HEART-OF-ENGLAND

This website includes original photos, and descriptions, of the best tourist attractions in Warwickshire and the Heart of England. It covers the area of Warwick, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Kenilworth, The Forest of Arden, and Cotswolds. There is an emphasis on historical exhibits, including living history events, and on the countryside, churches, and gardens. It also includes pages about the life and works of some writers who grew up here, William Shakespeare and J R R Tolkien. And there are details of over 180 local hotels.
There is a complete index of locations featured on the Locations Index page.

Major Attractions
Stratford Tourist Guide
  Shakespeare's Warwickshire
  Tour of Stratford Area
  Shakespeare's Birthday Celebrations
  Views of the Stratford Canal
Kenilworth Castle
  Living History Events at Kenilworth Castle
  Views of Kenilworth
Warwick Castle
  Jousting at Warwick Castle
Stagecoach service 16 Bus Ride The Stagecoach service 16 Bus is service links the principal tourist attractions in Warwickshire - Stratford, Warwick, Kenilworth and Coventry (Summer season only). This page includes many additional photos of Warwick, Kenilworth, and Coventry, taken from the bus.
Countryside Views
The Cotswolds

Towns
Historic Coventry
  Tour of Coventry Area
Henley-in-Arden
Royal Leamington Spa
Alcester
Hereford
Chipping Norton

Houses and Gardens
Kiftsgate Court Garden
Hidcote Manor Garden
Packwood House Garden
Coughton Court
Baddesley Clinton Manor House
Charlecote Park
Mary Arden's House
Lower Brockhampton

Churches and Churchyards
Churches
Living Churchyards

Villages
Village Greens
Country Cottages
Temple Balsall and The Knights Templar
Dormston and Bag End
Sarehole
Rowington
Stoneleigh Village and Stoneleigh Abbey
Ilmington
Welford-on-Avon
Church Lawford and Kings Newnham
Long Itchington
Bidford on Avon
Claverdon
Wootton Wawen and The Saxon Sanctuary
Loxley and Robin of Loxley
Berkswell
Burton Green

Countryside
Forest of Arden
  Train ride through the Forest of Arden
Countryside Views
  Trees and Woods
  Leafy Lanes
  Rivers
  Swans in Warwickshire
  Canals
  Farming
  Panoramas

Other Attractions
The Rollright Stones Megalithic Monument
Chesterton Windmill and Burton Dassett
Edgehill (Edge Hill)
Robin Hood (Robin of Loxley) and Loxley
Hatton Locks

Meriden Cross
Meriden Cross
The village cross at Meriden, and its engraved plaque, which marks the Centre of England.

Except where indicated, all photographs on this site are
Heart-of-England 1998-2010.

Swans on the river at Stoneleigh
Swans at Stoneleigh

Geology of Warwickshire
Satellite Image of North Warwickshire
Satellite Image of South Warwickshire
Aerial Photos of Warwickshire
Guidebooks
Local Community Websites


More Local Attractions
With Their Own Websites

These pages will each open in a new window

Compton Verney
Ragley Hall
Blenheim Palace
Hatton Country World
Stratford Butterfly Farm
Birmingham-Stratford Steam Railway
Gloucester-Warwickshire Railway
Broadway Tower & Country Park
Westonbirt Arboretum
Guys Cliffe House (Limited opening)


Local Accommodation

Accommodation in the Heart of England
Hotels and Guest Houses in Stratford
Hotels and Guest Houses in Kenilworth
Hotels and Guest Houses in Warwick


Literary and Biographical Pages

This website also includes some pages about the life and works of some well known writers who grew up in this area, notably William Shakespeare, J R R Tolkien, and J K Rowling.
Tolkien's Warwickshire and Biography
Views around Bag End
Sarehole and Sarehole Mill
The Life of Shakespeare

And there are some illustrated essays:
The Spirit of Warwickshire


Below is a pictorial and descriptive index to the principal pages on this site.
Click on the blue links to visit the pages.


Anne Hathaways Cottage

Stratford-Upon-Avon

The Stratford Tourist Guide shows all the main points on the tourist trail around Stratford. The page also includes a brief history of the town, with more details of Shakespeare's life in the town. The Shakespeare's Warwickshire Page pictures and describes the Shakespeare villages referred to in Michael Wood's book In Search of Shakespeare. A separate page shows Shakespeare's Birthday Celebrations (St George's Day) in Stratford. The City Sightseeing (Guide Friday) Tour Page shows the sights of the Stratford area, as seen from the top of the City Sightseeing (Guide Friday) tour bus. Separate pages describe Shakespeare's Life and Shakespeare's Works.

Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth Castle was once the finest castle in England, though it is now a ruin. This page includes history, photos and maps, of Kenilworth Castle, the Abbey, and the town of Kenilworth.

Separate pages show views of Kenilworth Castle in Winter Snow, Kenilworth Castle in Spring with views of bluebells and buttercups, and Fireworks at Kenilworth Castle. During the Summer living history and historical reenactments are held at Kenilworth Castle. These are shown on the Kenilworth Castle Special Events Page.

There are some pictures of the modern town of Kenilworth on the Kenilworth Views Page.

Kenilworth Castle Special Events

Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle is the finest medieval castle in England. The Warwick Castle pages include pictures of the Castle, a history, pictures inside the Castle rooms, pictures of reenactment and living history events held at the Castle, and a review of the TV program Great Estates showing many activites behind the scenes at Warwick Castle. These pages also show St Mary's Church and Lord Leycester's Hospital.

Special events are held at Warwick Castle frequently during the Summer. Occasionally (usually at Bank Holiday weekends) these include Jousting tournaments. The Devil's Horsemen Jousting Page shows photos taken during demonstrations at Warwick Castle by The Devil's Horsemen, the world's foremost equestrian stunt team.

Warwick Castle

Stagecoach service 16 Bus

Stagecoach service 16 Bus Service between
Stratford, Warwick Castle,
Kenilworth Castle and Coventry

The Stagecoach service 16 bus service provides a convenient way to visit the main tourist attractions in Warwickshire, of Warwick Castle, Kenilworth Castle, and Coventry.

This picture shows the Stagecoach service 16 bus at its departure point in Wood Street. Stratford. There is more about the Stagecoach service 16 bus service, and many photos taken from the bus along its route here: Stagecoach service 16 Bus Service.

Godiva Procession

City of Coventry

During the 14th Century Historic Coventry was the commercial centre of the region. Coventry was one of the largest and most prosperous towns in England, ranking only with York, Bristol and London. This picture is from the modern day Godiva Procession through an old part of the town. The Historic Coventry page includes pictures and history of many of Coventry's old buildings, and also pictures from the recent Time Team excavation of the Cathedral Church of St Mary, and its Priory.

The City Sightseeing Tour of Coventry page shows the sights of the Coventry and Kenilworth area, as seen from the top of the City Sightseeing tour bus.

Coventry is internationally famous for the Old Cathedral of St Michael, destroyed during the Blitz, and the New Cathedral of St Michael built in the late 1950's. There are pictures of those buildings on the main Historic Coventry page.

Churches and Churchyards

Visiting churches and churchyards is becoming increasingly popular among both local people and tourists.

The Warwickshire Churches page shows many of Warwickshire's most interesting churches. Churches pictured include Brailes, Berkswell, Astley, Lapworth, Preston on Stour, Hampton Lucy, Ilmington, and Preston Bagot, plus others. Several churchyards are being managed to encourage wildlife. There are pictures of these churchyards and details of the scheme on the separate page Living Churchyards.

Churches and Churchyards

The Countryside

The Countryside Views page has a selection of pictures showing the varied features of the Warwickshire landscape, outside the major tourist towns, including village greens, landscape views, country churches, village pubs, rivers, woods, etc.

Separate pages show additional sets of pictures of Village Greens, Panoramas, Trees and Woods, Leafy Lanes, Rivers, Swans, Canals, Country Cottages, Village Pubs & Inns, Farming.

Countryside Views

The Cotswolds


The Cotswolds are situated about 10 miles South of Stratford-Upon-Avon. The Cotswolds are home to the most charming villages and towns in England.

The Cotswolds page includes pictures of Chipping Campden, Broadway, and the villages of Lower and Upper Slaughter.

A separate page shows scenes in Chipping Norton.

Lower Slaughter
The Rollright Stones

The Rollright Stones


The Rollright Stones are situated on the Warwickshire-Oxfordshire border above the Warwickshire village of Long Compton.

This is a sacred site, over 4000 years old, permeated with ancient history, and magical tales.


The Forest of Arden

The part of Warwickshire North-West of the Avon was the old Forest of Arden. There is more about the history of the forest, and a few pictures of the area and its woods today, on the Forest of Arden page. That page also includes sections about Shakespeare's Arden, beliefs about the Oak Forest, and a brief history of British woodlands. The Stratford to Birmingham railway runs up through the centre of this region, and there are some pictures taken from the train, and details of interesting stops along the way on the page Train ride through the Forest of Arden.

