musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Category: Worcestershire

Evesham Abbey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some of the boundary walls still exist, 

and of course the Almonry found a new purpose.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Updated: 15/07/2018 — 17:39

Evesham Eventually (2)

As I was saying… 

The bridge was erected in 1856 and as far as I can recall it is called the Workman Bridge (named after the mayor at the time).

That is the Avon stretching away into the distance. Evesham sits in a lobe of the Avon, and like Tewkesbury it probably suffers each time the Avon floods. The image below shows the Avon towards the bottom of the lobe and the bus came into the town over a bridge that is just beyond the bend.

Having crossed the Avon at the Workman Bridge I now had a longish walk along the banks till I reached the cemetery. It was a pleasant walk because the area was very beautiful, and of course the sun was shining like crazy. 

I was actually quite grateful for the shade. The bridge in the image above is the one I had just crossed and I was now in a public park called Worksman Gardens and there was one piece of public art that really struck me.

Called Whale Bone Arch, it features a carved Bowhead Whale (Greenland Right Whale) and it was based on a set of real whalebones that used to be on display in Evesham. The arch is the same size as that of a real whale, and it was created by Steven Cooper and the whale was carved by Tom Harvey. The original bones are at the Evesham Hotel. 

And in the distance was the bridge I had come across with the bus. In my original navigation I had considered walking down to this bridge and crossing back into town and walking back to the bus stop, but had scrapped the idea.

The cemetery was in sight! and there were 41 graves to find: 10 from WW1 and 30 from WW2 (and one that is maintained by CWGC). It is not a large amount, but somedays a single grave can keep you searching for hours.

The WW2 graves were mostly laid out in a small cluster of 23 graves, and they were mostly airmen and Canadians. 

The other graves were scattered throughout the smallish cemetery, but unfortunately I could not find the one private memorial from WW1, the graves are not marked and legibility was poor in the one area where I suspected the grave was.  Gravehunting over, it was time to head back to town and considering my bus back to Tewkesbury. 

I leisurely strolled back towards town, enjoying the day and pleasant weather. Evesham Methodist Church is situated on the one corner of the river bank next to Workman Bridge, and it is a very pretty building too.

There were a lot of people about though and it was heading towards 11 am. The bus was leaving at 11H48 with the next one scheduled for 12H48. I had just missed the one so would get the next one, leaving me enough time to find the Quaker Burial Ground. I had first seen one of these in Southampton way back in 2013 and it had been a very pretty place. We have a Society of Friends Burial Ground in Tewkesbury, but it was not recognisable as a graveyard. Personally I find them very interesting people of enormous faith and courage, so finding another burial ground was a good find. The history of the Quakers in Evesham may be found at their website

There were a number of ledger stones laid flush with the grass, the oldest one I saw was from the 1830’s, and there was a burial from the 2000’s in the “peace garden” too. Unfortunately I did encounter one person and I got the impression that it was time to leave as I was disturbing him. It is a pity because I really would have liked to have found out more about the burials.

I was back in town now and located the bus stop and visited that shop I mentioned in the first part of the blog, and it was a real treasure house of goodies. There are a number of things I need to explore further in Evesham, for starters there is Evesham Vale Light Railway, and of course tracking down the whale bones at the hotel and visiting the Almonry Museum and relooking the Abbey area. There are still a few reasons to return to Evesham, and possibly explore Stratford upon Avon as I saw buses tagged with that city in town. The £4 bus fare is well spent, and certainly cheaper than the bus to Cheltenham. 

How does Evesham feature in the Domesday Book?

  • Hundred: Fishborough (‘No longer exists as a named location, but can be identified on the ground.’)
  • CountyWorcestershire
  • Total population: 27 households (quite large).
  • Total tax assessed: 3 exemption units (medium).
  • Taxable units: Taxable value 3 exemption units. Payments of 1.0 rent.
  • Value: Value to lord in 1066 £3. Value to lord in 1086 £5.5. Value to lord c. 1070 £4.
  • Households: 27 smallholders.
  • Ploughland: 3 lord’s plough teams. 4 men’s plough teams.
  • Other resources: Meadow 20 acres. 1 mill, value 1.5.
  • Lord in 1066Evesham (St Mary), abbey of.
  • Lord in 1086Evesham (St Mary), abbey of.
  • Tenant-in-chief in 1086Evesham (St Mary), abbey of.
  • Phillimore reference: 10,1

(Domesday Book images are available under the CC-BY-SA licence, and are credited to Professor John Palmer and George Slater )

On my 2nd visit I found the “Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception and Saint Egwin”  as well as a statue of “Our Lady of Evesham”

And that was Evesham in a nutshell. I really enjoyed my visit and it was a very pretty place with wide pavements and interesting historical artefacts. And, as such  I will leave you with some random images of my visit. See you again Evesham.

