I must admit the canals in the UK fascinate me, they are a rare glimpse of an age that has passed and which has become somewhat of the domain of the inland boater and canal fan. I have never really been able to explore them properly, and only just see the occasional length of water in my travels. In Tewkesbury we have two major rivers: The Severn and the Avon, and at one point they are joined together through the Avon lock. The Avon Lock may be seen in the map below.
Month: June 2015
I will not expound on the history of the building, there are others much more qualified than I am, suffice to say that the abbey has it’s own website.
Moving forward towards the crossing, the pulpit is on the right and lectern on the left. Both face the congregation.
The area just past the screen is beautiful, with a stunning floor and beautiful ceiling, photographs do not do this area justice. If you had to cross the screen and pass the Quire the and look towards the congregation the view would be something like this.
Set inside the tiles of the floor in front of the altar are a number of brass plaques. The town has gone down in history as being where one of the decisive battles fought during the War of the Roses was fought, and eighteen year old Edward, Prince of Wales, the last legitimate descendant of the House of Lancaster, was killed either in the battle or during its aftermath and is buried in the Abbey.
The Abbey as it exists today is a mere shade of its former self as can be seen from the plan below. Which leads me to wonder what it must have looked like before the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
The altar area is beautiful, and may just be the most impressive I have seen in a church so far, although that is not saying too much because I have not seen them all yet.
and the altar is surrounded by really magnificent stained glass windows.
It is a beautiful space, and no amount of photographs will do it justice.
And, as is usual there are a large number of floor memorials and effigies in the aisles and around the abbey, and the crypt houses the remains of George, Duke of Clarence (brother of Edward IV and Richard III), and his wife Isabelle (daughter of “Warwick, the Kingmaker”). These are housed behind a glass window in a wall of their inaccessible burial vault behind the high altar.
Climbing the Tower
The spiral staircase leading upwards has been retreaded so it does not bear the worn treads of generations of tower climbers. Our first stop was on a level that goes across the top of the inner roof and into the bell ringing chamber.
The bell ringing chamber is a beautiful space, it left me breathless, It is hard to believe that this space was completed like this, you would think that it would have been just a plain room, but it is nothing like that at all.
The station by the way is called Ashurch for Tewkesbury, and not too many trains stop here. It is closer to Cheltenham than to Worcester, but sadly trains are few. Once this was a thriving railway junction, with tracks heading in all 4 directions. Today it is empty. Thank you Mr Beeching!
The map above shows how large the Ashchurch Junction was, Tewkesbury is on the left and the line heading to the left would run up to the town and then to Upton on Severn. Today parts of that line are the cycle path.
Back at the town I really only planned on looking at the Abbey, which is a magnificent structure and which I will be visiting again as I have two war graves inside of the church. Interestingly enough the Abbey is actually the parish church and is probably the most ornate parish church you could ever want for. I will be doing a proper blog post about it at a later stage.
I had heard that there was also a small graveyard by the old disused Baptist Church and that was my next destination, although finding it in the veritable warren of alleys and courts was difficult, but eventually I found it and it was a gem.
It has a surprisingly interesting burial in it too, that of Joan Shakespeare, who was William Shakespeare’s younger sister. She married into the Hart family, and one of the Hart descendants moved to Tewkesbury. John Hart was a chairmaker, and so was his son, and there are two Shakespeare Hart burials in this tiny plot. Unfortunately I was only able to find one (Thomas), but will keep it in mind for the future for a revisit. I did a revisit in December 2017 as part of my “Cemetery in the Snow” mania,
Methinks I should look at getting myself a narrowboat.
In case you wondered, there is a War Memorial in the town, although it sits in a very awkward place which is very difficult to photograph because of the traffic. In fact the traffic in this small town is terrible, there is really only one main street and everybody goes past or around this memorial. I believe this junction is called “The Cross”
Don’t blink now, that was Tewkesbury. Actually there is much more to the town that these few images, but I did not go over the top imagewise and will add to this as I go along.
Next month is the Medieval Festival and hopefully I will pop along and have a look at it. Who knows, there may even be a blog post about it. (blogpost created 2017)
However, at the end of the day Tewekesbury is only famous for 3 things:
- It flooded in 2007
- It has a Medieval Festival
- Tewkesbury Abbey
and now I live there.
Actually you can now add: “The great snow of 2017” and “The water shortage of 2017” to that list
© DRW 2015-2018. Images migrated 01/05/2016
On our way to Tewkesbury, we stopped over at Letocetum, which is one place I had meant to go visit, but had never gotten round to it.
