musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Category: Tewkesbury

The End of the War

Today we commemorate the end of the First World War. The guns fell silent on this day 100 years ago, although they really just went into standby mode for the next global conflict that was a result of the peace that came at the end of 1918.  It is strange to think that in 2014 we were remembering when it started, and now we remember the end. But in that 4 year period what did we do? I know I changed jobs, moved house, got new glasses, built ships, read books, cycled, shopped, ate, slept and brooded. But if you were in the military way back then the chances are you would have been shot at, shelled, gassed, wounded, abused, messed around, and prayed that you would get a “blighty” that would take you home. Time is a strange thing, it can pass so quickly, but drag so slowly.

I was wearing a very large knitted poppy this week and somebody admired it. I explained that the poppy was very big because I have a lot of remembering to do during this period. I remember not only those who I am connected to immediately, but also a whole army of men and women who served in the wars, as well as their families and the many animals that served and died.  My involvement with the South African War Graves Project and the Lives of the First World War project have given me a greater understanding of what we did to each other. The many names on the war memorials and graves that I photograph are always connected to at least 2 other people, who are each connected to two others and so on. If you really look at it hard enough the end result is staggering.

In a few minutes I will be heading out to the War Memorial in Tewkesbury where we will commemorate the people who are named there, and the millions of others who are not listed on a memorial. Mothers, Fathers, Sons and Daughters, Aunts and Uncles, Grandparents, Friends and Family. They are all an integral part of the symbolism of the poppy.

13H27 11/11/2018.

Once again Tewkesbury came out in force and we commemorated this dark period of history with a solemn service. The sun blessed our endeavours by shining brightly for the hour that we spent at “The Cross”. This year they read out the names from the memorial, and it kept on occurring to me how many of the names on it were the same;  back in 1914 the town had a much closer knit community, and “joining up” was something that was “done” back then. 

And once again the front of the marching column had reached the memorial before the slightly ragged end had left the Abbey. Children are included in service and I hope that some will take heed of the importance thereof and one day watch their own children march past in a ragged line of sombre expressions and the occasional shy waves. 

And when it was done the clouds came up and the occasional spatter of rain fell, not enough to scatter everybody but enough to change the atmosphere.  The parade marches off and then returns once again, passing the Memorial en route to the Town Hall where the Mayor takes the salute. It can get very crowded there so I tend to stick close to the Memorial to watch the parade as it “Eye’s Right” past us. 

Close by was a little girl in a red coat sitting on her fathers shoulders, and she returned the salute to every group that came past. And, it was not a half baked salute either, but a proper one, and I like to think that those who marched past appreciated her efforts. She made my day and pulled me out of the gloom that I was in.

The crowds have all dispersed and gone home to their roast, 2 veg and spuds, but back then what did Tommy and his mates have to say nearly 3 hours into the armistice? You can bet they were wary of the peace but glad that it was done, and you can bet Pierre and Gunther and soldiers on both sides were equally glad that they had come through it all intact, although some would be scarred mentally and physically for the rest of their lives. You can bet the Nurses and VAD’s did not cease their vigil over the men who were in their care, and you can bet that in homes throughout the world there was joy and sadness in abundance. 

We have not learnt the lessons of the war because sabres are still being rattled as politicians push their own agendas. If it happens again it will be a short war, but a very long nuclear winter will follow. 

The two World Wars made the planet what it is today.  And what would those who lost their lives have said about the mess we are in? I am sure that they would be disgusted.

DRW © 2018. Created Remembrance Day 2018.

Updated: 11/11/2018 — 14:01

The village tour: Kemerton and Overbury

The day finally arrived, it was time to embark on my grand tour of the villages en route to Evesham. The weather forecast was favourable, my navigation was done and all that was left was hitting the road. My plan was to travel by bus to Kemerton, take my pics and then head over to either Overbury or Ashton-Under-Hill, and from there to Evesham. The only real hard and fast decision was that Kemerton would be my first stop. 

I grabbed the 07.35ish 540 bus in misty weather and even the sun was still partly asleep at this time of the morning, and I duly arrived in Kemerton at 7.50ish. Everybody was apparently asleep too.

