Timber-framed buildings on Mill Street, Warwick
Timber-framed buildings on Mill Street, Warwick

The county town of Warwickshire, Warwick has a core of lovely old buildings, the most famous being Warwick Castle, the traditional seat of the Earls of Warwick and a near-perfect medieval castle.

The town was founded in 914 AD by Ethelfleda, sister of Edward the Elder and daughter of Alfred the Great. Warwick was planned as a burh, or fortified town, to act as a defence against incursions by Danes from the north and east.

Ethelfleda chose a spot above a bend in the River Avon and erected an earthwork defensive wall to surround a small hill. The location proved a wise choice, as Warwick was able to control the river crossing and a much-travelled road to London.

Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle

The town expanded over the early medieval period, and its importance was enhanced when William the Conqueror built a motte and bailey castle here in 1086. This simple wooden structure was later rebuilt in stone and became one of the grandest medieval castles in the land, home to the powerful Earls of Warwick throughout the Middle Ages.

You may have heard of the Great Fire of London. Well, Warwick had its own Great Fire, in 1694. The blaze destroyed much of the old medieval town, and as a result, many of the buildings within the old town walls are elegant 18th-century structures.

However, some superb medieval buildings survived the Great Fire, and these form the most attractive destinations for modern visitors. Among these are Lord Leycester's Hospital, which was not a hospital in the modern sense of a medical establishment, but rather a home for aged soldiers and their families.

The Hospital was established by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leycester, in 1571, and today, over four centuries after its foundation, Leycester's Hospital still acts as a home for servicemen, though the building has now been much modernized in its interior.

An attractive group of half-timbered houses survive at the base of Castle Street. Chief among these is Oken's House, now a popular tea shop.

Lord Leycester's Hospital
Lord Leycester's Hospital

Two of the medieval town gates survive, Eastgate and Westgate, located beside Lord Leycester's Hospital. These are but the most famous of the historic buildings; there are many others which are private homes or businesses.

The easiest building to spot in Warwick is St Mary's church, or, the Collegiate Church of St Mary, to give it its proper name. A 17th-century tower rises high above a mostly medieval nave and aisles.

The church boasts some lovely medieval brasses and the tombs of several Earls and Countesses of Warwick, and the justly famous Beauchamp Chapel. In this beautifully decorated Gothic chapel lie elaborate gilded tombs, including those of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick.

Most of the attractions of Warwick lie within the old town walls, which means that it is very easy to walk between them. A visit taking in the castle, and the major attractions can easily be undertaken in a day.

Warwick Photo Gallery

About Warwick
Address: Warwick, Warwickshire, England
Attraction Type: Town
Location map
OS: SP284648
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express


HeritageWe've 'tagged' this attraction information to help you find related historic attractions and learn more about major time periods mentioned.

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17th century (Time Period) - 18th century (Time Period) - Alfred the Great (Person) - castle (Architecture) - collegiate church (Historical Reference) - Decorated (Architecture) - Medieval (Time Period) - motte and bailey (Historical Reference) - William the Conqueror (Person) -


Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest

Warwick Castle - 0 miles (Castle) Heritage Rating

Warwick East Gate - 0.1 miles (Historic Building) Heritage Rating

Warwick, St Nicholas Church - 0.1 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick - 0.2 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Lord Leycester's Hospital - 0.2 miles (Historic Building) Heritage Rating

Warwick, East Gate and St James Chapel - 0.3 miles (Historic Building) Heritage Rating

Stoneleigh Abbey - 4.6 miles (Historic House) Heritage Rating

Kenilworth Castle - 4.6 miles (Castle) Heritage Rating

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