musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

The Battle of Tewkesbury 1471

Having seen the re-enactment of the Battle of Tewkesbury I feel that the time has come to try lay it to bed. I have seen enough now to finally make some sort of sense of it, although I probably still don’t know enough. You can read about the actual battle on the relevant page on Wikipedia 

To really understand the whole shebang you need to know where it happened and there are a number of maps out there to show the area. I picked up this one in a shop window although I do not know when it dates from, but it does show the outline of the cemetery which means it was created after 1857 as the cemetery was opened in that year. There is a reason why the cemetery position is important, but that comes later. 

(Lancastrian forces are the darker rectangles, Yorkists are the lightly shaded forces)

What you should know is that the Lancastrians are descendants or supporters of John (of Gaunt) Duke of Lancaster, second son of Edward III, younger brother of Edward the Black Prince. Their badge was a red rose and in the context of the Battle of Tewkesbury and the Wars of the Roses they were the army fielded by Queen Margaret of Anjou, 

The Yorkists were descendants or supporters of Edmund of Langley, fifth son of Edward III and, from 1385 1st Duke of York, and they adopted the white rose as their badge. In the context of the Battle of Tewkesbury and the Wars of the Roses they were the army fielded by King Edward IV.

Having landed at Weymouth the Lancastrians were seeking to cross the River Severn into Wales to meet up with Jasper Tudor and the men he was gathering, then march into Lancashire and Cheshire, and raise the men of the north to overturn the Yorkist throne. The nearest crossing point was at Gloucester and forewarned King Edward sent urgent messages to the Governor, Sir Richard Beauchamp, ordering him to bar the gates to Margaret and to man the city’s defences. When Margaret arrived at Gloucester on the morning of 3 May, Beauchamp refused to let her army pass, and she realized that there was insufficient time to storm the city before Edward’s army arrived. 

Her army made another 16 km forced march to Tewkesbury, hoping to reach the next bridge at Upton-upon-Severn 11 km further on.  The Lancastrians halted for the night at Tewkesbury, while Edward drove his army to make another march of 9.7 km from Cheltenham, finally halting 4.8 km from the Lancastrians who knew they could retreat no further before Edward attacked their rear, and that they would be forced to give battle.

As day broke on 4 May 1471, the Lancastrians took up a defensive position a mile south of Tewkesbury. To their rear were the Rivers Avon and Severn. Tewkesbury Abbey was just behind the Lancastrian centre.  A farmhouse then known as Gobes Hall (Modern day Gupshill Manor) marked the centre of the Lancastrian position. 

Gupshill Manor

The Lancastrian army was approximately 6000 strong, and as was customary was organised into three “battles”. The right battle was commanded by the Duke of Somerset, the  centre was commanded by Lord Wenlock, while 17 year old Prince Edward was present with the centre. The left battle was commanded by the John Courtenay, 15th Earl of Devon. The River Swilgate, protected Devon’s left flank, before curving behind the Lancastrian position to join the Avon. The main strength of the Lancastrians’ position was provided by the ground in front, which was broken up by hedges, woods, embankments and “evil lanes”. This was especially true on their right. On the map below the Swilgate starts at the upper right and cross through the map in front of the abbey. 

The Yorkists numbering roughly 5000, were slightly outnumbered and they too were organised into three battles. King Edward commanded the main battle and his vanguard was commanded by his youngest brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester while Lord Hastings commanded the rear. 

To the left of Edward’s army was a thickly wooded area and he ordered 200 mounted spearmen to occupy part of the woods and prevent the Lancastrians making use of them, or act on their own initiative if they were not themselves attacked. These men really played an important role in the defeat of the the Lancastrians.

Edward then “displayed his bannars: dyd blowe up the trompets: commytted his caws and qwarell to Almyghty God, to owr most blessyd lady his mother: Vyrgyn Mary, the glorious Seint George, and all the saynts: and advaunced, directly upon his enemyes.”

As they moved towards the Lancastrian position the Yorkist army found that the ground was so broken up by woods, ditches and embankments that it was difficult to attack in any sort of order. Yorkist archers and artillery showered the Lancastrians with arrows and shot.  The Duke of Somerset led at least part of his men via some of the “evil lanes” to attack Edward’s left flank.  Edward’s men resisted stoutly, beating back Somerset’s attack,  the 200 spearmen Edward had earlier posted in the woods attacked Somerset from his own right flank and rear.  Somerset’s battle was routed, and his surviving army tried to escape across the Severn. Most were cut down as they fled. The long meadow astride the Colnbrook leading down to the river is known to this day as “Bloody Meadow”.

As its morale collapsed, the rest of the Lancastrian army tried to flee, but the River Swilgate became a deadly barrier. Many who succeeded in crossing it converged on a mill south of the town of Tewkesbury and a weir in the town itself, where there were crossings over the Avon. Here, too, many drowned or were killed by their pursuers.

Two weeks ago I found a memorial that I did not know about before and it was situated in an area known as “The Vineyards” and is on the edge of the cemetery. (position can be seen on the map below)

The Vineyards formed part of the battlefield and the memorial is sited on what was then Holme Castle, and the Abbey is visible in the distance. I was standing with the cemetery behind me when I took this image. The memorial  marks where the defeated Lancastrians routed and fled towards the “safety” of the town and presumably to seek refuge in the Abbey. Fortunately the Abbey played no part in the battle, but was caught up in the aftermath

Wars of the Roses Reference

Holme Castle Reference

Margaret of Anjou was taken captive by William Stanley at the end of the battle,  while her only son, Edward of Westminster was killed, although the manner of his death is not clearly known, some sources state he was executed in the market place of Tewkesbury. The Queen was completely broken in spirit and ended her days in France as a poor relation of the king. She died in the castle of Francis de Vignolleshis in Dampierre-sur-Loire, on 25 August 1482 at the age of 52 

The grave of  Edward, Prince of Wales, the last legitimate descendant of the House of Lancaster may be found in Tewkesbury Abbey. 

