Old Postcard of Guys Cliffe

Old Postcard of Guys Cliffe

The story of Guys Cliffe is forever linked with the legend of Guy of Warwick who, it is claimed, inhabited a nearby cave on the banks of the Avon, where he spent his final years living the life of a hermit.

Guys Cliffe from Saxon Mill

Guys Cliffe from Saxon Mill

The area around Guys Cliffe has an aura of history. Guys Cliffe was at one time the smallest Parish of England. This area of woodland glade, caves, springs, rocky outcrop and river is unique in Warwickshire and provides one of its most picturesque sights. A walk across the river by the bridge at the side of the old mill, now a restaurant, provides a quiet and interesting view of the area.

View across the River Avon

View across the River Avon

A short stroll across the field provides access to Old Milverton, another delightful Warwickshire hamlet. To the north-west of Guy's Cliffe, at a place called Blacklow Hill, is the monument to Piers Gaveston, erected by Bertie Greatheed. Gaveston was the favourite of Edward II murdered by the Earl of Warwick and his supporters.

Guys Cliffe House

Guys Cliffe House

A tree-lined drive provides an attractive approach to the house and chapel. The house is now a sad ruin, having suffered from neglect for over 50 years and having been damaged in a fire in 1992 whilst being used by a television company as the location for filming a Sherlock Holmes story - "The Last Vampyre". The film was made for television and featured Jeremy Brett as Holmes. Although coming later in the film, several location shots show Holmes at the ruin prior to it being set alight.

Guys Cliffe House

Guys Cliffe House

The estate has had several owners over the years. The Greatheed family purchased the estate in 1751. Samuel Greatheed built the house and his son Bertie extended it between 1819 and 1824. The estate passed, through marriage, to the Percy family, relatives of the Duke of Northumberland, in 1891 and the house was then sold in 1945 to a business consortium. The family continue to own land in the area, although now resident in Hampshire.

House & Courtyard

House & Courtyard

During World War 2 the house had provided accommodation for a boys school evacuated from Surrey. The neglect of the house dates from this time. An archway at the side of the house leads into a small, attractive courtyard with the chapel occupying one corner. An outcrop of rock shelters the courtyard from the north and serves as one wall of the chapel.

Guys Cliffe Refectory & Chapel.

Guys Cliffe Refectory & Chapel.

St. Mary Magdalene Chapel is privately owned and maintained by a group of Coventry Masonic Lodges which use the chapel as a Masonic Temple. Attached to the Chapel, on the south side, are rooms used as a refectory.

St. Mary Magdalene Chapel

St. Mary Magdalene Chapel

The focal point of the exterior of the chapel is the central tower. The appearance of the building is quite deceptive though, as, with the tower, it actually has 5 levels, including priests rooms, an undercroft and a "dungeon". It is constructed of stone and is built onto the rock.

St. Mary Magdalene Chapel

St. Mary Magdalene Chapel

Entrance to the chapel is through the door at the base of the tower. The chapel itself is small and square with a fan vaulted, decorated, ceiling. It is divided by two arches. On the north wall is a much-eroded stone statue of Guy, originally thought to be twelve feet high.

Guys Cliffe House & St. Mary Magdalene Chapel

© 2014 by Terry Bigley.  Proudly created with Wix.com

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