We were hoping to take a look around Warwick Castle however the ridiculously over priced entrance fee put paid to that little idea. I'd been scanning the internet for a couple of weeks as there are usually some two for one offers to be had - but sadly to no avail. For the two of us to walk up and pay on the day it would have cost us nearly sixty quid to access the Castle Grounds, the Tower and the Dungeon. Having checked their website, the ticket price would have reduced slightly if we had purchased them online but only by a few quid. Seriously - how do they warrant charging such high prices? I know it's a beautiful place and everything but Lawks a' Mercy Guv'nor!!! A 'Kingdom' ticket (i.e. access to the whole shebang) for a family would cost £122.40 (without any discounts etcetera). How do young families afford to pay that much for a day out? Add travel and food during the day then you have to be talking around £150 for a day out.
ANYway... we had a walk around the market place for a while and then wandered through the back streets in search of somewhere to grab some brunch. The local Wetherspoons was a cheap and cheerful option of course but as it was our 'date day' we decided to look for somewhere a little different.
This fine building is The Master's House.
We decided to have a look around the Hospital and we weren't disappointed. The entry fee was less than a fiver and we spent a good hour or so browsing around. The 'Hospital' has never, in fact, been a hospital. Some parts of it date back to 1383 so lots of historical facts and figures were to be seen around the place.
The Lord Leycester Hospital was created as a home to the Guild of the Holy Trinity and St George which was formed in 1383 to help with education and charity. In 1571 permission was give to Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leycester, to turn the site into a hospital for soldiers injured during the service of Queen Elizabeth I.
The cluster of historic buildings include a medieval hospital, a chapel, reception rooms, living quarters, meeting rooms and a banqueting hall. The banqueting hall is let out for marriages and civil ceremonies now too.
The site was restored in the 1950s and 60s and the hospital was opened after its restoration by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, on 3 November 1966. Today, eight ex-servicemen and their wives live in modernised flats and in return give their services towards the running of the hospital. It's a self-supporting charity relying largely on income from visitors and we were more than happy to contribute.
We were initially given a very friendly explanation of how to navigate our way around the place by one of the Brethren and were then left to our own devices to explore at our leisure. We were guided towards the little Chapel first. Now as you will know I don't 'do' churches and chapels but there was no denying the peaceful aspect of the little building. The Brethren are expected to attend morning service every morning - tongue in cheek the guy we were speaking to earlier joked that it was more of a 'roll call' to see who was still alive!!
We discovered that the upstairs gallery was home to a little museum to the Queen's Royal Hussars - a bonus for Mr Military fanatic!
An added bonus for me was Millennium Knot Garden to the side of the buildings. The metal bear statue is a modern day represntation of the Coat of Arms of Lord Leyster. Bears were a big feature around the house, particularly on the outside of the Master's House where the Coat of Arms was displayed too. All very heraldic don'tcha know! The Knot Garden apparently contains 800 box plants!!
Out through another little gate we went and out into the beautiful Master's Garden. This was such a tranquil little place full of quiet corners and prettyfull-ness!
And unexpected smiles!
This was one of those unplanned visits which turned out really well.
The afternoon was spent browsing a gallery and little gift shops along the back streets, and cider shandy in the very hot sunshine by way of a reviver, before we were homeward bound.
Thank you Warwick - we'll be back soon.