musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Category: Warwickshire

Buried Him Among Kings

Last night, while reading about the Unknown Soldier, it struck me that I I had seen the graves of at least 3 kings. I am not a royalty fan as a rule, because a lot of the misery in this world was caused by their petty squabbles, minor wars, appetite for vast amounts of money and a generally “holier than thou” attitude. Fortunately Queen Elizabeth II has managed to  be a sensible monarch and that has helped a lot.

In this post I am going to root amongst my images and post the graves of “royalty”, and hopefully settle them in my mind because frankly I can never remember which one reigned when and where they ended up being buried. 

My first king is to be found in Worcester Cathedral

Tomb of King John. Worcester Cathedral

This is the tomb of King John, He was king of England from 6 April 1199 until his death in 1216. He is generally considered to be a “hard-working administrator, an able man, and an able general”. Although it is acknowledged that he had many faults, including pettiness, spitefulness, and cruelty, so much so that along with his crony “The Sheriff on Nottingham” he is the bad guy associated with Robin Hood. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John,_King_of_England)

Gloucester Cathedral is where Osric, the King of Hwicce, may be found. I have to admit I need to look up where Hwicce is (or was). It encompasses parts of Worcester, Gloucestershire and Warwickshire. Technically I live in Hwicce.

Osric also shares the Cathedral with Edward II, who reigned from 7 July 1307 – 25 January 1327, and he has been seen as a failure as a king, labelled as  “lazy and incompetent, liable to outbursts of temper over unimportant issues, yet indecisive when it came to major issues”, he has also been called “incompetent and vicious”, and “no man of business”. Like many kings he overspent, although he did inherit a lot of the debt from his father Edward I.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_II_of_England)

And, while we are in Hwicce we can stop at Tewkesbury Abbey where we will find the grave of  Edward, Prince of Wales, the last legitimate descendant of the House of Lancaster. 

He lived from 13 October 1453 till his untimely death on 4 May 1471 during or after the Battle of Tewkesbury

Moving northwards to Staffordshire we can briefly visit Lichfield Cathedral which does not have a king buried within it’s walls, but rather we can look upon the mouldering statue of Charles II who lived from 1630 till 1685. His claim to fame is that he gave money and timber to the cathedral to restore it following the ravages of the civil war. In reality he is buried in Westminster Abbey.

Westminster Abbey is the destination I was aiming for because this is where we find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier that was buried among the Kings.

“They buried him among the kings because he

had done good towards God and toward

His House”

Could we say the same about the the kings buried in the sumptuous surrounds of the Abbey?

Unfortunately I never visited the interior of the Abbey, I was fortunate enough that a door monitor allowed me to briefly glimpse the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and I quickly shot 3 pics before being shown the door again. Thank you, whoever you were.

Unfortunately, Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral do not allow photography within the buildings so it was not really worth standing in the very long queue.  

The list of kings and their consorts buried in Westminster Abbey is quite a long one (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burials_and_memorials_in_Westminster_Abbey) 

Many other kings found their last resting place to be less than satisfactory.

Boudicca of the Iceni is reportedly buried between platforms 9 and 10 in King’s Cross station in London, although there is no evidence that this is true.

King Richard III was recently exhumed from the car park where he was buried. Of course at the time of his death that site was not a car park, but was “in the choir of the Friars Minor at Leicester”. After being identified through DNA he was reburied in  Leicester Cathedral in 2015.

King Henry I is supposedly buried in Reading Abbey. That unfortunate building is now a series of ruins, but investigations were conducted at Reading Prison which is next to the abbey. Reading Abbey was founded by Henry I in 1121 and was always known to have been the final resting place of the King and his Queen Adeliza. When I was there in 2015 it had been cordoned off because of falling masonry. Consequently my pics were taken through the fence.  The bottom right image in the group below is the gateway of the abbey and it is labelled as 16 on the diagram below

That pretty much concludes my brief visit to kings gone by. I hope to expand on this post at a later date as my reading takes me deeper into this aspect of history.

As an aside, Elvis “the King” is buried in the Meditation Garden at Graceland mansion at 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard in Memphis, Just thought you would like to know. 

© DRW 2017. Created 11/08/2017

Updated: 21/08/2017 — 12:23

Worcester Cathedral

The reason behind my “Waddle Through Worcester” was really to see Worcester Cathedral, or, as it is properly known: “The Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Mary the Virgin of Worcester”. 

Like so many cathedrals it is large, beautiful and awe inspiring. It will be the eighth Cathedral/Abbey that I have seen and it is hard to know which is my favourite. It does not really matter though because each leaves me speechless and awed at the same time.

