This month’s meeting consisted of a guided walk around Warwick, ably led, as usual, by Mike Johnson (pictured on the right of the group photo). There are no more Group meetings until the new season starts at the end of October.
Mike devised the route for the group walk around some of the highlights of Warwick’s old centre, and there are many leaflets available from the tourist office which provide plenty of information about Warwick’s walk opportunities and the historical background of what you will see en route. This article adds some of Mike’s insights to these existing publications.
At the corner of Castle Street and Castle Lane is a section of cobbled road leading into what is now the castle grounds wall. Many centuries ago this was part of the main road into town when the old bridge was in use; the old bridge crossed the river near the western end of Mill Street and the road continued straight through to Castle Street from there. The grounds of the castle were extended eastwards after the new bridge was built in 1785, to butt up against Castle Hill.
The Great Fire of 1694, which started in High Street and spread up Market Street and Castle Street, caused great damage to St Mary’s church. Following the fire new construction rules were brought in about the design of houses and the minimum width of roads. Half-timbered and jetted houses were no longer allowed and houses could be no more than two stories high – although an exemption seems to have been given at what was then the main central cross-roads where High Street and Castle Street meet as three story buildings surround this point.
The old town wall can be seen from Puckering’s Lane, as it heads North West from West Gate and then around the back of Lord Leycester Hospital.
Today The Holloway is a dead-end street but historically it ran all the way to Saltisford having been cut into the rock along this route. At one time this old road passed under an iron bridge (built 1804) which connected market Place to Theatre Street.
On the corner of Barrack Street and Northgate Street is an old cell door which belonged to the prison on this site when it was badly damaged by the Great Fire. In a courtyard off Northgate Street in the old County Court buildings can be seen a grill which is in the roof of an octagonal dungeon below. This dungeon was built in 1680 and was in regular use until 1797.