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24 September 2014

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Exploring important George Eliot locations

Arbury Hall
Arbury Hall, where George Eliot's father worked
Delve into the history and anecdotes behind the varied and fascinating places visited on the official George Eliot Country guided tours.

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Feature by Faye Claridge, Web Producer

Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council celebrate the area's most famous daughter, George Eliot, with tours of her old haunts.

 Arbury gardens
Visitors enjoying a tour break in Arbury's gardens
Called the George Eliot Country guided tours, they take in a great range of locations associated with the great writer, including her birthplace and childhood home along with places she used for scenes in her books.

To find out more about the guided tours follow the links on the left and read about the places they visit below.

The itinerary of the tours changes, so we've presented the locations in chronological order
to explore George Eliot's life in the area.

Photograph tour
Press the images button below to see a selection of photographs from the guided tour, showing a variety of beautiful and historic places in the area.

These include all the locations detailed on this page.

images button

Astley Church
 Astley Castle
Astley Castle now in ruins
George Eliot’s parents were married at Astley Church and the writer later used it as a location in Scenes of Clerical Life. She describes the building, calling it Knebley Church, and used some of the local people as inspiration for characters.

Astley Castle standing next-door (now in ruins) is also mentioned in the book, called Knebley Abbey.

South farm
 South Farm
South Farm as it is today
George Eliot's birthplace, South Farm, is one of the day's highlights as it can only be visited on an official guided tour.

She was born here, on the Arbury Estate, on 22 November 1819.

Then called Mary Ann Evans, she lived at South Farm for just four months before the family moved to nearby Griff House.

Chilvers Coton Church
 Chilvers Coton Church
Chilvers Coton Church
George Eliot was baptised (as Mary Ann Evans) at Chilvers Coton Church.

She also attended services here throughout her childhood. The family grave containing two of her brothers and both her parents is also in the churchyard.

The church was used as a location in George Eliot's book Scenes of Clerical Life, under the fictional name of Shepperton Church.

Griff House
 Griff House
Griff House seen today
George Eliot's childhood home was Griff House and it remained her brother's house until he died.

It is now a hotel and bar restaurant, but the older part of the building remains surprisingly unchanged.

Some of the building is used in the description of the fictional Dorlcote Mill in The Mill on the Floss.

The attic space was George Eliot's favourite place to play and this is also described in the Mill on the Floss as Maggie's favourite retreat.

Arbury Hall
 Arbury Hall
The grand Arbury Hall
George Eliot's father was a land agent for the Newdegate family and he moved to the area when the Newdegates moved into Arbury Hall.

He lived with his family on South Farm on the estate, before moving to nearby Griff House.

George Eliot knew Arbury Hall very well and was allowed to use its extensive library.

She uses descriptions of the hall in Scenes of Clerical Life, calling it Cheveral Manor. The detailed portrayals of rich plasterwork and fine windows are unmistakably Arbury Hall.

Museum and Art Gallery
 Nuneaton Art Gallery
Nuneaton Art Gallery
Nuneaton Museum and Art Gallery concludes the George Eliot story well, as it has details from the writer's later life in London.

The museum contains an interesting reconstruction of her drawing room in London, including her piano and one of her dresses.

There are also excellent displays about her life and some of the people she knew.

More on George Eliot
Compare the locations seen here with the archive drawings and photogtraphs we have collected online.

They show some of George Eliot's homes and favourite places many years ago.

For this and many more features about the writer, follow the links on the left.

For more information about the borough council's guided tours, pick up the leaflet from the local libraries or call the tourism officer on 024 7637 6490.

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