There is also a separate page about Henley-in-Arden, the main market town and former capital of Arden. And there are also more pictures taken in the Arden area on the Countryside Views page.

Baddesley Clinton



Oak trees near Stoneleigh
Grand oak trees border the road near Stoneleigh


The images of Warwickshire presented on this site are very selective. They don't show you much of the daily activities of the people who live here. In contrast, if you look through any local newspapers, these are full of images of busy people going about their lives.

What you see on this website shows something of the "Spirit of Warwickshire".

This is a Warwickshire of Swans on Rivers, of Great Oak Trees, of Knights and Chivalry, of Shakespeare, and of Ancient Stone.

The swan pictures are collected together on the Swans in Warwickshire Page.

The Spirit of Warwickshire

Swan on the Avon at Stratford


Swans on the Avon below Stratford
Swans on the broad flowing Avon below Stratford



Baddesley Clinton
and
Packwood House

Baddesley Clinton and Packwood House are two superb National Trust properties, in the heart of Arden country. Baddesley Clinton (shown here) is a romantic medieval moated manor house.

Packwood House, nearby, is a 16th Century house with fine gardens. The garden at Packwood House incorporates unusual, possibly unique, religious symbolism.

Baddesley Clinton


Hidcote Manor

Hidcote Manor
and
Kiftsgate Court

Nine miles South of Stratford, near the village of Mickleton, and within a mile of each other, are two of the best gardens in England, Hidcote Manor and Kiftsgate Court. Hidcote Manor (shown here) is another National Trust property, and is generally recognised as being one of the world's great gardens. My own preference is Kiftsgate Court, because of its views and romantic atmosphere.

Further pages show the gardens at Coughton Court, Charlecote Park, and Mary Arden's House.


Lower Brockhampton

Lower Brockhampton

The most idyllic farmhouse in the area is at Lower Brockhampton, near Bromyard, 30 miles West of Stratford.

This is a moated farmhouse set in a private estate of rolling countryside, and ancient woodlands. The Brockhampton Estate is a National Trust property.

This is a bit further away than most of the locations on this page, but well worth visiting.

Bag End Farm

Dormston and Bag End

Dormston is a small hamlet 15 miles West of Stratford.

In the 1920's Bag End Farm (shown in the photo) was owned by a woman named Jane Neave. In 1923, her nephew, J R R Tolkien, went to stay there for a period recuperating from pneumonia. Several years later Bag End and the Bagginses reappeared in Tolkien's fantasy story The Hobbit.

More pictures: Dormston and Bag End

Temple Balsall

Temple Balsall

Temple Balsall, was home of the Knights Templar, from whom it takes it name.

Welford-on-Avon

Warwickshire Villages

We have pages about several Warwickshire villages. One of the best and most interesting is Ilmington, 8 miles South of Stratford. A very picturesque village is Welford-on-Avon (shown left), 5 miles downstream from Stratford. Separate pages show Stoneleigh, a small village of brick and wood thatched cottages, lying at the junction of the river Avon and the Sowe, 8 miles upstream from Warwick. This page also has details and pictures of Stoneleigh Abbey. And there are pages showing a selection of Village Greens, Country Cottages, and Village Pubs. Also More Local Community Websites.

Royal Leamington Spa

Royal Leamington Spa is a spa town built mainly during the 19th century, the main streets laid out in planned manner, with elegant Regency and Victorian buildings. A spring was known here since Elizabethan times, but the spa became important during the late 19th century. The Pump Rooms were built in 1813. The town was visited by Queen Victoria in 1838, and was given the "Royal" status.

Parade from Jephson Gardens

Insight Guide

Guidebooks

The best local guidebook is the Insight Compact Guide - Shakespeare Country. This is a small pocket-size book, with maps, thumbnail photos, and details of virtually all local attractions. The book is laid out in the form of 8 car tours around the district.

There is a separate Insight Guide which covers the Cotswolds.

Insight Guide layout
Travelmaster Slightly similar is the Ordnance Survey Travelmaster Cotswolds Car Tours, though this has fewer photos, and less detail. It does have more detailed route directions, and is organised as 20 2-hour tours. The one book covers Warwickshire and the Cotswolds.
Travelmaster layout
Country WalksA good way to see the landscape, if you have the time and inclination, is on foot.

