Walking to Winchcombe.

On all of my trips with the GWR we have always stopped at Winchcombe, but I had never been to have a look at the town. One of my workmates said it was an interesting place to see so I filed that info away for future reference, hoping that one day I would make a plan. Yesterday, when I arrived that the station I decided to take the opportunity seeing as “I was in the area”. You can read about that trip at the relevant blogpost

Actually the area was about a mile away from the town, but that’s not an impossible walk, although getting back to the station would need good timing or I could end up hanging around there for awhile waiting for the next train.

It is one of those typical English roads that has very little to see on either side, and with Spring in the air it can be a riot of colour and flowers. I was not quite sure about the route though and eventually I reached the dead centre of town: the local cemetery.

The chapel building is a nice one, and I quickly walked the graves, photographing all the visible CWGC graves that I saw. There are 12 military commemorations in the cemetery, and I managed to snag 10, so the walk was worth it. 

The town is a bit further on, with a handy sign pointing in the right direction. According to the map below, I had come in on Greet Road. Turning left at North Street I then walked up to High Street and then turned right.

 

North Street
North Street

High Street changes names a number of times, and it is narrow and the traffic is terrible with cars having to wait for each other to pass and no real sense of who has priority. I do not want to even contemplate driving in a place like this at rush hour… or rush minute. The buildings are mostly the same colour and I could not help but think that it reminded me a lot of Bath. I had seen a spire behind some buildings so headed roughly in that direction, taking the odd pic as I went.

I found the map that I posted a few pics up very close to this point so now had a better idea of how the town came together and where the church was. I was also on the lookout for the war memorial which was close by.

One side of the street is walled, and at this point it was called Abbey Terrace and I think this is where the Abbey may be or was. Either way the gates said “Private” so I steered away from them. St Peter’s Church was also on this walled area and it is a real beaut.

Unfortunately there is no way to get a proper pic of it from any angle, and that includes from the extensive churchyard.  It has an amazing collection of grotesques along its walls, and these seem to be mentioned wherever the church is mentioned too.

The churchyard was large but I did not really spend too much time in it, the legibility of the headstones is not all that good, although there were some really beautiful carvings on some of them.

I left St Peter’s feeling quite smug, so far I had picked up enough to have made my walk worthwhile, and was now about ready to head back to the station. I will definitely make a plan for a return visit next time I am on the GWR. 

I was really looking for something to eat, but gave up after being stuck behind a queue of two women who seemingly had bought the whole shop, and deliberately chosen the items that had no prices on them. I had a train to catch and still had a long walk back to the station. 

I headed back the way I had come, by the looks of my timetable I had enough time to catch the 14.15 train with about 15 minutes to spare. That was do-able and off I went, photographing this beaut as I got closer to the station. 

But as I was taking this pic I could hear the sounds of steam whistles at the station. That meant that there was a train there already, or one leaving, or even two leaving. I was not prepared to run to the station, any trains there would have left as I arrived anyway, so I just continued at my normal pace, arriving as a Cheltenham bound train arrived. This was a train that had been delayed somewhere in the system, and it was in a hurry to leave, so I quickly boarded and grabbed a seat and we pulled away almost immediately. Had I waited to have my items rung up at the supermarket I would have arrived at an empty station so leaving my stuff behind had been the right choice.

Winchombe is a pretty town, and it is steeped in history. You can feel the weight of ages in it, although the many cars do tend to ruin the ambience. It is however well worth returning to. 

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 28/05/2016

This has also been true for January 2016

 

 
Yes it is true, it has been a very quiet 2016 so far, although in South Africa the old racism issue has raised its ugly head once again, and frankly I am not interested in that. Tewkesbury however is the same as usual, the only difference is that the water level has risen with the recent storms that the UK has experienced, the Avon and Severn have become one, and the flood plain outside my window has become a lake. The Carrant Brook that barely burbles is running strongly, and the local squirrel has probably started to take swimming lessons. 
 
 
Now ordinarily that building in the middle is where the Severn/Avon locks are. I posted about it last year, but currently it is easier to just go over the locks as opposed to through them.

Tewkesbury is prone to flooding, it is one of those things and probably has been like that since forever. Unfortunately it sits on two rivers, it is expected.

 

 

So, unless the weather improves and the Avon and Severn start dropping in depth things where I am may be a bit wet. 
Meanwhile, in South Africa there is a drought.  I would post some water back home but the SA post office is liable to steal it.
It never rains, it pours.

Update: 16/01/2106
The river is slightly down and the lake outside my flat is subsiding, the locks are also starting to re-emerge.

 


It was however a sparkling morning, with frost on the ground, ice in the streets and a nip in the air, one of those beautiful mornings that I love so much with its stunning light and a chill that is not too uncomfortable.

 

I believe it may snow on Tuesday evening….

