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Warwick
St. Mary's Church seen from Warwick Castle, geograph 6819513 by habiloid.jpg
A view over Warwick from the castle, with the Church of St Mary
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Population 35,068 (2020 estimate)
OS grid reference SP2865
Civil parish
  • Warwick
District
  • Warwick
Shire county
Region
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town WARWICK
Postcode district CV34, CV35
Dialling code 01926
Police Warwickshire
Fire Warwickshire
Ambulance West Midlands
EU Parliament West Midlands
UK Parliament
  • Warwick and Leamington
List of places
UK
England
Warwickshire

52°17′N 1°35′W / 52.28°N 1.59°W / 52.28; -1.59

Distance to London – 82 miles

Warwick ( WORR-ik) is a market town, civil parish and the county town of Warwickshire, England, adjacent to the River Avon. It is 9 miles (14 km) south of Coventry, and 19 miles (31 km) south-east of Birmingham. It is adjoined with Leamington Spa and Whitnash. It has ancient origins and an array of historic buildings, notably from the Medieval, Stuart and Georgian eras. It was a major fortified settlement from the early Middle Ages, the most notable relic of this period being Warwick Castle, a major tourist attraction. Much was destroyed in the Great Fire of Warwick in 1694 and then rebuilt with fine 18th century buildings, such as the Collegiate Church of St Mary and the Shire Hall.

It is one of England's smaller county towns – the population was estimated at 35,068 in 2020. This is historically because it was hardly touched by the industrial revolution, although its population has more than doubled since the 1960s.

History

Lord Leycester Hospital -Warwick3
Lord Leycester hospital by the west gate, Warwick
Warwick 1834 OS map
An Ordnance Survey map published in 1834 showing Warwick; the castle is at the south of the settlement next to the River Avon.

Human activity on the site of the town dates back to the Neolithic, when a settlement may have been established. From the 6th century onwards, Warwick has been continuously inhabited. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, in the year 914 the Anglo-Saxon Ethelfleda Lady of the Mercians, daughter of king Alfred the Great and sister of king Edward the Elder of Wessex, built a burh or fortified dwelling at Warwick. It was one of ten burhs built to defend the kingdom of Mercia against the Danes. Warwick was chosen as the site for one of these fortifications because of its proximity to the important transport routes of the Fosse Way and the Avon. In the early 10th century a new shire was founded with Warwick as its administrative centre, giving the settlement new importance. The name 'Warwick' means "dwellings by the weir". In 1050 the Danes invaded Mercia and burned down much of Warwick including the nunnery (which stood on the site of the present day St Nicholas Church).

William the Conqueror founded Warwick Castle in 1068 on his way to Yorkshire to deal with rebellion in the north. Building a castle within a pre-existing settlement could require demolishing properties on the site, and in the case of Warwick four houses were pulled down. The castle was within the larger Anglo-Saxon burh and a new town wall was created close to the rampart of the burh.

In the medieval period Warwick remained under the control of various Earls of Warwick, mostly of the Beauchamp family, becoming a walled town. Today the only remains of the town walls are the east and west gatehouses. The eastern gatehouse is now a holiday home, but formerly served as part of the King's High School, a sister institution to Warwick School. Warwick was not incorporated as a borough until 1545. The town's Priory was founded in 1142 on the site of the current Priory Park.

Warwick gatehouse
The Eastgate, Warwick

During the English Civil War the town and castle were garrisoned for Parliament. The garrison, under Sir Edward Peyto, withstood a two-week siege by the Royalists. Later musters from 1644 to 1646 record a garrison of up to 350 men under the command of Colonel William Purefoy and Major John Bridges. The middle of the 17th century also saw the founding of Castle Hill Baptist Church, one of the oldest Baptist churches in the world.

The Great Warwick fire

Much of the medieval town was destroyed in the Great Fire of Warwick which occurred in 1694. As a result, most of the buildings in the town centre are of late 17th- and early 18th-century origin, although a number of older medieval timber framed buildings survive, especially around the edges of the town centre.

