It is here that Charles I is said to have raised the bar, having become the first ruler to officially recognize the importance of alcohol. The king is said to have taxed alcohol in the 1630s when many people were distilling in their kitchens.
So it’s almost fitting that the Warwickshire hamlet of Edgehill, site of the first major battle of the English Civil War (which pitted Charles’ Royalist forces against the Parliamentarian army), should loom above its weight in the issues of alcohol production. Edgehill Castle is a craft restaurant and pub.
But it’s also home to a new gin school where people can learn about the history and provenance of Warwickshire-based Pinnock Gin and be guided through the gin-making process using a range of plants. The Castle Gin School, located in the formerly derelict Grade II listed tower, also offers hour-long tasting sessions for those who are a little less concerned with craftsmanship and more concerned with a drink!
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The school’s historic location is not lost on Dan Beckett, who started Pinnock Distillery in his own kitchen at nearby Kineton three years ago. He said: “The fact that the Gin School overlooks the very spot where he (Charles I) stood on top of the hill during the battle is unique.
“When I started I was keen to keep things as traditional as possible and use a recipe from that period. I found a recipe book that had been republished from 1636 – so based on all my plants from this period.”
For Dan, The Castle is a “very special place” as it was for many years his local drinker and the first establishment to stock his gin. And it’s a special place for anyone visiting with the tower offering breathtaking views of the sprawling countryside below Edgehill, the county’s highest parish.
Stunning views and fascinating footnotes in history (plus the New Gin School!) make Edgehill a popular place for tourists and an attractive place to live. With so few homes around, getting hold of a property is incredibly difficult – and expensive.
According to property website Zoopla, only one house in the area has sold since 2016. Woodside House, a semi-detached property, fetched £800,000 in June last year. Imagine what individual houses bring in!
Edgehill is most often associated with the famous, albeit inconclusive, battle of the same name. But the area around Edgehill can also boast of being rich in minerals.
The land has been extensively mined for Jurassic ironstone since the 11th century. Later iron ore was mined and transported on the Edge Hill Light Railway to the Stratford-upon-Avon and Midland Junction Railway near Burton Dassett.
And just down the road there is another attraction in the form of Upton House and Gardens. Built in 1695 by Cambridge MP Sir Rushout Cullen, Upton House was occupied by a number of different families before being donated to the National Trust by Lord Bearstead in 1948.
So what about his vital stats?
* Location – Edgehill is a hamlet in the civil parish of Ratley and Upton, in the district of Stratford-upon-Avon, south Warwickshire. It lies approximately seven miles northwest of Banbury and 14 miles east of Stratford-upon-Avon.
* People – We don’t know what the population of Edgehill is, or even the parish.
* Transport links – Johnsons Coaches, based in Henley-in-Arden, provide coach services to Banbury and Stratford. The nearest station is at Banbury. Junction 12 of the M40, at Gaydon, is 11 kilometers away for people with vehicles.
* Average real estate price – Given that only one property has been sold since 2016, it is difficult, and potentially misleading, to give an average home price. Prior to last year’s single transaction, nine homes ranged from £210,000 to £1,925,000 when sold between 2013 and 2016.
*Approvals – Tysoe CE Primary and Kineton High are the closest schools. These two villages are also home to the post offices closest to Edgehill. For some Edgehill locals, Ratley’s Rose and Crown pub is even closer than The Castle Inn. In the absence of a village store, deliveries of milk and newspapers are organized to help people get around.
* Sports and Clubs – Ratley Village Hall is home to a festival choir, garden club, women’s institute, table tennis club and sewing class. It also occasionally organizes auctions, brunches, concerts, dances and films. In terms of sports, the nearest football teams play at Ratley Recreation Grounds and the local cricket team is at Radway.