Unfortunately, getting the whole building into an image is very difficult because there is no real place where you can see it all in one shot. But, I do know where to try for next time. I returned to Worcester on Monday 13th and have replaced some of the exterior images in this post. 

 

The interior follows the same basic arrangement of most cathedrals and churches although parts of it were erected at different periods of time.

 

 

Information booklet available at http://www.worcestercathedral.co.uk/media/Cathedral_Brochure.pdf

The entrance was not quite where I expected it to be, but nevertheless it was very impressive with all those statues over the door. I do however wish that there had been more sunlight.

And, as usual, the moment I stepped inside it was as if I had entered a totally different world. I always like to think that having seen 8 of these churches I would be used to them, but each is unique, and I like to think that in the days of yore this place was held in awe by the people who came from far and wide and entered within. It certainly leaves me shell shocked. 

There are a lot of aspects to taking photographs in a cathedral. The light varies considerably and in many cases a flash is required and  I try to  avoid using a flash. There are always people moving in and out of view, and sometimes areas are just too big to photograph effectively. I do not carry a DSLR and make do with a reasonable hand held camera. Photographic permits are available from the shop at £3.

Overhead the vast expanse of vaulted ceilings is quite a dizzying sight, but nevertheless it is always worthwhile to lean back and appreciate the work of those who built this building.

Before the English Reformation the Cathedral was known as Worcester Priory. It was built between 1084 and 1504 and represents every style of English architecture from Norman to Perpendicular Gothic. 

There are some really beautiful wall memorials and effigies in the cathedral, and some are outstanding works of art rather than mere memorials.  I cannot help but marvel at the skill of those who created these works. 

   

Like so many churches there is a font and a pulpit,

and a quire,

An organ (or 3) 

and an Altar.

And the High Altar (image below).

In front of the High Altar and before the quire is the tomb of  King John.  Unfortunately I could not get a decent image of the tomb because of one person that was seemingly glued to the immediate space around it. 

Saint Wulfstan and Saint Oswald can be seen in miniature beside the head of John on his effigy.

It is not every day that you get to see the tomb of a King.

Underneath the Cathedral is the Crypt of St Wulfstan, and it is was open for viewing although the chapel was roped off.

It is a quiet and thoughtful place, a very appealing spot to wander around in. Many of the slabs on the floor are floor memorials. 

Returning to ground level I needed to find the loo (as usual), and that took me to the Cloister. It too is a pretty space, surrounding the central garden/graveyard/herb garden. I would have really liked to have walked around in that space but it was locked. 

I did find this area quite dark in spite of the many windows. 

But then it was still grey and gloomy outside anyway so that may have had something to do with the atmosphere.

My ablutions over, it was time to return to the building again and take another walk around. There is a dedicated Chapel of Remembrance where the Rolls of Honour are kept, and with its many memorials to the fallen.

I may do a separate blogpost about the memorials in this chapel and the windows in the Cloister.

On the 13th I was able to see inside the Chapter House, and it was magnificent, with amazing acoustics. My camera can’t really do justice to this structure.

 

Random Images

Space does not allow me to show all of my images, and I often cannot really describe what I saw which is why these images are here. They need no caption but just convey what I saw. They are places of great beauty and tranquillity.

   
   
   

The Cathedral from the bridge across the Severn

And that concluded my trip to Worcester Cathedral.  It is a beautiful building and so different but so similar to the others I have seen. Go back? of course, these structures have so much to see that each time is different. Besides, I hear there is another memorial to “Woodbine Willie” that I would like to see, I wish I had known about it at the time, or, maybe I did photograph it, I just have not seen it yet.

13/03/2017.

I did manage to photograph the memorial mentioned above, and will deal with it in my “Connections: Woodbine Willie”  post. 

© DRW 2017. Created 20/02/2017, edited and some images replaced 13/03/2017 

Updated: 15/04/2017 — 13:25

A waddle through Worcester

The last time I was in Worcester was in June 2015 when I came for a job interview in Tewkesbury. At the time I had a few minutes between trains so quickly walked up Foregate Street to see if I could spot the cathedral. I did however not go far enough before I turned around and went back to Foregate Street Station to catch my train. There are not a lot of trains between Aschurch for Tewkesbury and Worcester (or anywhere else for that matter) so any trip I made would be a short one; there is a 3 hour window to sightsee in, and after that you are stuck for almost 2 hours waiting for the train.  I had not planned any cemetery visits for this trip, this was really about the cathedral.  The weather was grey and gloomy as my pics show, and definitely not photography weather, but one day hopefully I will return on a sunnier day.  

