This is a tip about a thing that is not actually off the beaten path, it is on a very well-trodden path in the centre of Warwick but it is a thing that most people probably don't even look at. A second thing to mention is that I do not have any sort of odd fixation with post boxes, despite having written a tip about another one in Broadstairs. I just like quirky little things and this is one of them. I genuinely thought post boxes in the UK were built to a standard design, possibly by law, but it appears they are not and I offer this as proof.
As one of the images indicates on the plaque, this box which is situated in Eastgate and it's pair which apparently stands in Westgate are cast in the style of a Doric column. The only information I can find out about this unusual piece is that it was made in 1856 by the Birmingham company of Smith & Hawkes as a commission for a chap called Beaufort who was surveyor of the Birmingham District. Despite it's age, it still functions and you can post a letter here.
Let's be honest, you are probably not going to visit Warwick purely for the purpose of looking at a pillar box but if you are there it is worth a passing glance.
There are a number of hidden gardens in the town which are open to the public. The one in the photo is tucked away behind the Tourist information Office on Jury Street. They will tell you where the others are .......ideal places for a picnic lunch on a warm day.
Leave the castle from its main driveway and turn immediately right, down Mill Street.
This street was completely untouched by the great fire of Warwick in 1694 and after the new bridge was built in 1751 and the bridge at the bottom of Mill Street pulled down, the place has been left as a quiet backwater cul de sac.
The only thing missing from this medieval scene is the thatched roofs, outlawed in Warwick after the fire of 1694.
At the bottom of the street there is the house of the recently deceased Arthur Measures.
For years he opened his garden to the public for a token charge of £1 so others could enjoy his beautiful garden backing onto the Avon with glorious views of the castle.
His garden still opens from Easter to mid October and it's a little bit of heaven on earth!
Everyone just walks by as the entrance to the museum is easily missed.
On the corner of Jury Street & Castle Street is the old Court House that now houses the Tourist Information Centre.
Under the old Court House is the Yeomanry Museum & Warwick Town Museum. The entrance is round from the front of the building in Castle Street.
The castle itself is obviously not off the beaten path, but how many of you have had the chance to spend the night there on a ghost hunt with paranormal experts? I was lucky enough to do so with Fright Nights in August 2006. It was, I believe, their first ghost hunt at Warwick Castle. While I still can't say for sure whether or not *I* believe in ghosts, it was certainly a fascinating experience, and many people there obviously saw and experienced things that I did not.
If you are able to participate in one of these ghost hunts, go for it! You won't be sorry. It's very cool.
Just out of walking distance from the town, but a three pound taxi ride is worth it (go for lunch).
If you're driving, head towards Leamington and turn left at the Crown & Castle onto the Coventry Road, past the railway station, carry on over an island and as you hit the countryside it's on the right.
The Saxon Mill has just been tastefully refitted and is now more of a classy restaurant with a bar but even so the setting is stunning.
Outside of Warwick on the banks of the Avon with the derelict Guys Cliffe House over the river this is a beautiful place. http://www.guyscliffehouse.co.uk/
There has been a water-mill here from Saxon times and the pub is in the old mill.
You might walk along the road called 'The Butts' but might not be aware of the derivation of the name. In Medieval times, all men were required to practise archery (the English were famed for their skill with the longbow) for a set amount of time and 'the butts' is what the practice area was called. They always lie outside the city or town walls, for obvious reasons. You can find roads called Butt Lane, Butt Street etc in many English towns.
I noticed this building as I walked towards the castle. On Castle St, it has an interesting inscription which tells of Regency charity towards the poor. A dispensary provided medicine for the sick and, of course, the sick poor in could not afford either doctor's fees or the cost of medicine.
I can't find the derivation of this name (but it's almost certainly Medieval in origin, possibly linked with 'tinkers' who were itinerant smiths), but Tink a Tank is an alleyway which runs from the Collegiate Church of St Mary's to The Butts. Some of the walls along its length are obviously very old......and it's just a nice place to walk.
Hidden in a dark corner of the crypt of the Collegiate Church of St Mary is something I have never seen before..............a ducking stool. This was used as a punishment (usually for women) in Medieval times; the woman was tied to a chair placed on the stool and 'ducked' under water in a convenient pond or river. Not quite as gentle a punishment as it sounds, for the person could be left underwater for a substantial amount of time and, of course, punishment occurred during winter as well as summer. It wasn't intended to be a death sentence, but deaths did occur (particularly amongst elderly women).
................well, not quite (although the floor of the crypt is covered with tombstones). Although tombstones are often removed from old churches, and re-placed, I have never seen them actually cut up and used as steps like those in the photo. Look down as you enter the crypt of the Collegiate Church of St Mary.
If you visit the Collegiate Church of St Mary, do go down into the crypt where you can see the original Norman arches and barrel-vaulting. Then remember how old they are (built 1123) and be amazed at the skill and sheer vision involved in building any of our great Norman churches and cathedrals.
If you look carefully, you'll see the emblem of the chained bear in many places (in Warwickshire as well as Warwick itself, for it is the county's symbol too). It was the emblem of the Earls of Warwick. The one in the picture is on the tomb of Robert Dudley (in the Collegiate church of St Mary) and is (in my opinion) rather cuddly. Other examples are far more fierce!
Keep an eye out for details like these Tudor roses carved into one of the porches in Lord Leycester Hospital. The Tudors joined together the Red Rose of Lancaster and the White Rose of York and adopted it as their emblem.
Built in 1632, Chesterton windmill is worth looking out for.
A copy of this windmill was built In Newport, Rhode Island, U.S.A. by Governor Bededict Arnold, about 1676. William Arnold, his father, was born in Leamington and his son was sixteen when the Windmill was built. They emigrated to Rhode Island in 1635 and Benedict became Governor in 1663. Not quite the same as Chesterton the Newport one had eight round pillars, but it was very similar.
Chesterton Mill is about three miles north east of Warwick.