The fire burnt down much of the medieval church of St Mary; both the chancel and the Beauchamp Chapel, however, survived, the latter having been built between 1443 and 1464 according to the wishes of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick (who had died in Rouen in 1439). A full size reclining copper gilt effigy of the Earl lies upon his Purbeck marble tomb – a fine piece of medieval metalwork cast in 1459.

Geography

Antiquarian William Dugdale wrote in the 17th century that Warwick was "standing upon a rocky ascent from every side, and in a dry and fertile soil, having ... rich and pleasant meadows on the south part ... and ... woodland on the north". Two factors have affected Warwick's built environment: the Great Fire of 1694 and the lack of industrialisation. The fire destroyed much of the town, and the subsequent rebuilding was largely in one style. In the 19th century, when other towns were rapidly growing during the Industrial Revolution, Warwick did not experience the same growth. As a result, the factories and workers' housing largely passed Warwick by. Part of the reason Warwick did not develop as a centre of industry was that the town did not lie on important roads and the River Avon was not navigable as far as Warwick.

Suburbs

All Saints Church, Emscote, and Church Hall, Vicarage Fields, Warwick - geograph.org.uk - 1205256
All Saints' Church, Emscote

Suburbs of Warwick include Bridge End, Emscote, Forbes, Myton (connecting Warwick with Leamington Spa), Packmores, The Cape, The Percy, Warwick Gates, Woodloes Park and the newly established Chase Meadow.

Warwick Gates and Chase Meadow

Warwick Gates is a housing estate and business park in Heathcote, south-west Warwick which was built in the late 1990s. Although separated from Warwick town centre by open fields, Warwick Gates falls within the Warwick South and Bishops Tachbrook parish. It is adjacent to Whitnash, a small town near Leamington Spa, and nearby the village of Bishops Tachbrook. The Tachbrook Park and Heathcote industrial estates are located nearby. The NHS Royal Leamington Spa Rehabilitation Hospital is adjacent to Warwick Gates.

In the early 2010s another new estate was built to the south-west of the town, adjacent to Warwick Racecourse. This was called Chase Meadow and contains, amongst other things, a public house, a chinese takeaway and a fish and chip shop.

Climate

Warwick, along with the rest of the British Isles, experiences a maritime climate, characterised by a narrow temperature range, mild winters and cool summers. The nearest official met office weather station is Wellesbourne, located about 6 miles south of Warwick town centre, and at a similar elevation.

The absolute maximum temperature (also the absolute maximum for the county of Warwickshire) stands at 36.1 °C (97.0 °F) recorded in August 1990. During a typical year, the warmest day should reach 30.0 °C (86.0 °F), and 16.5 days should report a maximum of 25.1 °C (77.2 °F) or higher.

The lowest recorded temperature is −17.8 °C (0.0 °F), recorded in January 1982. Typically, 53.3 air frosts are recorded in an 'average' year.

Rainfall averages out at 608 millimetres (23.9 in) per year, with over 114 days seeing 1 mm (0.04 in) or more falling. All averages refer to the 1971–00 period.

Climate data for Wellesbourne, elevation 47 m (154 ft), 1971–2000, extremes 1960–
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.5
(58.1)
17.8
(64)
21.7
(71.1)
26.3
(79.3)
28.1
(82.6)
32.8
(91)
35.4
(95.7)
36.1
(97)
28.9
(84)
23.9
(75)
18.8
(65.8)
15.6
(60.1)
36.1
(97)
Average high °C (°F) 7.0
(44.6)
7.5
(45.5)
10.2
(50.4)
12.8
(55)
16.5
(61.7)
19.4
(66.9)
22.4
(72.3)
21.9
(71.4)
18.4
(65.1)
14.1
(57.4)
9.8
(49.6)
7.7
(45.9)
13.98
(57.16)
Average low °C (°F) 0.9
(33.6)
0.8
(33.4)
2.4
(36.3)
3.6
(38.5)
6.2
(43.2)
9.1
(48.4)
11.3
(52.3)
11.2
(52.2)
9.3
(48.7)
6.5
(43.7)
3.2
(37.8)
1.7
(35.1)
5.52
(41.93)
Record low °C (°F) −17.8
(-0)
−14.5
(5.9)
−10.0
(14)
−6.6
(20.1)
−2.8
(27)
-1.7
(28.9)
2.2
(36)
1.7
(35.1)
-2.2
(28)
−5.7
(21.7)
−8.5
(16.7)
−17.4
(0.7)
−17.8
(-0)
Precipitation mm (inches) 53.84
(2.1197)
39.86
(1.5693)
45.27
(1.7823)
44.86
(1.7661)
49.3
(1.941)
53.57
(2.1091)
44.75
(1.7618)
56.32
(2.2173)
57.58
(2.2669)
54.97
(2.1642)
50.18
(1.9756)
57.77
(2.2744)
608.46
(23.9551)
Source: KNMI

