Heritage > Counties > England


Warwickshire lost a lot of it's territory in 1974 when England's second city of Birmingham was relocated within the new metropolitan county of West Midlands.

The county now covers an area of 764 square miles and has a population of 500,000.

The county's administration is centred on the town of Warwick, famous for it's castle, with Leamington Spa, Nuneaton, Rugby and Stratford-upon-Avon, home of Shakespeare, being the other major centres.

Warwickshire features such attractions as Warwick and Kenilworth castles, the remains of the 'Forest of Arden', as portrayed by Shakespeare in As You Like It, and the site of the English Civil War battlefield of Edgehill.

The county's industries are engineering and textile production with the majority of it's products coming from agricultural endeavour.

The most famous son of Warwickshire is, without doubt, William Shakespeare.

Facts on the region

Origin of name: Anglo-Saxon, meaning "The farm by a river dam". War means an offshoot from a larger farm; Wic is a weir or dam, constructed for catching fish.

Name first recorded: 1016 as Waeinewiscscr.

County Town:WARWICK At the centre of the county, this old town has picturesque half-timbered houses, including the Elizabethan Oken's House which is a doll museum.

County Rivers: Avon, Tame, Anker.

Highest point: Ilmington Downs at 854 feet.

Warwickshire's local government: The County of Warwickshire is an administrative mixture: Warwickshire County Council along with the five districts of North Warwickshire, Nuneaton & Bedworth, Rugby, Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick complete the two-tier line-up. The City of Coventry and the Borough of Solihull are single-tier authorities exclusively covering Warwickshire land while Birmingham Council provides services for not only parts of Warwickshire's territory but Staffordshire's and Worcestershire's too. Tardebigge and Hewell Grange is Warwickshire detached in Worcestershire under that County and Bromsgrove District Councils.

The local landscape

Not more than 70 miles or so from the coast, Warwickshire is a peaceful place of fertile fields, often with dry stone walls, woods and pastures.

The hilly edge of the beautiful rolling Cotswolds runs up from neighbouring Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire in the south into Warwick so at the southeastern edges you have chalk hills and typical Cotswold scenery with neat fields and mellow mossed stone houses reminiscent of Oxfordshire villages. Plenty of sheep and cattle too on the extensive farmland of this area.

The centre is lush and well-watered, with the River Avon running right through from Bidford to Rugby. The river valley is a principal contributor to the land formation and serves several towns and villages.

A second valley threads through the north of the county, that of the Blythe, running between the ever-extending Birmingham and Coventry and entering Staffordshire at Tamworth. The open land adds to the sum of the varied scenery. Here, between the cities, it is pleasantly undulating countryside, with good communications which in part account for Warwickshire's large industrial conurbations being founded here.

Local Towns and Villages

ASTON Famous football team (Villa). Aston Hall is a great Jacobean house dating from 1635 with a panelled long gallery that is one of the finest in the land.

BIRMINGHAM Ring-road city but if you can navigate through it well worth a visit to the City Museum and Art Gallery and Science & Industry Museum. Bournville, home to Cadbury's chocolate, is an absolutely fascinating garden-suburb-factory estate established by George and Richard Cadbury with their Quaker idealism to provide pleasant and healthy working surroundings for their workers. Cadbury World is a must for any choco-holics!

COVENTRY Known as the city of three spires: the original 303 feet cathedral spire that survived German bombs; Holy Trinity Church at 231 feet; and Christ Church's spire at 204 feet.

EDGBASTON A mere six-minute drive from the city centre, this is home to the famous international cricket ground but there are also fine Botanical Gardens laid out in 1831, and Cardinal Newman's Classical church, the Oratory.

KENILWORTH The castle is its glory with Norman, Plantagenet and Tudor add-ons - Henry I, Henry II, John of Gaunt, Henry VIII and Elizabeth I all had connections with it. Cromwell had it dismantled and it remains the grandest fortress ruin in the country.

NUNEATON Busy manufacturing town with 12th-century Church of St Nicholas.

ROYAL LEAMINGTON SPA Fashionable 19th-century spa town with lovely Georgian, Regency, and early Victorian terraced houses. Napoleon III resided here awhile, and the Duke of Wellington, Sarah Bernhardt and others took its waters.

RUGBY Apart from the obvious - the market dates back to Henry III.

STRATFORD-UPON-AVON There is much to see here, and it is also a lively market and shopping centre for local people. In the many pubs try the local beer.

SUTTON COLDFIELD Saxon ties. Glorious Sutton Park has altered little since Norman times.






Places to Visit

Arbury Hall, Nuneaton

Charlecote House, Wellesbourne

Coughton Court, Alcester

Ragley Hall, Alcester

The Shakespeare Houses, Straford-upon-Avon

Upton House, Banbury


Regular performances at three theatres - the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Swan Theatre and The Other Place - during the long summer season at Stratford. You can see famous plays and works of Shakespeare's contemporaries and even modern plays.

There are celebrations in Stratford-upon-Avon on the Bard's birthday, 23 April - also St George's Day.

June: Stratford Regatta. Boat race on River Avon.

Warwick: Year-round pageants and banquets at Warwick Castle.

The Royal Show is held at Stoneleigh in July.

Birmingham's NEC (National Exhibition Centre) plays host to anything from motor shows to Meatloaf and Cliff Richard concerts. Huge antiques fairs happen here in January and April; Crufts Dog Show is in March, with over 100 breeds competing for the Best in Show title.

Warwickshire County Cricket Club hosts the first test match for overseas visitors at Edgbaston, Birmingham, with County matches throughout the season.

Mid-October: Warwick Mop. Now a funfair but traditionally a hiring fair where people looked for work.

December (first week): Victorian street fayre.

January (second Saturday): Warwick National Race (jump racing).

July: Warwick Folk Festival.

August: Warwickshire and West Midland Game Fair in Alcester.

Famous names from the region

Comedian Tony Hancock came from Birmingham.

Writer David Lodge teaches English at Birmingham University, which provides the background for many of his wry novels.

Shakespeare, of course, was born in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The 15th-century Earl of Warwick known as the Kingmaker lived at Warwick Castle, now owned and run by Madame Tussaud's.

Francis Galton, who studied heredity and found that everyone's fingerprints are unique, lived in Claverdon.

George Eliot (real name Mary Ann Evans), authoress of the novel on which TV's popular Middlemarch was based, was born in 1819 at Arbury near Nuneaton and moved with her family to Griff House in Nuneaton four years later.

The TV soap Crossroads, now a cult programme, was set in a fictitious Birmingham suburb called King's Oak, an amalgam of King's Heath and Selly Oak.

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