Home to Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare, Warwickshire is one of the most visited counties in England. Most tourists tend to head straight to Stratford-upon-Avon, an ancient market town situated on the banks of the River Avon where Shakespeare’s birthplace still stands to this day. Stratford is also home to one of the most photographed cottages in the country, Anne Hathaway’s cottage, where she lived before marrying Shakespeare in 1582.
Just to the north of Stratford lies another popular tourist attraction; Warwick Castle. Originally designed as a motte-and-bailey castle by the Normans in 1068, this is now one of the most intact and magnificent castles in the whole country having miracously escaped destruction during the English Civil War.
Within a hop, skip and jump of Warwick Castle lies Kenilworth Castle, a ruined but equally impressive fortress which was once a favourite holiday destination for Queen Elizabeth I.
- Warwickshire is also home to the Battle of Edgehill, the first battle of the English Civil War. Rumour has it that every year on the 23rd October a ghostly reenactment still takes place, an event which is officially recognised by the Public Records Office. Visit at your own risk!
- The Italian Job’s car chase scene involving Minis was filmed in huge sewer pipes at Stoke Aldermoor, in September 1968. Other than the famous film, Debbie Isitt’s Nativity! franchise was based in and around Coventry, as well as BBC sitcom Keeping Up Appearances and Spooks: The Greater Good.
- JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth is based on Warwickshire. The author lived in the Warwickshire village of Sarehole long before it became part of the city of Birmingham. Sarehole was believed to have provided the inspiration for Hobbiton and the Shire, while the mill that features in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings is thought to have been based on Sarehole Mill.
- Tolkien later moved to Birmingham but returned to Warwickshire to marry Edith Bratt at St Mary Immaculate church in Warwick on March 22, 1916.
- It’s been argued that the settlements of Edoras and Minas Tirith in Tolkien’s work were modelled on Warwick at various stages in its history.
- The name “hobbit” is an old word for a type of sprite or goblin and can still be seen in street names in Balsall Common and Kenilworth.
Population: 556,800 (2016)
County Town: Warwick
Towns of Warwickshire (links to Wikipedia page):