warwick—old town and castle

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Warwick is the story of the Old Town with its Tudor houses and medieval church, and Warwick castle, a fantasy land owned by Madame Tussauds. It is also the story of the Earls of Warwick and the Earl of Leicester who were responsible for much of the shape the town took, both architecturally and historically.

For starters, there’s the Lord Leycester Hospital, the retirement home for ex-servicemen dating back to 1571 founded by Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester. He was a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I. Ok; he was believed to be her lover. But she did not want to marry him, or anyone else for that matter, for political reasons. And when he finally got married to another woman he was banished from her favours forever. He tried to get back into her good books through the hospital, but not to much avail. Guess he hadn’t heard that “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”. 😛

As I walked through medieval gates and open markets I reached the Collegiate Church of St. Mary, built in 1123 and the handiwork of primarily two Earls of Warwick, Thomas de Beauchamp and Richard de Beauchamp. It’s a lovely church with a chapel dedicated to the Earls where once priests prayed to ensure the patrons did not lose their place in the heavens. There was a wedding taking place at the church today, with lots of confetti and photographs for company.

The star attraction of Warwick is, however, without a doubt its castle built by William the Conqueror in 1068 for fortification, and traditionally owned by the Earls of Warwick as a symbol of their power. I did all the things one was supposed to do—I walked the ramparts, climbed down into the gaol, gaped wide-eyed at the jousting (ok, it was a bit kitsch, but good fun), wandered through the great hall and state rooms, and marvelled at the wax tableaux in the Kingmakers and Royal Weekend Party. All the touristy stuff Madame Tussauds markets so well.

It was pretty wonderful, the crowds of people celebrating and having fun. A bit like it must have been centuries ago. Nothing really changes after all. 🙂

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Lord Leycester Hospital; The word ‘Hospital’ is derived from being hospitable to ex- and wounded servicemen
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The Church of St. Mary with its square tower standing sentinel by the entrance and the tomb of Thomas de Beauchamp with his wife [showing in the picture] in front of the high altar
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Saint Mary’s graveyard. There is something incredibly beautiful about English church graveyards with people seated on benches under moss-covered trees, reading a book or having their lunch in the company of those gone by …
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Just another street in Warwick’s Old Town
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Warwick Castle—the star attraction in Warwick

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