(I made a return visit on 13/03/2017 to photograph St John’s cemetery, you can read about it at “Return to Worcester”)

Your first view of the cathedral was through the dirty window of the train as it pulls into Worcester Shrub Hill Station. The two stations are quite close together but Shrub Hill is on the line to Cheltenham, Gloucester, Bristol and eventually Weymouth. 

Worcester Foregate Street serves the line that goes from Great Malvern to Birmingham and this is the street I would use to get to the Cathedral. 

The town is a pretty one with a very nice array of old buildings and some really spectacular ones too. There was one building that I was really after and that was the Guildhall, but first…

This building is labelled “The Hop Market Hotel” and it is stunning. Built at the beginning of the 20th century, the name is still clearly visible on the stone façade of the building, although it is no longer a hotel.  It is a Grade II listed building and the date 1836 may be seen above the one doorway. 

The next building on the right hand side of the image is/was a church, it is sadly now called “Slug and Lettuce” A bit of rooting around reveals that it is the former St Nicholas Church that dates from the 18th Century. It is a Grade II listed building but is no longer an active church (which is a shame).

Lloyds Bank is next door

and this beaut that I cannot name as yet.

The one place I did remember from my passing through in 2015 was the Guildhall, and it is really quite an ornate affair on the exterior with  statues, gilt, carvings and reliefs. it was built in  1721, and designed by Thomas White, a local architect. 

Unfortunately you cannot get far back to fit the building into a straight forward image.  I am particularly fond of the statues that adorn it, as well as the various faces that peer out from above the windows. The local tourism centre is housed in in one corner of the building and if you like decorative gimmicks I guess this is the place to see it. I believe there is an interesting war memorial in the building so it is listed as worth going to see again.

Charles I

Queen Anne

Charles II

I believe that the stone head above the door in this image is supposed to represent Oliver Cromwell, with his ears nailed to the frame, although we do not know what Oliver Cromwell looked like in real life, so they could be having us on.

I was now close to my goal, and I spotted a statue of Edward Elgar who was a great believer in “Pomp and Circumstance.” The Cathedral was across the street. 

 

At this point you can go to the page about the cathedral by clicking the convenient arrow below.

forwardbut

Like most of these buildings it is very difficult to take a photograph that encompasses the whole building. This is the best that I could do from this position. I believe that a better image can be taken from Fort Royal Hill

Pride of place in front of the Cathedral is the Memorial to the men from Worcestershire who lost their lives in the Boer War. 

At this point I entered the Cathedral and that part of this post continues on another page. My return to the station continues below.

I exited the cathedral and headed to the embankment that overlooks the River Severn (which also flows past Tewkesbury). There is a rail bridge and a road bridge over the Severn and I was really curious about the rail bridge.

The bridge in the foreground is the road bridge. The cathedral was behind me at this point.

I walked a bit further until I found what looked like an exit from the cathedral close, and it came out at the Edgar Tower. 

At this point I had quite a lot of time to kill till before my projected train at 15.06 (or thereabout). I had seen something called the “Museum of Royal Worcester“, and I thought that it was related to the local regiment so headed off into that direction. However I was sadly disappointed to find that it was a porcelain museum! Royal Worcester is believed to be the oldest or second oldest remaining English porcelain brand still in existence today. 

What now? I was tempted to take a walk to one of the two cemeteries in the city, but neither was really within walking range given the train timings, so I decided to head in the direction of the station. 

Like Tewkesbury Worcester has a lot of old timber framed buildings that line it’s narrow streets, many are taken up by small business that cater for a specialised clientèle. They are pretty buildings and some are probably very old, but they are very difficult to photograph.

By the way, the slightly furtive figure is a representation of Charles II fleeing Cromwell on 3 September 1651. “Worcester was the site of the Battle of Worcester (3 September 1651), when Charles II attempted to forcefully regain the crown, in the fields a little to the west and south of the city, near the village of Powick. However, Charles II was defeated and returned to his headquarters in what is now known as King Charles house in the Cornmarket, before fleeing in disguise to Boscobel House in Shropshire from where he eventually escaped to France. Worcester had supported the Parliamentary cause before the outbreak of war in 1642 but spent most of the war under Royalist occupation.”  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worcester)

There are a number of these small bronzes in the area where I now was, and I was surprised to find a statue of Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy aka “Woodbine Willie”. I had seen a wall memorial to him in London in 2016 and this was a nice feather in my cap.

Close to Woodbine Willie was a small church, actually it was the back of “St Martin in the Cornmarket”, although it should now be called “St Martin in the car park”. 

It was a pretty church on the inside, although not awe inspiring. Sadly the churchyard was a disgrace.

I discovered four of those small bronze statues in the area of the church and they were really charming. These are the other three. 