This is the road from Bredon.

I did not venture into the side streets of the village, but only the main street, and there is not a lot to see. 

Lost? this may help.

As you can see the sun was starting to colour the sky and the light was improving considerably.

Even the local shop/post office looked like it was starting to stir. This was the only shop I saw in the village. While “The Crown” was the only pub I saw, although there may be others. 

And finally, the reason for my early morning sojourn.

The War Memorial is described as a “Latin Limestone Cross atop a tall shaft, which is on a 5 stage base. The design of the cross was adapted from an ancient village cross in the village of Laycock.” (https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/32460). It was unveiled on 9 January 1921, and was made by Sir Herbert Baker RA (possibly the architect?), Messrs E T Taylor of Tewkesbury and Mr A Stanley of Kemerton. It is a Grade II listed structure. 

There are 20 names from the First World War and 7 from the Second World War on the memorial.

The building in the picture behind the memorial had an interesting sign painted on the wall, although I do not know if it is a period sign or a recent addition.

The rent was paid, it was time to walk across to Overbury which was less than a kilometre away, past the village hall (dated 1902), 

although walking on the pavement was difficult because the grass was heavy with dew. Not much was stirring here, but then it was still early.

Much to my delight I found a Catholic Church on the outskirts of the village, and it still had a graveyard.

It is called St Benet’s Catholic Church (served by the Benedictines of Douai Abbey), and it was built in 1843 by M E Hadfield, together with the adjoining Priest’s House.

I had missed the local Anglican Church though, so that is another reason for a return to the village. Across the street from the church was a large field with grazing sheep and a white painted farmhouse in the distance. There was a hint of mist in the air and the slowly lightening sky was still coloured orange by the sun on the clouds. It was one of those moments that always leaves me breathless. 

(1500 x 510)

In fact there were sheep having breakfast on both sides of the road. This chap was resting his wary head and we exchanged Baa’s. 

Kemerton is also mentioned in the Domesday Book

  • HundredTewkesbury
  • CountyGloucestershire / Worcestershire
  • Total population: 40.5 households (very large).
  • Total tax assessed: 13.4 geld units (very large)
  • Taxable units: Taxable value 60 geld units. Taxed on 60.0. Payments of 0.82 urban.

My next destination was in sight.

And in the distance I could see the the bell tower of St Faith’s, Overbury on the left side of the road. 

There are 5 CWGC graves in the churchyard, and all five are from the First World War. The War Memorial is incorporated into the Lych Gate so technically it could also double as a coffin rest.

The Memorial commemorates the Men of Overbury and Conderton who gave their lives in the Great War (and the Second World War).  There are 26 names from the First World War and 4 from the Second World War. (https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/32563)

For some strange reason I took almost no images of the Lych Gate structure as I was too intent of trying to get the names instead. Once that was done I tackled the Churchyard, 4 of the headstones were standard CWGC pattern while the last was a private memorial, and it had been recently restored too.

Rent paid, it was time to move onwards. And I seemingly did not photograph the church completely, although it was not easy to get an unobstructed view of it. Fortunately I did get the back of the Lych Gate.

The Exif data of this image puts the time at 8.34 and I still had to find the bus stop to get the bus that theoretically should arrive about 8.50. I had scoped the route out on my maps and the bus stops were marked on it, so no problemo!

In fact, the timetable listed the bus stop as “opposite shelter”, and this is the shelter….  

The shelter however is on the side heading back to Tewkesbury, and Google Earth marks the stop as being roughly 50 metres before the shelter, and the locals said the stop was at a small bench 50 metres on the other side of the shelter. This is the UK,  if you do not stand at a designated bus stop the bus will not stop! 

Overbury Church Of England First School

Old Village Shop

Overbury is in the Domesday Book too:

  • HundredOswaldslow
  • CountyWorcestershire
  • Total population: 15.5 households (medium).
  • Total tax assessed: 3 geld units (medium)
  • Head of manor: Overbury.
  • Taxable units: Taxable value 6 geld units.
  • Value: Value to lord in 1066 £6. Value to lord in 1086 £6.
  • Households: 15 villagers. 7 smallholders. 6 slaves. 2 female slaves. 1 priest.
  • Ploughland: 3 lord’s plough teams. 12 men’s plough teams.
  • Other resources: Meadow 10 acres. Woodland 1 * 1 leagues. 0.5 church lands.
  • Lord in 1066Worcester (St Mary), bishop of.
  • Lord in 1086Worcester (St Mary), bishop of.
  • Tenant-in-chief in 1086Worcester (St Mary), bishop of.
  • Places mentioned in this entryOverburyPendock.

and this is the road out of here.