“Here lies Edward, Prince of Wales, cruelly slain whilst but a youth, Anno Domine 1471, May fourth. Alas the savagery of men. Thou art the soul light of thy Mother, and the last hope of thy race.”

A number of others from the battle are also buried in the Abbey, and it is likely many of the foot soldiers were buried where they fell. History is not altogether clear as to their fate, after all, in this struggle for power they were really just pawns in a larger power game between kings and queens.  

The Arrivall

Just past Gupshill Manner on the Stonehills roundabout on the A38. there are two large wooden statues collectively known as The Arrivall.  The two 5 metre works, feature a victorious knight on horseback and a defeated horse. They took 15 years to plan and two years to make and they were created by Sculptor Phil Bews from the Forest of Dean and were unveiled in May 2014. They pretty much sum up the battle in two images. Unfortunately  I have never been able to see them up close and personal but only managed images from the bus.

More reading:  

Matt’s History Blog

Wikipedia page on the Wars of the Roses

UK Battlefield Resource Centre

Tewkesbury Battlefield Society

There is a lot written about the battle and the consequences thereof, who wrote the story? probably the winners. Personally I really deal with aftermaths, as my collection of references above shows. I do not know the whole story, but one of these days I will do the tour and hear another version and hopefully I will be able to add even more to this page afterwards. 

DRW © 2018. Created 17/07/2018

Updated: 17/07/2018 — 19:10

Ye Olde Medieval Festivale 2018

It is difficult to comprehend that a small town like Tewkesbury played such a pivotal role in the history of England so many years ago, and we are reminded of it because we hold the famous Medieval Festival around about this time of year. I do not really enjoy it because it is crowded and slightly crazy and there is a lot to see, but nothing to see. Its that kind of festival. I have attended all of them since I arrived in Tewkesbury in 2015 but did not hang round for the much vaunted “Battle”.  Last  year’s may be view on the relevant page:  2017 Medieval Festival

The build up started a few weeks back when the banners started to appear in Town, and then the posters and finally on a gloriously hot summers day it all came together and the population of Tewkesbury tripled. Make no mistake, this festival is famous amongst re-enactors, history buffs, curious onlookers, young and old. People come from far and wide to trade, drink, fight and wear cool clothing.  Part of the attraction for me has always been people watching although I do not do crowds too well.

I will not even attempt to explain the battle in this post as it’s beyond my stock of knowledge, but the whole shebang takes place in areas where the actual battle occurred. There may even be long forgotten burials in the area where we were today, but I won’t put my head on a block and say that there are.  I have tried to create some sort of semi-coherent account of the battle in another post

Where to begin?

The site is divided into 3 areas, and the image above is where the stores are set up and the playpark and food and concession vendors are laid out. It can get chaotic but there is a wide variety of bits and bobs available so it is very popular. Although at times it is strange to bump into a knight or ye ladye browsing the edged weapons or waffling away on their cellphone.  Actually the best time to explore this area is when the battle is occurring. It is much quieter. 

It is also a popular time when many alternative lifestylers come out of the woodwork and don their finest, and there were a number of really amazing costumes out there. 

This is just a small selection, and everyone of those who I photographed were amazing. Thank you. Incidentally, “The Green Man” is a regular at these events and seems to have an aura all of his own.

This is the same area at roughly 16H45 and the battle was raging in the field close by.

The field where the battle was happening is literally just over Upper Lode Lane (which connects to the Lower Lode Inn and Upper Lode Locks)

The battlefield is a large space surrounded on 3 sides by the Living History display, which is where you can see “how the other half lived” I could be wrong but many of the re-enactors were camped out in this area with their attendant followers and baggage. It is a fascinating glimpse into the past, and most of those camped here were in period clothing and lived it rough (no broadband?).  

I will say one thing about the people who were living in those tents, they made an excellent job of portraying what a campsite may have looked like, and they put their heart into creating the ambience for the event. This is part of what makes the festival so popular. 

According to my information the battle was due to start at 3pm, but as usual that was incorrect, and while the soldiers suited up there was a demonstration of falconry. It is however not really the sort of thing that works well in a large space because from where I was standing you could barely see the stage although I did manage one image of these amazing birds.

And while the falconry was going on the crowd just got larger and the seating area around the arena got steadily more packed with people in various states of undress. It was a scorcher of a day and the sun was not being merciful at all. I did not envy those who were going to participate in the fighting because that steel armour was going to get very very hot (especially if left outside in the sun).  I fear the knight below melted, leaving his armour behind.

Then there was movement as small squads of knights and followers started to head to the opposite end of the field. They were a ragtag mob, and I suspect many would already be wishing they were at home with a cold one watching the telly.

Do not make the assumption that all of these armour clad foot soldiers were men either. There were a number of girls and women in those squads, and they were not in the traditional camp follower role either.  We were also visited by the two snake oil salesmen with their cart of body parts and assorted bottles of green stuff. They too are regulars and bring some light relief to the waiting crowd. Their cry of “bring out yer dead!” causing many a smile and scared small children from near and far. 

Things were reaching a climax on the other side of the arena too as more men gathered while Sir Gallop-around-alot tried to impress the crowd with his equestrian prowess. Actually he was “scouting”, but the reality is that he was probably showing off. Archers were gathering on both sides too…

And then the archers let fly… the longbow used by the English was a fearsome weapon by all counts, and storms of arrows would reign down on combatants from rows of men especially trained in the use of the bow. Unfortunately if your opponent had similar trained men the advantage was moot. 

Then the armies arrived after a long march, and the Lancastrian forces of Queen Margaret of Anjou  passed within earshot of the audience.  

Things were hotting up as the two parties got together to parley. You can see Queen Margaret in her veil and the King facing the armoured man with the feathers in his helmet. The guy ruining the shot is not checking his email, he is busy reading the instructions on how to use his “gonne” 

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By all accounts the parley did not go well, she slapped him and stomped off, the die had been cast and battle would commence. Firearms were in use by then, although by all accounts they were relatively simple weapons, more liable to explode and kill the user than to kill the opposition. The Yorkists certainly had more guns than their enemies, and they were apparently better served.

