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Arbury Hall is an Elizabethan manor house, originally built on the ruins of a 12th century Augustinian Priory and transformed into the Gothic style by Sir Roger Newdigate during the second half of the 18th century. It has been the seat of the Newdegate family for over 450 years and is the ancestral home of Viscount Daventry. The house stands in the middle of acres of 18th century landscaped gardens, within even more acres of lakes and parkland. Inside, the house is renowned for its fan vaulted ceilings with plunging pendants and filigree tracery.
Arbury’s main claim to fame is that George Eliot, aka Mary Ann Evans, was born at South Farm on the estate in 1819. Arbury Hall was immortalised in her book 'Scenes of a Clerical Life'.
The hall and gardens have limited opening to the public and are also available for corporate events and filming. Film credits include the film Angels and Insects starring Mark Rylance, Patsy Kensit, and Kristin Scott Thomas and the BBC TV series Land Girls.
The wider Arbury Estate includes most of Astley village and Astley Castle, which is available for hire through the Landmark Trust.
Image credit: Historic Houses
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.
Baddesley Clinton is a place with stories, 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 Battle of Worcester, the last battle of the inaccurately named English Civil Wars, took place on 3 September 1651 in and around the city. It was a decisive engagement; Parliament's New Model Army outnumbered and outclassed the Royalist, mainly Scottish, troops and Charles II went into exile.
Much of the battlefield is now covered by later development, though Perry Wood, where Cromwell and his army camped before the battle, is still relatively unspoilt. Within the city are several buildings and monuments associated with the battle. Charles II got the best view of the battlefield from the top of the tower of Worcester Cathedral, there is a museum in the Commandery (used as a Royalist HQ and scene of some of the fighting nearby) and the adjacent Fort Royal Park was a Royalist earthwork, stormed by Parliament. Powick Bridge just outside the city is accessible and Powick Church still bears the scars of battle.
Address and post code is for the tourist information centre. See separate listings for the Cathedral, Powick Bridge, the Commandery and Fort Royal.
Blists Hill is an open air museum, recreating a Victorian town on an industrial site that included mines, blast furnaces and a section of the Shropshire Canal. Some of the buildings are original, others have been relocated and some are replicas. It's a 52 acre site. There's a fascinating range of things to see, from shops, a bank and public house, to industrial premises. Costumed staff keep the whole thing themed and there are various demonstrations and events etc. It's a good day out for all ages.
Blists Hill is one of 10 museums in the area run by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.
Boscobel House is a 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.
Cannock Chase German Military Cemetery contains almost 5,000 German and Austrian war dead, 2,143 from the First World War and 2,797 from the Second. They lie in peace in an area of outstanding natural beauty in rural Staffordshire. Some died trying to kill our parents or grandparents from the skies; others were washed ashore from ships; and some were prisoners of war who never made it home; 95 are unbekannte – unknown, or unidentifiable. The burials include crews of four Zeppelin flying ships shot down over Britain, who are all buried together.
Following an agreement between the UK and the Federal Republic of Germany in 1959, the German War Graves Commission (Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgraberfursorge) made arrangements to transfer the graves of German servicemen and civilians who had died in Britain during World Wars 1 and 2 from scattered burial grounds to a new cemetery established at Cannock Chase.
Follow the signs for Cannock Chase War Cemetery signposted from the A34 when travelling from either Cannock or Stafford. The German cemetery is immediately behind the CWGC one.
During the First World War, there was a large military camp at Cannock Chase which became the base for the New Zealand Rifle Brigade. There was also a prisoner-of-war hospital with 1,000 beds, and both camp and hospital used the burial ground. Cannock Chase War Cemetery contains 97 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, most of them New Zealanders, and 286 German burials. There are also three burials of the Second World War.
Cannock Chase War Cemetery is signposted from the A34 when travelling from either Cannock or Stafford.
The evocative ruins of Clun Castle are set in magnificent countryside on the edge of the tiny town of Clun. It is a dominating position on natural high ground in a loop in the river. The original castle was Norman, erected to help dominate the border area between Wales and England. The estate came into the hands of the Fitzalan family, who went on to inherit the earldom of Arundel and the duchy of Norfolk. Clun was an administrative hub, attacked several times and was in ruins by the mid-16th century. Its remains include a massive tower and sections of masonry, with extensive earthworks of two baileys, plus the site of medieval gardens.
Car park on the south side of the river Clun, near the old bridge. Nearby Postcard Café recommended.
Coventry has had three cathedrals. The Priory Church of St Mary was founded as a Benedictine community in 1043, allegedly by the Earl of Mercia, Leofric, and his wife Godiva. It became a cathedral in 1102 but was dissolved and destroyed in 1539. The parish church of St Michael, founded as a chapel in the 12th century, became Coventry's second cathedral in 1918. However, this was destroyed in the blitz of 14 November 1940. The third cathedral, also dedicated to St Michael, was created next door to the ruins in a spirit of reconciliation during the 1950s and was completed in 1962. Both buildings are stunning: the ruins are thought-provoking; the modern, with its soaring and light interior, is unusually beautiful, and inspiring, for a structure of its period.
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