The next village in the route was Conderton although I was not stopping there, and fortunately the bus driver saw my frantic waves from what I hoped was the bus stop.

My next destination was Ashton-Under-Hill and that is over the page….

forwardbut

DRW © 2018. Created 20/10/2018.  The Open Domesday Project and the associated  images are kindly made available by Professor J.J.N. Palmer. Images may be reused under a Creative Commons BY-SA licence.  

Updated: 21/10/2018 — 07:26

The villages en route to Evesham

My first trip to visit Evesham in May 2018 is the key to what has become of something of an obsession.  The bus goes through a number of typical English villages, namely Bredon, Lower Westmancote, Kemerton, Overbury, Beckford, Little Beckford, Ashton Under Hill, Sedgeberrow, and finally Fairfield. It is somewhat of a long trip but there is a lot to see and try to photograph (unsuccessfully I may add). By the process of elimination I have narrowed down the list of villages to visit to 4, namely Kemerton, Overbury, Ashton-Under-Hill and Sedgeberrow because they either have a church with CWGC graves in them, or a war memorial. 

I have been able to grab pics of the following through the bus window: 

Ashton Under Hill War Memorial. ( 52.039634°, -2.005106°)  

20/10/2018: Ashton-Under-Hill is “in the bag”. 

Kemerton War Memorial. ( 52.033202°,  -2.079959°)

20/10/2018. Kemerton is “In the bag”

Beckford. (Marker on an island, may not be a war memorial. 52.020002°,  -2.038073°)  

Sedgebarrow War Memorial (52.045395°,  -1.965749°)

Sedgeberrow is in the bag

As far as churches go, there are two I have to check out:  St Faith’s Church in Overbury (52.03491, -2.0642) has 5 CWGC Burials in it  (20/10/2018. Overbury is “In the bag”),  while  St Barbara’s in Ashton-Under-Hill (52.03773 , -2.00571) has 2 CWGC Burials in it. (20/10/2018: Ashton-Under-Hill is “in the bag”. )

Ashton-Under-Hill

I intend village hopping, starting off at Kemerton, then moving onto Overbury, and Ashton-Under-Hill, then completing the trip to Evesham and doing Sedgeberrow on the way back as the bus takes a slightly different route when it returns from Evesham.  Because of the timetable spacing I am looking at an hour in each village, although the Overbury stop may be longer due to an oddity in the timetable. 

I had everything planned for the 4th of October, but shift changes at work changed my plans, so it will either happen when next I am on evenings or on a Saturday morning.   Watch this space as they say in the classics. 

**Update**

The grand tour commenced in the 20th of October. You can read about it from the start page (Kemerton and Overbury)

forwardbut

DRW © 2018. Created 09/10/2018. Added links to the grand tour 21/10/2018

Updated: 02/11/2018 — 14:15

Musings and Mumbles

Having finished our sightseeing in Swansea, we now turned our bows to a distant point on the map called “Mumbles Pier“, which is situated at Google Earth co-ordinates:  51.568880°,  -3.976965°.  It just struck me that this is also the furtherest western point I have been to in the United Kingdom.  The Mumbles lighthouse may be seen in the image below and the lattice like bridge  is our destination. 

You drive all along the bay to get there, and unfortunately stopping places are few and far between and the road is busy. I was hoping to spot the Cenotaph on the way, and eventually did see it which confirmed where it was, although it did not make a lot of sense having it on the beach front, but then things may have been very different way back when it was erected. 

We managed to squeeze into a parking a bit further from the area above, and I grabbed a few pics looking towards Swansea before we carried on with our journey. 

(1500 x 724)

The area was really nice, with small boats and picturesque houses, and people enjoying the stiff wind that was blowing. 