 
   
   
   
   
   

DRW © 2018. Created 19/05/2018. Domesday Book images are available under the CC-BY-SA licence, and are credited to Professor John Palmer and George Slater . More images added 23/06/2018

Updated: 23/06/2018 — 15:24

Evesham Eventually (1)

I have been wanting to go to Evesham in Worcester (Google Earth 52.094446°  -1.946778° ) for quite some time but various factors have scuppered my plans. I even worked the navigation out some time ago but it got shelved along with some of my other schemes, crackpot ideas and evil machinations. The weather this past week has been excellent, and on Thursday I decided to head out to Evesham instead of hanging around in Tewkesbury for the “Big Weekend” that was happening on the same weekend.

Many years ago Evesham was reachable by rail from Ashchurch, but those days are long gone, although you can still follow the trackbed on Google Earth. It lies slightly north east of Tewkesbury and is roughly 16,5 km away as the crow flies. If the crow goes by bus he would need to catch a 540 Aston’s bus from Tewkesbury and it takes an hour to get there, passing through Bredon, Lower Westmancote, Kemerton, Overbury, Beckford, Little Beckford, Ashton Under Hill, Sedgebarrow, and finally Fairfield. It is a very scenic drive along and passing through these very picturesque villages; I would love to have stopped and done photography in each of them because of the beauty of some of the houses and churches. 

I headed out really early and by 8.30 was in Evesham. There is only one bus every hour so you really need to be aware of when you leave the town or you could get stranded there. My biggest concern was my hips though, two weeks ago I was in agony following a walk up to Aldi, I was not sure whether I would be facing the same today (or tomorrow). I started my day with a “traditional breakfast” at the local Wetherspoons which is called “The Olde Swanne Inne”, at least the breakfasts there are consistent throughout the group, although you may find it never arrives in Salisbury. 

My “itinerary” was based around the Town War Memorial, with a visit to the local churches and of course a visit to the cemetery if feasible. I was happy that the bus did not go as far as the railway station but only half way to it so my walking had been cut down quite a bit. I also wanted to see whether I could get to visit the Society of Friends Burial Ground which was close to the bus station. For the record, the bus arrives and departs from “stand B” and it costs £4 for a return from Tewkesbury. 

Suitably satiated I headed towards the spire in the distance.

The sun was on my left so it did limit what direction I took pics from.

Naturally I detoured a few times on my way to the building.

The town has a lot of charity shops, and they were all bedecked in wedding dresses and similar paraphernalia in celebration of the Royal Wedding.  I followed the passage and came out at the building I was originally aiming for, Strangely enough it is not a church but the town hall! 

The building has the date 1887 inscribed on the gable in front of the clock. There is a very unusual statue in the centre of the ring that was very very “different.”

Around the base is written:  “Whilst with the swine amongst the trees, I fell at once upon my knees, up above a great light, our blessed Virgin shining bright, Of what I saw amongst the leaf, becomes the legend of swineherd Eof”  It was created by renowned sculptor John McKenna, and was financed entirely by the local people, either by way of direct donation or fund raising.  It was unveiled on Sunday 15th June 2008.  The statue stands on a stone plinth made from stone from the original Abbey. (http://www.eveshamtowncouncil.gov.uk/about-evesham/places-to-visit/the-statue-of-eof.html)

There is an information board that provides an interpretation: 

When I was in Evesham the first time around I had missed seeing one aspect of the artwork and remedied that on my 2nd trip.

I had also missed seeing the ABW Memorial on the wall of the city hall. It would be interesting to see how many of these men survived the ABW.  

Leaving the town hall behind I continued heading South towards the tourist and visitors information centre. 

It is very fortunate that I only went into the building on the bottom right while on my way back to the bus stop, because it was a magical place of wonders!!! Toys, militaria, jewellery, bric-a-brac and a gazillion other goodies. It is on my bucket list for a return visit.

