Having spent the day visiting the National Trust property of Shugborough Hall, the Ancestral home of royal photographer Lord Patrick Litchfield, we stopped in Sutton Coldfield on our way back to our hotel. The Waterstones here is in a modern building set over two floors.
We arrived late so we didn’t have time to explore the town, but we did photograph an owl sculpture, which we later discovered had been part of an owl trail in the summer of 2015, after which the owls were auctioned off to raise money for the Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity’s Star Appeal. The auction raised £508,035.
The Sutton Coldfield Owl by Scarlett Byfield
Shugborough Hall is definitely worth a visit. When Patrick Litchfield’s Grandfather died, the house was given lieu in death duties and then Patrick, who succeeded the title at this point as his father had already passed away, rented back an apartment of rooms – this apartment is also open the public and contains many of his photographs, although photography in this part of the Hall is not permitted.
Our last stop for today was Solihull but we didn’t have very long here so weren’t able to explore the town properly. It is the most affluent town in the West Midlands and is a mix of old buildings near a modern shopping centre that opened in 2001 and from what we saw of it, it looked very nice. The Waterstones is located in the High Street.
Old vs New
Stratford-upon-Avon must surely be best known as the birthplace of William Shakespeare, who is buried in the town and is alleged to have been born and died on the same date – 23rd April. We have been to Stratford before and it’s a lovely town with more than just Shakespeare to recommend it, although as someone who enjoys his work it is one of the reasons I like to go! The Waterstones is on the High Street and is set over two floors.
Shakespeare’s grave is situated in Holy Trinity Church at Stratford-upon-Avon and there is a well visited memorial with an amusing rhyme warning anyone against digging up his remains!
The Swan Theatre and “The Fiddler, the Mandolin Donkey and the Owl” Lamppost
Near The Swan theatre are lots of lampposts which have been donated by different countries. The image on the right depicts ‘Bottom’ from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Topol as Tevye from The Fiddler on the Roof. A plaque shows that this one was “A gift from the State of Israel.
From top left:
Photos 1 and 2 – Stratford-upon-Avon Library, Shakespeare’s Birthplace Museum, gardens attached to the museum
From top left:
The Town Hall, The Jester Statue (artist James Butler), ‘The Old Bank’ (a branch of the HSBC Bank)
Currently reading: After the Party by Cressida Connolly
Our final Waterstones on this trip was in Wokingham, another market town. We were there on the spring bank holiday and there was a May Fayre taking place with a variety of stalls and an open-air music venue where we watched a really good Steel-drummer! The town is pretty and it was nice to see it so busy, but due to the number of people there we weren’t really able to explore it fully. The Waterstones is in a modern, airy building and only opened in December 2018
The present town was built to replace the old Guildhall which had fallen into a state of disrepair. It opened in 1860 and is a popular wedding venue.
Bracknell in Berkshire was declared a new town in 1949 – as part of this it absorbed lots of small villages. A funny feature of the outskirts is that streets were given names in alphabetical order (and just as a single name – no Road, Street or Close), so in one area off the central road of ‘Ringmead’ you’ll find streets called Pembroke, Prescott, Pendlebury, Ollerton, Octavia, Orion, Oakengates, and nearby are Northcott and Naseby, Nutley…!
The Waterstones is located in a modern open-air shopping centre which opened in 2017. The store is on two levels – the upstairs of the store was very empty, as though they didn’t have enough stock to fill it! I think there must be older parts of Bracknell but we didn’t have time to explore further afield.
The Lexicon Shopping Centre
We stopped at Horsham for coffee on our way to our next destination – it’s a market pretty town in West Sussex. The town grew up around the square called Carfax, which is the location of the Waterstones. The striking building has had an interesting history. A medieval building known as the Red Lion which later became George Duke’s Emporium – I’m not sure when this opened, but in 1898 it was taken over by corn and coal dealers Chart and Lawrence who were there for just over 100 years! The building then became a bookshop – Hammicks. Ottakar’s acquired that chain in 2003 before being taken over by Waterstones!
There are plenty of beautiful buildings in Horsham. One of the prettiest streets is called Causeway and leads from the town to the church and then onto a small park area.
Let sleeping cats lie…!
After leaving East Grinstead we went to Crawley where we were staying for the night. There has been a settlement at Crawley since Saxon times. In 1947 it was designated a New Town and work started to create businesses and homes, the idea being to move people out of London. We didn’t have time to explore the town so we only saw the new town and the modern shopping centre in which the Waterstones is located.
The picture below is called Family Group and is by sculptor Richard Browne (1921-1990). When Crawley was designated as a New Town its population stood at around 9,500, within twelve years it had increased to 50,000! This sculpture was commissioned to represent the growth of the population