Can there be a more unusual pub in Britain? Can there be a pub with better views? The views from the Castle Inn's garden and terrace stretch out across several neighbouring counties. Some say that, on a clear day, it is possible to make out the Wrekin in Shropshire and the foothills of the Welsh mountains! However, the less distant hills of Broadway and Malvern are more obvious.
The pub is built on the summit of Edgehill, some 700ft above sea level. It overlooks the battlefield of Edgehill where Englishman fought Englishman in the first major battle of the English Civil War. The pub’s octagonal tower marks the spot where, on the afternoon of Sunday 23 October 1642, King Charles I raised his standard and summoned his officers about him to prepare for war.
The Castle Inn, is also known as The Round Tower, or Radway Tower. Inside there are two bars –one contains replicas of armour and weapons used during the battle, the other is the place to indulge in pub games while enjoying some home cooked food. There is a small covered terrace, which offers some stunning views as does the garden outside.
Although its postal address is Banbury, Oxfordshire, the village of Edgehill actually nestles about a mile inside the Warwickshire border.
The octagonal tower was started in 1742 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Edgehill and was opened on 3rd September, 1750, the anniversary of Oliver Cromwell's death. It was built by Sanderson Miller, or Millar, who lived in nearby Radway.
The Battle of Edgehill
The King's line was along the crest of the hill. The Parliamentary soldiers under Lord Essex - having marched from Worcester via Kineton in ten days - were beyond the village of Radway in the plain immediately below the pub.
Many renowned Warwickshire families were involved in the Battle of Edgehill; the Verneys, the Fieldings and the Shuckburghs. Father fought son, brother matched brother.
Some 30,000 Englishmen took arms against each other. But like so many, the Batttle of Edgehill was indecisive - a mix up of slashing steel, cannon and musket fire which claimed the lives of more than 1,500 men on each side. Today the King’s men and Parliamentary troops often drink side by side at the pub as it is frequently used by groups recreating the famous battle.
The tower first became an Inn in 1822 when it was sold by a descendant of Sanderson Miller to become a free house.
The story goes that he was a minister of religion and that the decision was unpopular with his family. In 1922 the Inn was acquired by the Hook Norton Brewery. For walkers there are many nearby public footpaths and bridle paths, There is a maze of trails in the woods close to the Inn while, across the road a public path leads through and over some of the local quarries.
Motorists are a short drive away from Banbury, with its famous nursery rhyme Cross, Shakespeare's Stratford, historic Warwick, Royal Leamington Spa and the rolling hills of the Cotswolds. Less than two miles from the Inn is the National Trust property Upton House.