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Episode 5: Warwickshire

Updated: Apr 4, 2023

Where is Warwickshire?

In our fifth episode, we referred to loads of interesting Warwickshire-based things - and promised links and photos, so here they are:

Charismatic Satan

St Richard's Statue

Looks like Nosferatu, right? Not terribly flattering. I mean, compare...

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare was a renowned English poet, playwright, and actor born in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. His birthday is most commonly celebrated on 23 April (see When was Shakespeare born), which is also believed to be the date he died in 1616.

Shakespeare was a prolific writer during the Elizabethan and Jacobean ages of British theatre (sometimes called the English Renaissance or the Early Modern Period). Shakespeare’s plays are perhaps his most enduring legacy, but they are not all he wrote. Shakespeare’s poems also remain popular to this day.

His rather mustardy coat of arms...

George Eliot

Mary Ann Evans, writing under the pseudonym of George Eliot, was a highly acclaimed Victorian novelist. Fans of her work included Queen Victoria herself and even today her novels entertain and delight readers. But it wasn’t just her written works that brought her notoriety; she also courted controversy in her personal life.

The Forest of Arden

The Forest stretches up the Warwickshire / Worcestershire border, from the present-day borders of Shakespeare’s Forest of Arden, across the ancient Forest of Feckenham, and down to the edge of the Vale of Evesham – the north Cotswolds to south Birmingham.

It’s a beautiful and very special part of the world, rich in history and legends, rolling green countryside, rivers, and busy market towns.

Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle was built by William the Conqueror in 1068 and was used as a fortification until the early 17th century, when Sir Fulke Greville converted it to a country house.

It was owned by the Greville family, who became earls of Warwick in 1759, until 1978.

From 1088, the castle traditionally belonged to the Earl of Warwick, and it served as a symbol of his power.

The castle was taken in 1153 by Henry of Anjou, later King Henry II. It has been used to hold prisoners, including some from the Battle of Poitiers in the 14th century.

Under the ownership of Richard Neville – also known as "Warwick the Kingmaker" – Warwick Castle was used in the 15th century to imprison the English king, Edward IV.

Warwick Castle has been compared with Windsor Castle in terms of scale, cost, and status.

Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth Castle is one of the great historical sites of the United Kingdom.

First built in the 1120s and a royal castle for most of its history, it was expanded by King John, John of Gaunt and Henry V. In 1563 Elizabeth I granted it to her favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, who converted the castle into a lavish palace fit to entertain his queen.

Although the castle’s fortifications were dismantled in 1650, many of the buildings remain unaltered since Elizabeth I’s reign, and the spectacular ruins reveal much of Kenilworth’s medieval and Tudor past.

The Battle of Edgehill

The first major battle of the Civil War ended with no decisive outcome, but it created the opportunity for the royalists to continue their advance on London.

The battle of Edgehill, on Sunday 23rd October 1642, saw the army of the Earl of Essex, the parliamentarian Lord General, and the King's army clash in the first major action of the Civil War in England.

It was fought in the open fields between the villages of Radway and Kineton in Warwickshire.

Lady Godiva

from the Culture Trip website:

Lady Godiva is a key figure in the history of Coventry.

The 900-year-old story was first recorded in Latin by two monks at St Albans Abbey. It was assumed these monks had heard the story from travellers making their way to the capital.

So what has made this tale transcend not just space, from the Midlands to London, but time, being part of culture for 900 years?

St George

St George might be hailed as a national hero, but he was actually born – in the 3rd century AD – more than 2,000 miles away in Cappadocia (modern day Turkey).

He is thought to have died in Lydda (modern day Israel) in the Roman province of Palestine in AD 303. It is believed that his tomb was in Lod and was a centre of Christian pilgrimage.

Dick Turpin

Georgian highwayman Dick Turpin, like America’s Jessie James or Australia’s Ned Kelly, lives on in our collective imagination more as a myth than as a man.

Nearly everything we know about him – or think we know about him – is false. He didn’t make a midnight ride to York, his faithful horse wasn’t named Black Bess, and he certainly wasn’t a Robin Hood-like figure.

The Holy Grail?

The Beast of Barford

Casts of a mysterious paw print found on a Warwickshire farm are on show at a county museum.

Resin casts have been made of the print which was dug from the mud after a panther-like creature was seen snatching a pheasant from Wasperton Farm, in Barford, near Warwick, in November 2004.

The five-inch long, four-inch wide print is twice the size of a dog print and clearly shows three huge claws and a large pad at the back.

Wildlife experts said at the time that the sensational find was the most conclusive evidence yet that big cats were roaming Warwickshire...

The Red Horse of Tysoe

The origin of the horse is not known but some indication of it origin has been speculated about.

The horse was cut on the orders of the Earl of Warwick as a monument to his horse which he killed at the Battle of Towston, Yorkshire in 1461. Legend has it that the Earl of Warwick was losing the battle and to prove to his men he would not leave he killed his horse, and fought shoulder to shoulder with his men, this was the turning point of the battle and he won.

He had the horse cut in memory of this and set up a fund for the annual repair on the Palm Sunday (Anniversary of the Battle.)

Another theory has it that the Angles cut it and the smaller horse II when they colonised the stour valley in AD 600, it was used as a offering to fecundicity and fruitfulness.

There have been 5 horses cut into Edgehill scarp at two different sites, the hangings and spring hill. Some details are known about all these horses but the accuracy of these details cannot be evaluated.

Indications are that the horses were crudely cut by stripping the turf off to reveal the red soil underneath and not the rock as the soil is quite thick on the escarpment. The horses would have to be well maintained and this may be the reason for their loss.

The Rollright Stones

This complex of megalithic monuments lies on the boundary between Oxfordshire and Warwickshire, on the edge of the Cotswold hills. They span nearly 2000 years of Neolithic and Bronze age development and each site dates from a different period.

The oldest, the Whispering Knights dolmen, is early Neolithic, circa 3,800-3,500 BC, the King's Men stone circle is late Neolithic, circa 2,500 BC; and the King Stone is early to middle Bronze Age, circa 1,500 BC.

The Stones are made of natural boulders of Jurassic oolitic limestone which forms the bulk of the Cotswold hills. This stone has been used extensively in the region for building everything from churches and houses to stone walls. The boulders used to construct the Rollright Stones were probably collected from within 500m of the site.

Guy of Warwick

The myth of Sir Guy of Warwick has been well known for centuries in Britain and France.

The oldest surviving record of it from a 13th-century romance poem; it became an iconic romance tale of the Middle Ages.

In the story, Felice, the daughter of an earl, attracts the attention of Guy, but his lower social status prevents marriage. Guy is defiant and becomes a knight to win her affection through acts of courageous chivalry, defeating quintessentially English mythical monsters like the Dun Cow (a giant cow rampaging the English countryside) and dragons; he fights in battles throughout Europe and makes a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Gawain tells the story of a young knight at the legendary court of King Arthur.

The poem opens with a description of a Christmas feast at Camelot, the Arthurian court. During the feast a mysterious green knight, with green hair and green skin, riding a green horse, arrives and challenges the assembled crowd to a bizarre game, which sets off a chain of events in which Gawain faces trials and temptations.

Erec and Enide

Erec and Enide is a book-length poem written by French poet Chrétien de Troyes around the year 1170.

The poem is one of Chrétien’s series of so-called Arthurian romances - a genre of poem in the Middle Ages that told the stories of the individuals associated with King Arthur’s court.

His poems are among the earliest to refer to King Arthur and his knights, and Erec and Enide focuses on the adventures of the knight Erec.

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