Here’s everything you must know to explore the birthplace of the world-famous sport.
The quaint town of Rugby, Warwickshire, is best known as the birthplace of the world-famous sport bearing the same name. The game is closely linked to the Rugby School, a prestigious Public School dating back to the 16th Century.
Three pupils first wrote the game’s rules in 1845, and the original documents remain safely preserved in the school museum. If you’re near Warwickshire, we highly recommend spending some time exploring the historic town of Rugby.
Top 10 Must Visit Places to Visit in Rugby
From the prestigious Rugby School to the Webb Ellis Rugby Museum and everything in between, these are the top ten places near Rugby to visit in 2022.
Rugby School and Museum
One of England’s seven original Public Schools opens its doors to visitors every Saturday. Established in 1567, the Rugby School is among England’s oldest educational establishments. Imminent designer William Butterfield designed the chapel, gymnasium, quadrangle, temple reading room, and the Macready Theatre.
The roots of rugby, the sport, can be traced back to the school. Three pupils penned the game’s first rules in 1845, meaning it’s fair to say this is where rugby was born. The museum preserves several artefacts proving the claim, including the earliest pictures from a game dating back to 1851.
St Andrew’s Church
After completing his work at the Rugby School, William Butterfield focused on redesigning the parish church. Most of what is left today are from this 19th Century re-modelling effort. You’ll find several examples of Butterfield’s iconic polychrome in the sanctuary, spire, and northeast tower.
However, the square west tower is the sole remaining portion of the original building constructed in the 14th Century. If you enjoy learning about various architectural styles and patterns, you’ll cherish the tour.
A vast green open space in the middle of town, Caldecott Park stands on a park bought from the property’s previous owner and Lord of the Manor, Thomas Caldecott, at the start of the 20th Century. It’s situated between the council building and Benn Hall towards the north end of the town centre.
Caldecott Park is the hub of cultural activities in Rugby. Drop by during the summer for a stroll around the park and admire the vibrant flowerbeds and an old bandstand putting up an excellent performance. Check the council website for craft fairs and art exhibitions periodically hosted on the grounds.
Since the park’s renovation a decade ago, Caldecott Park receives a green flag every year. The revamp introduced a café, two play areas, and a multi-use sports area.
The Rugby Theatre is a renowned performing arts venue for amateur performers. Don’t forget to watch a play if you’re in town. Dedicated teams regularly put on big-budget musicals, classic plays, modern drama, and farces. You might be surprised to know that most of these productions aren’t professional.
Rugby Theatre also hosts guest performers, and the calendar is packed with exciting performances like operas, children’s dances, plays, bands, and celebrity speakers. There are approximately 100 nights of live performances every year. And the venue doubles as a cinema to showcase independent movies and new releases.
Rugby Market Place
The town centre is a must-visit when you’re in Rugby. Spruced up with newly planted trees and vibrant flowerbeds, the Rugby Market Place oozes heritage. You’ll find fun little details like oval brass plates embedded in the pavement celebrating rugby’s famous players everywhere.
The Jubilee Clock Tower, constructed in 1887 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, is located at the end of the pedestrianised area. The Rugby Market Place has been in operation since 1235, and the trade continues today.
Great Central Walk
The town of Rugby was initially sandwiched between two railway networks – the West Coast Mainline and the Great Central Railway. However, the last train departed Rugby Central in 1969. And the railway lines have since evolved into a well-maintained walking route.
The Great Central Walk is convenient as the line cuts right through the heart of town. The route covers an old station and historic Victorian-era brick bridges periodically. The walk is a nature lover’s paradise maintained by the Rugby Borough Council.
Rugby Art and Gallery Museum
Constructed in 2000, the Rugby Art and Gallery Museum is in a complex alongside the World Rugby Hall of Fame and the town library. The museum preserves several artefacts recovered at Tripontium, an old Romano-British town nearby.
The exhibits include old coins, glassware, pottery, and sketches retrieved from excavations. Visitors can also learn more about the town’s history. The highlight of the Art Gallery is the massive exhibit from some of the most renowned 20th Century British artists like Graham Sutherland, Stanley Spencer, Paula Rego, and L. S. Lowry.
Swift Valley Nature Reserve
Located a stone’s throw from the Rugby town centre is this conserved piece of countryside. The Swift Valley Nature River sits on the banks of the river Swift. The land is covered in marshes, hedges, pastures and woodland. A disused portion of the Oxford Canal passes through this stretch.
Swift Valley Nature Reserve was once farmland. It has since turned into a pasture for cows and a bed of wildflowers. The area has a novel ecosystem with some fantastic green cover. You’ll find loads of different plants and trees in the area like willows, alders, oaks, daffodils, etc.
Newbold Quarry Park
Newbold Quarry Park is a nature lover’s paradise. Located a few miles from Rugby town centre, the pit was flooded during the 1920s after quarrying halted. The lime-rich soil nourishes several alkali-friendly plants and shrubs, attracting butterflies in the summer. Overall, it’s a sight to behold!
The pool is surrounded by ashen woodland and sycamore, providing the ideal cover for several songbirds like tits, warblers, and finches. If you’re headed there during the summer, keep an eye out for tufted ducks, pochards, grebes, and coots.
Webb Ellis Rugby Museum
Just opposite the Rugby School is an enthralling piece of history. Webb Ellis Rugby Football Museum is the original shop where James Gilbert, a boot and shoemaker, moved in 1842 to expand into the ball-making business.
Gilbert continues to be a reputed brand in the rugby industry, and the shop still makes the balls by hand. The museum was founded in 1980 and tracked the developments made to the sport. The exhibits include crude balls made from pig’s bladder to modern synthetic balls.
Have You Packed Your Bags Yet?
Rugby has many fascinating venues to keep you entertained if you like exploring new places. We picked the ten most spectacular places you must explore on your next visit. If you enjoy spending time outdoors, here’s a list of the top ten winter adventures in Warwickshire.
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