Fun things to do in Warwick

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    St. John’s House Museum

    by grayfo Updated Oct 17, 2013

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    St John's House Museum is an early Jacobean house and has period reconstructions portraying domestic and school life. The museum is great place for children and 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. An added attraction is the museum of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment which can to be found on the first floor.

    April to October
    Monday to Saturday: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

    November to March
    Tuesday to Saturday: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm

    Admission: Free

    October 2013

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    One for the ring fans.

    by planxty Written Nov 25, 2012

    On a wander through the middle of Warwick on a pretty dismal October day (which explains the rather dark image, for which apologies) I came upon a very nicely executed statue of a boxer in traditional stance as you can see. The sculptor, I was subsequently to find out was Carl Payne who has a number of commissions to his name including some others with sporting connections. Whilst no art critic, I found it very aesthetically pleasing. If I know little or nothing about art, I probably know less about boxing and so had to examine the plaque on the plinth to find out that the statue depicts Randolph (Randy) Turpin 1928 - 1966. Even I remembered that name from somewhere in the back of my brain. So who was this legendary boxer who tuned out to have finished his life in a very tragic fashion.

    Randolph "Randy" Turpin was born in 1928 to a Guyanan father and English mother in nearby Leamington and it was this that was to eventually give him his ring name of the "Leamington Licker". At the age of 18, he turned professional and began a career which was to eventually finish with a record of 66 wins from 75 fights with a creditable 45 by way of knockout. Perhaps his greatest achievement came in 1951 when he defeated the legendary Sugar Ray Robinson in London to lift the world middleweight crown. This propelled him to national stardom but it was not to last long when Robinson defeated him in New York a couple of months later. This was the beginning of a downhill slide. He never regained his form and retired in 1959, staging a fairly unsuccessful comeback in 1962 but finally retiring that year.

    Unlike the multi-millionaire sports stars of the modern area, things were different in the early 60's and the erstwhile national hero had to resort to professional wrestling to make ends meet although this was not a great success either. Between bouts, Turpin had taken a pub in Llandudno, North Wales, which still exists as Randy's Bar to this day. Contemporary reports suggest that he could not attune himself to the relative anonymity that not being a champion afforded him and tragically he committed suicide by shooting himself in 1966 having been declared bankrupt. Other reports suggest he attempted to kill his daughter before doing so. Truly a tragic demise for a once great star.

    The statue was unveiled in 2001 by another icon of British boxing, the late Sir Henry Cooper.

    If you happen to be passing, you may just want to pause for a moment and reflect on the decline of once great sportsman and how fickle a Mistress fame really is.

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    A very fine Church

    by planxty Written Nov 25, 2012

    Readers of my other pages will know that I have no religious faith but I am a huge fan of visiting places of worship be they church, chapel, mosque, synagogue, temple, gurdwara or indeed any other type I may have omitted. Apart from finding them generally calming and peaceful places to spend time, I also find them to be great sources of knowledge about the social history of the area in which they stand. On a recent trip to Warwick I spied the rather impressive St. Mary's, more properly the Collegiate Church of St. Mary, so it was a foregone conclusion I would go in for a look. I am very glad I did as it is a fascinating place.

    I was greeted at the door by a very friendly volunteer who furnished me with a very comprehensive guide to the Church. you leave this guide back at the end although you can buy a nice guide book or other items from the well-stocked shop at the end of your visit. Following the directions given, I started along the North side of the Church and came to the military chapel housed in the North transept. As is usual, there were a number of military standards laid up there as well as numerous memorials to the fallen. Perhaps the most interesting standard is the Garter Banner of Marshal Viscount Montgomery, colloquially known as "Monty", the famous World War II commander. The main regiment commemorated here was naturally the Warwickshire Regiment and this tied in nicely with my previous visit to that unit's Regimental Museum a few days prior. The opresence of Monty's banner here reflects that he was originally commissioned into the Warwicks.

