musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: Cheltenham

Pressing on to Prestbury

When I originally photographed Prestbury Cemetery in Cheltenham in 2015 I did some reading about it and one name popped up that I stashed away “just in case”. That name was the Prestbury War Memorial and it sort of became famous after it was bit by car! Unfortunately the opportunity to find it did not happen until today as I had business to attend to in Cheltenham, so could really kill 13 birds with two stones. Very close to the memorial is the Parish Church of St Mary’s, and I would be an idiot if I missed visiting it while I was in the area. 

From Clarence Street in Cheltenham I caught the “A” bus (gee, it is nice to have working bus services) that took me towards my destination, and the friendly bus driver set me off as close as he could to the church. That also happened to be next to the United Reformed Church which is a beauty in it’s own right.  

Being Autumn the light is beautiful, although it really depends on how cloudy it is. On this particular trip it alternated between overcast and sunny and by the time I headed off for home I was overheated in my lightweight hoodie.  

Left would take you to the church while right will take you into Prestbury village. I took the left path.

And there she is…

Like so many parish churches it is hard to date it because of the numerous restorations that have been done to the building, however the church appears to have been largely rebuilt in the 14th century when the north and south aisles were perhaps added to an earlier building. The church was so thoroughly restored in 1864–8 that the date of the medieval work is difficult to determine. (British History) . It is really very similar to many of the parish churches I have seen but it is no less beautiful. Fortunately I was able to access the church and my images do not really do it justice.

My camera tends to get confused with the available light so pics are usually hit or miss.

The Prestbury page at the Open Domesday Project may be found at  http://opendomesday.org/place/SO9723/prestbury/  and this is what the entry looks like: 

The war memorial inside the church is unlike any I have seen before, and it is really beautiful. 

Unfortunately it is difficult to photograph it because of ambient light but I am sure the gist is there. That memorial must have taken a long time to create.

The church has quite a large churchyard,  and there are six casualties buried in it,  and I managed to find 5.

There are a lot of these wooden crosses in the cemetery, and I always thought they were found more in Orthodox churches, but for some reason this seems to be a regional thing in the churchyard. Irrespective though, I could not help but think of a flock of birds when I first saw these.

The weight of ages is heavy in this churchyard, and who knows how old the earliest burial may date from. From what I can see the churchyard is in use for limited burials, and the lack of space is what would have brought Prestbury Cemetery into use.

I did the obligatory circuit of the graveyard, but could not really form any opinion as to what is the oldest grave in it. These churchyards hold more than what is visible on the surface. It however a very nice graveyard with some really beautiful headstones.   

Then it was time to leave this pretty place and head for the war memorial up the road.  Past the local with its fine views of the churchyard.

and finally…

As war memorials go it is not really a big or fancy one, but it does tell the story of how many men lost their lives from this area which makes it an important part of the village. And, I hope on 11 November the people of this village will pay their respects to those who never came home. There are a number of names that match the graves in the churchyard close by, and this memorial really provides something tangible to those who were never able to see where their loved ones were buried. 

The list of names may be found at Remembering.org.uk

Then it was time for me to head back to Prestbury Cemetery to try to find a grave that had evaded me the last time I had been there. It is a mere kilometre “down the road”, but that was much easier to deal with than my mammoth walk from Painswicke to Stroud last month. 

Prestbury Cemetery is a beautiful cemetery to visit, it too is full of the history of this area and the people and families that lived nearby, and I am happy to say I found the grave I was missing, although it was quite a search. The one memorial in the cemetery that is really outstanding is the Gloucesters Memorial that is made up of the battlefield crosses from the graves of those who are buried in foreign fields. It is a very unique tribute that is in dire need of restoration. 

 

And then it was time to head to town to deal with the business I had to attend to. It was a long day and I covered a lot of ground. Many of my goals were achieved, and others were not. But Prestbury is in the bag, but who knows whether I will ever go their again.

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 03/11/2017.  Domesday Book entry courtesy of the Open Domesday Project, under the CC-BY-SA licence, with credit to  Professor John Palmer and George Slater. 

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 17:01

Striding out to Stroud (2)

Having left Painswick in the dust I was now in Stroud. My goals were many, I had planned a possible visit to the war memorial, St Laurence Church, a hobby shop and of course the local cemetery. It really depended on time and weather and energy levels. Unfortunately my energy levels had taken a knock as a result of the unexpected detour. The sad thing is that had I stayed at Cheltenham and caught the 10H01 train I would have arrived here at the same time as I did after my extended walk from Painswick!  

