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Anne Hathaway's Cottege            This well preserved example of early domestic architecture with its picturesque thatched roof was the home of William Shakespeare's wife before her marriage.  Her family the Hathaways lived here close to the Village of Shottery for some years.    
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Black Country Museum                 The Black Country, black by day and red by night, cannot be matched for vast and varied production by any sphere of equal radius on the surface of the globe--American Consul 1868.  The sights & sounds of the past are waiting at the museum.  A living tribute to the skills and enterprise of the people of the Black Country.  Nail making, chain making, glass cutting, baking, boat building, iron working cooking, shopping.
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Bletchley Park (Code Breaking)  (Known as Britain's best-kept secret.)  This World War Two, code breaking centre was a working community during 1939-1945-employing close on 12,000 men and women.  Yet so secret they could not talk to even their loved ones about their work.  It was from here that important German and Japanese codes and ciphers were broken.  It is estimated the work done here ended the war 2 years early and therefore saved countless thousands of lives.  The elegant Victorian mansion also houses an extensive collection of Churchill memorabilia.
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Burghley House                              The largest & grandest house of the First Elizabethan age.  Built between 1565 & 1587 by William Cecil.  The house is still a family home yet full of superb paintings and antiques, a treasure to feast upon.  The art collection is one of the most impressive 17th Century Italian painting collections in the world. With over 300 great works on display in the state rooms, which also includes work by Gainsborough, Kneller and Lawrence.
The tour will allow access to over 18 state rooms filled with superb porcelain from all over Europe and a collection of early Japanese ceramics, together with furniture of the highest quality including a bed once used by Queen Victoria.  Try and find time to wander in the grounds, acres of park land.  Originally landscaped by Capability Brown.  Mature trees and plenty of space for the youngsters to let off some steam.
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Coventry                                            Probably owes its origins to the erection in the 7th Century of an Anglo Saxon convent.  However it was the later Benedictine Abbey founded by Leofric, Earl of Mercia in the 11th Century that gave the town its impetus to grow.  It was granted its first charter in 1553.  The mechanization of the 19th Century brought the manufacture of sewing machines and bicycles right into the city.  The Daimler company produced the first English motorcar in 1898 and the car industry increased rapidly, giving rise in turn to aircraft production.  It was the aircraft production Germany came to bomb in 1940, it was a cold November night in 1940 when much of the city was wiped out by a devastating fire bombing air raid, thousands of people killed and injured, the Cathedral was also destroyed, leaving only a tower and a spire standing.
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Coventry's Priory Undercroft      Offers a fascinating glimpse into the best preserved remains of Coventry's original Benedictine Monastery, Dissolved by Henry VIII.  Discovered and Excavated by the Coventry Archaeological Team as part of the Pheonix initiative, Stone vaulted rooms, a courtyard, doorways and passages are open for visitors to experience by guided tours.
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Crown Derby Pottery                     With a history dating back to 1745, Crown Derby China has a historical and world wide reputation for beauty, quality and excellence which even now is still celebrated by collectors and connoisseurs.  The china made today still uses the same skills and techniques handed down through the generations.  Each piece of pottery is the accumulation of years of craftsmanship and experience.  Enjoy the factory tour as one views at first hand the working of a piece of clay through to firing and eventual hand decoration.
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Hay - on - Wye                                  The small marches town of Hay - On - Wye is the Northern most part for the Brecon Beacons national park and stands on the Southern side of the River Wye.  In local terms, the town was known as "The Hay", Hay meaning a fenced or hedged enclosure.  In Norman times for administration purposes it was divided up into English Hay and Welsh Hay.  In modern times Hay is known throughout the world as the town of books. 
Anyone strolling around the town cannot help but notice the gateway of the Norman Castle which towers above the narrow streets lying beneath its walls.  The history of the town and the castle are inextricably bound together since William De Breos II, one of the most infamously treacherous of the Norman Marcher Lords built the present castle in 1200. 
