musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

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, Sedgeberrow, 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 have been working towards this ideal and by 29/10/2018 I had 3 of them in the bag)

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 rectified the problem on 13 September 2018, and was pleasantly surprised.

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

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