Ye loude bange!!

Then battle did commence…

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It was also time for me to leave the festival. It was obvious that while the fighting was ebbing and flowing in the area I could not see very much. I was also tired and hot and bothered and really ready to call it a day. The real Lancastrians and Yorkists way back in May 1471 were probably equally tired and some were probably wounded and hoping to find sanctuary in the church and town.  

And that was The Medieval Festival.  I am glad I saw part of the Battle, it probably raged long after I had left, and I am sure much quaffing of ale was done afterwards. On Sunday the parade will wobble erratically down the High Street, I covered the parade last year, so all that is left are those random images that I enjoy so much. 

Acknowledgements:

Everybody!! especially those who were involved in the battles and in the supporting role, and of course the organisers and those who manned the stalls and gates and made sure it all went well.  

See ye nexte time.

DRW © 2018. Created 15/07/2018.

Updated: 17/07/2018 — 19:06

The Banners of Tewkesbury

With the much vaunted Medieval Festival just around the corner the town is being festooned with banners. I have very rarely taken notice of it because frankly I know nothing about this period and a lot of the War of the Roses goes over my head. However, seeing as I was in town I thought I would have squizz and see what I could find out. I do not know how many there should be, or what half of them mean, but maybe I will learn more along the way.​ (My post about the 2018 Medieval Festival has now been completed)

I managed to photograph 45 different banners, and I am sure there were quite a few more. Unfortunately I have not been as good with the information sheets that are usually  stuck to the windows of the shops involved.  The “key” to each banner is after the table of images. 

Out of curiosity,  the forces loyal to the House of Lancaster were completely defeated by those of the rival House of York under their monarch, King Edward IV.

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1. Sir William Hawte (Yorkish) of Hawland and Waltham, Kent

2. Sir Richard Culpepper (Yorkist) of Oxen Hoath, Kent

4. Sir Thomas Stratham (Yorkist) of Morley, Derbyshire

7. Sir George Neville, (Yorkist) 2nd Lord Abergavenny, of Birling, Kent

10. Sir John Fortesque, (Lancastrian) of Wymston and Shepham, Devonshire

13. Sir John Skrene (Yorkist) of Olmstead, Essex

14. Sir Thomas Tresham (Lanastrian) of Rushton and Sywell, Northamptonshire

15. Sir John Throckmorton, (Lancastrian) of Fladbury and Haresfield, Worcesterhire

20. Sir Nicholas Hervey, (Lancastrian) of Thurleigh and Eastbury, Godalming, Surrey 

22. Sir William Boteler (Butler) (Lancastrian) of Bewsey, Lord of Warrington

28. Sir Edmund Grey (Yorkist) of Ruthin, Denbighshire, 4th Earl of Ruthvin, 1st Earl of Kent

31. Sir Humphrey Touchet (Lancastrian) of Swaffham, Norfolk

40. Sir William Allington (Yorkist) of Bottisham, Cambridgeshire

43. Sir Ralph Hastings (Yorkist) of Harrowden, Northants

44. John Walleys Esq. of Devon (Lancastrian)

45. Sir John Done of Uktinkon, Cheshire (Yorkist)

46. Sir William Norreys of Bray and Yattendon, Berkshire (Yorkist)

47. Sir Seintclere Pomeroy of Berry Pomeroy, Devonshire (Lancastrian)

48. Sir John Dwnn (Done) of Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire (Yorkist).

 

DRW © 2018, Created 09/07/2019

Updated: 15/07/2018 — 11:23

Armed Forces Day 2018

Today is Armed Forces Day in Tewkesbury, actually it was yesterday everywhere else, it is just that we like being different.  😉 

The reason for our delay was probably because there had been some additions to our War Memorial and a parade would have really caused havoc in the town. The War Memorial is in somewhat of an important junction so it tends to remind everybody battling to get around it that there were two World Wars and Tewkesbury was involved too.

I have covered the memorial in allatsea, but the additional names really mean that I need to update it too. The parade was scheduled from 9.30 till 11.30, but it battled to get started. Strangely enough there was not as large a military contingent as I would have expected, although veterans and cadets were well represented. 

As usual the Town Band showed the way and they paused at the Town Hall to collect the civic party who were dressed in their finest, led by the Town Crier:  Michael David Kean-Price – Town Sarjent and Common Crier,  Formerly of your Majesty’s Royal Regiment of Horse Guards (The Blues).

Fortunately the town isnt that large that the tail end of the parade hasn’t left while the front has arrived. There were not too many people around either, but then I expect not too many were aware of the event either. It was not well advertised.

And with the memorial surrounded on all sides they commenced the unveiling of the two new plaques. Unfortunately many memorials are faced with the same problem of who to put in and who to leave out. A lot of servicemen and women died after their military service and were omitted from Rolls of Honour and Memorials. It is a tragic state of affairs, especially in South Africa where there are over 2000 who are not commemorated on the National Roll of Honour or on the CWGC lists. 

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The unveiling really followed the tried formula of a Remembrance Service with its attendant Last Post and 2 minutes silence which was ruined by an idiot on a motorbike. 

The new plaques look like this.

World War One

World War Two

There was an elderly couple at the World War Two plaque and I suspect they were related to somebody commemorated on the plaque. Too many years too late is my opinion.

And then we were done and the parade marched off to take the salute at the Town Hall. I drifted away towards the closest loo and then walked up to the Vineyards to photograph the Monument there which I will post about eventually. It was 26 degrees outside and a cold ale went down very well. I paused at the cemetery too because one of the names on the one plaque was familiar.

Worker Kathleen Rose Sollis is buried in Tewkesbury Cemetery, she died on 22 March 1918, aged 20.

One day I hope to know the circumstances of her death. 

And that was Armed Forces Day. Thanks to serving and past members of HM Forces as well as those who serve in the Police, Fire Department, Hospitals too… Thank You.