At last the visitors centre and Almonry was in hand, but I was 2 hours too early and it only opened at 10. And on my second visit it was closed for the day as there was no staff… Verily I say unto you, I was not amused!

 

I was very tempted to put my feet up and have a rest till it opened. Oddly enough this is the 4th set of stocks that I have seen so far, its really about time I did a page on stocks and pillories, and about time they brought those back. 

The visitors centre also houses the Almonry Museum so it will probably be on my bucket list for next time too. There is also a very handy board close by that sums up the interesting parts of Evesham’s history.

It was now time to find the war memorial and I turned my bows to the left and I headed towards a church that was within visual range. From Google Earth I could see two distinct churches as well as a clock/bell tower in the area that used to be the site of the former Evesham Abbey.  There is not a lot left of the Abbey apart from the clock tower, and of course foundations and parts of the walls. We really have to thank Henry VIII for the Dissolution of the Monastaries that robbed England of so much heritage and beauty

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

Make no mistake, it is a very pretty area today with lush green lawns and gardens, but given where the building stood it would have been spectacular to see from the River Avon that would have flowed past it. The first church I went into was that of St Lawrence, and it was really beautiful inside and out. 

Naturally this is not the original church that was on this site, it was originally mentioned in 1195, and appears to have been rebuilt in 1295 and again in 1540. The dissolution really reduced the fortunes of the church and by 1718 it was in an advanced state of decay and totally unusable in winter. Repairs were carried out and it was thoroughly restored  in 1836/37. By the 1970’s the two churches (St Lawrence and All Saints) were united and the former was declared redundant. 

It is however, a very beautiful church, and I preferred it to All Saints next door, but it does not have the warmth and atmosphere of an active church. It is almost clinical in feel, but parts of it take your breath away. Unfortunately the limitations of my camera and my skill cannot do it justice. The south chapel was particularly stunning, ​ The church is under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.

 

Right next door is All Saint’s Church, and it too was open. Unfortunately given its position I could not get a nice image of the building because of the position of the sun. It is quite odd to find two churches so close together, and these had both been around when the Abbey was in existence too. 

 

It does make for interesting exploring though, at least you did not have far to walk to attend a service. I did not really like the interior as much as I did St Lawrence, but the atmosphere was very different to the redundant one next door.

Then it was time for me to move onwards to the Bell Tower as time was marching, albeit slowly. 

The tower was spared the destruction of the Abbey, although it looks almost lonely without it’s context, but we are fortunate that it survived because it is very beautiful. I have tilted the image slightly to correct the distortion from the camera. The tomb in the front is that of the remains of Simon De Montfort, Duke of Leicester, who was killed in the Battle of Evesham on 4 August 1265. The tower was built between 1529 and 1539 by Clement Lichfield, the last Abbott of Evesham. It is 33 metres high and was restored in 1951 with the original peal of 10 bells recast and increased to 12.  

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

Abbey Park

And, my War Memorial was finally in sight, my primary objective in this visit. Everything else was just for exploration sake. From the tower you are really looking at the back of the memorial as it overlooks the Avon below. My images are taken from the front.

It was made by J W Singer and Sons Ltd, and unveiled in 7th August 1921. My blogpost about the war memorial is on all@sea

The big challenge photographing it is that it is very wide and the embankment in front of it slopes steeply downwards so you cannot really get far enough back while maintaining the complete image. The solder has an almost “cocky” look about him, with his tin hat at a jaunty angle. 

It was now time to find a loo and cross the River Avon to the cemetery. Technically I could see the cemetery from where I was standing, but somebody had put a river in the way. Luckily the bridge was not too far from the loo and I could kill both birds with the same rock. 

I will get to the other side on page 2, use the arrow below to follow me to the other bank of the Avon

forwardbut

DRW © 2018. Created 19/05/2018, some images replaced and some added 23/06/2018

Updated: 23/06/2018 — 15:08

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 2017-2018. Created 11/08/2017

Updated: 20/05/2018 — 08:14

Return to Worcester

On 13 March I returned to Worcester as I had some free time. It was a spur of the moment thing though because the weather was wonderful and Spring is in the air. Unfortunately the trains were not. Somewhere something had broken and Ashchurch had one at the platform and one in the distance and none of ours in sight.

