Regional England : Warwickshire & The Bard Of Avon

With the departure of the Romans in the 5th century, the Warwickshire region was settled by  Anglo Saxon tribes. Owing to its location at the frontier between two kingdoms, what is now Warwickshire needed to establish defences against the threat of Danish invasion.

Between, 911 and 918 this task was undertaken by Ethelfleda, daughter of King Alfred, who was responsible for defences against the Danes. A part of this task saw the building of the first parts of Warwick Castle in 916. Periodic fighting between Danes and Saxons continued until the 11th century.

Warwick, the shire town, due to it’s steady economic development became sufficiently important to be granted one of the two royal mints set up in Warwickshire (the other was at Tamworth) Coins are first known to have been issued in the reign of Athelstan (925-39)

The first known reference to Warwickshire was in 1001, as Wæringsci-r named after Warwick meaning “dwellings by the weir”

The Norman Conquest in 1066 brought with it the most active and notable period of military architecture which saw further building at Warwick Castle and others at Kenilworth, Tamworth, Birmingham, Coventry, Castle Bromwich and Rugby though in many cases only the earthworks can now be seen.

Many of the main settlements of Warwickshire were established in the Middle Ages as market towns, including Birmingham, Bedworth, Nuneaton, Rugby and Stratford-upon-Avon amongst others.

In the Middle Ages, Warwickshire played a key role in the English Civil War, with the Battle of Edgehill and other skirmishes taking place with its boundaries.

The county was dominated throughout this period by Coventry which became one of the most important centres of the wool and textile trades in England. Warwickshire thrived with the onset of the Industrial Revolution, becoming one of Britain’s foremost industrial counties, with Coventry becoming one of the most important cities in England due to its booming textiles trade while Birmingham too evolved into a large industrial city.

During the 18th and 19th centuries Warwickshire became one of Britain’s foremost industrial counties. The coalfields of northern Warwickshire were amongst the most productive in the country, and greatly enhanced industrial growth.

One notable exception was the town of Leamington Spa which grew from a small village to a medium sized town on the back of the fashionable spa water tourist movement of the time.

Because of the rapid growth in industrialisation transportation too became very important and led to the creation of a national canal system, with major arterial routes such as the Oxford Canal the Coventry Canal and later, what is now the Grand Union Canal all being constructed through Warwickshire.

One of the first intercity railway lines: the London and Birmingham Railway ran through Warwickshire, while during the 19th century, the county developed a dense railway network.

Latterly the county has become famous throughout the world with the town of Stratford-upon-Avon being the birthplace of William Shakespeare and George Elliot.

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