As part of my Literary March project, I ended up in Tamworth. In November I began messaging literary festivals to blog about for March, and Anthony was the first to respond. We had a quick chat on the phone, and then it was set. My dream of the Literary March had begun. At that time, I didn’t know all that would happen or that I would quit my job to pursue this vision, but it was the beginning of an intention that would change my whole life. And bring me to Tamworth.
Tamworth is a town by the River Tame, population of 76,500. It is home to the Tamworth Castle, the first indoor snow centre in the UK, and very close to Drayton Manor Theme Park. It has a very interesting history, as the capital of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Mercia, as well as the birthplace of the Tamworth Manifesto, fundamental in the founding of the Conservative Party. A number of Tamworth residents have had a great impact in history: William MacGregor created the COOP, Blaze Bayley is the lead singer of Iron Maiden, and Sir Robert Peel developed the modern police force and is the reason police are called “Bobbies” in the UK.
In the 1980s, Tamworth had a thriving rock n’roll scene, and think it still does as I noticed a lot of tattoos and dyed hair. I really enjoyed my time in Tamworth, and will be coming back! Mostly, because I spontaneously decided to paint a plate and need to come pick it up.
Here’s a few suggestions:
Must Tour Tamworth Castle
The Tamworth Castle is absolutely gorgeous. Right in the center of town in a huge grounds that overlooks the meeting of the River Anker and the River Tame. It is a lovely place to go for a stroll. I wasn’t able to go inside, as the Castle was still on winter hours, but I want to come back. It is a Norman castle that served as residence for the Mercian kings in Anglo-saxon times, and is today one of the best preserved motte-and-bailey castles in England. King Henry I through III have all visited the castle, so you probably should, too.
Must Paint Pottery at the Community Together Center
While wandering around the castle grounds I stumbled upon the Community Together Center. Obviously, totally in love with the name. Their mission is to empower communities to grow well, live well, age well. Just beautiful. They have a cafe, job club, and youth activities. I popped in and discovered they also offer pottery painting. I loved Clay Club as a child, and when I saw prices starting at 5 quid, I couldn’t resist. I also couldn’t resist painting a plate that cost just a bit more than 5 quid. Now I have to come back to collect my plate! Oh silly Sammy. but it was so fun! I painted my plate orange and wrote, “Beauty in the ordinary” and imagined myself in two weeks eating my toasted PB & J sandwich and red pepper alone in my kitchen and thought about how I needed to appreciate the beauty in that, as usually I just felt alone and nostalgic.
Must Stay at The Globe Inn
Anthony of Tamworth LitFest recommended The Globe Inn to stay, and I didn’t think twice. It was a great place to stay, a cozy bed and breakfast attached to a pub. My room was the perfect size, a single bed, toilet, and shower. Usually I stay in hostels or on couches, so this was a luxury. I never understood why anyone ever used hotels, but now I do. It was so relaxing to come back to my room, sleep alone in a nice bed in a quiet room, and wake up to a full English Breakfast. The breakfast was delicious and made me proud to be English. I even had dinner at the Globe Inn – my first steak and kidney pie. I’ve been avoiding kidney, although my grandparents often recommend it as a cheap meat option when I complain about how I have no money. It was so good and meaty.
Must Drink at the Sir Robert Peel Pub
I only popped into this pub, but I wanted to stay longer. It felt alive and bleeding with rock’n roll history. There was an ACDC t-shirt hanging from the ceiling. They had a great jukebox with fun tunes, and were proudly family owned! Their catchphrase is “A real pub for real people who enjoy real beer.” That indeed was the vibe I got.
Must Eat at Mushu, Poacher’s Cafe
Had a delightful latte at Mushu, great insightful chat about life with the waitress Kay. Lovely atmosphere, friendly and welcoming. Great to be introduced to Tamworth by someone who had lived her whole life in Tamworth.
For lunch, I went to Poacher’s Cafe. Great little cafe, very genuine. Had the special of the day, Cottage pie and veg. It was just the right size and very yummy. Great price of 4.95!
Must Visit the Tamworth Library
The Library was right behind the gorgeous Church of St Editha’s, could see it from the window. Three floors of booky goodness, and no one asking you for money. I spent a good three hours there writing and researching for the festival. The dappled sunlight and the daffodils through the window made me feel inspired.
Must check out the Tamworth Heritage Trust
In a wee store in the center of town, the Tamworth Heritage Trust have a great space filled with information about the local history. Margaret and Greg, volunteers of the trust, were so friendly and welcoming, and shared with me very interesting tidbits about the town. I really enjoyed learning about the Sir Robert Peel Society, and hope to one day go visit the Museum in Middleton Hall. I also learnt about a soldier Colin Grazier from Tamworth who was instrumental for getting the information that allowed Alan Turing and his team at Bletchley Park to crack the code. Grazier was one of two soldiers who sacrificed their lives to retrieve vital codebooks from a sinking a German u boat, changing the entire course of the war. So much respect.
Must Coffee at No. 18
I’d been looking for a shop like this my whole time in Tamworth, and I finally found it. Cute with great coffee – connected to a barber shop! The interior was charming, with a 17th century hearse decorated with cacti and a handwritten chalkboard of text with a coffee blog from 1642. They had handmade illustrations hanging on the wall, plants from the ceiling and exposed brick and oak beams like a cottage – very hipster Shakespeare vibes. Loved it, and would definitely come back. Very laptop friendly with lots of plugs. Didn’t ask about the wifi, was a bit embarrassed. I hate using wifi in a cafe on a Saturday morning. I got used to it when I was applying for jobs, as it was either apply for jobs or stay miserable, but it still flusters me.
Must Attend Tamworth LitFest
It happens once a year, but it is worth a journey. A variety of events with interesting authors and a lovely, inclusive community. It even inspired an acrostic poem.
Overall, a fab town with a lot going on – so many bars! I will definitely be back.
Accommodation price- £40 (included breakfast)
Train ticket return – £18.00 (with railcard)
Lunch – £4.95
Dinner – £9.95 for a pie and a half pint
Total = £75.80