You can read about Stroud on the usual wikipedia page.

Because I had not arrived by train I had entered the city close to St Laurence Church, and it was easy to find, just look for the spire.

The weather had not eased either, but I had come very far and was not going to give up that easily. Unfortunately seeing a spire and finding it are 2 different things altogether and I ended up passing a number of odd places on the way.  This handy map came in useful at a point, but unfortunately it is only useful when you are standing in front of it. I had wanted to start off with a visit to the tourist information office but that was based on me arriving by train. 

St Laurence Church was within reach and it too dates from many years ago, although as usual various parts date from different eras but it was mostly rebuilt by the Victorians. There is an extensive history of the church at http://www.stlaurencefuture.org.uk/the-original-church.html. Unfortunately, like so many churches it is very difficult to photograph the complete building.  

Neither did the weather help very much. The church was open and I was able to investigate it further. Unfortunately it has lost its pews and while it is still very beautiful it has lost its “character”.

It also has some very nice wall memorials but they are much too high to photograph. 

The War Memorial was surprisingly legible and I had to get a pic of it.

Unfortunately the churchyard was not accessible so I could only shoot over the fence.

Then it was time to head into High Street to find my next destination, a hobby shop where I was hoping to buy some ships. Unfortunately I did not have a good experience at the shop, they were not even interested in my purchases. Guess what guys, you lost a customer!

Parts of the town were jam packed as there was a Saturday market on the go so photography was not easy. But, after finding the loo I was confident that my next destination was do-able and I headed off in what I hoped was the right direction. Compared to my earlier walk this one was much shorter, although the hills were killers. Stroud has a lot of hills and I do not envy those who have to park in some areas. 

At some point I came to the Holy Trinity Church and my goal was just a bit further on.

Stroud Old Cemetery has 17 CWGC graves in it, they were not really my priority but I would photograph any that I saw.  When I arrived at the cemetery I was in for a shock. Not only was there a signing warning of Adders, but it was a regular jungle!  

The chapel is perched on a hill and that was a seriously steep hill too. So I chose a lower path to start with. I could make no sense of this cemetery at all, it just did not fit into anything I had seen before. Apart from the potential of meeting a snake with a calculator my biggest fear was taking a fall, the overgrown graves were positively hazardous.

As much as I hated to admit it, I was tired. My hips and legs were painful and my one sock kept on disappearing inside my shoe! I was not going to spend a lot of time here, because rationally there was not much to see. There were no real headstones that caught my eye, in fact headstones were very sparse. Grabbing pics of CWGC stones where I saw them I worked my way across the cemetery and probably got 13 of them. I am glad I had not made a commitment to photograph the graves here. A private memorial would be almost impossible to find. The view from the cemetery is quite spectacular, it is just a pity that the sun was still not out.

Then I had had enough and left the cemetery and headed back to town.

This was not a cemetery I will remember easily. 

I took a a different gate to exit and walked down a street of row houses, coming to the Holy Trinity Church once more. It was open so I took a quick pic and left.

There is a very nice old school building in the area and it has a very interesting clock and bell installed.

Town was still full of people and I threaded my way through the throngs, looking for photographables.

Stroud was “in the bag”. One of the attractions of the town was the colour of the buildings, the stone being quarried locally. It reminded me a lot of Bath Spa, but without the many attractions of that town. Make no mistake, parts of Stroud are very pretty, but I had not seen too many of them. The weather and time constraints had pretty much dictated my visit, and of course my unexpected detour from Painswick did tire me out prematurely. I would have liked to have spent more time here, but the trains were a worry. 

I believe the station is a Brunel creation, but it did not have that grandness of some of his work.

I was fortunate that I did catch the train when I did because the next one was canceled and that would have left a 2 hour wait. It was not one of my better train trip days that’s for sure. Oddly enough I did not have to wait too long for a bus from Cheltenham and was home earlier than I expected. Unfortunately I am positively bushed. 

Would I go back? maybe. There is a war memorial that I did not get and I would like to look around the town more, but the cemetery is not even worth considering. However, I wouldn’t mind revisiting Painswick, it was stunning.  

And that was my day. Pass the painkillers.

