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Warwick is a market town, civil parish, and county town in Warwickshire, England, located along the River Avon. It is located 9 miles (14 kilometres) south of Coventry and 19 miles (31 kilometres) south-east of Birmingham. It is bordered by Leamington Spa and Whitnash. It has ancient origins and a diverse collection of historic structures, most notably from the Medieval, Stuart, and Georgian eras. It was a major fortified settlement in the early Middle Ages, with Warwick Castle, a major tourist attraction, being the most notable relic of this period. The Great Fire of Warwick in 1694 destroyed much of the city, but it was rebuilt with fine 18th century structures such as the Collegiate Church of St Mary and the Shire Hall.

It is one of England’s smaller county towns, with a population of 35,068 in 2020. This is historically due to the fact that it was untouched by the industrial revolution, despite the fact that its population has more than doubled since the 1960s.



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    HISTORY

    The site has been the site of ancient human activity since the Neolithic era, when settlement may have begun. Archaeological excavations on the Warwick School site in 2017–2018 revealed the footings of a large Roman barn from the 2nd century AD.

    Medieval and Saxon
    Warwick has been continuously inhabited since the sixth century. Waeringwc is an Old English name composed of Wring, a clan name or patronymic, and the suffix wc, which means a’settlement characterised by extensive artisanal activity and trade.’ Alternatively, it could be derived from wering, which means “fortification” or “weir,” with the latter implying that the original settlement was located by a natural weir over the River Avon, possibly on the river’s south side, which offered easily cultivable land.

    According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for 914, the Anglo-Saxon thelfld, 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 there on a hilltop site overlooking the earlier riverside settlement as one of ten to defend Mercia from the Danes (Vikings). The local outcrop of sandstone alongside the Avon provided an easily defensible position at a strategic site by the river crossing, with a good source of water and building material, so Warwick was chosen as the site for the burh. A shire was established in the early 10th century, with Warwick as its county town. A royal mint was established at Warwick during the reign of Thelstan (924-939). At the time, it was one of two in Warwickshire, the other being in Tamworth. The Warwick mint lasted until the mid-twelfth century. The Danes invaded Mercia in 1016 and burned down much of Warwick, including a nunnery on the site of today’s St Nicholas Church.

    While on his way to Yorkshire to deal with a rebellion in the north, William the Conqueror founded Warwick Castle in 1068. Its construction necessitated the demolition of four houses. The castle was built within the larger Anglo-Saxon burh, and a new town wall was built near the ramparts of the burh.

    The prosperity of mediaeval Warwick was based on its status as an administrative and military centre; however, it was poorly positioned in terms of trade, and as a result, it was never more than a local commercial or industrial centre in mediaeval times.

    Various Earls of Warwick, mostly of the Beauchamp family, ruled over mediaeval Warwick. It was fortified and became a walled city. The exact date of construction of the town wall is unknown, but references to it can be found as early as the 12th century. By the early 16th century, it had been mostly demolished. The east and west gatehouses are the only ones that remain today; there was also a north gatehouse, but it was demolished. The bridge over the Avon on the south side was said to serve as a gatehouse and to have a barrier. The west gate was first mentioned in 1129, with a chapel dedicated to St James above it, which was rebuilt in the 14th century and extensively restored in 1863–1865. The east gate was rebuilt in the 15th century, and it is topped by the Chapel of St Peter. It was rebuilt in 1788 and was once part of The King’s High School, but it is now a vacation home.

    Henry de Beaumont, the first Earl of Warwick, founded the town’s Priory around 1119. It was later destroyed during the Monasteries Dissolution in 1536, and it stood on the current Priory Park site. Henry de Beaumont also established the Hospital of St John, which is located near the east town gate. St John’s House, built in the 17th century, now stands on the site. Few mediaeval buildings remain in Warwick, but one of the most notable examples is the Lord Leycester Hospital on the High Street, which dates from 1383.

    Warwick did not become a borough until 1545.

    the seventeenth century
    During the English Civil War, Sir Edward Peyto garrisoned the town and castle for Parliament. The castle was besieged for two weeks by Royalists led by the Earl of Northampton in 1642, but the besiegers lacked cannons powerful enough to damage the castle. When Lord Northampton learned of the Earl of Essex’s approach to Southam, he marched his army away towards Worcester. Major John Bridges was appointed governor of the castle in 1643, and a garrison of 302 soldiers was maintained there with artillery and other supplies until 1659.

    Castle Hill Baptist Church, one of the world’s oldest Baptist churches, was founded in the mid-17th century.

    Fire in Great Warwick
    The Great Fire of Warwick on 5 September 1694 destroyed much of the mediaeval town centre, destroying 460 buildings and displacing 250 families in five hours. As a result, the majority of the town-centre buildings date from the late 17th and early 18th centuries, though some mediaeval timber-framed structures remain, particularly around the town center’s outskirts.

