I am a Brazilian journalist based in Birmingham, UK.
Visit my blog at http:// www.midlandstraveller.com
Published October 30th 2013
What about a quick stop in a town nearby Brum?
Living in the West Midlands has its many advantages, especially If you like travelling and exploring new places. We are surrounded by beautiful and historical towns. Fortunately, the most interesting train destinations, from Birmingham New Street or Moor Street station, take you practically anywhere in the country.
From the famous Stratford upon Avon to the Medieval Warwick, it`s fairly easy (and cheap) to visit different parts of the countryside in one single day.
Henley-in-Arden is one of those obligated stops. Located only 15 miles (or 40 minutes by train) far from Birmingham, this stunning village has only 2000 habitants and plenty to do and see.
In the eleventh century, Henley-in Arden was once known as important market town in the route between Birmingham and Stratford upon Avon and most of its high street buildings preserve the architecture back from that period.
The Henley-in-Arden Heritage Centre is the right starting to your visit and get knowledge about the town itself. Also Known as The Joseph Hardy House its gorgeous timber-Tudor is dated from 1345 and works as a three-floor museum to maintain all history of Henley-in-Arden. The centre has free admission, but for obvious reasons, it's highly recommended to make a donation.
Ice Cream Parlour
Another gem to be explored is Henley Ice Cream Parlour, a family run business opened since the 30s. Their range of ice cream flavours is really impressive but it's particularly cool having breakfast in this place. It's a perfect opportunity to catch up with some locals and find out a bit more about the importance of the ice cream (factory) to the West Midlands.
quickie bite? roast turkey with cranberry sauce
If you fancy antiques and charity shops, Henley-in-Arden's high street is a paradise. Just have a quickie peep to the most of the local shops and you'll know what I mean. Maybe because it's an affluent region or maybe the good taste prevails locally, but I just found beautiful and quality bargains there.
Another gorgeous shop, John Dukes Stationery and Print, is also an example of how historical buildings should be used as independent business. It's also the place where we found some interesting and unusual things.
John Dukes' beautiful façade
On the opposite side of John Dukes, it's St. John's Church, an imposing church that was first constructed in 1345 but this "new" church is dated from 1448 and the local library is also placed there.
One of my favourites spots, Torquil Pottery is responsible not just for representing the local art but also the history of Henley-in-Arden. Behind its modern gallery sign there is an important part of this town's heritage. Carey and her brother Paul keep their parent's legacy, this (upstairs) gallery opened in 1963 as a pottery shop run by Reg and Meg Moon.
Upstairs Galley & Torquil Pottery
I had a full explanation about this fascinating site while checking all ceramics, sculptures, paintings, potteries from the Upstairs Gallery. The house has a studio where pottery classes are placed weekly. Torquil is just a must for the art lovers.
Henley-in-Arden is a fantastic choice for eaters and drinkers. From a quick bite to special dinner occasions, it's possible to find plenty of fine restaurants and pubs.
If the idea is spending a nice afternoon drinking, my choice would be the Black Swam. Cozy, inviting and genuine, a very friendly staff and great food served helped to keep the standards of this traditional pub.
For the interested in sports, the bucolic Three Tuns does the trick. It's a wet pub where football, rugby and dart matches are taken seriously.
Nags Head: pints in a fine tavern
Nags Head is considered "the local" one, but I felt so comfortable and welcomr in this pub. Great for a pint or two (three, four...) There is a quite vibrant vibe in this place and the building inside is absolutely fantastic!
Inviting inside and outside
For the dinners, The BlueBell. The requited menu may you think it's an expensive choice. Actually, the prices are reasonable and in a special occasion this can be the right restaurant to finish your visit to Henley-in-Arden.