Tourism in the Rugby area look set to expand this year with increased visitor numbers expected due to the devaluation of sterling, post-Brexit.

 

Warwickshire County Council are estimating an additional £10-15million to be pumped into the local economy as increased tourists flood in from the USA and Europe.

With the opening of the World Rugby Hall of Fame recently, Rugby is ready more than ever to welcome visitors to the town, and expectations are they could stay overnight.

So are you a tourist looking to stop by the ‘Home of the Game’? Here’s a Hologram guide to visiting Rugby and where the best places are to explore, shop, and rest.

Culture

Rugby School

The world-famous public school, birthplace of the sport of rugby. In 1823 schoolboy William Webb Ellis picked up the football and ran forward with it, breaking the rules of one game, and thus creating the rules of another. It still functions as a school today, with hundreds of pupils boarding there. Former pupils include Percy Wyndham Lewis, Lewis Carroll, Salman Rushdie, Frederick Selous and Will Butler-Adams, inventor of the foldable Brompton Bicycle. Tours of the school are available and visitors can take in the splendid surroundings of The Chapel, as well as the unusually sounding Old Big School, and The Porridge. Visitors are encouraged to book a visit in advance here.

The Webb Ellis statue

Acclaimed sculptor Graham Ibbeson was commissioned to create the statue of a young Webb Ellis running with a rugby ball. Cast in bronze employing the lost wax technique, the statue stands outside Rugby School.

A bronze plaque beneath the statue bears the inscription: “The local boy who inspired the game of rugby football on The Close at Rugby School in 1823.”

The statue has become a popular attraction for visitors to the birthplace of the game – providing the perfect backdrop for a photograph.

A photo posted by Hologram (@hologramrugby) on

 

Webb Ellis Rugby Football Museum

Opposite the statue of William Webb Ellis is the original site of rugby ball manufacture – The James Gilbert workshop. James Gilbert was a local leather worker who created balls, boots and other items. During the rise in popularity of the game of rugby at Rugby School, James Gilbert crafted the balls the boys would play with. These days the building has been preserved as a museum and houses a definitive collection of historical items. On select days you can see original leather rugby balls stitched by in-house ball stitcher Peter. Next door is a sports shop with many gifts available.

World Rugby Hall of Fame

Opened in November 2016, the Hall of Fame is where celebrated and important figures in the world of rugby are inducted into an interactive exhibition. Recent inductees are Jonny Wilkinson and Brian O’Driscoll. A family friendly experience, expect to learn about the origins of the game, as well as some of the people who have helped turn it into a global sport. Most of the exhibits are interactive, which involves touching screens, audio guides, and chance to have a selfie with your favourite player. Book in advance for free here.

Rugby Art Gallery and Museum

The premiere cultural hub in Rugby, housed in the same building as the World Rugby Hall of Fame. Exhibitions are frequently changed, and there’s a new archaeological exhibition on the top floor which exhibits Roman items found in a site near to Rugby. On the ground floor there is a cafe with plenty of seating. Open daily.

 

The Lewis Gallery

Based in the grounds of Rugby School, The Lewis Gallery is named after former pupil Percy Wyndham Lewis, an aclaimed artist and critic. There is public access to the gallery, and no booking is required.

 

Anna Lorimer Fine Art

Anna Lorimer is a local artist and her shop on Henry Street in Rugby’s Independent Quarter is a must see for art lovers. She has a great selection of local scenes which are available to buy, as well as interior design items. Her work is also available to see at Cafe Vin Cinq, an award-winning restaurant serving French cuisine.

 

St Andrew’s Church

St Andrew’s Church is in the heart of Rugby town centre. There are many cultural activities which take place in and around the church, including a Food and Drink Festival in September. The church has two towers, each with its own set of bells. This makes St Andrew’s the only church in England to have two sets of ringable bells. There is a cafe inside which serves drinks and food. Open 10-2pm Monday to Saturday.

 

Statue of Rupert Brooke

Located at the far-end of Regent Street, in a triangle of green space called Jubilee Gardens. Rupert Brooke was born in Rugby, and became a pupil at the famous school. During World War One he became one of the country’s most esteemed war poets. His poem The Soldier still stands as one of the most celebrated war poems of all time.

