Last Updated on
The full name of this place is the Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings and it was England's first open air museum, established in 1967. Avoncroft displays 30-odd rescued buildings and structures, ranging from 14th - 20th centuries, which have been re-built in 19 acres of rural Worcestershire. The museum includes a wildflower meadow, period gardens and a traditional cider and perry orchard. It is also home to the National Telephone Kiosk Collection.
St Michael's Baddesley Clinton is a short walk from Baddesley Clinton Manor House, through woods packed with snowdrops, daffodils and bluebells. The church was originally dedicated to St James, but changed - probably in the 19th century. The present building dates from 1305, but it is generally thought that a church stood on or near the site before Domesday (though the latter makes no mention of one). Do not miss the beautiful east window, the interesting rustic oak screen - or the simple grave marker for Nicholas Broome, just inside the south door (under the mat!). Once lord of the manor, he murdered a priest and built the tower of the church as a penance.
Baddesley Clinton is a picturesque and charming moated manor house and estate dating from the 15th century, set in lovely gardens and surrounded by beautiful Warwickshire countryside. For 500 years it was home to the Ferrers family, staunch Roman Catholics, and it comes complete with a priest hole hidden in the medieval sewer. Its survival is largely due to its eccentric Victorian owners, Marmion and Rebecca Ferrers and their very close friends, Lady Chatterton and Edward Dering, collectively known as 'the Quartet'.
The original castle at Warwick was built of wood in the 11th century, possibly on or near an earlier Saxon fortification. It evolved to become one of England's pre-eminent castles, home to the powerful Earls of Warwick. In 1604, it passed to the Greville family, who occupied it until 1978. Warwick is an exceptionally complete picture-book castle, now run by an entertainments company. In addition to the building's undoubted historic merits, there is something of the theme park about it and all manner of things aimed at children. Attractions include a dungeon experience, a trebuchet, birds of prey, daily activities and extensive gardens/grounds.
Once a royal castle, and a favourite residence of Lancastrian kings. But Kenilworth is associated by the majority of people with the Elizabethan era, when it was owned by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, the queen's favourite. Though the castle is mostly ruined now, some rooms can still be seen, together with period fittings and furnishings. The site is enormous and impressive, and now includes an Elizabethan garden.
The National Memorial Arboretum is a centre of remembrance for the fallen - members of the armed forces, civilian services and ordinary people. It is set in 150 acres of reclaimed gravel pits between the rivers Trent and Tarne. There is an astonishing variety of memorials - 320 of them at the last count - to every conceivable group you can imagine - surrounded by 30,000 trees. It is both impressive and humbling.
The NMA is managed by the Royal British Legion.
Hereford Cathedral was founded in the year 696 and is dedicated to Ethelbert, a young late 8th-century king of East Anglia who was murdered on the orders of King Offa of Mercia (or his queen) and who was interred in the church. There is no trace of the earlier buildings; the current structures date from the 11th and 12th centuries and there is a magnificent Norman nave, with massive Romanesque arches. The Cathedral is famous for its chained library and its many treasures, not least the Mappa Mundi, a graphical representation of the medieval world, physical and spiritual, made (possibly for the Cathedral) by Richard of Holdingham in the early 14th century. The Chained Library, an early form of security system whereby books are literally chained to shelves in such a way that they can still be read, dates from 1611. Among its many manuscripts is an 8th century gospel and a copy of Magna Carta from 1217.
A small museum dedicated to Violette Szabo GC, British SOE agent during the Second World War, who worked against the Nazis in occupied France until her capture by the Gestapo. She was shot in Ravensbruck Concentration Camp in 1945, aged 23. Violette's story was told in the 1958 film, Carve Her Name With Pride. The museum is in the grounds of a small house where Violette stayed several times and was established by her aunt, Rosemary Rigby MBE. The museum also covers the work of SOE, the Special Operations Executive, in general as well as the stories of other agents.
The Shugborough Estate in Staffordshire has been the seat of the Earls of Lichfield (family name Anson) since 1831 – the 6th Earl still has apartments there. Arguably, Shugborough’s most famous son was the 5th Earl, the internationally renowned photographer Patrick Lichfield, who died in 2005. His private apartments can be visited as part of a tour of the house. The mansion is set in 900 acres of idyllic parkland, there's a historic farm with rare breeds - and the garden is a peach. If you're a conspiracy lover, Shugborough is also famous for alleged associations with the Holy Grail. The property has been owned by the National Trust since the 1960s but leased to and managed by Staffordshire County Council. In 2016, the Council handed the property back to the National Trust, who decided to close it until March 2017 to enable upgrading works to take place.
17th century farm, extended and refurbished in 19th. Its fame is as a hiding place for the future King Charles II following his defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. Charles hid in one of two 'priest holes' in the house, having first escaped detection by climbing an oak tree in the grounds and, before that, briefly at nearby White Ladies Priory. As well as the interior of a small Stuart farmhouse, there is a pleasant garden, stables, smithy and cowhouse. A descendent of the oak tree that Charles climbed is still there. And its a relatively painless walk to White Ladies Priory.