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 23/09/2017

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 17:02

Striding out to Stroud (1)

When I was on my way home from London in April this year, one of the stations we passed through was Stroud in Gloucestershire. It seemed like pretty place to visit and I filed the information away for future reference. However, this past summer was a no go for excursions, the weather has been lousy and I have really missed hitting the trail. Somewhere along the line I decided that a visit to Stroud should happen and my original planning was for last week. I had all the timetables printed out and was really raring to go. But, the weather went icky and so did I. So I never went.

This weekend the weather looked promising so I grabbed my goodies, printed my maps and set my internal alarm clock for 6am this morning, The plan was to grab a bus to Cheltenham, arriving before 8.30 and then walking to the station to catch the 8.59 train to Paddington, bailing out at Stroud, in fact I still had my timetable all printed from the week before. 

The best laid plans of mice and men had it in for me though; when I arrived at the station I discovered that my train did not exist, in fact, had I checked the times before traveling I would have found that out. I was working from a timetable for 16 September and that train had been canceled today.  The problem was that the next train was only at 10.01, and trying to kill 2 hours at Cheltenham Spa Station was not going to happen.

I hung around for awhile and read and reread the Metro that I had picked up at the barriers. Then just as I was about to head off out of the loo an announcement was made about the train to Stroud. As usual I could not hear it so I head up to inquiries. The local GWR staff were evidently waiting for news, but by then I was browned off and decided to head off to Cheltenham, buy sausages at Lidl and then head for home. I went to cash in my tickets, and in the midst of that transaction GWR came to the party and organised a taxi for me to Stroud. A shining example of customer service. Thank you Great Western Railways.

 And so I headed off to Stroud with an amiable Turkish driver. The town is about 19 km from Cheltenham I believe, and is technically closer to Gloucester than Cheltenham. As we rode along we eventually came to a built up area with some really stunning buildings, and one of those typical Anglican Churches that I keep on bumping into. One of the places on my list was St Laurence Church in Stroud and I made the assumption that this was it and decided to bail out here. You know me, I am a sucker for churches and graveyards, so this was right up my alley. Sun? there was none, although the forecast said it would clear a bit later.

I was feeling very smug that I had managed to arrive at my destination, and could look forward to a day of photography and walking. In fact I asked a local what was the name of the street that the church was on. He looked at me strangely, and said that the church was not on my map because we were not in Stroud! So if we were not in Stroud, where were we? 

The village of Painswick.

I was still 5 miles from my intended destination! The local took pity on me and seeing my interest in the churchyard showed me one of the more interesting graves in it.

It belongs to the stonemason John Bryan, and I will be frank and say that while it is unusual it is nothing compared to some of the other gravestones in the churchyard.

The churchyard is amazing, it has one of the best collections I have seen in ages, and they seem to be unique to this churchyard. In Lichfield the slate headstones were popular, over here a ground level ledger stone with a brass plaque seems to be the favoured grave ornamentation. 

The real beauties were closer to the church and I have never seen anything like them before. Unfortunately time and weather has rendered them to be mere shadows of what they looked like originally, but even today you can still marvel at the artistry.

The local showed me one of the end faces similar to the two above that had been restored and I was astounded.

The parish church of Saint Mary  was open, so I was able to go inside and have a peek. 

And like so many parish churches in the UK it is a grade I listed building and parts of it are very old. Various areas were added on over the centuries, so its really hard to tie the building down to a specific date. It is a very beautiful building inside, and my photographs do not do it justice. 

And then it was time to face reality. I was over 5 kilometres from Stroud and there was a long walk ahead. Would I be able to do it? I had no alternative, there was no other place where I could get a bus or train back to Cheltenham. I would have to hoof it.

But first:  the war memorial. 

There are supposedly 99 Yew trees in the churchyard and a number of them surround the war memorial in the churchyard.

The problem was that I had last taken an extended walk of this distance in 2015 and even then I knew that my extended walking days were more or less over. I was OK with short distances, but long ones were problematic. Fortunately the route was straight forward, just follow the road.

Painswick was a very pretty place and I would really have liked to explore it more, but the big question was weather and time. My biggest fear was getting to Stroud and finding that the trains from Paddington were canceled too, then I would have really been in trouble. I upped anchor and headed down the road. Striding to Stroud. 

The countryside around here is very beautiful, although it would have looked much better if the sun was shining.  Large areas are of National Trust Woodlands and are ideal for bird watchers and wildlife enthusiasts. Undulating areas of pasture land fall to the Wick stream which supplied the power for the woolen mills which can still been along its length. (http://www.painswick.co.uk)

I have always associated the UK with scenery like this, vast areas of green and rolling hills. It is very beautiful. 

