Warwickshire is known as being home to one of the most famous places in England, Stratford upon Avon, where Shakespeare was born. But beyond that the county sites aren’t too well known, so in this post I’m going to take you away from Stratford and on a historical weekend tour in to Warwickshire’s towns, stately homes and castles. When visiting the county, we stayed in Warwick itself as a base and drove out to see most of the things on this list. If you want to visit everywhere on this itinerary you will need a car as public transport in the area is limited – and of course, if you want to see Stratford as well, make it a 3 day trip and add it on as it’s only a short 15 minute drive away.
Things to do
Day 1 – Explore Warwick itself
A. Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle dates back to Medieval times and was initially built by William the Conqueror in 1068, but was rebuilt extensively in the 14th Century. It’s perhaps most famous for being the home of Richard Neville, The Kingmaker, during the 1400s – he imprisoned Edward IV here and attempted to rule in his name. He died during one of the Wars of the Roses, The Battle of Barnet, fighting against the King. Interestingly, he prepared for the Battle at Warwick Castle and there is an exhibit which tells you all about this.
Also at the castle today you can climb the battlements, visit the Great Hall, explore the castle as it would have been in the 1800s, pay a visit to a real trebuchet and explore the gardens. It’s great for children as well with lots of fun exhibits and games everywhere.
B. Lord Leycester Hospital
I was totally blown away with this incredible place. Right in the centre of Warwick lies an ancient building, built between the 13th and 17th Centuries, that is one of the best examples of Medieval architecture left in the country. Since the 14th Century it’s been a ‘brotherhood’ supporting ex-servicemen. The soldiers living within the walls are known as Brethren and there are Brethren and a Master still to this day, as there has been for the last 450 years. They dress in ceremonial uniforms and run tours through the building (their house, so please be super respectful), and also run a public café where you can eat and socialise with the community. It really is such a special place.
C. Warwick town centre
Warwick town centre is a good place to stroll around. You could pay a visit to one of the lovely churches, or even the Town’s Museum, or just enjoy browsing the shops and taking in the ancient architecture round every corner.
D. Indulge in a delicious dinner
After a busy day exploring, it’s time to enjoy some food. Warwick has a whole range of options, but if you’re looking for something a bit different then Aqua Lebanese is a treat. With traditional Lebanese eats, and strictly no alcohol, the food is absolutely delicious and the mocktails a treat.
Day 2 – Further Afield
A. Baddesley Clinton
Baddesley Clinton is a beautiful stately home which was built in around the 13th century. It was used as a private home until the 1980s when it was passed to the National Trust. The house is special because it is moated, making for a very picturesque setting, and because inside there is a Catholic chapel. After the Reformation, it seems the owners remained Catholic and hid many Catholic priests in the house to help them escape persecution.
B. Packwood House
Packwood House is just a 5 minute drive away from Baddesley Clinton. Another gorgeous stately home, this one is Tudor and is famous for its Yew Tree garden. It’s a great place for a walk around the lake and exploring all the gardens. You could choose to have lunch here before heading on to Kenilworth as the on site cafe is lovely.
C. Kenilworth Castle
The history doesn’t stop on this itinerary and after two ancient houses it’s time for a Castle! Kenilworth is a short drive away from Packwood House and is home the Kenilworth Castle. The Castle dates back again to the Norman conquest, but what you see today was mainly developed in Tudor times. The castle is most famous as being the home of Robert Dudley, Queen Elizabeth I’s ‘favourite’.
Dudley tried to woo Elizabeth with a 19 day party at Kenilworth Castle in 1575 (following the mysterious death of his wife!), but she was having none of it and remained the ‘Virgin Queen’. He married her cousin Lettice instead.
Kenilworth itself is also worth a stroll around as it’s full of pretty thatched cottages and has a nice high street with some great pubs to stop in for a drink.
D. Leamington Spa (incl. dinner)
After visiting Kenilworth, drive on to Leamington Spa for the evening – another historic town in the area. Whilst here we chose to play an Escape Room and then have dinner at the delicious Thai Elephant (the best Thai food I’ve ever eaten and you have to try the chocolate crunch dessert). There are also lots of lovely bars which do gin tasting, wine tasting, or just great cocktails.
You could then also spend a full day in Stratford upon Avon discovering Shakespeare, river boat rides and much more to make this a 3 day break. You can find my Stratford upon Avon post HERE.
And that brings an end to my guide to a weekend in Warwick. What do you think? Would you want to visit this area of England? Let me know in the comments below, and stay safe and happy travelling everyone!