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St Mary

Warwick,

There's no mistaking the importance of this great church, which dominates most views of Warwick from its hilltop site, with the best view from the castle. The landmark pinnacled tower dates from the early 18th century. The reason for this comparatively late date was the huge fire that devastated Warwick in 1694, destroying much of the old church so that the tower and nave had to be rebuilt. The oldest part of the church to escape the blaze was the Norman crypt, a wonderful vaulted space where the base of a ducking stool is kept on display. Other surviving parts of the medieval church miraculously include the 15th-century chancel and the Beauchamp Chapel, one of the finest chantry chapels in the whole country. With no expense spared, it was created in the mid-15th century for Richard Beauchamp, 5th Earl of Warwick, a close associate of Henry V who died in France in 1439. Beauchamp's gilded effigy, resting on a marble tomb, is the centrepiece of the chapel, which is magnificent in every detail. Another tomb here is that of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and dashing suitor to Queen Elizabeth I, who granted him the nearby castle of Kenilworth. Famously, he entertained the Queen there at vast expense for three weeks in 1575. Eventually he married Lettice Knollys, whose effigy lies here beside his.

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St Mary

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