The road seemed endless and the only way to know how I was doing was the occasional peak on the my map on my phone. That road was long, but fortunately the verge was tarred so I was not dodging and diving oncoming traffic. At some point bells started ringing as I approached an area called Stratford Park which is where the Stroud Society of Model Engineers has their track. I had been looking at the map last night to see where it was and while I had not intended going there I took note for possible future reference; and here I was walking past it! Unfortunately it was not in operation so my luck was out.  

and then….

Finally!! Break out the bubbly! I had arrived!

forwardbut

Domesday Book entry.

Naturally I was curious as to what they say about Painswick in the Domesday Book.

Yes, it is illegible. That’s why it is easier to go look it up.  

A lot of odd things happened to me today, and I have to admit that I have a sneaky suspicion I was supposed to see Painswick, and I am glad I did. I would love to explore it more but it is not an easy place to get to. The churchyard of St Mary’s was magnificent. and my special thanks must go to GWR for excellent customer service, as well as the gentleman who took me around the churchyard and church. I often think that many times were are predestined to see or do things, and Painswick was one that I had to experience. 

Now, onwards to Stroud!

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 23/09/2017. Domesday Book entry courtesy of the Open Domesday Project, under the CC-BY-SA licence, with credit to  Professor John Palmer and George Slater. 

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 17:04

Photo Essay: St Peter’s Church Cheltenham

I first spotted the church from the 41 bus going to Cheltenham and was always tempted to climb out and take a closer look. The building just has the impressive look about it. However, do not be deceived because it is no longer a church, and it has not been since after 2008.  I took these images of the church and its graveyard in June 2016.

The church building  is situated on the south side of the Tewkesbury Road (Google Earth co-ordinates:  51° 54.525’N,  2° 5.445’W) . It is now signboarded as being a part of “The Rock Youth Charity“. 

The building dates from 1849, and is in a very good condition, all things considered. There is also a small war memorial on the site, but it is almost illegible. I spotted an old photograph at the base of the memorial and managed to find out who he was. His name was Private Jesse Jones and he was KIA on 9 May 1915

Portions of the churchyard still exists, although a lot has been paved over. There is a record of burials or names on the monuments in the churchyard and that is available at http://www.gravestonephotos.com/public/cemetery.php?cemetery=1958 . From what I can read it was designed by Samuel (S.W.) Daukes, and the congregation came  from the opposite (north) side of the Tewkesbury Road. 

This portion on the side of the churchyard was fenced off and marked as being part of a project. 

The only grave I could see from the bus had been this one 

And it was a surprisingly nice headstone too. 

There are also a large number of flat slabs, and while I did not investigate them I expect that there may even be a family vault underneath. These you cannot see from the bus as they are hidden by the low wall outside the church.

Given the size of the church and the good condition it is in I could not help asking why it fell into disuse in the first place. However many churches end up closing because of a falling congregation or a building falling down or too much competition from charismatic churches. 

My curiosity was partly satisfied, I would love to see inside the building, but that will probably never happen. At least now I do not have to try to get pics from the bus anymore. 

*Update 08/06/2018*

While en route to Liverpool I stopped at the church and photographed the war memorial, unfortunately the weather was grey but I was really after the memorial name panels. My Private Jesse Jones is commemorated on this memorial. 

DRW © 2016-2018. Created 07/06/2016, updated 08/06/2018

Updated: 09/06/2018 — 06:38

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

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:16

It is war I tell you!

Wartime in the Cotswolds played itself out this weekend, and I decided to share in the fun by visiting the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Steam Railway that runs between Cheltenham and Toddington. I have travelled with this heritage operation twice before and they run a very professional operation.  I had also encountered a very similar day on the Great Central Railway in 2015  so it would be interesting to see how this weekend played out. The weather was also very kind to us on this day, and apart from a chilly wind it was quite an enjoyable day weatherwise. I was also going to test my new camera on this trip and was very wary about running out of batteries, although I do have 3 batteries that I carry and if push comes to shove can still use my cell phone camera.

Of course being wartime you do have to be wary of surprises around every corner, so listen very carefully, I will say this only once… War is hell! 

The first train to leave Cheltenham Race Course was not a steam engine much to my dismay, instead it was the Class 117 diesel railcar. I have been on it before and it is somewhat of an odd vehicle. 

 

I managed to snag one of the front seats so was able to see the drivers controls and the view of the rails behind us,  This is a composite of 3 images. 

