Ruins of Nuneaton Abbey © TAB
Despite its George Eliot connections, Nuneaton is by no means a tourist destination. The town dates mainly back to the late 12th century, when a small group of Benedictine nuns founded a priory beside the River at Eaton. The settlement that developed nearby took the name Nuneaton, which literally means the nun's farmstead by the river. The ruins of this priory can seen in the grounds of the Abbey Church of St Mary's, on Manor Court Road.
The town expanded during the 14th-c when coal seams were discovered to the south. These continued to be mined right up until the late 20th-c, when open cast mining was prevalent. The arrival of the railways in 1847 led to the development of textile and light engineering industries. Most of this industry has long since disappeared and the area has now become a commuter town for nearby Birmingham and Coventry.
Coventry Canal © Travel About Britain
The Coventry Canal runs through Nuneaton, passing the disused colliery workings to the west, which are now mostly built over by industrial units and houses. It then flows around the town via a succession of housing estates and out into the countryside, to Atherstone and beyond.
George Eliot Statue © TAB
Griff hollows, to the south of Nuneaton, is said to be the origin of the Red Deeps from the 'Mill on the Floss' by George Eliot. She was born in Nuneaton in 1819 on the estate of Arbury Hall. Her later childhood home, Griff House, is now a hotel (on the Coventry Road). A bronze statue of this esteemed writer is proudly displayed in the centre of town, near the old market square.
George Eliot's real name was Mary Ann Evans, an intellectual giant and radical free thinker. She used a male pseudonym in order to gain respect within the male-dominated culture of her day. Academics claim she has penned some of the greatest novels in English literature, including the classic prose, Middlemarch.
Located in Riversley Park, this small museum has various exhibits on local history, archaeological and geology, with specimens from prehistoric to medieval times. A number of personal effects belonging to the novelist George Eliot are also on display.
The art gallery has paintings, prints and watercolours from local artists and also a few engravings by Hogarth and Turner.
Opening times: Tue
to Sat, 10:30 to 4:30, Sun, 2–4:30 - Free
Location: 227 Coton Rd, Nuneaton CV11 5TU
Tel: 024 7635 0720
Originally an Elizabethan manor house, it was gothicised by Sir Roger Newdigate in 1750. It lies in a beautiful park setting to the west of the town. The remarkable interior has a collection of fine pictures, furniture, china and glass. Its fan-vaulted ceilings, ornate pendants and filigree tracery were described in much detail by George Eliot in her novel, Mr Gilfil's Love Story.
Opening times: limited
opening days - see website for details - Admission
Location: Arbury Park, Nuneaton CV10 7NF
Tel: 01676 540529
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