DRW © 2018. Created 01/07/2018

Updated: 01/07/2018 — 13:49

Evesham Abbey

Sadly, Evesham Abbey is really a small collection of foundations, walls, artefacts and a tower left over following the carnage of the dissolution of the monasteries and the reformation. and, unlike the ruins of Netley Abbey, there is less to see at the place where the Abbey used to stand.  The biggest surprise though is that there are two parish churches (St Lawrence and All Saint’s Church) in close proximity to the space that was occupied by the Abbey, and they have both survived. 

The one information board has a layout off what the area may have looked like.

Make no mistake, it is a very pretty area today with lush green lawns and gardens, but given where the building stood it would have been spectacular to see from the River Avon that would have flowed past it.  The Evesham Abbey Trust  is really the proper place to find out more about the archaeology and history and to promote an understanding, appreciation and engagement with the heritage and history of the site where the Abbey stood.

The bell/clock tower was spared the destruction of the Abbey, probably because it was not a physical part of the original building, although today it looks almost lonely without it’s context, but we are fortunate that it survived because it is very beautiful. The tower was built between 1529 and 1539 by Clement Lichfield, the last Abbott of Evesham. It is 33 metres high and was restored in 1951 with the original peal of 10 bells recast and increased to 12.  The tomb in the front is that of the remains of Simon De Montfort, Duke of Leicester, who was killed in the Battle of Evesham on 4 August 1265

The gateway led out into what was then the Monk’s Graveyard, and that now lies under Abbey Park. During the 19th century excavations unearthed some of the graves of the monks. They were wrapped in a shroud and placed on a wooden board with a simple wooden marker. Higher up in the hierarchy would entitled you to be buried within the Abbey along with your marks of office (rings, keys, chalices, lead seal, etc.). Some of these were recovered from the grave of Henry of Worcester who was the Abbot of Evesham and who died in 1263.

The cloister arch would have been between the cloisters and the chapter house. 

This is the area behind the archway, it is a real jungle or grassland.

Some of the boundary walls still exist, 

and of course the Almonry found a new purpose.

The remains on a Norman gateway to the Abbey is still to be seen today, and it dates to roughly 1130. 

What the the Abbey looked like is really educated guesswork, although foundations do exist and they give a rough outline of the shape of the building, but from the foundations upwards it is an educated guess. Was there a spire? if there was there is no trace of it. However is is reported that it reached 310 feet into the sky (Salisbury Cathedral Spire is 404 ft), the Chapter House was 50 feet in diameter and 10 sided, while the Abbey was the 3rd largest in England. 

The sad reality though is portrayed on one of the information boards at the site.

On the 30th of January 1540 the soldiers came and the monks were ordered to leave. The Abbey buildings were given to Sir Philip Hoby, who reused the stone. It was acquired by the Rudge family in 1664 and has been in the family ever since.

And to me that sums up the Abbey, and what the people of Evesham saw once the deed had been done. I can only speculate on how the monks and clergy felt when they watched the building being destroyed.  And I can just imagine the smug looks of the accountants of the day as they catalogued the assets that were seized. All that loot into the coffers of the state and a community robbed of an item of beauty. Some of the stonework was reused in the building of the city hall, and you can bet there are other properties in the town with stonework too. 

A local artist, Ian Gibson has done some paintings showing what the Abbey may have looked like, these can be viewed at on the relevant page of The Evesham Abbey Trust

That sums up Evesham Abbey, it may be gone but it really lives on in local history and in the physical remnants left behind. Tewkesbury was fortunate that they were spared this destruction and the Abbey still exists as an integral part of the town. Evesham was not so lucky.

DRW © 2018. Completed 01/07/2018. Some images from the information boards may be copyright. 

Updated: 15/07/2018 — 17:39

Upper Lode Lock

My short trip on Goliath opened up a new area for me to explore and answered one question that has been bugging me for quite some time.  To really understand this a bit more you need to look at a map (which I just happen to have handy)

The white arrow on the left hand of this image is where I was today and it is called the Upper Lode Lock. and it is a part of the Severn Waterway. The white arrow on the right in the image is the Avon Lock and I dealt with that one in my “Going through the locks” post in June 2015. Up until my trip on Goliath I was unaware that there was another set of locks close to Tewkesbury, although I was always curious about a sign that I read advertising the “Lower Lode Ferry”. 

I decided that I would approach the locks from the opposite bank of the Severn, crossing at the Mythe Bridge and heading towards Bushley but turning left instead of right. After some hairy cycling I came around a corner and a fox stood in the middle of the road. Unfortunately I was not able to get my camera ready and Reynard cocked a snook at me and disappeared into the undergrowth. This was the 3rd fox I have seen in the UK since I arrived in 2013 and I love encountering them. A bit further on and I was at the lock, and a fascinating place it was.

This landing is where boats would moor until there were enough of them to share the lock transit. Make no mistake, this is a large lock.  I am going to wind forward a bit because on my way back I watched a narrow boat transit the lock system. 

The gates are open and the narrow boat is on its way though them, I am looking towards the lock gates you can see in the image above.  The gates are made of wood and are electrically operated.

Boat is in the lock, gates are closing

If I turn 180 degrees my view would be of the large basin inside the lock. 

My guess would be that it was used as a temporary mooring place for a lot of boats and barges so as to maximise the usage of the lock and it does make sense to have something like this. Unfortunately the amount of traffic using the lock is quite small compared to when the Severn was used to move goods up and downstream. The difference in levels before the lock and after the lock was 4 feet on this day. It can vary considerably depending on the season, tides, rainfall and flooding. With the water in the lock the same as outside the other gate is opened and the boat can complete her transit. It took 13 minutes for the narrow boat to transit, even though she had to wait for 2 paddle boarders before the gate could be closed.

Now that was fun, so let us return to the beginning and carry on with my entering the lock system and onwards.

My walk was taking me in the direction of Gloucester, Diglis Lock is in Worcester, and is about a kilometre from Worcester Cathedral. Gloucester is “downriver” while Worcester is “upriver”

There was a path of sorts that headed off into the distance and and I headed off on it, hoping to find the Lower Lode Inn and ferry. 