    Continuing towards the altar, I was guided down a flight of stairs to the crypt which was fascinating and contained, slightly oddly, the chassis of an old fashioned ducking stool used for the punishment of witches and others by immersing them in water. A strange thing to have in a Church I thought. You can see this in one of the images. The crypt is built on the remnants of the original Norman Church which dates from 1123 and was raised by Earl Roger. He established a college of a Dean and Canons an it is this that gives rise to the slightly unwieldy full "collegiate" title of the building. There is also a very fine old tomb there which again is shown in one of the images. The crypt was, and still is, the burial place of the Earls of Warwick, once one of the most powerful families on the land, and rather grimly we are informed there is still room for another three of them. That must be comforting when they come to worship!

    Emerging from the crypt and crossing in front of the altar, you come to the Dean's Chapel. As you are going there, take a moment to admire the view down the aisle, it really is impressive. The Dean's Chapel and adjacent oratory is much smaller but equally impressive. Dating from the 15th century, the minature fan vaulting on the roof is exquisite. I hope my image has done it justice. Following your guide you will next be directed to the Lady Chapel, now more commonly known as the Beauchamp Chapel and this is arguably the high point of the tour.

    The Beauchamp Chapel was built in the 15th century and is indeed impressive although I felt slightly uneasy about it as it appears not to have been built so much for the glory of God as for the entombing of Richard Beauchamp and Robert and Ambrose Dudley, respectively Earls of Leicester and Warwick. I understand this was very much the practice of those times but it struck a slightly jarring note with me. Much more poignant is the tomb of the "Noble Imp", the very young son of Robert Dudley, who died in childhood.

    Come 1694 and disaster strikes when a fire destroys a good portion of the Church. It did not remain out of commission for long as rebuilding work was completed by 1704 resulting effectively in the building you see today. It is definitely worth a visit no matter what your faith or lack thereof.

    Should you wish to visit, here are the logistics.

    St Mary’s is open for visitors every day, from 10.00am to 6.00pm (April to end of September) and from 10.00am to 4.30pm (October to end of March).

    Unfortunately, due to the nature of the building, wheelchair access is only available to the nave, shop and regimental Chapel.

    Should you wish to worship here, full details of services are on the attached website.

    Admission is free although obviously a large old historic building like this requires a lot of upkeep and a donation of £2 per visitor is suggested.

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    Walk the cut.

    by planxty Written Nov 14, 2012

    It is no secret here on VT that I love canals and narrowboats and so, on a recent trip to Warwick and nearby Royal Leamington Spa it was an absolute certainty that I would try to spend at least a bit of time on "the cut" as canals are colloquially known. Sadly, due to time constraints, I was not able to spend as long as I would have liked but I did manage a bit of a walk between Emscote Road in Warwick and Leamington.

    The Midlands was very much an industrial powerhouse in the 18th and 19th centuries and it is not surprising that there are no less than four canals crossing the relatively small county of Warwickshire as canals were very much the arteries of the industrial beast in those days, roads being pretty appalling. The one I walked on a crisp autumnal morning was a section of the Grand Union which I have previously walked and boated a fair amount of. If you are at all interested in the Grand Union or canals in general, there is more information in this travelogue on my England page.

    It really is amazing how rural this place seems. Warwick and Leamington are virtually joined and if you walk the nearby road, it has buildings all along it but here you would swear you were in the middle of the countryside.

    The most interesting feature on this section is the wonderful, if slightly vertiginous, aqueduct carrying the canal over the River Avon. When I got to Leamington I could easily have just kept on walking but I had great friends to meet and very exciting things to do, so I didn't have the opportunity. Maybe next time.

    Canal towpaths are open to pedestrians and cyclists (you need to print off a cycle permit from the internet, although it is free) and I really do recommend them as places of recreation. The attached website gives full details of canals in the Arwick area.

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    A fine military Museum.

    by planxty Written Nov 5, 2012

    To find a local museum in an architecturally attractive old building is a pleasure and to discover two in the same wonderful old house is a double delight. This is exactly what happened to me in Warwick in the form of the local history Museum and the Regimental Museum of the Warwickshire Regiment both housed in St. John's House which you can see in the main image.