Demography

At the 2011 census, there were 31,345 residents in Warwick in 14,226 households, and the median age of Warwick residents was 39.

In terms of ethnicity:

  • 88.1% of Warwick residents were White (Comprising 84.1% White British, 2.9% Other White, and 1.1% Irish).
  • 7.9% were Asian (Comprising 5.4% Indian, 0.8% Chinese, 0.4% Pakistani, 0.1% Bangladeshi and 1.2% from another Asian background)
  • 0.7% were Black (Comprising 0.4% African, 0.3% Caribbean and 0.1% other Black)
  • 2.2% were Mixed.
  • 0.2% were Arab, and 0.9% were from another ethnic group.

In terms of religion, 58.0% of Warwick residents identified as Christian, 26.9% said they had no religion, 7.4% did not state any religion, 4.6% were Sikh, 1.3% were Hindu, 1.0% were Muslim, 0.4% were Buddhists, 0.2% were Jewish and 0.4% were from another religion.

Culture

Warwick Folk Festival Montage 2014
Warwick Folk Festival Montage 2014

Warwick hosts annual festivals ranging from the Spoken Word to Classical and Contemporary Music to a Folk Festival and a Victorian Evening, held in late November or early December. St. Mary's Church hosts a series of Early Music concerts, and the Bridge House Theatre hosts the Music-in-Round concerts. Warwick Chamber of Trade helps to promote the town for visitors, residents and businesses. The town is also famous for Warwick Castle, the construction of which began in 1068. The town centre is also known for its historic architecture and contains a mixture of Tudor and 17th-century buildings. In recent years several high-profile national and international companies have set-up large office complexes in and around Warwick, notably National Grid plc and IBM.

Warwick is also known for Warwick Racecourse, near the west gate of the medieval town, which hosts several televised horse racing meetings a year. Within the racecourse is a small golf course. Warwick Hospital, Royal Leamington Spa Rehabilitation Hospital and St Michael's Hospital (a psychiatric unit that superseded Central Hospital, Hatton) are situated within the town.

J. R. R. Tolkien seems to have been very influenced by Warwick (where he was married in the Catholic Church of Saint Mary Immaculate) and by its Mercian connections: Lynn Forest-Hill, in an article in the Times Literary Supplement (TLS 8 July 2005 pp 12–13) argues cogently that two important settlements in Tolkien's work were modelled on Warwick — Edoras closely on the early town, and Minas Tirith more remotely on the Norman; and that aspects of the plot of The Lord of the Rings are paralleled in the romance known as Guy of Warwick.

Warwick and its historic buildings have featured in a number of television series, including the BBC's drama series Dangerfield, the period dramas Pride and Prejudice and Tom Jones and Granada Television's Moll Flanders. Parts of the town subbed for Elizabethan and Jacobean era London in the third-series episode two ("The Shakespeare Code") of Doctor Who which ran 7 April 2007.

Warwick has many long established sports clubs including Warwick Hockey Club which was founded in 1920 and Racing Club Warwick F.C. founded a year earlier.

Landmarks

Transport

Warwick Station, looking east, geograph 6600997 by Robin Stott
Warwick railway station
Warwick's new bus depot - geograph.org.uk - 1239786
Warwick bus station near the Lord Leycester Hospital

Road

Warwick is on the M40 London-Birmingham motorway, connected to junctions 13, 14 and 15; it is also on the A46 dual-carriageway trunk road positioned between Coventry and Stratford-upon-Avon. Warwick has several council off-street car parks in the town. There are also a few privately run car parks, including those at the railway station and the castle.