A short drive further and we had arrived at Mumbles Pier.

Unfortunately the pier extension is closed off, presumably for repair. It was built in 1898 and is 835 feet long and is a Grade II listed structure.  The building on the left is a lifeboat station and there is a gift shop too. Alas we would not be visiting those on this day.

The end of the land had a flight of stairs down to the beach, but you could also get a good view of the lighthouse and the other outcropping of land. The angle of that rock is amazing to see.

Standing on some rocks looking back at the pier and small beach I could not wonder what it must be like to stand here when the sea is raging.

(1500 x 437)

The area that Swansea Bay opens into is the Bristol Channel, and the Mumbles Lighthouse was built in 1794 to guide vessels along the coast and into Swansea Bay, past the hazards of the Mixon Shoal ½ mile to the South. The height of the tower is 17m, and the height of light above Mean High Water is  35 m. It was automated in 1934 and electrified in 1969. (https://www.trinityhouse.co.uk/lighthouses-and-lightvessels/mumbles-lighthouse).

A quick walk through the amusement arcade and we were once again outside. I was curious about what this building was supposed to be but there was no clue.

We drove up the very steep road, and good clutch control was needed because it was a killer of a hill. We were now heading for Oystermouth Castle which was not too far away, although we were really taking the long way to get to it. The Castle is situated at  51.577066°,  -4.002761° although it was closed by the time we wound our way to it.  

It is a Norman castle, the first iteration being built in 1106,  and  overlooks Swansea Bay on the east side of the Gower Peninsula near the village of the Mumbles. The castle fell in and out of use, but  after the Middle Ages, it gradually fell into ruin, and was described in a survey of Gower made in 1650 as “[a]n old decayed castle of no use, but of a very pleasant situation.”  It was restored in the 1840s while the castle was owned by the then Duke of Beaufort. He gave the castle to Swansea Corporation in 1927; and today the castle is maintained under the responsibility of the City and County of Swansea council.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oystermouth_Castle)

The weight of ages looms heavily over these ruins, and it is one of those buildings that has just managed to stay with us in spite of the ravages of war, politics, climate and time. The view from the castle over the village is good, although it looked very differently so many centuries ago. At least there was no air pollution from cooking fires.

It was time to head back home, a last pic of the pier, and we were on our way.

(1500 x 875)

On the drive back to Swansea I was determined to find the Cenotaph, and I saw it almost at the last moment and hurriedly snapped the pic below, hoping to fire off at least one more as we got closer. Unfortunately a local bus decided to insert itself into the space and as a result I only have this one pic of the Cenotaph. It is however, better than a picture of a bus.

The sun was low as we headed past Port Talbot and back to Tewkesbury, but the hills were still very impressive.

The moon was extremely large and bright and I attempted to grab some pics of it but had very little success due to the vibration and light; which is a pity because it was spectacular to see. 

It had been a great day out, I had seen many things and added to my knowledge, I have been to Wales, and seen the Mumbles. It was one of those things to write home about. 

Special thanks to Evert for the trip, I really enjoyed it.

Random Images

 

DRW © 2018. Created 25/09/2018 

Updated: 09/10/2018 — 19:47

Last days

This afternoon I closed the door on yet another chapter of my life, and the outcome can go either way. I have left my job in Tewkesbury due to personal and health reasons and I am hoping to find something else somewhere else.

It is quite strange to pack your goodies after so much time, hell, I have done it so many times I am an expert! But it’s the funny things that I end up breaking up that make me smile the most: my 2 decker paper tray and my makeshift shelf were all cobbled together from boxes and wood, and helped make my life just that easier. Let’s face it, I can be a messy worker at times so every little bit of shelving or organising space helps. Wherever I have worked I have built these contraptions, often because the companies do not provide decent spaces where you can stash your “stuff”. I also have bought a number of tools to make things easier and these will now join my every expanding toolbox at home. 