The castle and town during nearly eight hundred years have suffered equally at the hands of the Welsh patriots, English Lords and reining Monarchs.  The Medieval town walls were erected in 1236 when a grant was received to fortify the town.  There is little trace left of the walls. 
In modern times Hay has become world famous for its second hand and Atiquarian bookshops.  Founded by Richard Booth
in 1961 it has grown steadily to become the worlds largest second hand book centre.  At the present time there are twenty two major bookshops in the town, some specialising while others carry general stock.
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Henley - in - Arden                          A delightful old market town consisting of a High Street 1 mile long with nearly every type of English domestic architecture represented.  Once a stronghold of Plantagenet power, Henley belonged to the De Mountford Family.  When Simon De Mountford was killed at the Battle of Evesham, Henley was pillaged and burnt to the ground.  Henley has many ancient Inns, among them the White Swan dating from the early 1600s.  The most interesting buildings are on the North side of the main street, the Old George and the Blue Bell inn, part of which is 15th century.  The White House is a good example of a 16th Century dwelling.
Where the High Street narrows, rises the tower of the Church of St John the Baptist.  It is purely 15th Century.  The roof has fine stone corbels, tie beams and unusual queen posts.
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Hereford                                            Situated close to the Welsh/English border on the banks of the River Wye.  This cathedral city was founded in about 700A.D.  The original fortifications intended to protect Saxon Hereford from the Welsh.  The area is famous for cider making, the special bitter sweet apples popular in the region are gathered in the Autumn and delivered to the factories where the process of fermenting, filtering and blending takes place.  There has been a Cathedral at Hereford since the city was founded, most of the present building dating from the 11/12th Centuries.  The Cathedral owes much to the patronage of King Offa of Mercia who built the famous Dyke which runs approx 6 miles to the West of the city and which defined the border between England and Wales.  It was Offa who was responsible for the beheading of King Ethelbert King of East Anglia.
Hereford: whose name means “Army Fordfrom the Olde English “Here” (Army) and “Ford” (Ford).  An old Roman road crosses the river at Hereford, so we are sure this is where the name came from.  Recorded in 958 exactly as it is now.  The Olde English words accurately preserved.
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Hidcote manor gardens                Designed & established by the great horticulturist Major Lawrence Johnston, this series of small gardens within a whole garden is internationally famous.  Each room as one can call each section has a unique character all of is own and is separated from its neighbours by walls and hedges of different species.  The garden contains many rare shrubs and trees together with outstanding herbaceous borders, old roses and plant species from all over the world.
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Kenilworth castle                           Started as a wooden fortress in 1112 by Geoffrey De Clinton. The Keep which still stands today was built in 1162. King John visited several times during his reign. In 1199 the De Clinton family surrendered all rights to the King.  Henry III gave it to his Sister who was married to Simon De Montfort.  In 1361 the castle came into the hands of Blanche of the Lancastrian house who then married John of Gaunt.  It was John that transformed the building from a fortress to a grand castle.  The castle passed from John to his son Henry IV and remained a royal residence till Elizabeth 1st gave it to Robert Dudley.  This was the height of influence at Kenilworth.  Queen Elizabeth visited many times.  But after Roberts death the castle went into slow decline.  During the Civil War Cromwell ordered the castle to be dismantled.  After the restoration it passed into the hands of the Clarendon family who eventually passed it into the care of the state. A magnificent sight to see, when it’s red sandstone towers, keep and wall glow brightly in the morning sun.
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Leather Museum                             Walsall has been and still is the leather capital of Britain.  This museum is dedicated to the thousands of people who have made leather making in Walsall a tradition stretching back through history.  A fully working museum where craftsmen and women demonstrate their skills in this ancient craft in workshops of an original factory building.
