1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Warwick (England)

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WARWICK, a municipal and parliamentary borough, and the county town of Warwickshire, England; finely situated on the river Avon, the Warwick & Napton and Birmingham canals, 98 m. N.W. from London. Pop. (1901) 11,889. It is served by the Great Western and the London & North-Western railways. The parliamentary borough was united with that of Leamington in 1885, and returns one member. Leamington lies 2 m. E., and the towns are united by the suburb of New Milverton.

The magnificent castle of the earls of Warwick stands in a commanding and picturesque position on a rocky eminence above the river. Its walls, enclosing a lovely lawn and gardens, are flanked by towers, of which Caesar's tower, 147 ft. high, the Gateway tower and Guy's tower are the chief, dating from the 14th century. The residential portion lies on the river side. Excepting a few traces of earlier work, its appearance is that of princely mansion of the 17th century. There is a famous collection of pictures. The Great Hall and other apartments suffered from fire in 1871, but were restored. A vase of marble attributed to the 4th century B.C. is preserved here, it was discovered near Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli in Italy. Below the castle the Avon, with thickly wooded banks, affords one of the most exquisite reaches of river scenery in England. The church of St Mary is principally, as it stands, a rebuilding of the time of Queen Anne, after a fire in 1694. It appears from Domesday that a church existed before the Conquest. It was made collegiate by Roger de Newburgh, the second Norman earl, in 1123. At the Dissolution Henry VIII. granted the foundation to the burgesses of the town. The Beauchamp Chapel survived the fire; it is a beautiful example of Perpendicular work, founded by the will of Earl Richard Beauchamp, and built between 1443 and 1464. The fine tomb of the earl stands in the centre. There are only scanty traces of the old town walls, but the east and west gates remain, rendered picturesque by chapels built above them. The priory of St Sepulchre was founded by Henry de Newburgh and completed in the reign of Henry I., on the site of an ancient church, for a society of canons regular. It is now a private residence. Leicester Hospital, established by Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester, is a picturesque example of half-timber building. It was originally used as the hall of the united gilds of the Holy Trinity, the Blessed Virgin and St George the Martyr. The earl of Leicester, by an act of incorporation obtained in 1571, founded the hospital for the reception of twelve poor men possessing not more than £5 a year, and a master. The first master, appointed by the earl himself, was the famous Puritan, Thomas Cartwright. St John's Hospital, a foundation of the time of Henry II., is represented by a beautiful Jacobean mansion. There are numerous charities in the town, the principal being those of Henry VIII., Sir Thomas White and Thomas Oken. The first is devoted to ecclesiastical and municipal stipends and to the King's School. By the charity of Sir Thomas White, the sum of £100 is lent, without interest, to young tradesmen for a period of nine years. The King's School, an important foundation for boys, dates from the reign of Edward the Confessor. It occupies modern buildings. Upon the same foundation are the high school for girls and the King's middle school. Among public buildings are a shire hall, free library and museum. Industries include gelatine- and brick-making, and there are ironworks. The parliamentary borough returns one member. Area, 5613 acres.

A famous site in the vicinity of Warwick is Guy's Cliffe, where a modern mansion, embodying ancient remains, crowns the precipitous rocky bank of the Avon. Here was the hermitage of the first Guy, earl of Warwick. Blacklow Hill in the vicinity was the scene of the execution of Piers Gaveston, the favourite courtier of Edward II., in 1312.

Warwick (Warwic, Warrewici, Warrewyk) is said to have been a Roman station, and was later fortified by Æthelflaed, the lady of Mercia, against the Danes. At the time of the Domesday Survey, Warwick was a royal borough, containing 261 houses, of which 130 were in the king's hands, while 19 belonged to burgesses who enjoyed all the privileges they had had in the time of Edward the Confessor. The Conqueror granted the borough to Henry of Newburgh, who was created earl of Warwick, and in all probability built the castle on the site of Æthelflaed's fortification. The Beauchamps, successors of Henry of Newburgh as earls of Warwick, held the borough of the king in chief. Although the borough owed its early importance to the castle of the earls of Warwick as well as to its position, and received a grant of a fair from John, earl of Warwick, in 1261, it seems to have developed independently of them, and received no charter until it was incorporated under the title of the burgesses of Warwick in 1546 after it had come into the king's hands by the attainder of Edward, earl of Warwick, in 1499. Other charters were granted in 1553, 1665, 1684 and 1694, of which that of 1533 allowed the appointment of assistant burgesses, though this was discontinued in 1698 because through their means a candidate for the borough was elected who was not supported by the recorder and aldermen. The charter of 1694 conferred the title of “Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses” on the corporation, and appointed the offices of the borough. The mayor, aldermen and assistant burgesses were to assemble yearly at Michaelmas, and in the presence of all the burgesses nominate two aldermen, who should elect the new mayor and other officers. A mayor refusing office was to be fined £20, an alderman £10 and an assistant burgess £5. In 1882 the borough was divided into three wards, and the corporation consists of a mayor, 6 aldermen and 18 town councillors. Warwick returned two members to parliament from 1295, but in 1885 the number was reduced to one. In addition to the fair granted by the earl to the burgesses in 1261, he himself held by prescriptive right a yearly fair in August and a market every Wednesday. Another fair was granted in 1290, and in 1413 the fair held at Michaelmas was changed to the feast of St Bartholomew. Fairs are now held on the 12th of October and on the Monday before St Thomas's day. A market is held every Saturday, the first charter for this being granted in 1545. A gaol is mentioned here as early as 1200 in a pipe roll of that year.