I was slowly heading in the direction of the station so really just decided to see about getting an earlier train to Tewkesbury, I had 35 minutes until a train left so had till then to decide what to do. 

The sign on this building reads: “The Worcester New Co-operative and Industrial Society Ltd. 1888” 

I grabbed a quick bacon butty and decided that I would head towards the two bridges over the Severn, There were a number of interesting buildings in the street I was heading down, although it is doubtful whether many are still being used for what they were originally built as.

This building was fascinating, Now occupied by “Tramps Nightclub” it was formerly the East Side Congregational Church and is a Grade II listed building dating from 1858. Right next door to it what is now known as the Angel Centre.

It has a very interesting Memorial Stone that ties it into the former church next door.

As I walked I was able to glimpse portions of that railway bridge I saw from the cathedral, although time was starting to become an issue again.

It is a very impressive structure, and I was not even seeing all of it from where I stood. Sadly though it was time to leave and I turned around and headed back to the station, passing this oldie that stood on the side of a hill.

If only I knew the stories behind these old faded buildings that seemingly exist with our characterless modern architecture. 

At the station I spotted my first class 166 in the new GWR livery. It was heading to Paddington, I was not.

The strange thing about Foregate Street Station is even though it has two platforms you catch the train to Weymouth on the same platform as you would disembark from it.  

When last I was here I had photographed from the other platform and there was a tantalising glimpse of two churches which will be on my list for the next time I am in Worcester.

Now why wasn’t the weather like that on this trip? definitely a reason to return.

And, one final puzzle, why are there semaphore signals in this portion of the line?

And that concludes my trip to Worcester. I will be back one day I hope, there is a lot more to see that I did today, but then I was really there for the cathedral, and now that it has been seen I can make a plan to see the other sights that I know about now.  It is all about exploration and waddling through Worcester.

© DRW 2017. Created 20/02/2017  

Updated: 15/04/2017 — 13:22

Blundering around Bushley

The winter weather was decidely pleasant when I set out for the village of Bushley in Warwickshire, I had one CWGC grave to photograph so it was worth the walk to get there.  However, this was really a test to see how well I could cope with an extended walk like this. Unfortunately I have been suffering with unspecific hip and back pain and that has really curtailed my meanderings in the countryside. The church of St Peter is just over 3km away via the Mythe Bridge, which is not really far until you factor in the return walk and the gallivanting I had planned for my return trip. 

The route encompasses the magnificent Mythe Bridge that I had photographed last year, 

crossing the River Severn

and then following the signs until you reach the village which is in Warwickshire as opposed to Gloucestershire.

The church is easy to find too, it is the highest point there.

The church of St Peter was rebuilt in 1843 by Canon Dowdeswell and consists of chancel, north and south transepts, nave and west tower and spire, it is a Grade II listed building and was designed by Dr Edward Blore & Sir Gilbert Scott.

The graveyard is in a reasonable condition and I spotted a number of 1700’s graves in it, which means that there was a church here for many years before the current building was erected.

My CWGC grave was easy to find, and I also found one private memorial.

The War Memorial is affixed to the outside wall of the church and covers both world wars.

I am always curious as to what these parish churches look like inside, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the church was unlocked.

The building inside is much smaller than it looks from the outside, but it is a very beautiful church on the inside.

There are a number of wall memorials to members of the Dowdeswell family and a few floor memorials but I could not get a clear image of those.

 The Font may date from the late 12th century, while the organ was erected in 1908.

Time was trickling away and I needed to start making tracks out of here, I paused at the Nativity scene in front of the pulpit. Christmas was upon us, and it is a very special time in any church.

I returned to the churchyard and took more photographs.  

As can be seen the churchyard is higher than the surrounding pavement, which ties into the fact that there are more people buried here than reflect in the 177 memorials in the churchyard with a total of 352 names.

The registers for the church go back to 1538, and the oldest date on a memorial is 1633.

The churchyard does have an extension next to it, although that is nowhere near full.

Then it was time to head back to the Mythe Bridge for my next bit of exploration.

On the right hand side of this image is the sealed off entrance to the tunnel that runs underneath this road. 

It was part of the former Upton-upon-Severn to Tewkesbury line and I had been looking for the other end of the tunnel half heartedly for some time. I now had a better idea of where it was, I just had to find it. There is a footpath that runs along the bank of the Severn and by the looks of it I would be able to reach the general area without doing too much bundu-bashing.

The footpath was muddy and there was not much to see in the bush, hopefully at some point I would at least find a clue as to where the tunnel entrance was. Eventually I reached a crossroad with gates in 3 directions, the bush had thinned a bit but was still quite thick, but after checking the gps I was probably close to where I suspected the tunnel was. I walked around the one gate and voila… there it was.

