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
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.

Atherstone Canal
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.

Shrovetide Football

During Shrovetide, a type of medieval football is played in Atherstone to commemorate the origins of the game, which has been played in Warwickshire for over 800 years. Large crowds take part and there are no specific rules or boundaries to the area of play. Kick off is usually initiated by a popular sporting personality, who throws the ball into play from the 'Three Tuns' inn.

Mancetter

St Peter's Church Mancetter
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 1822.


Map of Atherstone and Mancetter

The Midlands

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Towns and Villages in Warwickshire

Warwickshire: Atherstone, Bedworth, Coleshill, Leamington, Nuneaton, Rugby, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick
West Midlands: Birmingham, Coventry

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Attractions in Warwickshire

Anne Hathaway's Cottage | Arbury Hall | Baddesley Clinton | Charlecote Park | Edgehill | Kenilworth Castle | Packwood House | Ragley Hall | Royal Shakespeare Theatre | Stoneleigh Abbey | Warwick Castle

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