Driver sits on the left.

And then we were off, the train packed with people in period civilian outfits and military uniforms. It was amazing because they took so much effort to look the part, some of the women were truly stunning in their hats and gloves and seamed stockings, and for the first time I saw children in period clothing along for the fun too. They are the ones who will be doing this in 20 years time and it is great to see that the spirit will be carried forward with them. 

Our route takes us from Cheltenham Race Course Station to Gotherington, 

Through the Greet Tunnel,

To Winchcombe

Where we would wait for the next train to come past us heading towards Cheltenham Race Course. This train was headed by the immaculate 2807, a ’28xx’ class heavy freight locomotive, built in 1905. and owned by Cotswold Steam Preservation Limited and, after a 29 year restoration, is one of the GWR’s resident locomotives.

And then we were off again, heading to our final stop: Toddington. The station is really a destination on its own and in this case it was really a microcosm of Allied Servicemen and Women with a smattering of old civilian and military vehicles, although American equipment was dominant.

I bailed off the train, pausing to watch 4270 with the next train. She is a “42xx” class tank locomotive and made her debut at the 2014 Cotswold Festival of Steam and is now a regular performer on the GWSR.

I then ambled over to the exhibits, pausing to admire a really nice restored M4A4 Sherman that was formerly a “range wreck”

Behind the tank was Toddington Narrow Gauge Railway, and I had read that they would also be running trains on this day. There is a South African connection to this railway, and to Tewkesbury. But that was assuming the train was running. We had passed their loco shed and I had seen a steam loco in steam at their shed, so I was hopeful. 

Until then I walked around, looking at interesting exhibits, especially the military vehicles. 

Then there was movement and I headed down to the platform where the narrow gauge train was uncoupling, unfortunately it was a diesel as opposed to the steamer I had hoped for, The problem was that the train would not leave unless it had enough passengers, and so far I was the only one.

I drifted off to go look at the well armed half track that was parked nearby. Oh wow, I am so sorry they did not let off a few bursts with that quad browning.

And then there was movement at the narrow gauge railway and I headed back to it, boarding the small coaches en route for California Crossing where the steamer shed was.

The line is a short one, only 3/4 of a mile, and there is not much to see, However, the shed has 4 narrow gauge loco’s.

Chaka’s Kraal No 6 spent all its commercial working life in the South African sugar cane industry being delivered to Gledhow Chakaskraal Sugar Co. Ltd. for use on their estates in Natal. It was purchased by a group of members and returned to the UK in 1981. It had originally been built in Leeds in 1940.

My loco spotted, it was time to shake my head at the station name plate. 

Meanwhile, things were afoot back at the main station with the imminent departure of 7820- Dinmore Manor. 

Now which loco was at Platform 1?  

Talking about Loco’s I also went to the running shed viewing area hoping to get a decent pic of 35006 P&O, but once again a decent pic evaded me. I wish they would turn her to face the other way so that I can see her from the front.

The shed lines were surprisingly empty, but there was still a lot of trains and rolling stock in place.

It was time for another round of photography, and the images below are of various vehicles on display.

Unfortunately I was starting to tire a bit and decided to see what I could see at the station. Another loco was now waiting its turn and it was 2807, a member of the ’28xx’ class heavy freight locomotive, built in 1905.  I was considering heading back down the line to Winchcombe, and this train was not too far off from departure

Besides, the wartime music was driving me crazy. I still have “..it’s a long way to Tipperary….”  going around inside my head some 4 hours later!

I crossed the footpath in front of the loco and headed down to the field behind the station, it was jam packed with cars and was almost a mini military camp in itself.  In fact, there was even a sodding BREN there to torture me.

Fortunately I no longer have to worry about whether it is clean or not. My timetable said that the next train was about ready to leave in 10 minutes so I ambled across the footbridge.

The loco had moved to the head of the train so I decided to join this one and head back towards Winchcombe. It felt good to get a load off though. I was really pooped.

Departure was due to happen at 12.20, but nothing happened, instead the conductor came around and announced that we were delayed due to an “unexploded bomb” at Winchcombe. This delay threw my plans out because we would not budge until the train at that station was here. so we waited. It was now touch and go whether I would head fro home of bail at Winchcombe. Eventually the up train arrived and we were given the token to leave. 

It is not a long ride to Winchcombe and I did not really feel up to spending an hour at the station, it was bad enough that it looked like the whole cast from Dad’s Army and ‘allo ‘allo was standing on the platform.

