I will give you fair warning: this is going to be a long posting! Everywhere I looked I saw old buildings, beautiful countryside, and interesting things; I couldn’t refrain from taking several pictures – 876 to be exact. I went through 2 camera batteries and had to resort to my cell phone at the end. Now, before you start growing worried, I didn’t upload all those photos here…but it was difficult to narrow it down. Maybe it is just me, reliving the magic of a beautiful day. So let me back up a bit and start at the beginning:
Before going to bed the night before I looked over the next day’s plans. I was a bit stressed out as it required another bus, in fact the only bus. Last winter when I was making my plans and fitting everything together, one of my big focal points was to make my way to Beausale where my father’s ancestors came from. Now, Beausale isn’t a very big place – you’d be hard pressed to even call it a village; it is a collecting of a few farms and that is it. But twice a week there is a bus that makes a run to each of these little places in the area to give opportunity for the elderly and handicapped to go to the grocery store or pharmacy, etc. It makes a loop once in the morning and then once in the evening on Wednesdays and Saturdays. My internet research told me I could catch the train out of Warwick to a little place called Lapworth (a small village with a school, a convenience store, a garage, and a post office) and catch the bus on its morning loop through the different communities and get off at the stop for Beausale where I could then walk to another village and catch the train back to Warwick later that day. Everything was hinging on this one bus, there was only one opportunity to get it right. (See my adventure trying to catch a bus to my other ancestor’s village here.) Maybe I should walk? It would be about 5 hours of walking briskly and my feet are already sore and blistered, and I was hoping to see a place or two around Warwick before it closed for the evening, too. No, I would stick with my original plan.
That morning I slipped quietly out of my room and made my way through the length of Warwick towards the train station.
There was a Sainsbury’s grocery store near the station, so I left myself enough time to enjoy the early morning walk through the town and to find something for breakfast and lunch at the store. (I must say, I have enjoying the ease of finding dairy-free food in England, and the prices aren’t bad – you aren’t punished for having an allergy or restrictive diet.) Purchases in hand, I made my way to the station and caught my train. Lapworth was just a platform, and I imagined the commuters on their way to work in Birmingham were wondering why this lady was getting off at this barren piece of track.
I ate my breakfast while waiting for the bus. The scheduled time came and went…and finally I saw it coming up the road. I pretty near jumped in front of it waving my arms back and forth over my head to make sure he was going to stop. As I boarded I told him and the conductor who helps the elderly/handicapped board the bus where I was looking to get off at, as they don’t normally stop there unless they know ahead of time. They asked if they needed to pick me up there that evening when they made their second loop around and were puzzled and concerned about me when I said no. We winded our way on narrow roads through the forests and farmland of the communities my family was from, and I was very glad I had the opportunity to see more of the outlying area where cousins married and moved to in days of yesteryear. At the crossroads where I was to get off, they confirmed one more time that I knew there would be no other way to leave if they weren’t to pick me up that evening. I assured them I was walking and I would be fine. They probably thought this girl with a foreign accent was a bit daft, but they let me go. I started off down the road. I had planned for an hour’s walk before I was to meet up with someone at the parish church my family would have went to. Everything was just so pretty, though, and I lingered too long.
I continued on down the road into Hatton, past village green where the stocks used to be, and into the churchyard of Holy Trinity Church. I had arranged to see inside the church, and in spite of arriving quite late, was greeted warmly with an offer of a cup of tea and a chance to sit down and catch my breath. I explored the church; only the tower and the baptismal font remain from my family’s time in the 1600’s as the main structure of the church has been replaced a few times, the latest being in the 1880.
Many heartfelt thanks goes out to Vera Sida who patiently waited for me to arrive, and then as I took scads of photos inside and out of the church. She also very kindly offered me a drive back to Warwick instead of me walking to the nearest train platform and waiting. It was greatly appreciated! It also saved me quite a bit of time and I was able to see even more of the historical sites of Warwick than I thought I could cram in.
My next stop was the old Market Hall that now houses a museum. It gave a wonderful explanation of Warwickshire throughout the millennia, the different products manufactured there, types of wildlife, and was fun and interesting for all age groups.
After a quick lunch break in the market square, I walked back up to the other end of town to St. John’s Museum.
When I arrived at St. Johns House Museum, the main reception area on the ground floor explained the history and the many functions of the building through time. Unfortunately, entry to the rest of the house seemed to be closed off, but a section upstairs was open where there is a museum for the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
After St John’s House, I walked back through town by way of St Nicholas Church St.
My next stop was the Lord Leycester Hospital. The first buildings began in 1123 when the chapel was built. The site was donated by the Earl of Warwick for a guildhall in the 1300’s and the present buildings are from the late 1400’s. In 1571 Robert Dudley, Earl of Leycester, endowed it to be a home for retired ex-servicemen which it has remained ever since. I was very glad I took the time to visit here – it was one of my favourite places I ended up visiting in Warwick, and I highly recommend it!
The beautiful gardens – parts dating back to the 1500’s. It includes orchards, a knot garden, a wide variety of flowers, and vegetable plots for the ex-servicemen. The archway (lower right) was from Norman times, found under St. James Chapel in 1860 and reconstructed here.
The retirees suggested I should visit St. Mary’s church, and as I still had a bit of time before closing, I made my way there next.
The Collegiate Church of St. Mary has been a place of pilgrimage and prayer for over 800 years. All that remains from the building from 1123 is the crypt. The current building only dates back to the early 1700’s – a rebuilding after the fire of 1694.
After this very full day, I made a quick stop at the local Marks and Spencer grocery store to find my supper on my way back to my room. To say that I was tired would be an understatement, but I was still riding a wave of euphoria and disbelief for all I had seen and taken in that day. It wasn’t very late, so I turned on the television to see if there was something interesting to watch, and what should I find but a version of Pride and Prejudice? A perfect ending to an amazing day – yummy food, a cup of tea, Pride and Prejudice, all whilst lying back on a gorgeous 4 poster bed in a medieval inn. Could life get any better than that?!