It was bricked up and the entrance door had no visible hinges or lock so was probably fastened from the inside.

Sadly the local graffiti artists had expounded on his occupation, but I was kind of cheesed off that they had found this spot before I had, To see inside that tunnel I would need a long ladder and that would not fit in my slingbag.

There was an interesting little brick hut next to the tunnel with a pipe leading to the roof, but I have no way of knowing what it was in aid of, although I suspect it may have had something to do with signalling.

Then it was time to leave this remnant of the railways and head off towards town and lunch. I had achieved what I had set out to do and that was great. I could now plot that railway almost to Ashchurch Station, I just had to find one more illusive item. 

I crossed to the bank of the Avon and took a quick pic of the King John’s Bridge which was commissioned by King John in the late 12th century.

and a strange dredger called Canopus. 

and finally a gap in the former railway embankment that leads to the tunnel. 

and then home was in sight. 

It had been a long walk, and I am tired and sore. I am afraid I will have to stop taking these extended walks because recovering from them is long. Fortunately tomorrow is a bank holiday so I can take it easy, but I may just head out to….

DRW 2016-2017. Created 26/12/2016

Updated: 11/04/2017 — 19:17

Visiting St Giles in Bredon

With Winter slowly heading towards the door I am slowly coming out of my torpor and considering expeditions. Unfortunately my limitations nowadays are many, and I am always hampered by the capacity of my bladder and the comfort of my shoes. 

The Village of Bredon falls under Warwickshire and not Gloucestershire as I expected. In fact the border of the two counties is not all that far from Tewkesbury.  It is roughly 3 miles from where I am, a mere brisk walk on a Winters day.  My target was the Church of St Giles in Bredon where there are 4 CWGC graves to photograph. This would also be a test of my new camera, and of course a bit of much needed leg stretching for me. 

My route was along the B4080 road, through farmland and countryside.  

I stopped on a number of occasions to wave at the sheep, but they just looked sheepishly at me and continued about their business.

At some point I came to the road that comes off the top of Northway into the B4080, with the Cross Keys pub on the corner. I made a mental note of it in case the bladder decided to explode on the way home.

 

After more trudging I started to see the church spire in the distance, and it was a high one. At least now I had an aiming point. 

A bit further one I spotted what I thought was a war memorial but it turned out to be a large milestone instead

The church was behind the milestone, and I was in gravestone mode.

The churchyard is quite large, dominated by the church itself and the usual trees that thrive in churchyards like this

The CWGC graves were easy to find, and I also found two private memorials. I then walked the rows, looking for interesting headstones and tryng to find the oldest legible one, which turned out to be be close to the church.

It appears to date from 1703, and it is very possible that this is not the oldest, there are others very similar to this, but the dates are not legible.

 

The church is stunning, and that spire is a tall one, but unfortunately I could not get into it to have a look. But, like all of these churches you can bet it had some really beautiful memorials inside of it. In the meantime I walked around the churchyard, admiring the lychgate on the way.

The gravestones were a mixed bag of 1800’s and 1900’s with a lot of very nice modern stones. In 200 years time those modern stones will be magnificent! There are also a number of family plots in the churchyard, but that is to be expected as many of the families have probably lived in this parish for generations. 

The Dyer family is particularly well represented. 

The church yard is surrounded by a number of beautiful houses, like the old Rectory (one of 3 rectories that I saw in my trip)

And I believe this is the church hall and associated buildings:

Not too far from the church is the local school, which shows its age somewhat.

and of course yet another pub:

In many cases these village pubs are amongst the older buildings around, and many are stunning examples of country village pubs. If ever I run out of graves I will start photographing pubs! 

There is even a local SPAR in Bredon, 

Although I doubt whether they are in quite the same price range as those back in South Africa. 

I strolled down the road, ever wary of low flying 4×4’s who seeming trundle out of nowhere. The narrow streets were never designed for the vehicular traffic that dominates them, and village can be quite dangerous places to drive in as evidenced by the many reversing mirrors I saw outside driveways.

Lo and behold, there was another pub in the distance.

Then it was time to turn around and head back to the church before tackling the walk back home. 

Now is it left or right? either way I can see the church spire next to the chimney so I am heading in the right direction.

Back at the church, a quick walk around, and some wonderful Soul Effigies on view

 

 

and then I was on my way home, pausing only to wave at the local lawnmowers ruminating in the adjacent field.

Ugh, I still had far to walk. Would my bladder hold out?

And isn’t that Shaun the Sheep?

It had been a great walk, I was bushed and frankly had enjoyed my outing, I must do that more often. The 4 CWGC graves were in the bag, and that was really why I was there in the first place. 

