Rugby Town


Rugby is mainly known for being the birthplace of the eponymous game, but you’d be wrong if you thought this was all there was to know about this Midlands town. From museums to shopping all the way to the home improvements of rugby, this town has plenty to offer besides its sporting history. This article will tell you all you need to know about Rugby and what there is to see during your visit.

In case you weren’t already aware, Rugby is a market town situated in Warwickshire, in the West Midlands. It’s the second largest town in England with a population of just over 70,000. As well as being the birthplace of Rugby, Rugby is home to one of England’s oldest public schools, Rugby School. But that’s enough for now. For more facts and stories about Rugby (the town not the game!), you’ll have to read on.


History of Rugby


(Source: Wikipedia)

Rugby can trace its origins back to the Iron Age when the area was settled, but it wasn’t until the Saxon times that Rugby got its name. It was first mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086 under the name Rocheberie, which some believe means “Rook fort” in Anglo-Saxon. Rook, in this case, might refer either to the bird or a man’s name. After the Vikings landed, the name was altered to Rocheby which by 1200 evolved into the more familiar “Rokebi”. The town finally became known as ‘Rugby’ in the 1700s.




Rugby became a market town in 1255 when the lord of the manor Henry de Rokeby obtained a market charter. Up until the mid-1500s, Rugby’s history remains fairly similar to other market towns in the country. In 1567, however, the school was established, representing a significant moment in the town’s development. From then on, the town became increasingly relevant to major historical events and has associations with the Gunpowder Plot and the English Civil War.


Rugby’s more recent history, as with much of the Midlands, is one of growth and industrialisation. The influence of the school, the building of railways, and the cement industry all led to Rugby becoming an increasingly well-connected and expanding town. All of this culminated in the late 1930s when Frank Whittle developed the jet engine in Rugby.


Rugby The Game

Rugby Tackle

(Source: Wikipedia)

Of course, no article about Rugby town is complete without a bit about the game the town is famous for. The game was reportedly born with William Webb Ellis caught a football at Rugby school. There is in fact very little evidence to substantiate this story, but it’s become such a popular view that Rugby world cup is called the “William Webb Ellis Trophy”.


There is in fact evidence of hand-based ball games going all the way back to the Roman era, but the developments at Rugby school definitely helped to codify the game’s rules. The game of football as played at Rugby School between 1750 and 1823 did allow the players to pick up the ball, but not run with it. The ability to run with the ball was introduced between 1820 and 1830. There’s even debate over quite who introduced this new rule. One account claims it was William Webb Ellis, but others argue Jem Mackie was responsible.

The account that has William Webb Ellis as the founder of the modern game of rugby was written by a Mr Bloxam, a student at Rugby school around the same time as Webb Ellis. His account is the only evidence we have of the traditional story of how rugby was founded. Either way, it’s clear Rugby School was at the centre of the evolution of this now international sport.


True or not, this story is the reason that thousands of rugby fans flock to Rugby each year. The town has remained firmly at the heart of Rugby ever since its founding, and now has a whole range of rugby-orientated attractions for fans to enjoy. Rugby museums, statues, and now the rugby hall of fame are all situated within the town centre.



Staying in Rugby

As you’d expect, Rugby has a whole range of options when it comes to staying in and around the town. There’s a mixture of chains and independent hotels, so you’re bound to find the right hotel for you. There’s also a good mix of prices. From upmarket options for special occasions to self-catering and B&Bs, you’ll find something to suit your budget.


Rugby also has a range of caravan parks and campsites in the surrounding area, so you can enjoy the great outdoors and escape the busy town if the hustle and bustle gets too much.


If you’re arriving in Rugby by narrow boat, you’re in luck! Warwickshire has a very popular canal network which means there’s plenty of places to moor up. If you don’t own a canal boat, there are a number of local businesses which rent out narrow boats for holidays. Why not make your stay truly unique and stay on a narrowboat?



Attractions of Rugby

(Source: Wikipedia)

So, what is there to see in modern-day Rugby? The answer is that there’s plenty to see and not all of it is related to the game either! Of course, there is the World Rugby Hall of Fame and Webb Ellis Rugby Football Museum to see if you’re interested in the sport. Below is a list of attractions in Rugby. There’s something for everyone!


World Rugby Hall of Fame

Turning to the Rugby Hall of Fame first, Rugby town was fortunate enough to become the home for it in 2016. The Hall of Fame is open daily and draws thousands of visitors a year. Take a journey through the history of the sport with state-of-the-art curation technology, like touch screens, to learn all about the 121 World Rugby national unions. This is a great place for anyone who wants to really learn about the current state of the sport. Kids go free throughout July and August 2018, so hurry!