Then we were off again, next stop: Gotherington.

 

And the other train was standing at the passing loop over there, being serenaded by a very nice lady with a magnificent voice who kept on telling us the “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when…

And finally we arrived back at Cheltenham Race Course. The war was over for another day. 

The loco moved to the back of the train (making it the front), and I headed for the exit. I still had a long walk to the bus stop and then once in Cheltenham I still had to catch the bus back to Tewkesbury. 

It had been a long and busy day but I had enjoyed it. I am amazed at how the English go headlong into something like this, the amount of people in uniforms and costumes was amazing. I also saw a number of old men who were obviously veterans from WW2, and their numbers are dwindling too. But as long as there are those who are willing to go to the expense of acquiring a uniform then days like this will give us all a taste of what wartime Britain was like. I see a lot of evidence of it, the war is still remembered, it has not faded from the national psyche, it is still a part of the people of this country.

V for Victory, and may we never tread that path again.

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 23/04/2016 

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 15:57

Gloucester Cathedral

I visited Gloucester this morning, and the primary goal was the cathedral, because they are really a big drawcard in any city. If you don’t have a cathedral you better have something equally grand instead! Tewkesbury is in the middle of 3 cities, (Worcester, Gloucester and Cheltenham) and 3 out of the four have a church that dominates the landscape. I believe they are also all 1 days travel away from Tewkesbury, although that was not by bus! My trip entailed a bus to Cheltenham and another to Gloucester. I am not covering the city in this blogpost though, that will come at a later date after I have been back. (These posts are to be found in 2017). This post only deals with the cathedral.
 
The Cathedral is well signposted, although I did end up being distracted by the vintage fair that was going on around me and which ruined my plans for the balance of the day. But that is another story. Like so many of these buildings it is now hemmed in by its surroundings, and finding a spot to photograph the complete building is difficult. But I am happy to say I found one that comes close enough.
  
And, like the other cathedrals I have seen this one is beautiful, the level of detail in it is amazing and it has a really nice collection of Gargoyles too. 
  
It has occupied this space for many centuries, the foundation stone being laid in 1089. Once again I am not here to write about the history of the building, It is better to read about it on Wikipedia

Once inside I was a bit disappointed as the nave seemed almost sparse compared to the other buildings I had been in. It was not as light either, but the lighting was really to do with the time of day, and once past the screen and into the quire it was a different ballgame altogether.  
 
Unfortunately there were heaps of chairs being moved around the nave and this really ruined the effect of the organ that was playing in the background during my visit. The organ however was magnificent, it just fits a building like this so well, and I was able to tune out the floor scraping and tune in the pipes instead. 
 
There were a fair amount of wall memorials and a lot of effigies too, although the real treasures were still to come. I did not find a major war memorial inside the cathedral, although there is a chapel dedicated to the Gloucester Regiments. The War Memorial is outside the building on a grassed area I believe used to be the churchyard.

 
My small camera is unable to do justice to what I see in these churches, but then I think if I had to photograph every highlight I would probably be there a long time and need a lot of spare battery power.
  
I headed up the aisle for some odd reason, intending to cover the area of the aisle and the transepts before moving into the body of the church. The aisles are usually where the best wall memorials are found and there are a lot of really beautiful and ornate ones inside.
  
There a number of historically important memorials in the cathedral, and one in particular would probably be the salvation of the cathedral when the dissolution of the abbey happened in  1540. 
 
The are two kings buried here. The first being  Edward II of England  (left) the other being  Osric, King of the Hwicce,  (right) . 
 
I had intended returning to the tombs on my second round, but it skipped my mind and I will have to make a second trip here anyway. Continuing around the body of the church I kept on being taken aback by the sheer opulence of the fittings. What sort of impression did this leave on the average peasant in the 1700’s who saw this church in all its glory?

The Gloucesters lost a lot of men during their many military campaigns around the world and I would see a lot of references to them in the town and in the whole area of Gloucester.

This rather jaunty lady is Elizabeth Williams who died in childbirth in 1622.

It was time to cross into the main body of the church. And here my camera let me down because I have very few images from this area, and none are really very good. This is the view looking towards the nave from just in front of the quire. 

while this view is 180 degrees and looking towards the High Altar.

I returned to the aisles once again and came to the Chapel of Saint Andrew which was interesting because it was here the they advertised the crypt tours. The chapel was stunning, made even more interesting by the buttress that seemingly crosses the doorway.