A bit further on and I could see the area where the river split comes together, with a weir on one side and the lock on the other. 

Make no mistake, you do not want to try avoid using the lock because the weir will probably kill you.  In the distance I could make out buildings and vehicles and I headed towards it. I had found the Lower Lode Inn! 

But first I had to investigate that classic 1964 Kombie on the right. 

Words really fail me when I try to describe that Kombie and the teardrop caravan parked alongside; it was literally a steampunk dream on 2 wheels.

It really shows what you can do when you have passion (and money). The owner was such a nice guy and I can only compliment him on his creation. It was gorgeous.

This is the Lower Lode Inn in all it’s glory. It is touted as a 15th century riverside inn, and it certainly looks the part. However, it appeared as if I was too early again as it seemed to be closed (or they saw me coming…) 

As for the ferry?

This may be it! I saw him twice on the river and at one point he was approaching the landing stage of the inn, but I cannot confirm or deny that it is the ferry or not. I now need to investigate this area from the opposite bank of the river.  Out of curiosity, I was not able to walk along the bank of the river but walked on what I assume may have been the towpath, there are little walkways down to the bank every few metres, but they were steep and I was not willing to venture down them and end up in the ‘oggin.  There were a number of fishermen on the river too, and apparently they were catching Bream. 

That more or less concluded my exploration and I headed for home, pausing once again at the lock where I watched the boats transit as described above.

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Out of curiosity, the next lock downstream is this one that is at the entrance to Gloucester harbour

It is very beautiful out there and the dominant colour is green, coupled with sunshine and pleasant temperatures it was a lovely day. I stopped at the chippie for a nice piece ‘o cod for lunch and am a happy camper for today, sadly tomorrow is work…  I shall not dwell too much on that.  

Some random images…

DRW © 2018. Created 24/06/2018

Updated: 27/06/2018 — 19:10

Loving Liverpool (11) The Final Say?

The final say?

This is the final post in my “Loving Liverpool” series that covers my recent trip. And what a ride it has been. I returned from the city with over 2000 images and even when I look at them now I realise how many images I neglected to take, especially in St John’s Garden and at the Anglican and Catholic Cathedrals.

The highlight of the trip was probably Museum of the Moon and St James Garden, they were breathtaking and photographs do not do them justice.

Museum of the Moon

Liverpool as a maritime city is a mere shade of its former self, no longer do mighty transatlantic liners berth in the Mersey nor cargo ships ply their trade backwards and forwards. Mighty steam engines no longer wait at Lime Street Station to take their trains to London or north to Scotland. The end result has been much cleaner air! But a loss of the heritage that made this place what it is. 

Liverpool was built around the slave trade, and it made many people very rich and inflicted misery on countless others. There is no way to really reverse that situation, and I am afraid that it is yet another blot on our “civilisation”. However, it is crucial that it does not get swept under the carpet and relegated to the pages of dusty old tomes. The Maritime Museum had an exhibition on Slavery, but I did not see too much of it because of the crowds. The museum also has the obligatory Titanic exhibition which was surprisingly interesting, especially since the builders model was present, or was it the builders model of the Olympic disguised as the Titanic?

Cunard’s Campania

For me though Liverpool will stand out for its many beautiful buildings, and there are a lot of them! The one strange gem was Roscoe Gardens and the Grand Central Hotel with its quirky décor, steelwork and pipe organ. It was truly a wonderful space, and I could easily do a post all about that building alone. 

There were two churches outside of the cathedrals that I saw, in particular the Liverpool Parish Church is a real beauty, and it had a welcoming atmosphere too. The nautical feel of the church does it credit, and of course finding woodwork from the Aquitania was an added bonus.  

But, like the other “bombed out church” it does tell a story about the Liverpool Blitz.

The presence of Western Approaches Command Museum really just highlighted the importance of the city to the conduct of the Battle of the Atlantic,  and I am sure that if I visited the city cemeteries at Anfield and Toxteth Park I would possibly find some of the many innocents killed in the bombing buried within them.

Talking of cemeteries, contrary to my usual plans I did not visit the city cemeteries, although St James Garden was really a bonus. It was a really wonderful place to visit. The Cathedrals were equally amazing, and a revisit to them both is really on the cards for a return visit.

One of the more surprising finds was the Hall of Remembrance inside the City Hall. The building itself was stunning, and the staff were incredibly helpful too. The Hall was outstanding, a really beautiful room but I am sure not too many people are even aware of its existence.

The pier head was enjoyable, but it really was sad that there were all these acres of dock space and nothing in them, it is the reality in many of the former ports in the UK. The faithful ferry does help alleviate the shortage of shipping, but I fear that even at some point she may become redundant unless a way can be found to revitalise the service. Birkenhead across the water is also worthy of exploration, as is Bootle and possibly further afield to a point when I can see the expanse of water known as the Irish Sea.

The Irish Sea in the distance (1500 x 422)

On my way to Liverpool I was lucky enough to get some pics of the large bridge at Runcorn spanning the Mersey. It really deserves better photographs than those I managed from the moving train.

Crewe Railway Heritage Centre was also worth a visit but was not open during my time in Liverpool. It was a pity though as there appeared to be quite a lot to see.

Some of those wonderful old buildings.

Municipal Offices

Exchange Station

Former Royal Infirmary

County Sessions House

Hargreaves Building

Wellington Rooms

Playhouse

Liverpool, London & Globe Bldg

There were a number of other weird and wonderful things that I saw, and these are some of them.

Paifang, Nelson Street

Like many cities Liverpool has a large ethnic Chinese community centred around Chinatown. Many of the inhabitants are descendants of Chinese seaman who served in the merchant ships that called in the city.  The paifang on Nelson Street is the largest, multiple-span arch of its kind outside China.

The Liverpool Sailor’s Home Gateway was originally outside the main entrance to the Sailor’s Home  which stood where the current John Lewis is. It was removed from the home in 1951 and presented to the successors of the Henry Pooley and Son’s Albion Foundy in Liverpool; the original makes of the gate.