The best local walking guides are those by Ron Weston. A new walk is printed every Saturday in the Coventry Evening Telegraph.

Collections of these walks are occasionally published in booklet form by the Coventry Telegraph, but these booklets are only occasionally available.

Country Walks layout
Walking in Warwickshire Walking in Warwickshire is a very small book, literally pocket-sized. It describes 30 walks over the entire county. The walks are between 3 and 7 miles each. You still need a car to get to the starting point for each walk.
Walking in Warwickshire layout


There are also some books detailing local walks,
written by local author John Roberts, privately printed,
and detailed on his website: Walkways.


Getting Here

The M40 Motorway, shown here near Lapworth, gives easy access to Warwickshire from London. The journey from London up the M40 takes about an hour.
M40 Motorway
Within Warwickshire, a major trunk road, the A46, links Stratford, Warwick, Kenilworth and Coventry. This shows the A46 near the Kenilworth turnoff.

The A46 meets the M40 Motorway from London at the Longbridge Island, a major intersection, between Warwick and Stratford.

A separate page give more details of coach and train routes from London to Stratford, and routes from Heathrow and Birmingham International airports: Getting from London and Heathrow to Stratford

A46 Trunk Road


The satellite image at the right shows some of the locations pictured and described on this website.

At the heart of the region is the county town and Warwick Castle (W). To the South West of Warwick lies Stratford Upon Avon (S), home of Shakespeare. In the North is the City of Coventry (C), from the Middle Ages the commercial center of the Midlands. Between Warwick and Coventry lies Kenilworth (K), formerly site of the King's castle, the most magnificant castle in England, but now a ruin. On the edge of this photo lies Henley-in-Arden (H), the main market town and former capital of Arden. To the West of Coventry lies Temple Balsall (T), home of the Knights Templar. The Cotswolds lie just off the photo, to the South.

Bigger images:
Larger Satellite View of North Warwickshire
Larger Satellite View of South Warwickshire

Satellite View of Warwickshire

Satellite View of Warwickshire


Local Accommodation

The main accomodation page lists 130 hotels, guest houses, inns, and farms, in the Heart of England. The page shows a wide range of accommodation, from large city-centre hotels, to small bed & breakfasts, and romantic countryside hotels:
Accommodation in the Heart of England.
The photos on that page also give you an idea of the range of properties and locations in the area.

Separate pages detail 50 in-town hotels and guest houses, in the principal tourist centres:
Hotels and Guest Houses in Stratford-Upon-Avon
Hotels and Guest Houses in Kenilworth
Hotels and Guest Houses in Warwick

Hotels

Cow Parsley
A leafy lane in rural Warwickshire.
During May cow parsley is a familiar sight,
lining most rural roads throughout the county.
Historical Photos, Maps and Documents
of Coventry and Warwickshire
There is a large collection of historical images of Warwickshire available on-line at Windows on Warwickshire.

There is also a collection of pen and ink drawings of many notable buildings in the area, made in the 1900's by W A Green, at Drawings by W A Green.

All historical documents, of all kinds, covering Coventry and Warwickshire, are lodged in either the Coventry Records Office, or the Warwickshire County Records Office. The abstracts of all these documents are available in a searchable on-line database: Access to Archives. This database also covers many other parts of the United Kingdom, and you need to select Coventry or Warwickshire on the search menu.

Family History
If you are interested in family history in the area, then there is a private researcher based in Coventry here: Family History Researcher. A research service for records in the Warwickshire County Records Office is available here: Tracing Warwickshire Ancestors, and there is also The Warwickshire Family History Society.

Local Community Websites
Alcester
Ashorne
Ashow Village
Balsall Common
Barford
Burton Green
Church Lawford & Kings Newnham
Eathorpe
Kineton
Harbury & Ladbroke
Henley-in-Arden

Lapworth Village
Leek Wootton & Guys Cliffe
Oxhill
Pillerton Hersey with Pillerton Priors
Rowington
Snitterfield
Stratford District Council
Thurlaston
Wellesbourne Community
Whitnash Town Council

Tourism & Countryside Websites
Heart of England Tourist Board
South Warwickshire Tourist Board
Visit Northerm Warwickshire
English Heritage
National Trust
National Gardens Scheme
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
Warwick Castle Official Site
Heart of England Way
Campaign to Protect Rural England
Warwickshire Wildlife Trust
Pictures of England

I am always interested to hear readers' views about this site, or if you have any queries about any of the subjects covered, or the area.
E-mail