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’ some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

#rupertbrooke statue in Rugby

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Caldecott Park

No trip to Rugby is complete without a stroll around this beautiful park. It’s in full bloom between May and August, and for those who enjoy taking photographs, it looks great from every angle. In the middle of the park is a statue of a boy playing a tuba. Commissioned by Rugby Borough Council as part of a £1million refurbishment of the Park. The brief for the commission was to replace a Victorian Sculpture of a scantily clad girl entitled Echo which had disappeared from the park in the middle of the 20th Century. This sculpture, a slim androgenous figure of a child attempting to blow notes from a tuba was Hilary’s attempt to subvert the sadly tragic myth of Echo, and make a positive and joyful image.

 

Rugby Theatre

If you’re staying the weekend, then building a Saturday night around a performance at Rugby Theatre will set you up for a great evening. The theatre is largely run by volunteers, and between runs of shows it also becomes a cinema. What makes the cinema unique is there are no adverts at the start of the film. Cineworld, the local multiplex, will make you sit through over 30 minutes of adverts.

 

Refeshment

The Rugby Tap

The Rugby Tap is directly opposite the statue of William Webb Ellis, and next door to the Webb Ellis Museum. Inside you will find rows of bottles of real ales from across the county, as well as some craft beers from Belgium, Holland, and the USA. If you want a flavour the town, then owner Colin will no doubt show you the very best ales made within a small radius of Rugby.

Well-stocked shelves at Rugby Tap #puritybeer #anchorbeer #twistedbarrelale

A photo posted by Hologram (@hologramrugby) on

 

The Merchant’s Inn

The building was formerly a brewery, and wine merchants, hence the name. This pub is the self proclaimed Pub of Rugby, showcasing both the heritage of the town, but also the sport. They specialise in real ales and ciders. Crowned CAMRA Pub of the Year numerous times, the Merchant’s is the best place to stop and get your bearings. A stones throw from Rugby School, there’s no better place to plan your trip around.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BIsvvakAw2S/?taken-by=hologramrugby

 

Delish Kitchen

Located in Rugby’s Independent Quarter, in the heart of the town’s stylish shopping district, Delish Kitchen will quench your thirst during a hard days exploring. They are suitable for vegan and gluten-free diets, and all the food is home-cooked, with ingredients from local suppliers.

 

Cafe Vin Cinq

A French-inspired restaurant with a stylish cocktail lounge above. Cafe Vin Cinq is regarded as the best restaurant in the town, and its recent awards are testiment to this. There are three floors of stylish decor, with paintings from Anna Lorimer adorning the walls, and upstairs in Bar 25 you will find photographs of Paris from town centre-based photographer Jamie Gray.

Cafe Vin Cinq @cafevincinq

A photo posted by Hologram (@hologramrugby) on

A cocktail at Cafe Vin Cinq. Best in town. @cafevincinq

A photo posted by Hologram (@hologramrugby) on

 

Revelicious

Revelicious is a patisserie and bakery, located down Little Church Street, under the shadow of St Andrew’s Church. They bake and sell award-winning breads, and also their sweet creations, which vary week to week. Also available are sandwiches and savoury items.

 

Ninja Juice Bar

The healthiest spot in town, for zen teas and infusions, the Ninja Juice Bar is an oasis of relaxation. Head upstairs from Hope Clothing on Sheep Street and you are transported to a Far Eastern cafe in the centre of town. They have nearly a hundred brews and infusions of tea, and their smoothies are full of nutrition and flavour. Open 11-3, Monday to Friday, closed Saturday, Sunday.

76 varieties of tea at the Ninja Juice Bar, Sheep Street, Rugby town centre.

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Sweet A

A cute little cafe that makes a range of cakes and sweet deserts. Located on pedestrianised Chapel Street in the town centre, there is seating outside.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BKyz_GjhySF/?taken-by=sweeta_rugby

 

Sweet Retreat

In the Hillmorton area of town there’s a candy store selling possibly every type of sweet available. Explore the endless jars of candy for yourself and discover new flavours.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BDJIbqYl8ex/?taken-by=sweetretreathan

Retail

The Rugby Visitor Centre

The official merchandiser for the World Rugby Hall of Fame and the best selection of rugby sport and Rugby town gifts. Located in the atrium of the Rugby Art Gallery and Museum.