Liverpool sailor’s home gateway

It was returned to this space in 2011 and is dedicated as a memorial to all the sailors who have passed through Liverpool during its long history as an international seaport.

This wonderful footbridge I spotted in Princes Dock. It reminded me of a whale carcass.

The Queensway Tunnel was opened in July 1934 and it connects Liverpool with Birkenhead. 

Queensway tunnel

There are a number of ventilation shafts visible from the river, with one shaft being part of  George’s Dock Ventilation and Control Station building. This magnificent art-deco building should really be the 4 grace. In the image below it is the square building in the foreground. 

I was hoping that the Library (situated in St George’s Quarter), would be a magnificent space, but sadly it wasn’t. However. if you look upwards…

Quite a few “modern” buildings are worthy of consideration too, and the city has a surprisingly modern skyline.

(1500 x 479)

Liverpool Museum

Mann Island Buildings

The Gym. Strand Street

Echo Wheel & Echo Arena

There is a lot of excellent public art and statues in the city and it is impossible to see it all and catalogue it. 

‘A Case History’ was created by John King. Installed in 1998 on Hope Street

Heaven and Earth by Andy Plant

The Great Escape. Herbert Cronshaw

These 10 pages are not the only one spawned as a result of my visit, a number of pages were created at allatsea too, and so far these are:

Overall though I really enjoyed Liverpool, it was one of those experiences that I was very fortunate to have. I tend to view cities as a newcomer and can see them with a different light to what the average person who lives in the city has. Would I live in Liverpool? I cannot answer that because I really only saw the touristy bits and not the nitty gritty of life in its tougher neighbourhoods.

I only dabbled briefly in the underground railway and only experienced 3 stations and my 4 days of weather were all different, and of course I was not there to experience winter in all its discontent. Yet I found the people incredibly friendly and I must single out the commissionaire at one of the “3 Graces”, the guide at the Musical Britain display and the lady manning the front desk of Grand Central Hotel,  as well as the staff at The Lord Nelson Hotel. What a pleasure to deal with you all.

Lord Nelson Hotel

Its time to lapse back into my torpor of inactivity, although I still have quite a lot more odds and ends that I will use in other blogposts, for starters my forthcoming “Crime and punishment” post has been put on hold and now needs a rethink.

And that was Liverpool…

DRW © 2018. Created 15/06/2018

Updated: 27/06/2018 — 19:10

Loving Liverpool (10) Liverpool Parish Church

Liverpool Parish Church is also also known as “Our Lady and St Nicholas”, and the current building was built after the original main body of the church was destroyed by fire on  21 December 1940, during the bombing of Liverpool by the Luftwaffe.

Situated close to the pier head it would have been much closer to the Mersey before all the changes and dock building was done.

The bombing attack resulted in the building of a new church, and the completed church, was dedicated to “Our Lady and St Nicholas” and it was consecrated on 18 October 1952.

The church had a very welcoming feel about it and it is light and very beautiful inside. Liverpool is a maritime city and that is reflected in the church too.  The best find was the Cunard Roll of Honour which was moved from the Cunard building and rededicated on 21 July 1990.

 

The nautical theme abounds and I found yet another bell from HMS Liverpool. Just how many bells did the ship have? (there is also an HMS Liverpool bell in the Cathedral)

One of those rare gems is the Roll of Honour of those who lost their lives during the 2nd World War while serving in merchant ships and fishing vessels. The case is made from wood from the Aquitania.

The Pulpit and Font.

Chapels.

Maritime Chapel of St Mary del Key (St Mary of the Quay)

Chapel of St Peter

The Cross in the Chapel of St Peter was created by Revd David Railton, who was the rector at Liverpool at the time, was formed of two pieces of fire blackened roof timbers taken from the ruins of the church. in 1920, Revd Railton wrote to the Dean of Westminster, about the possibility of giving an unidentified soldier a national burial service in Westminster Abbey. This became the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior 

The Grail Boat (Greg Tucker)

Our Lady of the Quay (Arthur Dooley)

Unfortunately I missed so much in the Garden of Remembrance that I now have a reason to revisit the church in the future. 

Atlantic Conveyor Memorial

And then I had to leave and go to my next destination.

As far as churches go this one is a relatively new building in an ancient parish, but it has managed to straddle the old and the new and the result is stunning. I regret not looking over the garden though, but the lack of headstones probably put me off.  But, that’s a good reason to return.

The Bombed Out Church.

I also found one more church that had been affected by the bombing, and it is the former St Luke’s Church on the corner of Berry Street and Leece Street, It is known as “The Bombed Out Church”

The church was built between 1811 and 1832, in addition to being a parish church, it was also intended to be used as a venue for ceremonial worship by the Corporation, and as a concert hall. It was badly damaged during the Liverpool Blitz in 1941, and remains as a roofless shell. It now stands as a memorial to those who were lost in the war, Unfortunately it was closed on both times I was there, but I was able to photograph two monuments of interest. 

The first is “Truce” by Andy Edwards, and it commemorates the the moment when British and German soldiers called a temporary truce during Christmas in the First World War.

The second monument is related to Malta.

There is an Irish Famine Memorial too, but for some strange reason I missed photographing it. 

Incidentally the surrounds were never used for burials, and today this is a nice peaceful green spot in the city. And that concludes my look at the two churches I saw in Liverpool and both are worthy of a revisit. Continue onwards to the final say.

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DRW © 2018. Created 19/06/2018

Updated: 27/06/2018 — 19:10

Loving Liverpool (9) St George’s Plateau

Still in Liverpool…

The area where the Liverpool Cenotaph is situated is called St George’s Plateau. This is the flat space between St George’s Hall and Lime Street station and it contains statues of four lions and monuments, including bronzes of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria by Thomas Thornycroft, and a monument to Major-General William Earle.

