For a glimpse of England long past, consider Kenilworth. It's got England's most romantic ruined castle

What's going for it? It's hard to imagine someone waxing quite so lyrical about Kenilworth these days as Sir Walter Scott did in his eponymous novel. Not because the town isn't lovely: it is. At its heart broods the evocative, ruined castle – greatest ruin in the kingdom? – that got the old romantic, Scott, so worked up. Long before the railways, dual carriageways and bypasses pumped this town full of Coventry commuters, Kenilworth was quite the thing. Warwickshire was the spiritual heart of the nation: John O'Gaunt and all that. Sixteenth-century hottie, Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, would entertain his ladyfriend, Queen Elizabeth, at his castle pad with pageants and feasts and lavish entertainments the likes of which the nation, let alone Kenilworth, had never seen before. By contrast, an evening at The Clarendon Arms rather palls by comparison. These days, with its Waitrose, leafy, satisfied streets and suburban homes, the town is the epitome of a different kind of middle England. But sometimes, just sometimes, at twilight on a spring day, with buds plump on the oak trees in Abbey Fields, I swear you might catch a shadow of something in the thickets, a doublet and hose perhaps, the fleeting phantom of an England long past.

The case against Very quiet and sleepy. Touch of the dormitory town about it. Not especially cheap.

Well connected? The railway passes through but, to much local chagrin, does not stop; there are rumours it will reopen. Car it is then: 12 minutes to Coventry and Warwick, a few minutes longer to the M40 and Birmingham Airport; just over half an hour to central Birmingham if the traffic's OK; 30 minutes to the M6.

Hang out at... Clarendon Arms by the castle for a quiet pint, Restaurant Bosquet for posh.

Schools A good haul. Primaries: St Augustine's RC, Park Hill Junior, St Nicholas CofE, Clinton "good"; Priors Field "outstanding". The town's secondary Kenilworth School is "outstanding".

Where to buy Surrounding the castle, there's a small, old centre to explore for cottages and townhouses: Castle Hill, the High Street etc – you'll even find thatched cottages. Victorian terraces and semis on/off the streets out of town, such as Albion Street, then a thick padding of affluent suburbia.

Market values Large detacheds, £475,000-£700,000. Detacheds, £250,000-£475,000. Semis, £180,000-£300,000. Terraces, £160,000-£280,000.

Bargain of the week Pleasant, period two-bedroom cottagey terrace with a good back garden, in the town centre, needing refurbishment; £125,000 with Heritage Property.

From the streets

James Kennedy "The best ruined castle in England. Ever wondered what happened to the abbey after Henry VIII had done with it? Older houses have bits of the Abbey in our walls or gardens."

Anne Wilson "A great place with a friendly feel. Abbey Fields has attractive green spaces. The Almanack is always buzzing."

Roger Smith "It's surrounded by countryside, yet close to Coventry, Birmingham, Leamington and Warwick University Arts Centre."

Live in Kenilworth? Join the debate below.

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Tom Dyckhoff © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds



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