If you are ever in the Stratford-upon-Avon area of Alcester, near Mary Arden’s cottage, there is a magnificent Elizabethan Manor House, oak-lined throughout the ground floor, especially the impressive grandeur of the Great Hall, that is now the Billesley Manor Hotel. BUT in the grounds of this is its own church that dates back to the 11th century, All Saint’s Church, that really is worth a quick visit. This ancient building of Cotswold stone retains retains the churchy scent of dust and age. Now a grade 1 listed building it was altered and remodelled at the end of the 17th century in 1692, but some of the original features remain. It is strongly viewed that in 1582 William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway here and indeed future members of that family are also associated with it.
Wandering around the small graveyard most of the graves are impossible to read due to their great age but a brand new headstone was placed for a burial in 2016. In 1976 care of the church was transferred to the Churches Conservation Trust. And it is free.
While there you could also avail yourself perhaps of afternoon tea at the hotel, with or without an obligatory glass of champagne and then wander through the extensive grounds. The joy of the suntrap topiary area will make you smile at the very skillfully exhibited shapes – see how many you can make out!