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Ledbury                                             Standing on a ridge running parallel to the nearby Malvern hills.  This ancient town is midway between Hereford and Tewkesbury.  The market place is dominated by a delightful black and white house timbered in herringbone pattern raised on 16 columns of oak timber.  It was built between 1617 and 1655.  Cobbled church lane connects the market place and the church and epitomises Tudor and Stuart streets.  Its half timbered houses with overhanging upper stories and a lived in air enhances the beauty of the area.
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Lichfield                                            A very pleasant small very English town.  Made famous by the cathedral which sits in a lovely close just on the edge of town.  The close contains some fine buildings, including the Deanery dating from the time of William and Mary.  The Bishops House and the Palace dating back to 1687 and which is now used as the Cathedral School.  These superb buildings surround the Cathedral and together with the most attractive lawns provide a wonderful back drop to the Cathedral architecture.  It is said by many to be the most complete close of any English Cathedral.  The town as a cobbled market square, narrow streets and many links with Dr Johnson, (his birthplace on the corner of Breadmarket Street) in Beacon Street is the house where Dr Erasmus Darwin lived (grandfather of Charles).  At the far end of market square is a memorial to Edward Wightman, who was burnt at the stake there for heresy on 11th April 1612, the last person so to die in England.  A commercial town rather than industrial with strong links with the land.  Obvious when its position set in the midst of rolling countryside is considered. 
Lichfield 
not an English word but much older, probably Celtic in origin, meaning Grey Forest from two words related to the modern Welsh Llwyd (Grey) and Coed (Wood, forest). the name was first recorded in the 4th Century as Letoceto (Roman). In year 730 as Liccidfeld and Lichesfeld in 1130.
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Ludlow                                           The castle was built in 1085 by either the Earl of Shrewsbury Robert Montgomery or Roger De Lacy.  Built to ward off those marauding Welsh natives.  The massive structure stands today much as it did when it was built and seen by Edward IV, Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII's brother Prince Arthur who died here.  The massive structure stands today much as it did when it was built and seen by Edward IV, Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII's brother Prince Arthur who died here.  The parish Church of St Laurence is one of the largest parish Churches in England.  Largely 15th Century. Interesting Misericords in the church choir.  The East window in the Chancel is 30ft high by 18ft wide and depicts the life, history and miracles of the patron Saint in 27 separate scenes containing approx 300 figures.  The finest thoroughfare in Ludlow is broad street where every building dates back to the 14/15th Centuries.  Tucked into a yard off Church Street is the Rose and Crown first licensed in the 16th century.  The Feathers Hotel in the bull ring is a lovely 17th Century half timbered building. it is believed the entrance door is more than 300 years old.  Few towns in England have as much to show for their history as Ludlow.  Enjoy it in the time you have.
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New Art Gallery, Walsall                Opened in February 2000, this new Millennium Gallery was made possible by a grant of nearly 16 million pounds from the National Lottery.  Built to contain the wonderful Garman-Ryan collection donated in 1973 to the people of Walsall by Lady Kathleen Garman widow of the sculptor Sir Jacob Epstein.  A superb collection containing works by Matisse, Modigliani, Picasso, Augustus John, Epstein himself to name a few, plus many more items donated by friends of the sculptor.  Lady Epstein was always anxious that the collection should find its home somewhere in the West Midlands where she had been born. not in London which she considered already had enough cultural riches.  Walsall therefore became the proud caretaker of this important collection
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Peterborough                                  A prosperous City and an important market town.  In its centre is the market place where the Guildhall built in 1671 dominates.  Nearby is St John the Baptist’s church built in 1402.  The best Georgian Houses are in Priestgate on the corner of which is the three storied Angel Hotel.  The Town Hall in Bridge Street was built in the 1930s in a mock Georgian style.  Peterborough:first mentioned in a document of 750 as MedeshamstediAnglo Saxon settlement probably meaning homestead by the Whirlpool.  Two hundred years later the settlement was destroyed by the Danes but was rebuilt in the 10th Century.  In the Doomsday book the place was simply known as Burg.  However a document of the 12th Century defines the name as Medeshamstede Qui Modo Burgdicitur (taking the meaning to be Medeshampstead which is now only called Buirg)  By 1333 the city became known as “Petreburgh”

Repton                                               One of the most ancient places in England.  Very important during the 8th Century when it was the principal home of the Kings of Mercia.  The first recorded documentation of a village was in 674.  Recent excavations in the Churchyard have also uncovered the existence of a mass grave of something like 150 warriors.  It is believed they may have been part of the Anglo Saxon army defeated by the Vikings in 874A.D. when they set up winter quarters here.  The village now famous for its school (three Archbishops of Canterbury this century are connected with the school) William Temple, Geoffrey Fisher were both headmasters & Michael Ramsey a pupil.  The first view of the school is dominated by the local church and close by the Augustinian Priory built in the 12/13th Centuries. 
