Historic Towns and Cities –
Beating hearts of our existence
Town walks, city walks, what is there to see?
In the Heart of England area, we have towns and cities of all sizes and various images. At the large end is my home “Town”, the city of Birmingham, full of assertive Victorian, Edwardian and modern high-rise buildings (and “city of a thousand trades”). We have the cathedral cities of Gloucester, Hereford, Lichfield and Worcester, where modern buildings have not been allowed to dominate the skyline. There are towns like Tewkesbury, where a large stock of timber-framed buildings remain, and the solution to population growth was to build houses in alleys behind other houses, and small historical riverside towns like Upton-upon-Severn. Each of these places has its own rich history, and a walk around these places with a guide gives a great chance to “look above the shop front” and hear about the people (some more famous than others) behind that built environment.
Here are just a few of our Heart of England towns and cities
Stratford-upon-Avon – the Bard, and centre of much more
Stratford-upon-Avon receives approximately 2.5 million visitors per year. Most of us know that the life and history of an important poet and writer by the name of William was and remains, the biggest influence here. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust looks after a group of fine buildings connected with him.
There is other interesting history to explore. It all started with a Roman road which forded the river – hence the town’s name. It is because of the existence of the road and river, along with the development of canals and railways, that the town was also an important hub for the movement of goods and services around the Midlands.
For more details, or to book a tour contact Robin.
Birmingham “Town” – Englands second city
“Town” is what we Brummies call the city of Birmingham. It will always be part of me. And what History! Markets since 1166, “metal bashing” at all levels of size and value, education and enlightenment for ordinary working people, electoral reform movement and much more. Oh yes, a leading brand of chocolate too.
Birmingham has a great mix of buildings, including Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian work that has survived the decades of modernisation in the 20th Century.
There is plenty to see, and lots to talk about. Please contact Robin for more details.
Coventry – Phoenix from ashes and UK City of Culture 2021
A major centre for manufacturing, particularly in the field of motor vehicles, this city was hit hard by the Luftwaffe in November 1940. From the ruins of the medieval cathedral, crosses made from recovered nails were sent out to share a message of peace. Rebuilding took place during the 1950s and 1960s, including a new cathedral. During the late 1970s came the Two Tone record label and movement.
The city continues to celebrate it’s musical legacy and manufacturing history. There are of course, some fine historic buildings that survived the war.
Work is now under way for Coventry, City of Culture 2021. Email or ring Robin for a tour.
Tewkesbury – so little changed, so much history
My word, what a town! Stretched out along the line of a road, and squeezed between the former abbey lands and the river, Tewkesbury is rich in beautiful timber-framed buildings. The abbey itself was purchased by the townspeople after Henry VIIIs dissolution, as so remains one of our largest parish churches, and has the largest Norman tower in existence.
It had significant flour mills, made a strong mustard, and was particularly well known for it’s manufacture of stockings.
Growth in the towns population brought about the construction of housing in the back alleys behind existing buildings. Email or ring Robin for more details.
Upton-upon-Severn – Historic riverside town
A delightful riverside town, which famously holds annual music festivals for several genres. Historically, Upton was also an important river port.
There are picturesque timber-framed buildings, and it’s famous Old Church Tower (sometimes referred to as the “Pepperpot”).
The town has had more than it’s fair share of problems, including serious flooding, plague, and a major skirmish during the English Civil War. Contact Robin for a tour.
Tamworth – A Mercian capital with local heros and great benefactors
How about a Tamworth Town tour. You could hear about history from Anglo-Saxon times to present day. There was the “Lady of the Mercians”, and a local Saxon saint. The Castle had it’s governing dynasties.
In later centuries there was a local benefactor who went on to found a famous London hospital, a politician who introduced police forces in Great Britain, and a priest who founded Tamworth’s Co-operative movement.
Then there were locally born men, one of whom became an early recipient of the Victoria Cross, and a sailor who gave his life to help shorten the second world war. Contact Robin for details.
Warwick – Town of Merchants and powerful earls
We hear much about the 16th Earl, “Warwick the Kingmaker”. He actually married into the title, and is buried in Bisham, near Windsor. The Beauchamp and Dudley earls however, have monuments in the magnificent church of St Mary, along with the monument to Queen Elizabeth’s favourite,
Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Dudley’s legacy to the town is Lord Leycester’s Hospital, which started life as a quildhall, built by a local merchant. The building narrowly missed destruction by a fire, which affected much of the town.
Oh yes, there is a castle too! Would you and your party like a tour of Warwick town either before or after visiting the castle? Contact Robin for more details.
Cathedral Cities – Lichfield, Worcester, Gloucester, Hereford
These are the cities that people tend not to be aware of in TV quizes! They are ancient cities, and centres of Christian mission, witnessed by the large medieval cathedrals they all have. The streets have not been allowed to develop skywards, and many of their existing buildings show great history.
Then there are people from history. Lichfield had the man credited for the English dictionary, Worcester a great English composer, Gloucester the man who wrote the tune for “The Star Spangled Banner” and Hereford is good for artists and MPs.
How about a half-day tour to go with your visit to the cathedral? Contact Robin.
Industrial Towns – Walsall, Wolverhampton, Dudley and Stourbridge
These towns are all historically important industrial towns. They produced their own specific products, and supplied raw materials to the industries in Birmingham.
All of these towns still produce goods, show their history through their buildings, and between them they can boast a great writer, the greatest Glam Rock band ever, a great comedian turned actor and writer, and great names in glass. Contact Robin for more details.