The train was delayed by 20 minutes and in an effort to make up the schedule was only going to Worcester Shrub Hill Station.  It is also a larger station than Foregate, but seems to take very little traffic compared to Foregate. Last time I was in Worcester I spotted the semaphores again and the set at Shrub Hill is much larger than the one I had seen previously

Here you can see the split in the rails (Shrub Hill sits on the vertical leg of the T junction, with Foregate on the line to the left and Birmingham to the right). I asked a conductor about them and he said that they are still in use and they do not know when they will be replaced. There is signal box located at the south end of platform 1, and two signal boxes at Henwick (west of Foregate Street), and Tunnel Junction to the north of Shrub Hill. 

Bailing out at Shrub Hill messed with my plans because I had planned to head off to St John’s Cemetery in Henwick, and then return via the cathedral. Now it made sense to go to the cathedral first, take my pics and then go to the cemetery. I could see the cathedral from the station so really just had to head in the general direction. 

Actually I am glad things did work out like that because I saw more of Worcester as I wobbled along. 

Presumably this was the local Great Western Hotel associated with the station. The station building is quite impressive and was designed by Edward Wilson and built in 1865. It is a Georgian-style building mainly of engineering brick with stone facings, but situated where it is you cannot get a decent image of it from the parking area beneath it.  

To the right of the hotel was what seems to be an “Industrial Park”, what it was before I do not know, but it is large and very impressive. 

It is really a large warehouse type structure, and at the far end is one of those wonderful clock towers that seem to pop up in the strangest places.

Then I crossed over what I suspect is the Worcester and Birmingham Canal that eventually comes out at a set of locks into the Severn River. If you follow the Severn there is a good chance you may end up in Tewkesbury.

Just look at that sky! I had not brought my parka with today and eventually had to remove my hoodie because I was getting decidedly overheated. 

I then threaded my way through the maze of streets towards my end destination.

Finally ending up at the Guildhall. 

And if you know where to look you will spot Cromwell above the door, with his ears nailed to the wall (theoretically).

While Edward Elgar looked towards the traffic and probably lamented the lack of Pomp and Circumstance.

At this point I went to the cathedral to photograph the “Woodbine Willie” plaque and window, and those will be covered in my “Connections: Woodbine Willie” post. Suffice to say I did take some new cathedral images and you can view my original Cathedral post on its own page.

After finishing the cathedral I then headed to the right of the image above into what is known as Deansway Street, passing the Ducal Palace 

Until I detoured to the remains of the Medieval Church of St Andrews. 

The structure is also known as “Glover’s Needle”. The plaque inside gives more information, unfortunately it is affixed to the far wall of the spire and not readable from the locked gate. Thank goodness for optical zoom. Click on the image to read the plaque. 

It is a very pretty spot and it overlooks the river close to the bridge. It must have been a fine looking church and today is a very easily recognisable landmark in the city. 

This is the road bridge over the Severn, while the railway bridge and viaduct is in the image below.

Once across the bridge I entered into Cripplegate Park.

And then through the park and onwards to my destination: St John’s Cemetery in Henwick. 

As far as cemeteries go, this one is reasonably uninteresting, there are 33 CWGC graves in the cemetery and I would photograph those that I saw, my final tally being 29. My real aim was to photograph this grave.

Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, also known as “Woodbine Willie” would gain fame through his work on the Western Front during the First World War, and his devotion to the poor. He was an orator and a poet who drew crowds to hear him speak. He was also the vicar of St. Paul’s in Worcester (next on my bucket list).

This grave really closes a chapter for me, one that started in London in 2016, and which led me here in 2017. Read about the strange chain of events at “Connections: Woodbine Willie”

Then it was time to head back. I had 2 choices. I could increase speed and make the 13H03 train, or dawdle and make the 15H06 train. Given how wonky the trains were the former seemed like a better idea and I rang down for full ahead. 

Back along the path I had come, passing over the railway line with it’s signal cabin that was mentioned above,

Past St John’s Church,

Through Cripplegate Park with its really nice ornate non functional fountain,

Over the bridge, pausing to take a photograph,

Up Broad Street and past All Saint’s Worcester,

along Foregate Street, pausing to take an image of Lloyd’s Bank and the former church alongside. Now called “Slug and Lettuce”  it was the former St Nicholas Church that dated from the 18th Century. It is a Grade II listed building but is no longer an active church.

I snuck a peek inside and it was stunning. 

Leaving slugs and their lettuce I finally arrived at  the station with 6 minutes to spare.

