A pleasant little Warwickshire market town, known for its historic hat manufacture and Shrove Tuesday football game. The town has a distinctive historical feel, especially along the main high street (Long St) and around the open market place, where a number of interesting listed buildings can be found.
Atherstone Market Place © Travel About Britain
Atherstone market place is dominated by St Mary's church to the north. Parts of the Angel Inn on the west side date back to the early 1500s.
The old Roman way of Watling Street (A5) runs directly through the middle of Atherstone, which is located mid-point between Tamworth and Nuneaton. Although the A5 now bypasses the town, the high street (Long St) would have been a major stopping point for stage coaches around the 16th/17th century. This is borne out by the number traditional coaching inns still standing, such as The Old Red Lion Hotel and the Three Tuns.
It is believed that Henry Tudor spent the night in the 'Three Tuns' before the Battle of Bosworth in August 1485. His army camped in the fields to the north of town, which still bears the name 'Royal meadow' to this day. It is understood Henry took Holy Communion at St Mary's church before engaging in battle. The church was then part of an Augustine friary, but more modern alterations have changed much of its original character. The Abbey buildings were destroyed during the dissolution in 1538, and only the nave (St Mary's church) and the chancel remain, which is now part of the town's grammar school.
The remains of the Cistercian Merevale Abbey can also be found to the north west; founded in 1184 by Robert, Earl Ferrers.
Lock and Basin at Minions Wharf © Travel About Britain
The Coventry canal reached Atherstone in 1771 and later the railway in 1847. Both events bringing much prosperity to the town. The canal skirts to the south of the town, via a series of eleven locks. The canal basin at Minions Wharf (shown above) was used for loading and unloading goods and coal in the 18th-c. The towpath has a good metalled surface and provides a very pleasant walk.
St Peter's Church, Mancetter © Travel About Britain
The small hamlet of Mancetter, joined to Atherstone
in the east along the A5, has more ancient beginnings.
At its core is a Norman Church, a timber framed manor
house and a rows of almshouses to the side. It was
here that the Roman settlement of Manduessedum was
established some time around the uprising of Queen
Boadicea. It is believed that her Iceni army was finally
defeated somewhere in the vicinity. The fine early
13th-c church of St Peter has some notable stonework,
including the west tower. The almshouses were founded
in 1728 by James Gramer, a London goldsmith. Another
row of almshouses, just across the road, date from
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