© DRW 2016-2017. Created 13/03/2016

 

Updated: 15/12/2016 — 07:27

Finding The Fallen: Sutton Coldfield.

 On my recent trip to Birmingham, one of the stations that I passed was Sutton Coldfield, also known as “The Royal Town Of Sutton Coldfield”. The only reason I decided to head out that way was because according to my list, there were 46+3 graves buried in the old cemetery in the town. That is reason enough for me, and I packed my goodies and headed out in that direction. 
 
It did not seem to be too big a place, although my Google Earth  Map did show a substantial park, as well as the usual conglomeration of buildings, churches and houses. My goal was not too far away although I did mess up by taking the wrong turning. (I seem to be doing that a lot lately), and it was probably because I detoured at the Holy Trinity Church first. 
  
There is an interesting plaque in the park below the church that was of interest, and it sums up a bit about the town. 
Sutton_coldfield163
 
 
Bishop Vesey is buried in this church and he has a lot to do with the revival of the town after the War of the Roses. Sadly the church was not open so I could not go look at the effigy inside the church. The graveyard has been levelled, and the headstones are now stacked along the periphery wall. The area around the church is much higher than the floor level of the church which could be as a result of the amount of burials within the original churchyard.
 
The cemetery I was going to was really and overflow for the churchyard, and it in turn had an extension once it was full. 
 
Following my detour I eventually found the cemetery, and started at the extension as there were only 3 graves there to find. The extension is also full, and I wonder where burials are now happening? I walked the rows, looking for the first burials, but it was quite a large area. 
 
Fortunately my graves were in an area close to the road and I almost fell over them while I was looking. Unfortunately they are not a healthy colour, and are really in dire need of cleaning. 
 
Then I headed to the old cemetery, with its lodge and chapel. I did have grave numbers for the graves, but these did not tally with how the sections were marked on the map.
 
I was just going to have to find what I could and try reconcile those known graves with graves that I was missing. 46 does not sound like a lot, but the reality is that once the recognisable graves have been found  the private memorials are what is left over. Their legibility is often poor, and in some cases the headstones are overgrown with moss, or even toppled.
  
As cemeteries go it was not too bad, a nice mix of old and newish headstones, although some parts were looking slightly sparse. The easily found graves went quickly but I was soon sitting with 8 graves that were hiding from me, and I had to eliminate each one separately. By roughly midday I had only two to go and the discovery of grave numbers on the occasional grave did mean I could walk a section and count, and then try another section and count. Surprisingly both graves were right under my nose! The private memorial toll was quite high too, I found 8 PM’s amongst the graves, and that was surprising.   Rent paid, it was time to head off home. 
 
I headed in the direction of the station, but veering slightly off course towards where a sign had pointed out the Town Hall was. If there was a war memorial it would probably be close to the Town Hall. 
 
 
My supposition was correct, and the War Memorial was opposite the Town Hall on a small island. It was a very pretty memorial too, very reminiscent of some that I had seen in London.
 
The Town Hall was also quite nice, with an impressive clock tower. Although the actual building seems to be in danger of becoming more yuppie pads.
 
I was close to the station so decided to get myself over there and homeward bound. The station is not really a huge one,  but it does have a very nice tunnel, and I waited for the light at the end of the tunnel!
 
When it did arrive it turned out to be the local to Birmingham, and not one of the many diesels that I had heard at the cemetery.
 
 
It appears that at some point close by the railway splits, with the diesels and their container trains heading in one direction, with the locals in the other.
 
The station was also the site of a rail disaster on 23 January 1955, but I am not sure where it happened in relation to the station as it was on that day. A plaque was unveiled at the station to commemorate the event.
Sutton Coldfield Rail Disaster Mmemorial_- 2016-01-25

Sutton Coldfield Rail Disaster Memorial_- 2016-01-25

(Image by © Optimist on the run, 2016 /, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46600852)
Master and Miss Harrison are both buried in the churchyard of  St Peter and St Paul, Weobley, Herefordshire.  
I had accomplished what I had set out to do, and was suitably satisfied, peckish and tired. There was not too much to see in the town though, and I doubt if I will head out there again, but it was an interesting interlude and a glimpse into yet another interesting town. 
 
© DRW 2015-2017. Images migrated 30/04/2016, updated 24/11/2016 
Updated: 15/12/2016 — 19:33

Bundling off to Birmingham

This fine morning, sick of looking at the screen, I grabbed my goodies and on a whim headed off to Birmingham. There was one cemetery that I had my beady eye on as I had read about it, so it was probably my primary motivation for a day trip. But anything and everything in between was fair game. Hold onto your hat, we are at New Street Station!
  