    One of the goals of the rebuilding of Warwick after the fire was to encourage the gentry and professional men to settle in the town, so the town was rebuilt in the then-current Georgian style. Many of the buildings in the rebuilt town were designed by Francis Smith, and later by William and David Hiorne, who gave Warwick an 18th-century appearance. Daniel Defoe stated that Warwick had been “rebuilt in such a noble and beautiful manner that few towns in England make such a fine appearance.”

    The fire destroyed much of St Mary’s mediaeval church. The chancel and the Beauchamp Chapel, however, were preserved. The latter was built between 1443 and 1464 according to the wishes of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, who died in Rouen in 1439. On his Purbeck marble tomb, a full-size reclining copper-gilt effigy of him – a fine piece of mediaeval metalwork cast in 1459 – rests.

    18th century to the present day
    The Earl of Warwick obtained an Act of Parliament in 1788 to allow him to build a new bridge over the Avon: Castle Bridge, a single sandstone arch, opened in 1793. It was built to replace an older 14th century bridge further downstream known as Old Castle Bridge, which had fallen into disrepair but can still be seen.

    In 1800, the Warwick-Birmingham and Warwick-Napton canals were both completed through Warwick. They are now connected by the Grand Union Canal.

    The Borough of Warwick was reformed as a municipal borough with an elected Town Council under the Municipal Corporations Act 1835.

    The Great Western Railway opened its man line between Birmingham, Oxford, and London through Warwick in 1852, along with Warwick railway station. However, the train service was a letdown for Warwick, as no express trains served the town, instead stopping at nearby Leamington Spa railway station.

    Warwick was largely bypassed by the industrial revolution; in the early nineteenth century, only minor industrial activities such as hat making developed in the town. By the early twentieth century, a local engineering industry had emerged.

    The Warwick Pageant was a major festival held in the grounds of Warwick Castle in 1906, organised from a house on Jury Street by Louis N. Parker. As Pageant House, it later served as the offices of Warwick Borough Council until 1974, when the enlarged Warwick District Council was formed in Leamington Spa.

    The Leamington & Warwick Tramways & Omnibus Company was founded in 1881 and ran a tramway between Warwick and Leamington Spa until 1930.

    In 2021, it was announced that Warwick had entered a competition against 38 other candidates for city status as part of the Platinum Jubilee Civic Honours. In June 2022, the winner will be announced.

    

    GEOGRAPHY

    According to William Dugdale, a 17th-century antiquarian, Warwick is “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.” The Great Fire of 1694 and a lack of industrialisation have both had an impact on Warwick’s built environment. The widespread industrialisation of England in the nineteenth century largely bypassed Warwick. One reason was that the town was not on any major roads, and the River Avon was not navigable all the way to Warwick.

    Bridge End, Cliff Hill, Emscote, Woodloes Park, Forbes, Myton (which connects Warwick with Leamington Spa), Packmores, The Cape, The Percy, Warwick Gates, Chase Meadow, and Myton Green are all Warwick suburbs.

    Chase Meadow and Warwick Gates
    Warwick Gates is a late-nineteenth-century housing estate and business park in Heathcote, south-east Warwick. Despite being separated from Warwick town centre by open fields, Warwick Gates is part of the parishes of Warwick South and Bishops Tachbrook. It is near Whitnash, a small town near Leamington Spa, and Bishops Tachbrook, a village. The industrial estates of Tachbrook Park and Heathcote are also nearby. Warwick Gates is next to the NHS Leamington Spa Hospital.

    Another new estate, Chase Meadow, was built to the south-west of the town, next to Warwick Racecourse, in the early 2010s. It has a public house, a Chinese takeaway, and a fish and chip shop. Myton Green, a new estate south of Myton, was built ten years later.

    Climate Warwick has a typical English maritime climate, with a narrow temperature range, mild winters, and cool summers. Wellesbourne, about 6 miles (10 km) south of the town centre and at a similar elevation, has the nearest official Met Office weather station.

    In August 1990, the absolute maximum temperature (also the absolute maximum for the county of Warwickshire) was 36.1 °C (97.0 °F). During a typical year, the warmest day should be 30.0 °C (86.0 °F), with 16.5 days reaching 25.1 °C (77.2 °F) or higher.

    The lowest temperature ever recorded is 17.8 °C (0.0 °F), which occurred in January 1982. In a “average” year, 53.3 air frosts are recorded.

    Rainfall averages 608 millimetres (23.9 in) per year, with 1 mm (0.04 in) or more falling on 114 days. All averages are for the years 1971–2000.

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