As I sit here typing these words I gaze over the trees to the top of the tower of St Mary’s Church Warwick.
The decorated parapet at the top of this tower is the highest place you can be in Warwick (which is this year celebrating its 1100th anniversary). I’ve climbed to that platform and gazed down over the Beauchamp Tower of Warwick Castle.
We live on a hill to the north of Warwick town centre and following our neighbours’ removal of some trees, we now have a new view across to that tower. I can see it now from where I sit as I type these words. I find it uplifting and inspiring.
The tower of St Mary’s can be discerned from miles away. It’s the first landmark which announces that you’re approaching Warwick, when you travel from Stratford-upon-Avon.
As someone who loves history, I like to imagine how it would have been for those approaching many hundreds of years ago, as they first caught a glimpse of that tower and said, “There’s Warwick!”
Warwick has a number of claims to fame in English history; we may think of Richard Neville, known as Warwick the Kingmaker (as Sellars and Yeatman remark in their comic classic 1066 And All That, “any baron who wished to be considered king was allowed to apply at Warwick the Kingmaker’s, where he was made to fill up a form“); we may think of that treacherous crime that was committed, when Piers Gaveston the King’s favourite was lured to Warwick Castle by the Earl of Warwick and ended up being dragged to Blacklow Hill and horribly slaughtered. An Earl of Warwick was responsible, too, for the trial and sentencing to death by burning at the stake for Joan of Arc. This area is rich in history.
Most tourists coming to the Midlands head first to Stratford-upon-Avon and then to Warwick. And after Warwick Castle, St Mary’s Church is for the majority of visitors their next stop. It has the beautiful Beauchamp Chapel, where, among others, is the tomb of Sir Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester, favourite of Queen Elizabeth I; and also, in the adjoining Chapter House, the tomb of the ill-fated Sir Fulke Greville, who was murdered by his manservant in Warwick Castle.
Perhaps the view of that tower connects me to a sense of story, and that’s why it inspires me so much.
What do you think? Do you too feel inspired by mediaeval churches, castles, and other historical places? Why do you think we love them together with all their associated stories of past misdeeds and treachery?