St George’s Hall

Liverpool Cenotaph

St George’s Hall really dominates the space though and right from the start I was curious about what was inside of it. Somebody told me that there were tours of the building available so I decided to try my luck, assuming I could find the door! 

The foundation stone was laid in 1838 to commemorate the coronation of Queen Victoria, and the hall was designed by Harvey Lonsdale Elmes, a London architect. The building would house not only a grand concert hall but assize courts too. Construction started in 1841 and the hall opened in 1854. The building and plateau was restored in the 2000’s and it was officially reopened on 23 April 2007 by Prince Charles.

Until 1984 the Liverpool Assizes (later the Crown Court) were held in the courtroom at the southern end of St George’s Hall. Lower down in the basement are cells for awaiting trial prisoners with a staircase leading upwards into the court. It is quite ironic that a grand concert could be on the go in the hall while down below prisoners were awaiting their fate.  

I was too late for the formal tours of the building but there was a self led tour that took in parts of it and was able to do that one. It was a very interesting place to see.

The Basement Cells. 

A short corridor has cells leading off to the left in the picture, while a whipping chair and flogging frame are against the right hand wall. The cells are all empty apart from displays, but I doubt very much if they looked as good when they were in use. They were mostly used to house prisoners brought from the prisons who were due to appear in court and not used for long term incarceration and have no facilities like sanitation.   

The objects stuck against the walls in the upper left hand image are mugshots as below. These were supplied by the Nottingham Galleries of Justice and are of unidentified prisoners from that era.The unpainted areas in the top right hand image still have graffiti written by the original inhabitants (and a few modern idiots have added their monikers too). The cell on the bottom left was a really a waiting room for those involved in minor cases. The poor soul on the right has probably heard her fate and has been left to await transportation to Kirkdale or Walton Prison.  

Above the wretches of humanity was the assizes court, and it was reach by a short staircase that opened up in the dock.

 

The Judges view

The accused’s view

The bewigged judge would be peering down from his high backed chair and of course various court functionaries and lawyers would be present and probably a few members of the public too. 

The courts were probably more biased towards the law and the luckless individual in the dock was in for a rough ride. Unfortunately a number of innocent people were caught up in this “system” and a vast amount of guilty ones were too. The judge may have even recognised a few of them from previous court appearances. However, justice must be seen to be done and the results are to be seen in the mugshots in the cells down the staircase. Prison was not a fun place, and from what I can read Kirkdale and Walton Prisons were very hard places to serve time in. There were no human rights lawyers waiting to shout the odds, although there were prison reformers who did their best for the prisoners. 

The Judge, having banged his gavel could retire to his chambers behind his bench, while the prisoner would be led downwards back to the cell and onwards transportation to serve their sentence.

Judges chambers

However, parts of this large building are a different world altogether. One of the purposes of the building was the provision of a hall large enough for civic functions, musical concerts,  balls and “society events”, and this was not a part of the self guided tour although you could look down into it from the gallery. It was being set up for a function and I could see quite a lot of what it looked like, unfortunately the huge chandeliers played havoc with the images so they did not come out the way I would have liked. What I was able to see what very impressive and there are places that can show the hall much better than my lousy images https://www.stgeorgeshallliverpool.co.uk

The image below is is an hdr photograph by Michael D Beckwith taken from St George’s Hall during the annual minton floor reveal. Located in Liverpool, Merseyside, England, UK 5 August 2014, 09:57:34

St_George’s_Hall_Liverpool_England

(Image By Michael D Beckwith [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons)

There was also a Crown Court in the building and a smaller hall which was being used for a wedding on the day I visited.

The difference between the basement and main area of the building is astounding and I wonder how often the attendees of functions here ever gave a consideration to the misery down below; or how often prisoners would hear the magnificent organ in full blow up the stairs. It is an interesting contrast between the haves and have nots. The organ itself is a magnificent specimen, and is actually the 3rd pipe organ that I saw in Liverpool.

Finally, the lower areas of the building are interesting because the building had a very primitive air conditioning plant in the basement. It was devised by Dr Boswell Reid, and was the first attempt at providing air conditioning in a public building in the United Kingdom, Air was warmed by five hot water pipes which were heated by two coke-fired boilers and two steam boilers. The air was circulated by four fans 3m wide. It was controlled by a large number of workers opening and closing a series of canvas flaps. The operating levers are still to be seen in the cell block. 

And of course those areas far below make for interesting photography if your flash can penetrate the gloom.

It was a fascinating building, and make no mistake it is huge. It dwarfs the cenotaph and makes most buildings around it look small. Although those on the one side of it are equally old and beautiful in their own right.

It must have been spectacular when it opened over a century ago, especially when viewed as a member of society. “Underclasses” probably had a different view of it altogether. 

St John’s Gardens.

Behind St George’s Hall (1 on the map) is St John’s Gardens (2)

It is a very pretty place and quite a popular place to rest your feet surrounded by greenery and history. 

The statue that interested me was that of the Kings Liverpool Regiment as it commemorates the Boer War, although it would probably make the Boers upset. 

And that really sums up St George’s Hall. A mighty space it is indeed, although I do feel it is somewhat too large and heavy, it really needs some colour and windows. I hope to see inside it again one day, who knows, I may be adding an update in the future.

You can continue to the next page or have a squizz at my random images.

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Random Images.

DRW © 2018. Created 13/06/2018. Image of interior of St George’s Hall by Michael D Beckwith [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons)

Updated: 27/06/2018 — 19:10

Loving Liverpool (8) Western Approaches Command

As I was saying…

The war at sea was a brutal one, lasting from the first day of the war right through till the last. To make matters worse any person serving on board ship faced an even worse enemy than the Axis forces, and that was the medium which they sailed in. The convoys that plodded along between the United Kingdom and the United States were shepherded by escort vessels of all shapes and sizes, and overseeing the area of ocean between the two continents was Western Approaches Command.