    Because the two Museums are so completely seperate, I have decided to deal with them in two seperate tips so please check the rest of my page for the military side of things. I do apologise for completely replicating the first couple of paragraphs there which is for the benefit of those who may happen upon the page from a search engine or whatever. Please feel free to skip the preamble if you have already read this once.

    The present building was built in 1667 - 1670 although the site, complete with pleasant gardens, has a much longer and interesting history. It was first recorded c. 1154 when the Earl of Warwick established a hospital here which, in addition to the normal functions of a hospital also offered lodgings for travellers. This all continued until Henry VIII had somewhat of a disagreement with the Catholic Church and the place was shut in 1540 when it was given to a local Royal favourite by the name of Anthony Stoughton.

    The Stoughtons oversaw the place for some time and despite a time in use as outbuildings, it was eventually rebuilt by the original Stoughton's great grandson as the structure you see today. The family eventually sold up in 1788 and from 1789 - 1900 the place was a private school, until it went bankrupt in 1900. It served various functions until the local Council acquired it in 1959 opening it as a Museum in 1961. It did raise a wry smile that I was exactly the same age as the Museum and I was hoping this did not extend to the exhibits. Now that would have made me feel ancient!

    Having had a good look round the ground floor, which is a museum dedicated to local domestic history and is the subject of this tip I made my way upstairs to what was actually an unexpected surprise as I had not known about the military Museum prior to arrival. I am a great fan of military and this was a wonderful bonus. It is the Regimental Museum of the former Warwickshire Regiment, now part of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers due to continuing defence cuts in the UK. Lamentably, old County Regiments are now a thing of the past.

    Originally the 6th Regiment of Foot raised in 1674 the Warwickshire is one of the oldest regiments in the British Army. Regiments were originally named for the Colonel who raised them but then a sequential numbering system was instituted which means that the Warwicks were the sixth most senior regiment, some achievement in itself.

    I mentioned in my tip about the local Museum downstairs about the extremely friendly young lady who had greeted me and this Midlands hospitality was to continue upstairs. Again I was the only visitor and the gentleman in charge, Dave, introduced himself and gave me effectively a personal tour of the Museum which added much to my enjoyment of the visit. I actually met him again at a gig we were both attending the next night.

    The Museum is small but comprehensive, covering the entire history right up until the present day where the (now) Fusiliers still serve and die in Afghanistan. This is a sobering thought that the young men and women you may meet in some of the excellent local pubs and restaurants may soon be heading off into danger many miles away. That, I supose, is the lot of the soldier.

    I think my favourite exhibit was that concerning the very famous Field Marshal the Viscount Montgomery of Alamein KG GCB DSO, probably better known to one and all as "Monty", the famous Commander from World War 2. Monty was originally commissioned in the Warwicks (which I had not previously known) and the Museum houses many of his personal effects. It is a fascinating insight into a tremendous military leader.

    To the details now. Opening hours are as follows.

    From 1st November 2012 to 31st March 2013, 10.00am - 4.00pm Tuesdays to Saturdays

    1st Arpil 2013 to 31st October 2013, 10.00am - 5.00pm Mondays to Saturdays*

    Regrettably, due to the Museum being housed in a Grade 1 listed building, there is no lift and is therefore not accessible to wheelchair users although there is a virtual tour available in the downstairs Museum which is accessible. There are no refreshment facilities although there is plenty of choice nearby.

    The Museum is only a few minutes walk from the train station (turn right out of the station approach road, walk to the junction and it is opposite). There is a limited free carpark and it is an easy walk from the bus station. Admission is free (donations welcome).

    If you like military history, this is well worth a visit.

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    Two for the price of one.

    by planxty Written Nov 5, 2012

    To find a local museum in an architecturally attractive old building is a pleasure and to discover two in the same wonderful old house is a double delight. This is exactly what happened to me in Warwick in the form of the local history Museum and the Regimental Museum of the Warwickshire Regiment both housed in St. John's House which you can see in the main image.

