UK video production company Leofric Films have just released their DVD A Walk Around Warwick for the US market on Amazon.com and Createspace. (Available for the UK market here.) The DVD feature-length documentary highlights the history and architecture of the beautiful town of Warwick. It takes the viewer on a tour around the streets of the town with local historian Dr Sylvia Pinches, telling the stories behind many of the town’s most charming buildings and revealing historical secrets along the way – such as the true meaning of the word ‘eavesdropping’, the reason why postboxes are red, and how graffiti can be a boon to historians.
“The history of Warwick is fascinating,” says Dr Pinches, “and it’s not just about the castle. There’s a thousand years of architecture and history, even though the town was burnt down in 1694.” Dr Pinches is a professional historian who also enthuses about the lighter side of history. Her interest in Warwick stems from her background as a guide at Warwick Castle, where she once portrayed everything from a medieval washer-woman to the castle’s 18th century housekeeper.
One of the featured buildings is the Lord Leycester Hospital, which has functioned as a home for retired soldiers since 1571. The Brothers who live there acted as guides for the film, telling tales of the past such as the time that King James I came to Warwick for a feast so magnificent that it left the town in debt for ten years. More recently, the buildings featured in an episode of Doctor Who.
In a segment filmed at St Mary’s Collegiate Church, a guide enthuses about the Beauchamp Chapel, which contains the tomb of the 15th-century Earl of Warwick who presided over the trial of Joan of Arc. As well as major tourist sites, the film shows lesser known buildings and hidden nooks, such as the Mill Garden, tucked beneath the walls of Warwick Castle and enjoying remarkable views of both the castle and the old, ruined bridge across the Avon.
Leofric Films is based in nearby Leamington Spa, so it was a treat for the filmmakers to be able to work close to home and bring their own local knowledge to the project. They shot the DVD over several months during the summer of 2012 – the wettest on record. “We didn’t always have the best conditions for filming,” said Dr Pinches, “but the beauty of the town still comes through.”