This weekend we went on a little family travel adventure in Warwick. If you’re into your history, or even if you’ve ever just had a cursory glance at a Philippa Gregory book then you’ll know that while London was technically the capital of late Medieval England, the Midlands is where all the action happened. From Warwick Castle, to Shakespeare’s birthplace, Kenilworth castle (with Ludlow, Tewkesbury and Leicester all a drivable distance) not to mention huge country manors in every direction – this area is a must for anyone into the Tudors or The Wars Of The Roses. I’m a Yorkist if you’re wondering…
We stayed at the amazing 16th century Walton Hall Hotel Spa, part of the @mercurehotels group. We knew we were in for a treat as soon as we passed the gates onto the drive up to the hall. Every part of the grounds gives you a real ‘wow’ moment, and that’s before you even get to the main event – the hall – which is of course, spectacular. There’s a full history of the house available from reception – the divorce scandal part is SHOCKING! How mad is it that when these people built these houses they had no idea that plebs like us would be roaming around them one day, and also how rich must they have been that even the really rich these days can’t afford the upkeep on these buildings without opening them up to the public or turning them into hotels. Mind boggling.
We arrived late and went straight to The Orangery for a meal (I managed to resist the maccies and Krispy Kremes in the services on the way down, so naturally rewarded myself with dessert – worth it). The hotel offers bed and breakfast or dinner bed and breakfast so even though it’s a set menu, it doesn’t detract from the quality at all. It’s well presented, tastes gorgeous and there are healthy options. The super food salad was perfect.
The rooms are huge and come with all the fab little extras like a nespresso machine as well as the usual tea and coffee facilities. There’s also a bath rather than just a shower which was a huge plus point for me and you know a place is posh when they give you dressing gowns.
The grounds are amazing to have a walk around and the conservatory style bar overlooking the river is the perfect place to watch the sun go down with a gin and slimline. It’s all very Downton Abbey.
Things to do nearby
There’s SO many things to do nearby, you just can’t fit them all in, at least not into one trip. We got up early and had two full days exploring but even then, there was so much more we wanted to see.
Again, home of the kingmaker himself, this place is steeped in history and due to the fact it’s been owned by several extremely wealthy and influencial families throughout the years, it’s really well preserved. They’ve got an amazing set up here and there’s tons to do for the kids – tours, a maze, jousting, falconry, dungeons and archery just to name a few. We took the baby and she was a bit too young to appreciate it all so we’d probably recommend it for children who are a little older. They have glamping on site in a knights village which looks boss as well. Tickets are a bit pricier than your average castle, but then this isn’t your average castle. Adults £26.50 (without dungeon access) but up to 30% off when you book in advance online 👌🏽
Amazing finish to a weekend exploring Warwickshire with a visit to a @nationaltrust property Charlecote Park – an amazing Tudor manor where Lizzy 1st, the original boss babe, once stayed. In the photos below if you have a look at the ground floor window on the right, next to the little tower – that’s the room where she stayed. They’ve got some really informative tour guides who definitely taught me a few things I didn’t know – for example, a lot of Tudor houses were built in a H shape for Henry VIII and then E shapes when Elizabeth I came to the throne. When you’re 60 you get a bus pass but when you’re 30 you deffo should get a National Trust card, there’s so many great places to go on the weekend, especially if you love your history. We’ve got Speke Hall right on our doorstep & Rufford Hall isn’t far either and an annual pass pays for itself within a couple of visits.
Stratford Upon Avon & Shakespeare’s Birthplace
We actually didn’t even know this was nearby until we drove through it on the way down. The town itself is quite big with a lot of high street shops so if you needed to nip out for a few bits, this is the place to go. They have a huge market of a weekend too. Expect to see a lot of Shakespeare references such as a butty shop called ‘The food of love’. Yeh ok, Stratford Upon Avon, Shakespeare was from there, we get it. You wouldn’t catch Liverpool trading off its most famous export or anything…. 👀
Tickets for the birthplace are just shy of £20 for adults but that includes access to his birthplace, his daughters house, his mums Tudor working farm and a few other places AND it’s valid for a whole year.
Just outside Bill Shakesey’s house, wbu?
We ran out of time to visit Kenilworth and instead had to settle for a quick drive past and a read through of the Wikipedia page on the way home and to say its history is interesting is an understatment. It was used as a base during the Wars of the Roses for Margaret of Anjou and mad King Henry and Elizabeth the ‘Virgin Queen’ was received here by her fella Robert Dudley too. She refused to marry him though…. far too much scandal about his wife being found dead in suspicious circumstances. Wise girl.