    Because the two Museums are so completely seperate, I have decided to deal with them in two seperate tips so please check the rest of my page for the military side of things. I do apologise for completely replicating the first couple of paragraphs there which is for the benefit of those who may happen upon the page from a search engine or whatever. Please feel free to skip the preamble if you have already read this once.

    The present building was built in 1667 - 1670 although the site, complete with pleasant gardens, has a much longer and interesting history. It was first recorded c. 1154 when the Earl of Warwick established a hospital here which, in addition to the normal functions of a hospital also offered lodgings for travellers. This all continued until Henry VIII had somewhat of a disagreement with the Catholic Church and the place was shut in 1540 when it was given to a local Royal favourite by the name of Anthony Stoughton.

    The Stoughtons oversaw the place for some time and despite a time in use as outbuildings, it was eventually rebuilt by the original Stoughton's great grandson as the structure you see today. The family eventually sold up in 1788 and from 1789 - 1900 the place was a private school, until it went bankrupt in 1900. It served various functions until the local Council acquired it in 1959 opening it as a Museum in 1961. It did raise a wry smile that I was exactly the same age as the Museum and I was hoping this did not extend to the exhibits. Now that would have made me feel ancient!

    Opening the huge, heavy wooden door I entered the place and encountered an absolutely charming and very helpful young lady who welcomed me warmly and told me the best route to go round the Museum. In fairness, on an October Friday afternoon I was the only person in the place and she was probably glad of the conversation. Following her instructions I took myself off for a look around.

    The Museum is not large and there are no obviously priceless exhibits on display. Rather it is dedicated to normal life from days past, including a recreated Victorian classroom which I enjoyed. Apologies for the slight reflection in that image but you cannot actually enter, merely view through a windw, which is understandable. I think my favourite exhibit was the scullery / laundry room which is wonderfully decked out with all the appurtenances of a Victorian / Edwardian mansion house "below stairs" operation. I stood for a while just imagining the endless drudgery of being a servant in those times and afficionados of period dramas on TV like "Downton Abbey" will love it.

    Having completed my wander round, I made my way upstairs to the Regimental Museum which, as I say, I shall deal with elsewhere.

    So what about the nuts and bolts of visiting here.

    Firstly, I should mention that this is not the main Museum in Warwick. That is housed in the Market Hall although I did not have an opportunity to visit as it was closed on the Monday I was there. The Museum is only a few minutes walk from the train station (turn right out of the station approach road, walk to the junction and it is opposite). There is a limited free carpark and it is an easy walk from the bus station. Admission is free (donations welcome) and it is open

    SUMMER (Apr - Oct)
    Mondays - Saturdays - 10.00am - 5.00pm

    WINTER (Nov - Mar)
    Tuesdays to Saturdays - 10am - 4pm

    BANK HOLIDAYS - 10am - 5pm

    For mobility impaired visitors this floor of the Museum is accessible (the Regimental Museum regrettably is not) and there is an accessible toilet.

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    The Dean's Chapel

    by leics Updated Sep 29, 2011

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    A side-chapel within the Collegiate Church of St Mary, this is a tiny but perfectly-formed Medieval chapel barely large enough for 6 people. It is a most beautiful piece of Medieval ecclesiastical architecture, although (and this is entirely a personal opinion) I think the new (2001) stained glass window is not in keeping.

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    The Beauchamp Chapel

    by leics Updated Sep 29, 2011

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    A stunning example of a Medieval chantry within the Collegiate Church of St Mary, and unique in England. Chantries were special chapels built, usually by bequest, for particular (wealthy, obviously) people. a further bequest provided funds for regular prayers to be said for the soul of the departed (hence 'chantry' from 'chanting'). This one is wonderful, with many twiddly embellishments and even a wall-painting (from the 1600's, I think) said to be based on the Sistine Chapel. Within this chapel lie the tombs of Thomas Beauchamp (Earl of Warwick, 15th century) and Robert Dudley (Earl of Leicester, Queen Elizabeth l's favourite) amongst others. Beautiful.