© DRW 2016-2018. Images recreated 17/03/2016

Tewkesbury Abbey

Tewkesbury does not have a lot going for it, however, there is one thing that stands out and that is Tewkesbury Abbey.  
It dominates the skyline and like so many other cathedrals and abbeys is really worth seeing. I have been fortunate that I have seen other similar buildings in Salisbury, Lichfield and, Bath, and each has been different, but each has common aspects that make them similar. 
And of course, the size of the buildings really makes them difficult to photograph in their entirety because you can never really get the angles and distances right. Salisbury was probably the exception to this rule because the Cathedral Close is a large space. Tewkesbury does not have that luxury.
Unless you go outside the grounds into what is known as Priory Park (images from 2019).
I will not expound on the history of the building, there are others much more qualified than I am, suffice to say that the abbey has it’s own website.  
I did a quick walk around of the building, and it still has a large graveyard, although parts of it seem to have been ploughed under, but I did get to see my first carved stone coffin in a long time and there were more than one!
Entering the cool dimness of the building is like entering another world. These churches seem to overwhelm with their presence and Tewkesbury is no different. I think part of the magic is that they are really buildings that make you feel small, by their nature they are big, and their interiors can overwhelm you with the sense of age and that strange feeling of being somewhere special. I suspect they overwhelmed their congregation too, making them feel humble in this most sacred place.

In the image above, the font and war memorial are on the right, and the war memorial is especially beautiful. Although I do not know how many people are actually aware of it.  Moving forward towards the crossing, the pulpit is on the right and lectern on the left. Both face the congregation.
At the crossing is the Quire (or Choir) and the screen, as well as the north and south Transepts. The Tower sits above the crossing.

The area just past the screen is beautiful, with a stunning floor and beautiful ceiling, photographs do not do this area justice. If you had to cross the screen and pass the Quire the and look towards the congregation the view would be something like this.
Set inside the tiles of the floor in front of the altar are a number of brass plaques. The town has gone down in history as being where one of the decisive battles fought during the War of the Roses was fought, and eighteen year old Edward, Prince of Wales, the last legitimate descendant of the House of Lancaster, was killed either in the battle or during its aftermath and is buried in the Abbey.
The Abbey as it exists today is a mere shade of its former self as can be seen from the plan below. Which leads me to wonder what it must have looked like before the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
The altar area is beautiful, and may just be the most impressive I have seen in a church so far, although that is not saying too much because I have not seen them all yet.
and the altar  is surrounded by really magnificent stained glass windows.
It is a beautiful space, and no amount of photographs will do it justice.

And, as is usual there are a large number of floor memorials and effigies in the aisles and around the abbey, and the crypt houses the remains of George, Duke of Clarence (brother of Edward IV and Richard III), and his wife Isabelle (daughter of “Warwick, the Kingmaker”). These are housed behind a glass window in a wall of their inaccessible burial vault behind the high altar.

This is the Robeson Cenotaph. Archdeacon Robeson was vicar from 1877-92 during the great Victorian restoration of the abbey. He is in fact, buried in Bristol Cathedral.
 
There are a number of small chapels with in the abbey, and each is unique, these are just two of them. The chapel on the left is St Catherine’s and the one of the right is the Lady Chapel
There are three organs in the abbey, and the biggest is probably the Milton Organ dating from the 17th Century.
 There is a lot that is beautiful in the abbey, it is a breathtaking building and worthy of multiple visits, I cannot however explain it all, or even begin to understand it or the significance of what I saw. It really has to be viewed in the context of the congregation who called this their parish church. The abbey is the second largest parish church in the country, and you I expect they may be very protective of their spiritual home. They have every right to be. I attended a Requiem Eucharist at the Abbey in 2019 and it was very special, and the first time i have taken Communion since 1993.
Random Images
It was time for me to move on and continue my explorations elsewhere. I will probably be back one day, it is that sort of place. You do find something new to see each time you go there, and I know of at least three things that I have missed, and that is a good enough reason to return.

Climbing the Tower

I had the opportunity to go up to the spire on the 11th of July, and it was one of those experiences that always leaves one impressed (and somewhat breathless).

The spiral staircase leading upwards has been retreaded so it does not bear the worn treads of generations of tower climbers. Our first stop was on a level that goes across the top of the inner roof and into the bell ringing chamber.

The bell ringing chamber is a beautiful space, it left me breathless,  It is hard to believe that this space was completed like this, you would think that it would have been just a plain room, but it is nothing like that at all.

 and then we climbed more stairs and came out on the roof.

 

The view of Tewkesbury is interesting because the town would still be recognisable to somebody who climbed this spire 2 centuries ago. Time does not pass quickly in this town, and many of the buildings are almost as old as the Abbey is (the Abbey is 900 years old in 2020). 
The view is spectacular, and it was a really enjoyable exploration that happened purely by accident.
 
DRW © 2015-2020. Images migrated 01/05/2016, some images replaced 27/12/2019