 

The Nest

High Streets in the UK are notoriously swamped with chain-stores, franchises and global brands. Rugby is no exception. However there is also a small army of independently owned businesses dotted along the High Street, and one of the newest and most interesting of these is The Nest. The shelves are stocked with locally made crafts, clothing and food. The choice of items is mind-boggling, and whether it’s a gift for a loved one, or a piece of furniture for your home, The Nest will have it stocked.

 

CV22

Clothing for the modern gentleman, named for, and inspired by, the history and heritage of Rugby (the postcode for parts of Rugby is CV22). Designed by Oliver Taylor above the shop, the range of items is focused on the preppy, and sartorial rugby-loving gentleman. From tailored shirts, to cashmere jumpers, to polo shirts emblazoned with the company logo. All the apparel is made locally, and designed in house. Their own range of footware, crafted in Northampton, is also available. Browse their website here.

 

Terracotta

Opened nearly 24 years ago, Terracotta is one of Rugby’s independent success stories. Family-owned, and always ahead of the fashion-curve, the team at Terracotta are a shining example of how good customer service can be in England.

 

Albert’s Menswear

Clothing for an aspiring youth and the stylish gentleman, Albert’s on Regent Street are the reason why the locals look so trendy. Well-stocked with brands such as Native Youth, Penguin, Selected Homme and Marc Darcy. They also have a suit hire service.

 

Sass

A boutique of beautiful clothing for women, Sass have a great range of styles from many global fashion brands. Their attentive staff are experts in helping you chose the right garment.

 

Hunts Bookshop

Local titles are a speciality at Hunts, and if you’re after a copy of a Rupert Brooke or Lewis Carroll (both local authors) then you’re bound to find it at Hunts. Recently a vinyl record store opened upstairs, specialising in original pressings from the past several decades.

 

Further Afield

 

Brownsover Hall Hotel

The Grade II Victorian Gothic mansion is equipped with 47 spacious bedrooms. The building itself was designed by one of England’s most celebrated architects; Sir George Gilbert Scott. During the early part of the Second War War, the mansion became the residence of Sir Frank Whittle, creator of the jet engine.

 

Swift Valley Nature Reserve

Located alongside Brownsover Hall Hotel, the Swift Valley Nature Reserve is a wheelchair friendly route along farmland, meadow, and reed beds. Ample parking and picnic spots available.

Autumn, at the Swift Valley Nature Reserve, #rugbytown

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Newbold Quarry

Quarrying finished in 1920 and natural springs flooded the pit. The lake is now home to white clawed crayfish and in spring it hosts large numbers of breeding toads. Aquatic plants provide cover for great crested grebe and coot. In winter the lake welcomes tufted duck, pochard and little grebe.

 

‘Hologram House’

This property was once the residence of Hungarian engineer Dennis Gabor. Mr Gabor was employed at the British Thomson-Houston factory here in Rugby, where he worked in the development department. Here he lived during the phase of his life which would reward him with a Nobel Prize; the invention of the hologram. The property is private and no public access is allowed.

 

Toft Alpacas

Located above Draycote Water stands a farm with an unusual herd. Toft farm alpacas, and you can visit the furry friends at their purpose-built visitor centre/shop/workshop/cafe and education room. They have created a range of crotchet-knit animals, and the patterns are available to buy along with the wool.

 

Draycote Water

The largest expanse of water in the county, and it’s only a few miles outside of Rugby. Built in the 1960’s and flooded in 1969, Draycote Water has provided generations of enjoyment, as well as providing water to thousands of homes in Rugby. Activities include sailing, fishing, cycling, windsurfing, birdwatching, and a gentle walking environment.

 

Hillmorton Locks

The canal locks in Hillmorton are a fantastic area of tranquility and heritage. Boats moor-up for a short stay, and among the series of locks is a business centre, complete with a sports therapy centre. You can walk from the locks along the Oxford Canal in either direction towards Braunston or Coventry.

hillmorton locks

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