St. Wystan's Church is the home of a Crypt which is possibly one of the most important Anglo Saxon pieces of architecture surviving in England.  The crypt is of exceptional interest, it has a vaulted ceiling in nine bays supported on round arches.  Originally built to become the final resting place of the Mercian Kings the crypt below the church has been shown to be a simple mausoleum for the Anglo Saxon Kings, Ethelbald (757) Wiglaf (840) and of course his grandson Wystan murdered in 849.  It is believed to have been converted into a shrine for pilgrims after the burial there of St Wystan in 850.  It is written a column of light shot to heaven from the place where he was murdered & remained visible for 30 days.  Sir John Betjeman once described the crypt as "holy air encased in stone".  Evidence now exists into believing that parts of the chancel and nave do date back to the time of Ethelbald and Wiglaf, with other parts of the church dating from the 13th and 15th Centuries.
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Shrewsbury                                      Is one of the best preserved Medieval towns in the country, probably dating back to the 5th Century when the residents of Wroxeter (Roman-Viroconium) were looking for a more easily defended position during the uneasy years after the Romans left.  It was just 5 miles from their town to this near island situated in a loop in the River Severn.  It is thought they carried the stone from their village and built a new village here.  The name Shrewsbury is thought to have come into use during the 8th Century when the town became part of the Kingdom of Mercia.  Scrobbesbyrig, the Anglo Saxon name probably meant the fortified place of a man called Scrobb.  The town grew in importance during the Middle Ages as an important crossing of the river and is rich in history as many of its buildings will testify.
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Southwell Minster                            The Manor of Southwell was given to the Archbishop of York in 956.  It was not long before a college of Canons was formed and as a collegiate church served as a outpost of York until 1840, when it was reduced to little more than a Parish Church.  However in 1884 it became the See for a new Diocese covering both Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.  Eventually Derbyshire became a separate Diocese but Southwell had now become a Cathedral in its own right.  The earliest church on the site was Saxon but nothing remains of this building except a small area of tessellated pavement in the South Transept.  The Western Towers, Nave, Central Tower and Transepts remain very much as they where built in the 12th Century.  The early English Quire was completed about 1250 and replaced an earlier Norman original.  The Chapter House is exceptional. It is octagonal and only 31ft in diameter, no central pillar and the vault is a remarkable star design.  If one looks outside one will see massive buttresses taking the strain of this wonderfully unsupported vault.  The Minster is set in a lovely grassed churchyard and is remarkably well preserved for a mostly Norman building.  The Minster is well loved by the community and serves both as a busy Parish Church and Diocese
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Stratford upon Avon                       Situated on the West bank of the River Avon.  Many 15th and 16th Century timber framed houses still exist and in many of its streets the essential character of a thriving market town still purveys.  However it can not be denied that it is justly famous because on or about 23rd April 1564 William Shakespeare was born here and a few days later baptised at the Parish Church of Holy Trinity.  There is however evidence of a Bronze age settlement in the area and a Romano British village.  A Monastery was founded in Anglo Saxon days and by the year 1196 the town was granted the right to hold a weekly market.  The town name means ford by a Roman road.  In this case over the River Avon and the Roman road is the one joining the Roman settlements of Alcester and Tiddington.  The ford was actually at the point where Bridgefoot Crosses the River now.  The name was recorded as Stretford approx 700 years ago.
