Tysoe to scenic Compton Wynyates
Enjoy spectacular views of one of Warwickshire's finest houses on this scenic walk over high ground
Regarded as one of the most visually striking mansions in England and described by Pevsner as 'the most perfect picture-book house of the Early Tudor decades', Compton Wynyates is all that remains of the village of Compton-in-the-Hole, which was depopulated by Sir William Compton during the reign of Henry VIII. The reason was simple: Sir William wanted to create a spacious park around his new home, built in brick on the site of an earlier structure, and the village was in the way.Compton WynyatesLying in a secluded fold of the hills, about 12 miles (19km) southeast of Stratford-upon-Avon, Compton Wynyates first came into the possession of Philip de Compton in about 1204 and has been in the same family ever since. The original moated house was demolished and a new brick and stone building begun in about 1481 by Edmund de Compton, part of which still survives in the vicinity of the courtyard. The rebuilding of Compton Wynyates took about 40 years to complete.The house passed to Edmund's son who, at the end of the 15th century, was a young page to Prince Henry. He was knighted by Henry VIII following the Battle of Tournai in 1512 and, as a gesture of thanks, the King also gifted him the old castle at Fulbroke, near Warwick. However, so keen was the Compton family to improve and enlarge Compton Wynyates that the castle was soon demolished to provide extra materials. Undoubtedly, the timber roof of the hall and the oriel window facing the courtyard came from Fulbroke. Many other distinguished features from that period include the battlemented towers and the great porch, which has the arms of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon above the door. Henry VIII stayed here on several occasions, as did Elizabeth I, James I and Charles I.The variety of colour in the brickwork is breathtaking, with hardly two bricks being the same shade. As you look down the drive towards the house, you should catch a hint of pale rose, orange, dark red and blue. It was during the Civil War that Compton Wynyates experienced its darkest days. The house was besieged, captured and plundered by the Parliamentarians in 1644, and the Royalist Compton family exiled. The church was completely demolished at this time and the deep scars left from this period in Britain's history can still be seen at Compton Wynyates. The house was eventually returned to the Compton family after the restoration of the monarchy.Secret passagesPrivately owned and sadly not open to the public, Compton Wynyates comprises a fascinating network of secret passages, hidden rooms and fine stairways. It is said that there are almost 100 rooms and about 300 windows. The dining room has a fine Elizabethan, or perhaps early Jacobean, ceiling and there are many portraits in the house of Compton ancestors. Carved panels depicting the Battle of Tournai and a 16th-century tapestry of Cupid picking grapes are among many other historic features.
Make for the southern end of Upper Tysoe and look for the turning signposted 'Shenington and Banbury'. Follow the road, keeping Middleton Close on the left, and turn right just before the speed de-restriction signs at a gate and footpath sign. Keep alongside first allotments and then the field boundary to a kissing gate in the corner and continue across the field to the next stile. Keep ahead in the next field, passing under power lines, and make for a plank bridge and stile in the boundary hedge ahead. Go straight on up the field slope and, on reaching the brow of the hill, go through a second field and drop down to the right to join the road.
Turn left and follow the road as it curves right and up the hill. Pass Broomhill Farm and continue ahead to the first crossroads. Turn right here, signposted 'Compton Wynyates', and pass a turning on the left to Winderton. Follow the lane along to the main entrance to Compton Wynyates on the right.
Keep walking ahead, passing a house on the left-hand side and, as the road begins to curve left, look for a galvanised gate on the right. Join the green lane and follow it to the next gate and stile. Continue ahead and, when the track curves to the left, go straight ahead and up the edge of the field. Pass a ruined stone-built barn and make for the top corner of the field. Take some steps up the bank before climbing steeply but briefly up to a kissing gate. Keep a stone wall and a restored windmill on your left-hand side and look over to the right for a splendid view of Compton Wynyates house.
Go through a gate a few paces ahead and then follow the path over the high ground, keeping to the right of the windmill. Make for a hedge corner ahead, pass through the gap and then descend the field slope, keeping the hedge on your right. Pass into the next field and keep close to the right-hand boundary. Aim a little to the left of the bottom right corner of the field and make for a stile leading out to the road. Turn right and return to the centre of Tysoe.
Field paths, tracks and roads, several stiles
Undulating countryside on edge of Cotswolds
On lead or under control across farmland and careful along roads
OS Explorer 206 Edge Hill & Fenny Compton
Roadside spaces in Tysoe
None on route
Walking in safety
Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.
Also in the area
About the area
The sparkle of sunlight on a gentle river as it meanders through beautiful countryside; the reflections of sailing boats on a lake; relaxing with a pint in the garden of an old English pub in a picturesque village; brightly coloured narrow boats making their way through a flight of lock gates; the imposing silhouette of an historic castle. These are the scenes that make Warwickshire a delight.
There may be few seriously high hills in this fertile plain, but it is an area full of attractive walking in rolling countryside, blessed with a fascinating history and wonderful places and buildings to visit. This is Shakespeare’s county, and the footprint of the famous Bard appears almost everywhere. He was born and brought up around the beautiful Warwickshire town of Stratford-upon-Avon, and many of his plays draw upon his own experiences in the area.
Warwickshire has a history that embraces the Civil War, castles and large country houses are scattered over the county. Warwick Castle is the home of the Earl of Warwick, Kenilworth Castle was a stronghold for lords and kings of England in the 11th and 12th centuries, and so the list goes on.