That was not my train though, mine was the next one. And, while it left on time it tarried before Shrub Hill and did not rush to Ashchurch either. 

Worcester was in the bag, although there are enough reasons to return one day, It wont be anytime soon though because I have an even bigger trip ahead of me, but that is another story for another day. 

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 13/03/2017. 

Updated: 20/05/2018 — 08:12

Connections: Woodbine Willie

Many years ago there was a programme on local TV called “Connections” and it dealt with how things connect to form a link between one action and a result. It was fascinating watching it and I have often tried to link things like that in my own life. Yesterday I found a perfect example. The connection between a ship and an Anglican priest and poet.

It starts off like this:

In March 1986 I went to see the QE2 in Durban for the first time.

I did not see her again until 1991. At that time there was a small ship called Avalon in Durban harbour. Formerly the RMS St Helena, she was now seeking a new career doing cruises to the Indian Ocean Islands.

We managed to wangle a short trip across Durban Harbour on board her as she vacated the berth where QE2 would be the next day.  

Both QE2 and the former St Helena were Falklands veterans. In 1992 I sailed on the Canberra, also a Falklands veteran, and when we arrived in Cape Town the new RMS St Helena was alongside and I photographed her from the Canberra.

I mentally set a goal to see whether it was possible to get a trip on board the St Helena, and I wrote away for a brochure. As luck would have it there was a voyage to Tristan da Cunha coming up in 1993 and I was fortunate enough to book a cruise on this mini mailship

Many years passed, and the RMS St Helena ploughed her lonely furrow between Cape Town and St Helena while they constructed an airport on the island. Once it was completed the announcement was made of the St Helena’s last voyage in June 2016. Of interest to me was her visit to the Pool of London, where she would berth alongside HMS Belfast. I decided to head down to London and watch her arrive and say my goodbye to her.

Upon arrival in London I went to see the RMS arrive on the 7th of June, and it was quite an emotional moment for me. 

On the 8th I revisited Kensal Green Cemetery, and afterwards headed into London once again to see the ship. I first visited St Pauls Cathedral, before heading towards the Thames. In the maze of streets I somehow ended up in Lombard Street, and saw one of the many churches in London, it was now the home of the London Spirituality Centre, or, as it was formerly known: St Edmund, King and Martyr.

During my visit the person manning the front desk showed me a number of wall memorials in the church, and she was very proud of a memorial to somebody called “Woodbine Willie”.

 

I had to admit that I had never heard of him before, but the nickname stuck in my mind because Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy was way too much for me to remember at once. Apparently he was the Rector of this particular church at one time. He got his nickname for his habit of handing out cigarettes to troops (Woodbines being a favoured brand).

I continued my walk down to the Thames to say my goodbyes to the RMS and the next day I returned to Tewkesbury to post my blog and recover from my short but exhausting London jaunt. 

Yesterday, I visited Worcester Cathedral, and after seeing the cathedral walked through Worcester, and while I was walking I discovered a number of small bronze statues in the area. I did not pay too much attention to them, just read the names and took the pic. At the one statue I did a double take because the one statue was of Woodbine Willie! 

I was even more amazed to discover that there is a memorial to him in Worcester Cathedral, 

as well as an engraved pane on the Window of the Millennium.

“Woodbine Willie takes the light of Christ to the Troops”

On the 13th of March I returned to Worcester to close the chapter a bit more, walking to St John’s Cemetery where I photographed his grave.

As strange as it seems, this sequence really revolves around how things connected to each other, from the QE2 in 1986 to a forgotten and reluctant war hero in 2017. The key to it is really the RMS St Helena, without seeing Avalon the chances are I would not have recognised the name on the statue. Had I taken a different route in London I would not have seen the church, had I not stopped to look at a statute I would not have read that it was Woodbine Willie. Come to think of it, it is all really the fault of the QE2.

There is a stained glass window dedicated to him in St Paul’s Church in Worcester, that will be the last step of this journey. 

Connections, they are all around us if we know how to tie them together.

© DRW 2017. Created 21/02/2018, updated 13/03/2017 

Updated: 20/05/2018 — 08:14

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 2017-2018. Created 20/02/2017, edited and some images replaced 13/03/2017 

Updated: 20/05/2018 — 08:12

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 2017-2018. Created 20/02/2017  

Updated: 20/05/2018 — 08:13
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