I really liked this chapel a lot, its walls were more fresco than anything else, but it made for a very attractive space. Unfortunately it was a very small space so photography was difficult.
The Crypt tour was of interest, but it was an hour later and I decided to head outside and do more sight seeing and return at 11H30 for the crypt tour. The tower tour was also up, but my ankle was not strong enough to get me up 240+ stairs and back down again. However, I first needed the loo and there was one in the cloisters. It is really a fairy tale space, and I believe parts of  a Harry Potter movie were shot somewhere in the cloisters.

The central garden is a wonderful haven of peace and as much as I wanted to grab a bench and sit down I did not have that luxury.
I circumnavigated the cathedral as best I was able, pausing to view any interesting bit through the long distance eye of my camera.  The level of close up detail is astounding though, and the stone masons who built this building were master craftsmen indeed.

 


I headed off into the city to pass time till 11H30 when I would go on the crypt tour,

 

Instead we shall wind forward to 11H30 and the red door that is the entrance to the crypt.

I have not been into the crypt of any of the churches I have been in, and they seem to limit the amount of people to around 20 at a time. I was probably the first arrival, although when I looked again there were 19 others standing waiting too.

The crypt is really a duplication of the church above, and it has chapels just like the church above it, although these are much less ornate than the area above. I believe this was the domain of the monks, and at some point it became a charnel house and later a storage area during World War Two. It is a strange space, full of interesting shapes and columns, with vaulted ceilings and a feeling of great weight above you. Who knows what it must have looked like some many centuries before?

 
 

It is slightly damp inside and well lit, although I would not like to be here when the lights go out. Unfortunately there was not much to see, it was all about history really. The bones that existed in the charnel house are long gone, and if they had been here we would have not been allowed down here anyway.

Then it was time to go up again and I headed off to the cloisters once again in search of the loo.

And then I was out the door, leaving the cathedral behind. It is definitely a place I will visit again. Having seen it I now know what I want to see and hopefully a tower tour will be on the list.

Random Images.
And that was Gloucester Cathedral. I would love to do the tower tour one day, but realistically there is not too much to see in the city, there are other places that rate much higher in my priority list. But, I do tend to change my mind often.
 
© DRW 2015-2018. Images migrated 01/05/2016
Updated: 31/12/2017 — 16:29

Finding the Fallen: Prestbury, Cheltenham

The nice thing about moving to a new city is that there are new cemeteries to explore, and Cheltenham was no exception. They have a large cemetery very close to the city centre called Prestbury, and it was to this cemetery that I wended my way on the 18th of January.
 
There are 181 CWGC burials in the cemetery, as well as 28 Crematorium mentions, so I would have my work cut out for me if I wanted to grab most of the graves. Naturally I would be on the look out for the Angel population and of course anything that would grab my interest.
 
I had a feeling that the cemetery was a big one, it certainly looked like it on Google Earth, so I was not quite sure what I would find. The Lodge is just inside the main gate and it was now privately owned like so many other cemetery lodges. 
The map was interesting, because it showed the curves that were popular before the bean counters took over, and I suspected there was a mix of old and really old graves, with the more modern iterations moving away from the main gate.
  
The first military encounter I made was with the Gloucesters Memorial, and it is really a step back in time. The memorial comprising original crosses erected over the graves of men who were killed on the battle fields. Unfortunately the crosses were painted brown and that has really made them look less than historic. If anything they should have been varnished and left as they were originally. Most of the inscriptions are no longer legible either, which is really a pity.

And then we were off…. list clutched in my hands and shutter finger cocked. It was quite a warm day and the sun kept on coming and going which really messed with my photography. Just inside the gates is the Cross of Sacrifice, and the all crucial split that dictates how much of the cemetery you will get to see. I decided to head left because there was a CWGC grave on that side.
 . 
This was a Roman Catholic area, and it was in this area where I encountered the first angel statue. and it was the first of many. Prestbury has an impressive collection of oldies and new versions, and most were in a very good condition.
In fact that was one thing that impressed me about this cemetery, it was clean, well maintained, with very little sign of vandalism or neglect. Unfortunately though I did find that legibility on the headstones was not great, which was a pity because there were quite a few very impressive family stones.

 And then there is the chapel building….

I have seen a number of these in my travels, and I think the one at Prestbury outdoes them all. It is a spectacular building, in an excellent condition, and as beautiful as any church could be. Unfortunately I could not access the two chapels or the crematorium in it, but I spent quite a bit of time photographing the gargoyles and stonework of it.

