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Warwick History

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Lord Leycester Chapel
View of Lord Leycester Chapel up the High Street of Warwick
Shire Hall
The Shire Hall on Northgate Street Warwick - built in 1753
Entrance to Castle
Entrance archway to Warwick Castle
Tudor houses on Mill Street
Tudor houses on Mill Street that escaped the Great Fire in 1694
Oken House on Castle Street
View along Castle Street of Thomas Oken's Tudor House and now a Teashop
Lord Leycester Chapel Shire Hall Warwick Entrance to Warwick Castle Mill Street Oken House
Warwick Home Page Warwick Castle Lord Leycester Hospital Museums St Mary's Church

Some Historical Background to Warwick



Warwick is in the heart of England and borders the northern extremities of the Cotswolds. It was founded by Ethelfleda in 914 AD on the banks of the river Avon near a group of earlier riverside settlements, it was built as a defensive measure against Danish invaders. Ethelfleda was the sister of the Anglo-Saxon English King Edward the Elder, son of King Alfred the Great.

Warwick being built on a gradient placed it in a good strategic position to defend the river crossings and the road inter- structures leading to Stratford upon Avon, Coventry and Droitwich (important for supplies of salt). With a defensive ditch it had a formidable protection against invaders.

In 1050 the Danes were successful in breaching the defences and sacked the town setting fire to much of it.

In medieval times it became a walled town under the control of the Earls of Coventry. Very little evidence of the walls still exist, just the East and West gatehouses are still to be seen.

Warwick is most famous for its beautifully preserved castle which was built in 1068 by William the Conqueror. Now owned by Tussauds, a large visitor attraction operator, and run as a major tourism destination - a must place to visit.

In the English Civil War the town and the castle were occupied by Parliamentarian forces and withstood two week siege by Royalist troops.

On September 5th 1694 a spark from a torch being carried along the high street started a fire and it was six hours before being extinguished, during which time the fire severely damaged the Collegiate Church of St. Mary and other buildings in the vicinity, it became known as the Great Fire of Warwick.

The fire destroyed most of the exisiting buildings and therefore most of the centre of Warwick town consists of buildings of 'newer' 17th and 18th century origins.

The town has much to offer the visitor, with its cafes, hotels and bars providing sustenance to the traveller as they would have done throughout the centuries.

Tourists may see about the town Puppy dogs being walked Just near Warwick there is a specialist dog breeding farm where dogs are bred for use as guide dogs for the blind. They are walked until they are 3 months old prior to their formal guide dog training.

With many places to see such as the Castle, Lord Leycester’s hospital, St Mary’s church, Museums, The Playbox Theatre; there is ample for the people of all ages.

Warwick Castle was used just as a fortification until the 17th century when Sir Fulke Greville converted it to a country house and was owned by the Greville family who became Earls of Warwick in 1759.

Richard Neville 16th Earl of Warwick (Warwick the Kingmaker) played a pivotal role in the War of the Roses.

Richard was born on 22nd November 1428 at Middleham Castle to Richard Earl of Salisbury and Alice Montague.

During the “War of the Roses “ his allegiance was with the Yorkists, he was the most powerful noble in England and a principal figure in the war. He died on 14th April 1471 at the battle of Barnet in Hertfordshire. The penultimate battle of the war of the Roses was fought at Tewkesbury  in 1471.

The castle remained in the family’s possession until 1978 when it was purchased by Tussauds, a large visitor attraction operator. Nowadays it is a major tourist attraction with many events daily including jousting, long sword fighting and falconry; the castle itself has lots to see with state rooms, dungeons, towers, and knights armour. It is truly a place of history and has much to offer the tourist.

A restaurant provides meals to suit all, so it is easy to spend a whole day on site.
For more information about events, admission fees and hours of opening times
Telephone 0870 442 2000 ( this is a recorded service).

Interesting Fact

A 15th-century ship discovered last year in the mud of a building site in south Wales may have belonged to Warwick the Kingmaker, once one of England's most powerful men.

Archaeologists believe the ship may have been captured from the Portuguese by pirates acting for Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, a significant figure in the Wars of the Roses.

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Thomas Oken



Thomas Oaken was a mercer and was Master of the Guild in 1545 at the time that Warwick was granted its town charter. When Henry VIII dissolved the guilds Thomas Oaken was one of the masterminds behind transferring the assets of the Guilds to the local corporation and charitable funds before they could be seized by the crown.

Thomas Oken's House (see picture above) - according to the plaque on the building

"Here lived Thomas Oken, a great benefactor to Warwick.
He died here on the 29th July 1573
"

The charities he helped found are still active to this day.
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Warwick History