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Shakespeare Birthplace Museum         The Cottage was the childhood home of William Shakespeare.  The cottage is authentically furnished throughout with both original and replica items from this time period of his life.  To the rear is a lovely garden and adjoining is a superb exhibition charting his professional and private life including a first edition of his colleted plays published in 1623.
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Stamford                                            This quiet town built largely of mellowed local stone has a long and historic background.  In Danish times it was the selected capital of the Fens area and one of the original five Boroughs of the Danelaw.  The town charter was granted by Henry III in 1254 but received quite allot of damage during the Wars of the Roses in the 15th Century.  The town does have the finest collection of Medieval Churches of any small town in England and really does try to keep them all open;  St Mary, St George, St Martin and All Saints together with excellent examples of Queen Anne Houses and Georgian Mansions.
The town also as a profusion of groups of Almshouses (provided for old people) known locally as “Callises” these where built by rich wool merchants.
The oldest building in
Stamford is St Leonard’s Priory founded in the 7th Century by Wilfred Bishop of York.
Daniel Lambert supposedly the biggest Englishman ever is buried in St Martins Churchyard he died in 1839 and at the time of his death he was 5ft 11inches tall, with a waist of 9feet 4inches but weighed 53 stone.
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Waddesdon Manor                          Built at the end of the 19th Century for Baron Ferdinand De Rothschild to entertain his guests and display his vast collection of art treasures.  The French renaissance style Chateau Houses possibly one of the finest collections of French 18th Century decorative arts in the world, carpets, porcelain, tapestries, furniture, portraits, gold boxes, buttons and a superb choiseul sevres dessert service.  Landscaped Victorian gardens surround the house and add a touch of elegance to the whole landscape.
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Walsall                                                The town has a long history with its first Charter awarded in 1159.  The roll of town mayors goes back to 1377 and its association with the Earls of Warwick depicted by the towns coat of arms which incorporates the Warwick crest of the bear and ragged staff.  The crypt of the church on the hill St Matthews dates back to the early 13th Century.  Originally the town grew up around the base of the hill with the church the dominant feature.  Famous for centuries as the centre of the leather industry the street market again on the hill has stood there for nearly a thousand years and is still held on three days of the week, it is one of the best open air markets in the country.  Walsall is also famous for its connections with John Wesley and of course Bishop Francis Asbury (founding father of the American Methodist Church) who was born and lived just a few minutes from the town.  Now a thriving Black Country town with diverse industry and commerce, during the 19th Century it was known as a town with a thousand chimneys.

Walsall art gallery
        Opened in February 2000, this new Millennium gallery was made possible by a grant of nearly 16 million pounds from the national lottery.  Built to contain the wonderful Garman-Ryan collection donated in 1973 to the people of Walsall by Lady Kathleen Garman widow of the sculptor Sir Jacob Epstein.  A superb collection containing works by Matisse, Modigliani, Picasso, Augustus John, Epstein himself to name a few.  Plus many more items donated by friends of the sculptor.  Lady Epstein was always anxious that the collection should find its home somewhere in the West Midlands where she had been born.  Not in London which she considered already had enough cultural riches.  Walsall therefore became the proud caretaker of this important collection.
