THE Warwickshire village of Studley is now a suburb of Redditch and much of its past prosperity was based on the same industry that fuelled Redditch’s early growth, the manufacture of needles and fishing tackle.

This was first documented in the 17th century but it was only in the early 19th century that it really took off, after James Pardow realised that the way forward was steam power and built a needle mill on Castle Road.

There are several buildings of interest in the village, of which the finest is the former Manor House (renamed Mountbatten House) at 101 Alcester Road, built in about 1680. Further down Alcester Road is St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, designed by J A Hansom, who was also the architect of Birmingham Town Hall, but is best known for inventing the Hansom cab. There are numerous pubs, the oldest of which is the Barley Mow, an inn since 1534.

Before that it was probably a granary owned by Studley Priory.

Little now remains of the priory, founded in about 1150 by Augustinian monks, but Priory Farm incorporates parts of it.

The oldest buildings at Studley are remote from the village, occupying a tranquil site on the far side of the river Arrow. The Old Castle is a Tudor house on the site of a Norman predecessor. Its former moat, now dry, is still clearly visible.

Next to The Old Castle stands the parish church, which is dedicated to the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A Saxon foundation, it was rebuilt by the Normans in about 1105 and subsequently altered and restored several times.

It’s a lovely building, with a churchyard full of primroses.

A short distance north-east of this ancient site is a Victorian building called Studley Castle, a Gothic fantasy first built as a house but since reinvented as a college, then a marketing centre and now a hotel.

This walk heads east from Studley to explore quiet countryside with no settlements of any size, just a scattering of hamlets and farms. One of these is Manor Farm at Morton Bagot where they raise British White Cattle, an unusual and very attractive traditional breed, first documented in the 17th century.

The animals are completely white, except for black ears and noses.


Start: Alcester Road (A435), Studley, south of Redditch, grid ref SP073638.

Length: Seven miles/11km.

Maps: OS Explorer 220, OS Landranger 150.

Terrain: Pasture, paddocks, parkland, arable; one very slight hill.

Footpaths: Mostly excellent, apart from a few gaps in the waymarking.

Stiles: Seven.

Parking: Off High Street, signed from Alcester Road.

Public transport: Take the 144 or the train to Bromsgrove to connect with the 143 to Studley (it starts at Marlbrook and calls at Bromsgrove bus and train stations), or take the 550/551 or train to Evesham to connect with the 247 to Redditch via Studley (166 and 248 on Sundays); or change at Redditch, reached by the 350 from Worcester or X3 from Stourport-on-Severn, Kidderminster and Bromsgrove; a faster option is to take the 350 from Worcester to Redditch and alight on Studley Road (next stop after the hospital) from where it’s an easy 15-minute walk to the village; tables or 01905 765765.

Refreshments: There are pubs, shops, restaurants and a café at Studley, and a pub at Mappleborough Green.


1 Walk south down Alcester Road then take a path on the left just after St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church. The path leads into parkland and you should head very slightly right at first, to meet a well defined path which goes directly across to the isolated parish church. Turn right when you meet a lane (Castle Road) by the church. Follow it round to the left, ignoring branching paths, then keep straight on as the lane becomes a footpath (Arden Way/Studley Heritage Trail). Keep to the Arden Way at all junctions, passing Studley Castle.

2 Approaching Castle Farm, go diagonally to the far right corner of a field, still on the Arden Way. Join a track but leave it after 100m, going straight on at a junction. After a further 500m the path starts to climb slightly and the route is unclear (no waymarking) but just keep straight on up Mars Hill, with woodland on your right. Keep to the right-hand edge at the top of the hill until a waymark points diagonally right towards Manor Farm at Morton Bagot.

3 At Manor Farm the Arden Way logo is missing from the waymarking at a junction – take the left-hand path and the route soon becomes obvious again. Turn left when you meet a lane at Chesters Green. Ignore the Arden Way when it takes to the fields again and stay on the lane instead.

Go straight on at a crossroads and after a few paces take a diverted path on the left. Go diagonally across two fields to a footbridge close to the far left corner of the second field. Bear left across the next field to find a gate in the fence then follow the right-hand edge of another field. Turn left when you meet Haye Lane and walk to Birmingham Road (A435).

4 Turn left, then left again on Pratts lane. Follow it back to Birmingham Road, where there’s a pub, The Boot. Go into the car park and cross a stile on the left. Follow a path diagonally through a young orchard and to the left of a pool then follow yellow-topped posts, turning right to enter a field. Go left to a large gate at the far side then straight on through fields and paddocks, keeping always to the left edge, to reach Field Farm.

Turn right and keep straight on at two junctions, walking along field edges until eventually a waymark points left to Castle Road. Turn right to Alcester Road at Studley.