The station is a mess, they seem to be doing something to it, but I have no idea what that may be. It does involve scaffolding though, and high-vis vest clad workers. But the station really has nothing interesting or exciting about it. The sooner I left it the better. 
 
My route would take me up to the Town Hall area, to the Hall of Memory, and then up towards my destination further on. It was probably 9.30 by the time I got there, so the city was quiet at the moment. In fact I was glad that it was quiet because I could then photograph the really magnificent Council House Building in Victoria Square
 
 
It is really a magnificent structure, and has to he seen to be believed. Even Queen Victoria looks impressed, although what she would think of this lady in the fountain I will not ask.
  
The large square colonnaded building below is the Town Hall, and this is the back of it. Naturally I did not realise that at the time.
  
The ornamental spire just to the left is a monument erected “in gratitude for public service given to this town by Joseph Chamberlain“. I was not impressed by that news because “…..he was the chief advocate and supervisor of the Anglo Boer War (1899–1902)”. 
 
Moving on, I headed towards the Hall of Memory, which only opened at 10H00. I was 15 minutes too early and would have to come back to it. 
  
The odd latticework on the building to the right of the image above is that of the Birmingham Library, with Baskerville House to the right of it in the second  image below.
 
It was now time to head on my way and I turned around here, walked past King Edward VII and turned left.
 
Only to discover that they were building a road in the middle of a street! 
These were the sort of roadworks that never finish, that keep going until roadworks are acknowledged as the status quo for that particular road, and people become resigned to never getting anywhere and stop using it altogether. Fortunately, I was not in a vehicle and I continued on my merry way until I hit the road that I had to go up. The mapbook that I had done my navigation from was a tad old, in fact it seemed to originate from the 1990’s and things seemed to have changed considerably since then (although the roadworks may have been ongoing since then)
 
I had to head up to a roundabout ahead and split off onto Newhall Hill, and then Frederick Street. But somewhere between when my map was created and today something had changed and I ended up taking the wrong road, which was not that big a disaster as it turns out because I still ended up where I had to be albeit slightly too far to the left!
 
The pretty building below really looked like a church to me, but it turns out that it is the Spring Hill Library. 
  
I turned right at this point and my destination was a 0.5 km further on. The cemetery is known as Warstone Lane Cemetery, and the reason that I was here was because I had read something about the catacombs that existed in the cemetery. It was also quite an old one, so the odds were there would be a lot of great headstones and statues.  There are 51 First World War burials and 13 Second World War burials in the cemetery. A screen wall with a Cross of Sacrifice is situated near the old lodge and it commemorates by name those whose graves are not marked by headstones.
  
The cemetery is in a poor condition, it is not fenced, there is a lot of litter and there has been a lot of vandalism in it judging by how many toppled headstones I saw. The catacombs had been cut into the side of a sand pit and were on two layers. A large chapel had above the catacombs, but it had been demolished a long time ago. The catacombs had been bricked close too, as they did have somewhat of a bad reputation. It was a pity though because this could become a very popular place.
  
It is also worthy of a blog post of its own,  and  I will also be returning back here as there is a VC grave that I am looking for. A bit further down the road is a similar cemetery called Key Hill which I visited in mid April and it did not disappoint.
 
My cemetery visit completed,  it was time to head off towards my next destination which was a large square of green on my map. The area where I was now was called “the Jewellery Quarter“, and I really did not have too much interest in it, although a very nice clock did catch my eye. Oddly enough it commemorates the visit by Joseph Chamberlain to South Africa. Presumably to see the havoc that the Boer War caused.
 
The green space on my map was occupied by St Paul’s Church, and it was a pretty one, dating back to 1779. Oddly enough it was more like the churches that I saw in Dudley than those I saw in Basingstoke, Salisbury and Southampton.
  
The church interior was very beautiful, but it was not as overly decorated as some that I had seen before. I did like the family pews though, it was the first time that I had seen them. There is a large graveyard and there is a crypt under the church although the organ now blocks the entrance to the crypt.
  
From St Pauls I headed towards the station area, passing one of the canals that run through the city. 
 
Next time I am out this way I am going to investigate these canals a bit more, and find where the narrow boats are hiding. 
 
The canal also heads under this railway archway which leads to Snow Hill Station,  which is now a terminus for the light rail that runs from Birmingham to Wolverhampton.
birminghama 010
 

St Chad has a cathedral here too, and I went to see whether it was open during my second visit to the city, but unfortunately it was not.  I did however get a pic through the door.
 
 
 Passing back under the railway arches a bit further one, I found an area that seemed to have a lot of the original tilework in place, as well as an interesting bit of history.
 
