

    The architect was one J.W. Livock and it's really quite an early example, dating from 1847 when the Trent Valley Railway was opened. Although Atherstone is still a functioning railway station, the building is not longer used as a ticket office. As far as I could see, it is now used as a veterinary surgery.

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    Market Square 4 more images

    by leics Written Dec 8, 2012

    Atherstone town centre is pretty much unspoiled by modern chain stores and plate-glass..unusual in modern English towns....and there are plenty of interesting bits of architecture to enjoy as you wander.

    Do remember to look up, because original rooflines and upper-storey windows will often give clues to the age of buildings.

    I didn't see anything much older than the early 1700s, and suspect that anything earlier which still exists will only be seen in the interiors of buildings

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    Swan archway

    by leics Written Dec 8, 2012

    This is a very good example of the awkwardness of the rich and powerful.

    Until 1798, the archway simply led into the yard of the Swan Inn. But the 'lord of the manor', one Abraham Bracegirdle (wonderful name, probably Viking in origin!) decided that it should be opened up to through traffic.

    Not sure why he felt this to be necessary, but it certainly annoyed the locals hugely. Not that Bracegirdle took any notice whatsoever, of course.

    The archway has never been wide enough for two-way traffic, and it isn't now. The town has to have a one-way system.

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Atherstone Hotels

Atherstone Warnings and Dangers

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    The road on the right really is a dead-end. 1 more image

    by leics Written Dec 8, 2012

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    If you visit Witherley you may well be tempted, as I was, to drive along Riverside (literally at the side of the River Anker) towards St Peter's Church.

    You'll assume, as I did, that even if there is no parking for the church there will be a place to turn round.

    You, like me, will be wrong. There is a sign which says Riverside is a dead end (cul-de-sac), which it is. There is *no* sign to suggest that turning round is going to be tricky and may...if you have large car..be impossible. And it's a heck of a long way to reverse back alongside the river. :-(

    I managed a 12-point turn, avoiding hitting the garden wall to one side of me and going into the river directly behind me. But I have a pretty small car.

    Best to avoid driving there altogether and just park in the (very) small parking place at the junction of Bridge Street, Riverside and Hunt Lane, where there are a couple of steps down to the river and a couple of benches. Then walk to the church (which is worth a visit).

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Atherstone Off The Beaten Path

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    St Peter's 4 more images

    by leics Written Dec 8, 2012

    St Peter's is a rather magnificent church for such a tiny settlement, and stands in a truly beautiful position...although its position is unusual. Older English churches are usually at the high point of English villages, not least because their spires offered useful landmarks for travllers, but St Peter's is right down by the pretty river Anker, making it prone to flooding as well as at a low point.

    The surrounding land is pretty flat, so presumably there was no suitable higher position within the parish. And maybe the Anker never flooded, or only flooded on the other side of the banks?

    Whatever, the church and river make a most beautiful sight.

    St Peter's dates from the 1300s and is a Grade l listed building (that means it's important architecturally). It is very likely there was an earlier church or the site, as is usually the way with ancient English churches. There was a spire on the original structure, built around 1350: it is exceptionally tall, standing more than 156 feet high.

    You can still see a couple of very weathered stone faces at the entrance porch (early Medieval, I'd guess) and I suspect there are more early features inside. Sadly, the church was closed when I visited...as is often the way with English village churches, because of theft and vandalism. If you'd like to get access I noticed a phone number for visitors on the church noticeboard or you could use the contact email/phone number on the link below.

    Amongst many gravestones from past centuries, the churchyard contains a rather magnificent chest tomb, dating from the 1600s.

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    St Peter's, by the River Anker. 4 more images

    by leics Written Dec 8, 2012

    Witherley is a mile or so away from Atherstone and well worth visiting.

    There's a regular bus service (Ashby-de-la-Zouche> Nuneaton) which calls at both Atherstone and Witherley, so if you don't have a car, don't fancy the walk and don't want to pay for a taxi you do have a public transport option.

    You should find a bus timetable on the link below (There are other services too) but if it no longer works just google 'Atherstone Witherley bus'.

    But why visit Witherley? Well, because it is a very pretty, very small typically-English village, set in agricultural countryside and with a small river (the Anker) flowing through its historical heart. There are some interesting buildings, a good pub (the Blue Lion, which also does meals and bed & breakfast... http://www.bluelioninn.co.uk/ ), a rather lovely and ancient church (see next tip) and plenty of good walking around and from the village.

    Definitely worth a visit, if only for the church and a good pint! :-)

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  • Atherstone Hotels

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