Rail

The town has two railway stations, both on the Chiltern Main Line: Located a short distance north of the town centre is Warwick railway station, which has direct rail services to Leamington Spa, London, Birmingham and Stratford-upon-Avon; these services are provided by Chiltern Railways. In addition, a few peak-hour trains to and from Birmingham are operated by West Midlands Trains. The second station is Warwick Parkway, an out-of-town station opened in 2000 on the western outskirts of the town, this provides frequent services to London and Birmingham. Historically, the Leamington & Warwick Tramways & Omnibus Company operated between the towns from 1881 to 1930.

Bus

Bus services to Leamington Spa, Stratford-upon-Avon and Coventry are operated by Stagecoach in Warwickshire from the bus station in the town centre.

Coach

There is also a National Express coach stop in the town's bus station with limited services. The nearby Warwick Parkway railway station also has a coach stop with more frequent services.

Waterways

The Grand Union Canal and the River Avon also pass through the town. The restored Saltisford Canal Arm is close to the town centre – it is a short branch of the Grand Union Canal, the remains of the original terminus of the Warwick and Birmingham Canal, dating back to 1799. The Saltisford Canal Trust has restored most of the surviving canal, which is now the mooring for colourful narrowboats and a waterside park open to the public. Over 800 visiting narrowboats come by water to Warwick each year and moor on the arm.

Air

The nearest international airport to Warwick is Birmingham Airport, about 20 miles (32 km) by road from the town centre. There also used to be a Royal Air Force station called RAF Warwick.

Twin towns

The town of Warwick has formal twinning arrangements with two European towns: Saumur in France (since 1976) and Verden in Germany (since 1989). Havelberg in Germany has been a friendship town since 1990 when it was adopted by Verden. There is also a friendship link with Bo District in Sierra Leone.

Bibliography



Economy

Due to its proximity to north–south and east–west motorway routes, many companies have a head office in the town. Since November 2004, National Grid UK has had its UK headquarters on the Warwick Technology Park south of the town between the A425 road and A452 road. Phillips 66 and their petrol station group, JET, have an office on the Technology Park. IBM, Wolseley UK and Volvo Group UK have bases on the Wedgnock Industrial Estate in the north of the town, near to the A46 trunk road. Other companies with regional headquarters in Warwick include Bridgestone, Calor, Kantar and Delphi Automotive. In recent years several high-profile national and international companies have set up large office complexes in and around Warwick, notably National Grid plc and IBM. There is also an out-of-town retail park called Leamington Shopping Park (formerly The Shires Retail Park).

Sport

Warwick Racecourse is located just west of the town centre. Adjacent to it is Racing Club Warwick F.C., founded in 1919. The city has many long-established sports clubs, including Warwick Hockey Club, founded in 1920.

Education

Aylesford School, Warwick - geograph.org.uk - 1462917
Aylesford School

Schools

Secondary schools in Warwick include Warwick School, an independent day and boarding school for boys. The King's High School For Girls is also independent, but Myton School and Aylesford School are state-run co-educational schools. Campion School and Trinity Catholic School in Leamington include parts of Warwick in their catchment areas. Warwick Preparatory School is an independent day school and nursery for boys aged 3–7 and girls 3–11. It is part of the Warwick Independent Schools Foundation, together with King's High School and Warwick School.

Warwick School

Warwick School is an independent school for boys which claims to be the oldest boys' school in England. The actual foundation date is unknown, although 914 has sometimes been quoted. For some years the school claimed that King Edward the Confessor (c.1004–1066) chartered it, although there is no clear evidence for this and King Henry VIII re-founded it in 1545. Whatever the case, there has undoubtedly been a grammar school in the town of Warwick since before the Norman Conquest. Its present successor has occupied its current site south of the River Avon since 1879.

University of Warwick

The nearest university is the University of Warwick, which is named after the county of Warwickshire, rather than the town, and is in fact situated several miles north of Warwick on the southern outskirts of Coventry. Adding to the location confusion is the fact that Coventry is no longer in the county of Warwickshire, but instead is in the West Midlands, leading to the current situation where the university straddles both counties.

Landmarks and notable buildings

Warwick's Saturday market rethought, geograph 6599137 by Robin Stott
Market Square

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