It is depressing to think that the knowledge I have gained over these 3 years will never be used again, I can pull the little flush lever in my brain and it can join the knowledge of all the arcane stuff that I have fixed or worked on in my career that lives in the dusty archives of my brain basement. I do however keep some skills handy because sometimes odds and ends of it will be used somewhere else. A good example is my printer repair skills that were last used in 1998. Little did I know that in 2015 I would have to dredge them from the dusty archive of my mind, and when I first started here 3 years ago I was embarrassed to see how much things had evolved since I first started working on printers. Way back then a colour laser was unheard of, and ink jets were rickety machines that often stopped printing randomly. There was no such thing as USB or Wifi, it was serial or parallel only! Things have come a long way since then though, and pricewise they have definitely improved, although that may not be true in South Africa where nothing ever comes down in price.

The one thing I usually miss has to do with the people I worked with. Because I lead a solitary life I very rarely get to know people well except in the case of work colleagues. I spend 8 hours in a day with them (as they do with me), and naturally it can be an up and down affair depending on how much work we have or how much we get moaned at or how much we help each other. The tech field seems to draw slightly “weird” (in a nice way) characters and this time around was no different.  I will miss them the most, and the sad thing is that in so many cases, when you walk out the door for the last time you never see them again.  This will be true from the 1st of September.

Naturally there are those who I will not miss, but I will not discuss them, suffice to say that I have encountered many of these in my careers, and they exist everywhere too.

As I head into the last 3,5 hours I am still bogged down with broken machines, but my pile of stuff is steadily moving towards my backpack as I prepare to sail towards the horizon. Here be dragons? Who knows.

Will I remain in Tewkesbury? It really depends on whether I can find work to pay the rent while I look for permanent work wherever that may be.

As I always say: watch this space!

DRW © 2018. Created 31/08/2018

Updated: 09/10/2018 — 19:47

Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Festival 2018

 [ TCVF2016 ] [ TCVF 2017 ]

The Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Festival is held around this time of the year pretty much longer than I have lived here. I missed the 2015 event as it was cancelled because of heavy rain, but this year, 2018, is probably the last time I will be attending the event. It is fascinating to walk through because so many of the vehicles are cars from my past, and my parents past too. It did not seem that there were as many vehicles on display this year, and of course the weather was grey and cloudy some of the time. But, it was still packed and cars were still arriving by the time I left just after 12 (and the sun was making token appearances too). 

How to not repeat what I have posted before? duplication will creep in, and many of the cars on show were here in the previous years too, so unlike last time when i posted 4 pages, this time I am going to try to keep it at 1. I am really going to try post the odds and ends that interest me in this post instead of the usual vehicles.

There were 2 speed merchants to see this year, and it’s kind of hard to picture them hurtling along because they will just be blurs in the lens. The first was the Bloodhound SSC,a British supersonic vehicle currently in development. Its goal is to match or exceed 1,000 miles per hour (1,609 km/h), and achieving a new world land speed record. The pencil-shaped car  is designed to reach 1,050 miles per hour (1,690 km/h).

The vehicle was supposed to be tested on the Hakskeen Pan in the Mier area of the Northern Cape, but it appears that the record attempt has been put off till 2019. Maybe one day we will hear that it happened, but this glimpse at the needle nosed speed merchant was a unique one,

Speed merchant number two was a dragster, and its the first one I have ever seen in real life before. Its an impressive beastie but seems almost fragile. I know nothing about these vehicles but the fastest competitors can reach speeds of up to 530 km/h and can cover the 1,000 foot (305 m) run in anything between 3.6 and 4 seconds (on a good day?).  

Fortunately I prefer a more sedate drive and one of the many oldies I saw was a fabric bodied Austin 7 from 1928.

The British weather played havoc with the vehicles and I don’t think there are too many survivors around. The fabric used was called Rexine’, a cloth coated with a mixture of cellulose paint and castor oil and formerly used in the manufacturing of WW1 aircraft wings. I was quite fortunate to see this old lady and hear about the unique body. Truly a rare gem of a vehicle.

Two other oddities that tickled my fancy were a pair of milk floats in the Cotteswold Dairy livery. I cycle past the Dairy every morning and it never occurred to me that they would have operated floats too. 

