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Stoneleigh Abbey


The kind of stately home that makes film directors go weak at the knees, Stoneleigh name-drops Charles I and Jane Austen among its past visitors. Completed in 1726 and only viewable on tours (included in admission), the splendid Palladian west wing contains richly detailed plasterwork ceilings and wood-panelled rooms. A 'reflecting lake' effect is created by the widened stretch of the River Avon, which runs through the grounds. It's 2 miles east of Kenilworth.

The original abbey was founded by Cistercian monks in 1154, though little remains except the 14th-century gatehouse; the house was built on the site of the monastery by the wealthy Leigh family (distant cousins of the Austens) in the 16th century.

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