The Abbey stands in one of the most beautiful and luxuriant parts of the county, between Kenilworth and Leamington; the Avon winding through its pleasure grounds and deer park. In the medieval part of the building there is an ancient gate- house, upon which is still to be seen a stone escutcheon bearing the arms of Henry II., the founder of the Abbey.
In the days of the Stuarts the Leighs were ardent Royalists. It was in Stoneleigh Abbey that King Charles I. found a
resting-place in 1642. “The King was on his way to set up his standard at Nottingham and had marched to Coventry; but
finding the gates shut against him, and that no summons could prevail with the mayor and magistrates to open them, he
went the same night to Sir Thomas Leigh’s house at Stoneleigh, and there his majesty met with a warm and loyal welcome
and right plenteous and hospitable entertainment from his devoted subject Sir Thomas.” Was Sir Walter Scott, we wonder,
thinking of this same Sir Thomas Leigh when he described the character of his fine old cavalier, Sir Harry Lee, of
In her book, Jane Austen and the Clergy, Irene Collins relates the following
fascinating history of Jane Austen’s own
connection with this great house.
During the interlude in which the Austen ladies quit Bath (with such happy feelings of escape) and the time that they