  
I also spotted  another piece of railway history still existing outside the station. Snow Hill was once the main station of the Great Western Railway in Birmingham, and this entrance in Livery Street still exists, although closed off.
  
My quest for New Street Station continued, and I saw a lot of really old and pretty buildings, surprisingly  most were in a good condition.
birmingham 389
 
 
The oldie above is the Birmingham and Midland Eye Hospital, founded in 1823. 
 
So far Birmingham had impressed me. It was clean, a bit confusing layoutwise, but there were those handy maps on a lot of the major intersections which really helped with my navigation. I was not using the phone because the Google Maps app is becoming increasingly more difficult to use with my small screen. 
 
Unfortunately a modern monolith detracts from the old magnificence around, but if it has an upper deck viewing area it would be really worthwhile visiting.
 
   
My next destination was Birmingham Cathedral, and to be honest I did not even think of it before, but my time was still adequate and I could easily spare a few minutes to look around.
 
.It is not as grand as Salisbury or Lichfield, but is a pretty building in its own right. 
  
 
The church was known as St Phillip when it was consecrated in 1715,  although at the time Birmingham was really a small provincial town as opposed to the second most populous city in the UK that it has become, and the church has become a cathedral as a result.  The cathedral does have a really big graveyard, although most of the headstones are long gone or ploughed under. It would be interesting to know just how many people are buried around this building, and, how many are buried beneath it. 
 
I was now ready to return to the Hall of Memory, and I covered that in my allatsea blog. My time was drawing to a close here and I really needed to think about home. 
 
I had been very impressed by what little I had seen of the city, although I suspect in the height of the industrial age it was much dirtier and grimy, although possibly less crowded because it seems as if in the 3 hours that I had been on my travels everybody had come outside to enjoy the spring day. 
 
See you later Birmingham. 
 
© DRW 2015-2017. Created 10/04/2015, images migrated 30/04/2016
Updated: 15/12/2016 — 19:34

Birmingham Cathedral

I was quite surprised to find out that the church I was now approaching was actually Birmingham Cathedral.  Or as it is known “The Cathedral Church of St Philip”, and the seat of the Bishop of Birmingham.
 
Situated in a nice open area it is not as grand as Salisbury or Lichfield, but is a pretty building in its own right. If anything it is really a large church.
 
The open space around it is popular with those with time on their hands, coffee drinker, email checker, social network junkie, selfie taker and the occasional mini market or busker. I am not sure if they are aware that they are doing all of this on a graveyard.  There are still graves in this space, and judging by what I saw there are even be a few vaults under the grass.
The statue outside the cathedral is of Charles Gore, the first Bishop of Birmingham, although I have to admit I really thought it looked a lot like Sean Connery.
 
 

The church was known as St Phillip when it was consecrated in 1715, although at the time Birmingham was really a small provincial town as opposed to the second most populous city in the UK that it has become, and the church has become a cathedral as a result.

Inside was quite busy, and photography was difficult because of the people standing around seemingly lost without their cellphones.

The church does have the same features as a larger cathedral has, there will be a quire, and a font and an organ and all of the other spaces and objects that make up a church or cathedral.

 

In fact it is really a smaller version of something much grander and is actually a very pretty church inside.

The image above is looking towards the nave, and the magnificent window at that end of the church.

The High Altar is similarly overlooked by a grand window.

I had first seen the box pews in Staffordshire, and Birmingham Cathedral also has these on the level above the aisles.

 
And while I did not see any effigies, there were a number of wall memorials, as well as a memorial to the men of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment who lost their lives in the First World War.

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There are even small chapels, although these are more like small spaces where an altar and an area to pray are.

The church was busy though and any further exploration was difficult as it seemed as if they were preparing for a service. Unfortunately the upper areas were roped off so trying to access the box pews was impossible. 

 

The sign above the door?

And then I was outside once again. It was frenetic outside compared to the stillness and hushed tones of the building I had just left. I did more exploring of the graveyard, looking for any more signs of what may be buried beneath.

I was rewarded by a door and some steps….

What lies beneath I cannot say. I was not able to tie a name into a vault. However, I did find a fascinating document on the archaeological work around the Cathedral that was conducted in 2000-2001 by Birmingham University Field Archaeology Unit on behalf of Birmingham City Council and was directed by Chris Patrick. It is well worth reading the report.

 
 
And then I was on my way once again, and another cathedral beneath my belt. As mentioned before, it is not a grand building, but I suspect it reflects a lot of Birmingham in it. A small town that became a city, and which suffered the ravages of the bombing during the second world war, and having survived that I expect the cathedral will be with the city for a long time still to come.

© DRW 2015-2017. Images migrated 30/04/2016

 
Updated: 15/12/2016 — 19:34
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