Day 5: Warwick Castle, Stratford upon Avon, and Oxford

It's taken me a few days to get to posting about this trip and my apologies to my few loyal readers for that. We were taking these all-day tours that started at 6am and ended at 10, so finding time to do much else wasn't happening. So let me try to catch you up.

Warwick Castle

Proper apparent pronunciation: Warrick Castle
This is a medieval castle, architected by William the Conqueror circa 1068. It is located in the area of Warwickshire (shocking isn't it?). The castle has been added to, burned, rebuilt and otherwise altered in that time.

The bedrooms inside were interesting, though few. There are a number of drawing rooms, sitting rooms, receiving rooms, and other such rooms. In fact, Queen Anne's bed is supposed to be in here, too. What I honestly loved the most was the beautiful rose garden. This is only a small view of a few roses. The garden includes white and pink roses, among others, in a beautiful walking path.

Lest you think that this castle has nothing cool, let me share a bit more. The chapel is beautiful, though not original. Apparently, at one time the regional bishop decided that castles were evil and/or inappropriate places to have chapels, so he had it destroyed. But the owners rebuilt it. It's an intimate little chapel, but quite beautiful.

In addition, there was a medieval re-enactment group outside that ran some games, archery, and other events. A bit like the SCA, though not quite such a grand scale. All in all, it was a fun little trip. I would love to go back and see more. We only get a short time at each location on these tours. Just one caveat for those adventurous to check it out: avoid the latte at the lunch cart.

Stratford: The Birthplace of the Bard

Our second stop was Stratford upon Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. We got to see his house, including a window that many writers over the years have signed (with a diamond). Some actors took turns acting out short scenes outside. We also had an amazing lunch. Sadly, that's about all we had time for in this little town. 

Oxford

We started our tour of Oxford at Christ Church College. If you think the Research Triangle area of North Carolina has a lot of colleges, you haven't seen anything yet. This little town of Oxford (admittedly, bigger than Stratford but still not huge) has quite a few. You can stand on one campus and look across the street at another. Christ Church was quite beautiful, as is most of the town. Even more fun, some of the scenes of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone were filmed here. If this staircase to the right looks slightly familiar, it's because this is where Professor McGonagal met the first year students in the movie. Up there you can see the dining hall that inspired the Hogwarts dining hall. Sadly, it's under construction so we were not able to see it. 

The chapel at this college is also gorgeous. You'll note that I have a bit of an obsession with chapels, so well, deal with it. I love them and the architecture of chapels in England is just beautiful. I lit a candle for my grandfather here again. 

After Christ Church we saw a few other colleges in passing. Then my group made a trek over to a little eatery called The Eagle and Child. This is the place where C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien used to hang out, share notes, and read each other's stuff. It was well worth the visit. The back door of the place has a sign on it that says "Narnia." We didn't open it, but who knows? Maybe you should. 

With that we headed home--or back to Spurgeon's College, our home away from home. Long ride back, but again, not a bad one. At least if you can get past all the "to-ing and fro-ing" of the bus going back into London. 

I'll try to catch up on blogs tomorrow. It looks like we might get the time, considering the tube strike in London.

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