Out of Season Weekend Breaks in Warwickshire.
For a memorable weekend break in Warwickshire exploring all the best places when the crowds have diminished, My Favourite Holiday Cottages approached Sally and Jonathan, owners at Tredington Mill in Shipston-on-Stour. We asked how they would recommend their guests make the most of their days while staying in one of their two restored mill cottages. Here's what they came up with and, to be honest – you'll need to spend at least two weekends there to get through everything, which means there is plenty for all ages and interest to discover.
So, where in Warwickshire do the Tredington Mill’s owners recommend visiting on a short break outside the peak season?
Visitors here tend to like visiting places in the Cotswolds and Stratford-upon Avon. One of our preference for the best Cotswolds visits is Chastleton House, a National Trust house and gardens (where croquet was invented). Lookout for its hiding hole, which proved handy for the master of the house when hiding while the house was being searched for by Oliver Cromwell's Roundheads. When the owners talk about "not being able to do it up since the war", they mean the 17th-Century English Civil War!
Kenilworth Castle, managed by English Heritage, is another of those fortifications that "Cromwell knocked about a bit", is also worth a visit. In 1563 Queen Elizabeth I granted it to her favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, who converted the castle into a lavish palace fit to entertain his queen. Its royal banqueting days may be over, but it is still popular with Tredington's visitors.
Snowshill Manor and Hidcote Manor Gardens are other National Trust places worth a visit. Snowshill Manor was lived in by Charles Wade, who purchased it in 1919 and used it to house his extensive and eccentric collection of objects. His motto of "Let nothing perish" has ensured the collection includes all sorts of intriguing items, including Samurai armour, musical instruments, and clocks. It was so large that he was forced to move out into a small cottage within the grounds. The Hidcote Gardens are famous worldwide and one could spend a whole day there wandering around the large garden site.
Warwick Castle. As a historic venue, it probably needs no introduction, but this superb mediaeval castle is well worth a full day trip. Don't expect the standard guided tour - it is much more than this being a magnificently themed centre for all kinds of mediaeval related pagaentry. from hawking to jousting.
Hidcote is also very close to Kiftsgate Court Gardensin neighbouring Gloucestershire, in which visitors will find one of the largest roses known, with the variety named after the house.
Going north, it is a short drive to Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare. It's also where he is buried: You can visit his final resting place in the parish church. Visit also the Royal Shakespeare Theatre for world-class performances of The Baird's plays and other more contemporary classics. You can also book fascinating tours of the various theatres and stand on their stages – but, like theatre tickets – do book in advance as these are very popular. There are several historic houses in and around Stratford associated with Shakespeare and the school that he attended. Aside from all things Shakespeare (and here's where the kids will get really excited), Stratford also has a butterfly farm, a Harry Potter shop, and the Mechanical Art & Design Museum (MAD) filled with mechanical toys to delight people of all ages. You can also hire boats by the hour for a scenic row on the River Avon.
A favourite Cotswold town (and less likely to be populated by visiting coach parties) is Chipping Campden. It is an attractive Cotswold town, home to many of the Arts and Crafts Movement specialists who moved there from London. There are silversmiths working there who have original designs in books from that period.
Closer to Tredington Mill, there are many good pubs and restaurants to experience. Our favourites are the Fuzzy Duck in Armscote (about 30 minutes on foot) and the George Town House in Shipston-on-Stour.
A Little Further afield
We highly recommend visits to:
· Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, with its extensive grounds that are free to walk around
· Bourton-on-the-Water, with its stylish tea shops and model village – much nicer out of season when it is quieter.
· Stow-on-the-Wold, for antique shops and designer outlets – perfect for combining an autumn break with a Christmas shopping expedition.
· Oxford, the city of dreaming spires, is best visited in early autumn before students return. This allows you to explore some of the ancient Oxford colleges or take out a boat on the Isis (as the Thames is known where it flows through the city).
Tredington Mill is a delightfully restored waterside Mill in Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire, with two lovely properties: Pool View and Puddle Cottage (click on the names to view the cottages). Both riverside cottages sleep 4 in two bedrooms. As well as being nicely located for exploring Warwickshire's treasures, guests can also while away a pleasant hour or two fly fishing in the mill stream and river.