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The Amateur Historian's Guide to the Heart of England
Nearly 200 Medieval & Tudor Sites
Two Hours or Less from London

Book Review

book cover Sarah Valente Kettler & Carole Trimble
Paperback, 410 pages
The Amateur Historian's Guides
Capital Books, Inc. US $22.95
ISBN 1-892123-65-7

Castles, stately homes, and other historic sites are scattered throughout the British Isles, but not everyone wants to go looking for them. If you're the sort of history buff who'd like to use London as a base for day and overnight trips, or who wants to plan a driving itinerary within easy reach of London, The Amateur Historian's Guide to the Heart of England is an essential planning tool.

The 410-page book describes nearly 200 medieval and Tudor sites that are within two hours of London by car or public transportation. Attractions include "castles, abbeys, manors, inns and pubs in Oxford, Windsor, Stratford-upon-Avon and the rest of Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, and Northamptonshire." Most of the sites can be visited within a day from London, but some require overnight stays or work best when combined because of their proximity or limited hours.

The medieval and Tudor sites are grouped by area, and in most cases you can reach an "anchor site" or town by train and visit the nearby sites by taxi or with a locally rented car. If you're well-heeled, you can hire a chauffeured car in London by the day or week and enjoy the convenience of having someone pick you up at the hotel. And should you be foolhardy enough to brave the traffic of metropolitan London on your own, you'll find motorway directions in each listing.

The entry for each site includes practical information such as phone number, e-mail or Web address, location, hours of operation, admission fees, and conveniences, plus a description of the site's history and what you'll see. Descriptions vary in length and breadth, but all are informative and written in an engaging style by two women who'd be great companions on an English sightseeing trip.

The Amateur Historian's Guide to the Heart of England is the third volume in the authors' guidebook series; the first two volumes are The Amateur Historian's Guide to Medieval & Tudor London and The Amateur Historian's Guide to Medieval & Tudor England: Day Trips South of London. All three books are worthwhile investments for history aficionados (including natives as well as visitors) who want to make the best possible use of their time in London and the surrounding regions.

Next page: Excerpt: Runnymede

In this review:
The Amateur Historian's Guide to the Heart of England
Excerpt: Runnymede