Also known as “Wall Roman Site”, it is close to the city of Lichfield and it was an important military staging post, and posting station near the Roman military road to North Wales, and Icknield (or Ryknild) Street. Ryknield street is actually Watling Street, (the old A5), The road we parked on was the old A5. It has been double carriageway’d in the meantime and to make it a double carriageway it was diverted. The A5/Watling Street had a bend just to the east of Letocetum. Ryknield Street itself is in Lichfield, and would have extended towards Watling Street and formed a junction with it roughly at the point of that bend in Watling Street as mentioned above.
I was able to cover the cemetery quite quickly, picking up the CWGC headstones as I found them and occasionally spotting a PM close by. It will be awhile before I sort my images though, so as yet I do not have a final tally of how many graves I found. But I do know there were a lot of very unique PM’s too. There are over 15000 burials in the cemetery, and it has a friends society that looks after it.
As usual the crew did not have a lot of time to admire the scenery, they had to uncouple the loco and run her back to the end of the train, although she would then have to run tender first for the rest of her journey. The station is an endpoint and there is no turning triangle.
The loco is a LMS Stanier Class 5 4-6-0 5305 and was built in 1936, being withdrawn from service in 1968.
As I stood watching this I realised that a very similar scene may have played itself out in wartime Britain as children were evacuated from their homes, although back then the children would not be wearing hi-vis vests, pink backpacks and with cellphones clutched in their hands. It was really a poignant scene to witness, made all the more so when a group in the train started singing songs that were famous during the war.
The engine had coupled back onto the train and then pulled the guards van from the consist and shunted it back onto the spare platform line.
The platform was steadily getting less crowded, although the police and military were still in evidence.
I returned to the end of the train where the loco was moving back into her position for departure. And a shiney beastie she is too.
I turned to look down the platform, and it was empty except for a solitary railwayman plodding along, they were ready to go. A final clanking and rumbling from the steam engine, a blast on her whistle and she slowly started to steam away, leaving me almost on my own.
Curse this war! how much longer must it go on?
I had a quick look at the guards van that had been left behind; it is interesting how much different these are to the coaches we had back in South Africa.
And then it was time for me to go, we still had a long day ahead, and I had a long walk ahead of me too, but what an excellent morning it had been. A special mention must go to the people who participated and who were there in all their finery, they really did a great job and were all participating in what I hope is the sort of day those children on the train never forget.
© DRW 2015-2018. Images migrated 30/04/2016
Because I am a perpetual panicker when it comes to being late, I am always early, and on this day I had an hour to kill, so I consulted my handy map and headed back the way I had just come to the first church that popped up. That church happened to be a really stunning building that dates back to 1533, and it is known as The Parish Church of St James.
I suspect the warm sunny weather may have contributed to the beauty of the church as it played on the stain glass windows. Outside the church there was a substantial old graveyard as well as a newer extension. There are 8 CWGC listed casualties in the graveyard and I was able to pick 5 of them without really looking too hard.
Outside the church, on a small island is the village War Memorial. and the street in front of the church had a nice collection of old houses and of course the local pub (or one of the local pubs I should say).
My watch was reminding me that time was marching so I headed towards my destination which was about 1,5 km away. It was a pleasant walk, through a mostly residential area. I also passed the village pond,
and this small body of water led me to another thing that was curious about: canal and narrow boats. This area does have an extensive marina close by and a canal flows parallel with a portion of the road. I would have to cross this canal to get to the place where my interview was going to happen. Would I be lucky today?
For once I was, and this beaut glided past me just as I arrived at the towpath. One of these is my version of a dream home, whether it is stationary or gliding down the water is irrelevant; I want a narrow boat!! Oddly enough this is the closest I have come to one so far, and the only one I have actually seen up close and personal sailing down a canal .
Excitement over I went for my interview which did not work out too well. Don’t call us, we won’t be calling you!
It was now just a case of retracing my steps back the way I came. I had 45 minutes to get to the bus stop, although I could also walk up to the church again and look around a bit more. I was tempted to pause for a pint while I was there, but needed my change for bus fare.
Unfortunately I had pretty much seen all there was to see in the village and so I had to hang around at the bus stop while time passed. I could not help but think of that narrow boat though, I really need to get to the marina and have a good look at those beauts.
I am generally not a fan of boats, but these are a whole different kettle of fish altogether, although I am sure that they too are really deep holes that you end up throwing money into.
While I was waiting I had a phone call, and I crossed the street to get away from the noise of a lawnmower, and spotted this guy in the courtyard of the lodge. He is a beaut.
Did I mention how nice the church was? yes I did, and will leave this post with some more images from the church. It is not often that you find one of this age, and very rare to be able to get into it too. Who knows, maybe one day I will be around here again, and the marina will be in my sights!