The Western Approaches Command may be found at the Liverpool War Museum at 1-3 Rumford St, Liverpool. Do not expect this to be one of your normal museums geared towards children, it is mostly undergrond in the former bunker that used to serve as the operational nerve centre of the Western Approaches. I knew more or less where it was situated but came from a different direction so ended up making a wrong turning and that proved to be quite beneficial to me as I discovered two more War memorials in the process.

There is an open square behind the City Hall that is bounded by a large building that seems to have been called “Exchange Flags” but is now called Horton House and Walker House; recognise those names? 

The first memorial was dedicated to “the Men of the Liverpool Exchange Newsroom”

While the other is dedicated to “Men from the Liverpool Cotton Association”

There is a third monument in the centre of the square and it is known as the Nelson Monument. 

Nelson Monument

However, I am not going to cover these in this blog but covered them at allatsea. My main interest here is the Western Approaches facility underneath this vast space. 

Walker House (formerly known as Derby House), was adapted during its construction to include a reinforced bunker that housed the Western Approaches Command Headquarters.  Construction of the main building was completed in 1939 but the construction of Walker House was interrupted by the war. The inclusion of the re-enforced bunker to house the command centre for the Battle of the Atlantic meant that Walker House wasn’t finished until 1941. The bunker was closed on 15 August 1945 after the end of WW2 but was re-opened as the Western Approaches Museum. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exchange_Flags) The museum entrance is almost unassuming, but beneath it is another world in another era.

Please show your pass to the guard at the door (he has stepped out for a moment). 

This is not some glitz and glass museum, you really need to remember it in the context of what it was like between 1941 and 1945, it is one of those places that is stuck in time. 

I am following the file numbering of my images so hopefully they will be in some sort of order as I passed through the museum, although I did backtrack on a few occasions. I am not in a position to explain the Battle of the Atlantic as it it really did not consist of a single event but rather a whole sequence of events, milestones, disasters and victories.  The men who bore the brunt of it were the men from the Merchant Navy who manned ships that were often one step away from disaster without the enemy even being close. They faced submarines, aircraft, weather and public and official indifference just to keep the lifelines of commerce open. 

Those who served on the escorts initially faced an uphill battle to keep the convoys safe but slowly a combination of factors turned the tables on the U-boats of the Axis. Even Churchill feared the submarine menace but at the end the battle was won and Western Approaches Command  had a vast role to play in that victory.

Communication in this labyrinth was via wireless, telex, telephone and messenger. 

Radio Room

These were often manned (womaned?) by a staff of naval ratings and WRENS who often had to deal with the emotional trauma of knowing that a convoy was sailing towards a disaster and being unable to do anything about it. They had a job to do and they did it with excellence. 

The operations room was the nerve centre of the command, a large plotting wall was used to keep tabs of the situation at sea and of course track the convoys and known enemy forces. Information coming in through all means of communication available. 

The Plotting Wall

Those involved had to really keep tabs of the big picture as well as a localised view of the situation on the ground. The course of a convoy’s often painfully slow progress was tracked by means of  colour coded elastics that followed its track across the Atlantic. 

The needs of the job sometimes meant that staff slept over at the bunker and limited sleeping accommodation was available. Even back then your bed had to be square.

The reality was that it was a totally enclosed bunker with limited ventilation and considerable stress; smoking was also common back then and the air quality must have been terrible. A four watch system was in place 7 days a week with only two 15 minutes rest periods during a watch. It was a not a very pleasant place to work, but then the men on board ship probably would not have swapped with them if they were given the chance.

The “Hot Line” to the War Office in London was able to connect directly to 10 favoured lines. It was housed in a sound proof booth and it is possible that Winston Churchill was heard in it a few times. It was a standard telephone but was modified especially for this purpose. There are only 2 of these instruments known to survive.   

The man in charge of the Western Approaches Command was Admiral Max Kennedy Horton, GCB, DSO & Two Bars, SGM (29 November 1883 – 30 July 1951). A former decorated submariner,  he was appointed Commander-in-Chief, Western Approaches Command on 17 November 1942.

As a successful former submariner he was able to understand the limitations of submarine warfare and instituted a number of tactical changes in the way the escort ships were to be used. 

Staff often saw him appear at the window overlooking the operations room clad in his pyjamas. As a keen golfer who may have had golf balls on his desk or clubs nearby. Given how much stress he was under golf this was his favourite way of unwinding.

He died in 1951 and there is a memorial to him in Liverpool Cathedral. 

He was one of the major reasons that the tide was turned in the Battle of the Atlantic, and of course his staff contributed to the success of this little known nerve centre. One of the stranger things to see was a film projector that was used to screen footage of the war. Originally the Gaumont Kalee Dragon projector was up in in London.  It is a fascinating piece of machinery. 

I trained as an apprentice in the telecommunications industry and quite a lot of the equipment on display was telecommunications related so it really interested me. This room housed the switchboard and probably part of the telex equipment.

Have you shown your pass?

 Below it was naval telex station

And switchboard

As well as the cipher station.

And then it was time to head upwards to sunlight.

There was a mockup street on display too, and it was really quite poignant because the reality was that once staff emerged from their bunker they would often end up finding a city that had been bombed. Liverpool was the second most bombed city outside London, the first raid taking place on 28 August 1940. Roughly 80 raids were conducted between August 1940 and January 1942, and over 75000 people were left homeless as a result of the bombing which mostly targeted the docks and warehouses on the Mersey. 

And then it was over. (my visit and the war). 

It was an extremely interesting place and it had an “otherness” about it, definitely a latent aura was present. It is very difficult to comprehend what it was like during the war, and the euphoria when it was all done and almost everybody got to go home. Sadly too many never did see that victory so this is really a part of commemoration. The men and women who worked here have all passed into history, they will however be remembered for the part they played, they were unsung heroes. 

It is a tangible link to World War 2, and one of those rare surviving places that we can see and experience. My only gripe was….  none really. I know that there is so much more that can go in here that is relevant, and I believe they are working towards it. It was well worth the visit and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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I shall leave you with my usual odds and ends pics.

DRW © 2018. Created 09/06/2018

Updated: 27/06/2018 — 19:10
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