Webb Ellis Rugby Museum

The Webb Ellis Rugby Museum is for those who want to really get to know the origins of this international sport. The museum is situated just opposite Rugby school in the building where William and James Gilbert made the first rugby balls and shoes.


The museum is divided into four areas: information on the origins of the rugby ball and how it was manufactured; the story of the game’s beginnings; the players of the game; and the origins of the game itself. You can also learn about how rugby became the international sport it is today.

Rugby School

(Source: Wikipedia)



Rugby School

Rugby School is one of the oldest public schools in England. The school was founded in 1567, after Lawrence Sheriff, a grocer who earned a great fortune supplying, among others, Queen Elizabeth I, left money in his will to set up a school that would educate the boys of Rugby for free. In the mid-18th century, after its popularity had grown considerably, it became a fee-charging school. To continue Lawrence Sheriff’s will, to have a school that provided free education, a new school was established in 1878.

The school provides tours of its buildings and grounds every Sunday and also has a small museum. Due to the popularity of the school, pre-booking is a must if you want to get a tour!


Rugby Art Gallery and Museum

This one’s perfect for art lovers. Rugby’s art gallery and museum have between four and six temporary exhibitions each year. One of these draws on art from the Rugby collection. There’s now a newly opened archaeology gallery too, which allows you to take a look at artefacts from local archaeological digs.


If you’ve got kids, the gallery also holds activities and events for children and families. The school holidays see a whole range of events going on each week as well. So, if you’ve got a budding young artist, this is the place for you.


Caldecott Park

Rugby town also has some amazing outdoor spaces. So if you’re feeling a little cooped up after all those museums or it’s a sunny day, why not take a trip to Caldecott Park? Opened in 1904, Caldecott park is named after the Caldecott family who were the lords of Rugby Manor. Thomas Caldecott was the last Lord of the Manor, dying in 1875.


Caldecott park has won numerous horticultural awards and offer stunning flower displays and a children’s adventure playground. There’s also a bandstand for outdoor music and, in the summer, there are regular outdoor events. With so much to see, this really is a place you could spend all day.


The Warwickshire Canal Ring

Caldecott Park isn’t the only outdoor activity in Rugby, there’s also the Warwickshire canal ring. The canal ring really brings two activities, depending on your interest. It’s perfect for gentle strolls through the picturesque countryside, so if you fancy getting out of the busy town centre for a bit this is a great opportunity.


But the canal also offers the opportunity to take a narrow boat trip. The Warwickshire canal ring is popular among narrowboat enthusiasts because of the stunning scenery along its route. Taking a boat down the canal will take you past Warwick Castle and Coventry Cathedral, as well as countless stunning fields.


Draycote Water Country Park

Rugby on a map

(Source: Wikipedia)


If Caldecott Park and the canal ring didn’t provide you with enough outdoor options, Draycote Water Country Park should be able to help.


Draycote Water offers water sports, fishing, a wetlands nature trail and bird hides, all set in 21 acres of land. You also get stunning views of the surrounding countryside with inviting open slopes that are perfect for walking.


There’s also a brand-new play area in the park, and the Visitor centre has been recently refurbished to allow for full disabled access. If you’re feeling peckish after all those activities, why not stop by the newly opened café?




Rugby High Street

(Source: Wikipedia)

The centre of Rugby is a shopper’s paradise. The historic surroundings provide a lovely environment and there’s a range of big name brands and independent stores at your disposal. On the high street you’ll find everything from clothes shops to kitchenware stores, so you can shop until your heart’s content.


Eating and drinking

All those outdoor activities and museum visits are bound to build up an appetite. Thankfully, Rugby has a great range of cafes, bars and restaurants. There’s also a healthy mix of chains and independent local establishments.


If you’re just looking for a coffee, you won’t need to look far at all, Rugby is just full of quaint little cafes. If you’re looking for an evening meal, the only difficulty you’ll have is choosing what type of cuisine you’d like. Rugby caters to Italian, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican, and British. You’ve also got a range of restaurants for different occasions, from fast-food places when you’re in a hurry to restaurants more suited to special occasions.


Food aside, Rugby is well known for the number of pubs it has within its town centre, so there’ll be no shortage of places to sit down and sample some of the local ales. If beer isn’t your thing, you’ll also find a selection of bars which offer a range of wines and cocktails. Each pub and bar offers something different, so if you’re looking for live music, good atmosphere, or a place to catch up and relax, there’s a place for you.


Rugby Cineworld

It’s come to the end of the day, and you’re probably feeling exhausted after all that museum-going and canal walking. What better way to relax than to go to the cinema? Rugby Cineworld offers all the latest blockbusters and independent films for you to choose from. From kids’ films to the latest action flick, Cineworld can provide for the whole family.



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