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    Collegiate Church of St Mary

    by leics Updated Sep 29, 2011

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    A gem of English perpendicular Gothic style, this church was first established in 1123 (by an Earl of Warwick, of course). The chancel and nave were rebuilt in the 14th century, but the original Norman crypt still survives. Within the church itself are a number of particularly interesting things, including a most beautifully twiddly chantry, a tiny but perfectly formed side-chapel and some stunning Medieval tombs. Well worth visiting..............entrance free, but a donation (2GBP suggested) is much appreciated.

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    Collegiate Church of St Mary

    by poreby Updated Sep 16, 2011

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    The Collegiate Church of St Mary look amazing outside but I did not find out interesting inside. The entrance ia free but they accept donation 2 pounds per person. You will find in the church grave of Robert Dudley, close friend of Elizabeth I.

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    Wellesbourne watermill

    by samprice11 Updated Apr 4, 2011

    Nice location for a half day out. Close to Warwick and Straford Upon Avon. On the B4086 just south on Wellesbourne. Nicely restored watermill with demonstrations every hour, on the hour. Narrow and steep staircases in the mill itself so a bit restricting for the old, disabled or families with babies. Also, has some coracles for demonstation on the pond and you can have a go at it yourself. Open from 10-5 during the summer (not sure out of season.)

    Admission costs:
    Adults £4.50
    Senior Citizens £3.50
    Children (5-16) £3.00
    Family £12.00 (2 x Adults and 2 x children under 16)

    Good cafe in a resored barn that serves various home made cakes made from the flour ground from the mill. Also, small gift shop on site.

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    Visit the Museum.

    by leics Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Housed in the Market Hall, this little museum has good displays on local archaeology, geology and natural history as well as the Great Fire of Warwick. It's closed on Mondays (and Sundays out of season), but is otherwise open from 10:00 to 17:00. Entrance is free.

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    Warwick Folk Festival

    by avanutria Updated Apr 4, 2011

    This festival was a lot of fun; 2005 was my first time attending and I've been twice now. We chose to camp both times and there were lots of tents and caravans on the grounds.

    The workshops were fun and the vendors were great, there was a row of musical vendor stalls and then the other area was crafts and clothing and things. Standard festival fare.

    We had great weather this year except for the Saturday, but unlike last year things dried out before the tent fell apart and we were able to stay until Monday without massive problems.

    I'll be at Warwick in 2007!

    (Do you like this tip? Please rate it, thanks!)

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    The Collegiate Church of St Marys

    by andywing Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    In 1123 Robert de Newburgh, Earl of Warwick, founded St Mary's Church on its present site and established the College of a Dean and Canons. Part of the Norman building can be seen in the crypt.

    The old church was mainly rebuilt after the great fire of Warwick in 1694. Work was completed in 1704. After some trouble with the stability of the tower, advice was sought from Cristopher Wren who was living down the road at Wroxhall Abbey at the time.

    Untouched by the fire was the glorious Beauchamp Chapel, built in 1460 at a cost of £2,500 incorporating the most expensive stained glass windows ever commissioned at the time, costing two shillings per square foot. It was built to house the tomb of Richard Beauchamp (pronounced Beecham), Earl of Warwick. It is generally accepted that this is the finest medieval chapel in Britain.

    A climb to the top of the tower is a must if you dont mind a steep spiral staircase entombed in sandstone. The church asks for a £1.50 donation to climb the tower.

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    Heritage Motor Centre

    by grayfo Written Sep 25, 2009

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    The Heritage Motor Centre is home to the largest collection of British cars in the world. So much more than a traditional car museum, the Heritage Motor Centre was designed from the ground-up with both enthusiasts and family visitors in mind - the aim was to create an inspirational and exciting day out. Attractions on offer include the Land Rover 4x4 off-road experience; outdoor go-kart circuit and miniature roadway. Add a relaxed and welcome cafe, gift shop, picnic area and children's play area and it's hard to think what could make this family day out any more brilliant than it already, most certainly, is.

    email enquiries@heritage-motor-centre.co.uk

    Adults - £.9.00
    Children (5-16yrs) - £7.00
    Children (under 5yrs) – Free
    Concessions - £8.00

    Daily 10.00am - 5.00pm

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