How many of us used to collect Matchbox cars as children? and how many were thrown away by our mothers? quite a lot of them end up in boxes like this one…

Spot the blue Mini… I almost had to have a dual with a munchkin over the contents of that box, and we both left satisfied and clutching our 50p toys in sweaty hands. Phew, these muchkins can play dirty though. On the subject of Mini’s, yes there were quite a few there, and I have probably seen most of the ones on display, naturally some caught my eye, although the pink one was kind of jarring. It was for sale too, but I had spent my last 50p so was skint.

The other Mini that hurt my eyes was this orange 1970 Mini Clubman Estate (the turquoise one was quite nice too), I will post the new Mini’s in my famous Mini Minor with two flat tyres gallery at some point.

Another interesting find was this Ford Escort that did not come from the factory like this. It is a four seater, 3 sleeper motor caravan based on the Ford Escort 8 cwt deluxe van. 

The odd love of camper vans was also evident from the many VW’s Kombi’s around in various states of quirkiness.  I believe the windows in the roof were for viewing mountains with. 

Next to this old lady was a Beetle Cabriolet from the 1970’s. I was not too keen on the bubble gum colour, but she was a nice vehicle and her own was justifiably proud of her.

And you can always enjoy your travels on 2 wheels if the need takes you, and there were some interesting bikes on display too. The show stopper however was this beaut. It was a seriously large bike, but I have no idea how the rider manages with it.

There were a few other vintage machines, the first one in this trio is a 1914 Triumph Roadster.

although I kind of liked this Lambretta step through scooter in spite of the colour.

Chrome was evident in many of the vehicles though, and that reminds me, have you seen my Figureheads and Hood Ornaments post yet? I started it way back in 2017 and was finally able to complete it in 2018. 

Dream car? besides a Mini? there are a few that really make me ooh and aah, and right at the top of the list is the Morgan and this red example is perfect. Sadly I did not see any 3 wheel Morgans around this year.

There were not too many small commercial truck and van variants around, but there were two that made me smile.

I could probably waffle the whole day about the 400 images that I took, but I wont. Suffice to say I enjoyed this blast from the past. What I did find quite odd though was that there were a number of vehicles that are still in production on show (Golf’s and Mercs and Beemers), and I cannot quite class them as vintage or even classic. But if you look at it rationally, the VW Golf has been in production since 1974, and those 1974 models are now over 40 years old and technically are classics. What I do find hard to think about is that in 50 years time car enthusiasts may be looking at some of the plastic rubbish on our roads and discussing the merits of the internal combustion engine and a pre 2000 VW Golf, or the merits of a three wheel vehicle over a hoverspeeder.

And as usual I shall leave you with some random cars. In no particular order and with no favouritism anywhere. 

 

 

And that was it for the Classic Vehicle Festival of 2018. It was fantastic and special thanks to all those who keep these oldies running and in such a great condition. I probably wont see you next year, but I have many memories to carry me forward of the event that I have seen this year and in 2016 and 2017.

 [ TCVF2016 ] [ TCVF 2017 ]

DRW © 2018. Created 19/08/2018

Updated: 09/10/2018 — 19:48

Figureheads and Hood Ornaments

The one item that seems to have disappeared from motor vehicles is the Figurehead aka “Hood Ornament”. In South Africa a hood is a bonnet and a trunk is a boot. Sound confusing enough? The age of plastic has left us somewhat poorer as can be seen by the examples that I photographed at the Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Event. Somehow a badge just doesn’t cut it as much a a chrome bird or symbolic creature. I don’t know of too many modern vehicles that sport these anymore,  I know Rolls Royce still sports the “Spirit of Ecstacy” and Mercedes Benz still have their gunsight up front. These images are purely for enjoyment, no captions are needed.

I never published this post way back in 2017 when I started it because there was more I wanted to add in but never did, this year around at the Classic Vehicle Festival (2018) I went looking for more of these but the odds are I saw the same ones. Anyway, I am going to post this in 2018 come hell or high water!

   
   
   
   
   
   

Tewkesbury Classic Vehicles 2018

DRW © 2017 – 2018. Created 21/08/2017. Finally completed 19/08/2018

Updated: 19/08/2018 — 15:14

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: 25/07/2018 — 05:38

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: 25/07/2018 — 05:38

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: 25/07/2018 — 05:38
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