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Warwick                                             The town stands on a North rise from the River Avon which is crossed by two bridges, Castle Bridge and the old bridge in the castle grounds.  It was this dominant situation that accounted for its early importance.  Apart from the castle the most impressive piece of architecture left in the town is the lovely 14th Century Church of St Mary with its 174ft tower and pinnacle.  Situated on the site of an early Norman church.  A number of the Beauchamp family who held the title Earls of Warwick are buried here, the Beauchamp Chapel is incomparable.  Some most delightful pre 1694 houses are to be found in Castle Street.  Outstanding is the isolated timbered house of Thomas Okam which carefully restored is now the doll museum.  Most famous of all the remaining Medieval houses is Lord Leycester`s Hospital, pre 14th Century, situated by Warwicks West Gate, originally the Guild House of St George.  Certainly one of the most unspoilt county towns in England.
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Warwick Castle                                Warwick must compare favourably with any of the great fortress houses of Europe.  The outlines of the original motte or keep with its bailey which included the domestic buildings are still visible.  None of the present buildings however date back before the 13th Century.  The outstanding buildings are Caesar's Tower, the gatehouse or clock tower, Guys Tower which is 128ft high and the South range living quarters dramatically set above the winding river.  The gardens were laid out by Capability Brown who began work in 1753.  The old bridge across the Avon was built late in the 14th Century and has romantically overgrown arches.
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Wedgwood                                        Founded in 1759 by Josiah Wedgwood. In time Wedgwood would revolutionise the pottery industry the world over.  The Wedgwood visitor centre brings together all the developments from the stunning early works in the museum right through to the modern methods used today but still based on crafts passed on through the centuries.  Take your time on the factory tour, spend sometime in the demonstration area, see the artistic designs of yester-year then maybe a special purchase in the shop.
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Wellingborough                               A residential town first mentioned in the Doomsday book and granted market rights by King John in 1201.  Sheep Street and High Street have many old buildings and a 15th Century tithe barn. The two old inns are the Hind and Golden Lion.  Cromwell stayed at the Hind on his way to the Battle of Naseby during the Civil War. 
Two churches of note:
        Firstly St Hallows standing in a tree shaded Churchyard parts dating back over 600years, the roof, screens and stalls with misericords are all 15th Century.  The Church also has a fine East window.
        Secondly St Marys a Victorian Church built by Sir Ninian Comper with a typical brilliantly coloured interior.
Wellingborough: a name that actually means “fortified place of Waendel`s people”  first recorded in the doomsday book as Wendlesberie
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Woburn Abbey                                 Built on the site of a Cistercian Abbey, this superb 18th Century mansion stands in 3,000 acres of parkland where some 1,000 deer roam.  Since 1574 it has been the home of the Dukes of Bedford.  It is presently occupied by the Marques & Marchioness of Tavistock and their family.  The house is complete with many works of art in a collection consisting of Canaletto, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Reynolds and Gainsborough.  In the Canaletto room are 21 views of Venice by Antonio Canale.  The collection is further enhanced by English and French period furniture together with English, continental and oriental porcelain.  14 state apartments are on view and some private apartments when not in use by the family.
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Worcester                                          Worcester a city with a river, cathedral, famous pottery and history around every corner.  Situated in the centre of the county and built on the banks of the River Severn.  The area has known many marauding armies using the town as a base and river crossing.  Romans, Anglo Saxons, Danes and the Welsh have all contributed to its colourful history.  The Civil War inflicted  terrible damage, it was the first city to declare for the King and the last to surrender in 1646.  It also saw in 1651 the final battle for Cromwell when Charles I was completely defeated.  The Cathedral was started in 1084 and is a beautiful place of worship.  Many interesting houses are situated in the city some dating back over 500 years, however today the cities main claim to fame must surely be the home of the Royal Worcester Porcelain works situated near the Cathedral right in the centre of the city.
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Web Link to Worcester Diocese

Worcester Porcelain                      Famous for its bone china since 1751 when its founder Dr John Wall promised, "porcelain so precise as to be easily distinguished from other known English Porcelain". the company has been in continuous production ever since.  The Dyson Perrins museum houses the worlds largest collection of Worcester Porcelain including pieces made during the first year of production.  A feast for the eyes to feed upon whether a connoisseur or just a lover of fine artistry.
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