 
I worked my way towards the back of the cemetery, crossing off names as I went. There was a small Australian plot close to the chapels and it did make walking the rows much easier.

But most of my graves were individuals scattered throughout and consequently I covered a lot of ground although I did not really concentrate too much on the thousands of graves all around me.

 
At some point I reached the boundary between 1950 and upwards, and it was unlikely that I would find any CWGC graves after that and started sweeping my way across the cemetery. It was really a pleasure to work this cem because I did not have to concentrate on not falling into a hole too much. The beauty of good maintenance is that my life was much easier.
  
My list was also shrinking and it was about time to find the cremations that were mentioned on the CWGC website. There were also three graves mentioned on the cemetery plans, but they were not historic in the way I would have liked. There are 5 VC graves in the cemetery, and I picked up the plaque for one of them,  although I was not specifically hunting for them. At some point I probably will, but this was not the day.
 
In fact I was starting to get tired, and home was looking more like an option. I started weaving my way towards the exit, although I really wanted to look at the Gardens of Remembrance before I left. 
  
It was a very pretty area, and I considered that if I pop my clogs one fine day this would be a suitable place to end up. Where do I sign? Unfortunately I did not find my missing crem plaque, but with hindsight I was looking in the wrong area. One more thing to do on a return visit. 
 
Behind the Gardens of Remembrance is the Ukranian Memorial
  
And that pretty much was the last image I took.  Unfortunately the 21 graves I am missing are probably PM’s so finding them is going to be very difficult, so I cannot completely mentally tick off this cemetery. One day I will be back.
And I am confident that the visit will be enjoyable because this is a very enjoyable cemetery to walk.

Update: 08/08/2015

Yesterday I revisited Prestbury to find the 5 Victoria Cross graves in the cemetery and clear some of the missing CWGC graves. I managed to find 13 more, and understand a bit more about how the cemetery is numbered, although I am still puzzled about where some of the graves are.

 
© DRW 2015-2018. Images migrated 01/05/2016
Updated: 31/12/2017 — 16:33

St Mary’s Minster: Cheltenham

One of the more impressive churches I have seen has been Cheltenham Minster, St Mary’s; situated in a park surrounded by other buildings it is a hidden sanctuary of peace in a somewhat chaotic shopping area. 

The biggest problem though, is trying to photograph it completly because you cannot get far away enough to do so. The image above is really a composite of two different images, and it worked out quite well if I may say so myself. 
What is a Minster?  It is way too complicated to explain, but in short it is generally any “any large or important church, especially a collegiate or cathedral church”. In the 21st century, the Church of England has designated additional minsters by bestowing the status on existing parish churches.
 
The first time I saw the church and its graveyard I decided that it may be worth trying to get a visit, but my visits to Prestbury generally started early and ended late so it would be more about luck than anything else.
 
The graveyard is reasonably intact with quite a few headstones still legible, but I expect many have been lost over the ages. Make no mistake, this church has been around for a long time and there must be a lot of burials in this small space. Way back when the church would also have been in an open space, but as time has passed it has become hemmed in to the point where you cannot see it from street level without sticking your head into any alley and looking. I only found it because I was looking for the bus stop.
Now getting inside the church was not easy as it was only open till a certain time on a Saturday; but I was in luck on the one morning as I found the church still open, although it was almost closing time. 
 
 
It is spectacular inside, I was literally dumbstruck. On the outside the building does seem to have a mix of architectural styles but within it is irrelevant.
 
To me the Rose Window was the most spectacular feature of the interior.
 
There are some really stunning wall memorials and stained glass windows, and overall the church has a welcoming feeling about it, although I did feel the weight of ages within its walls. 
 
 
 
The only thing that seemed out of place were the light fittings which seemed like something out of a block of flats. Possibly they were fashionable at the time?
 
 
And then it was time to go because they wanted to close up for the day and I headed off into the distance, suitably impressed with what I had seen.
 
 
St Mary’s may be surrounded by buildings all around it, but it is probably one of the most impressive churches in Cheltenham, it is certainly the oldest.
 
 
It is quite difficult to find 1600’s headstones that are legible, although I did find an inscription for 1607 on a memorial. 
 
 
And finally, a reminder of the many Imperial troops that never came home from the Anglo Boer War. 
 
The Minster was a surprise, and if ever I see it open again I will make a return visit because there is just so many layers of history within the walls. Long may it be with us.
 
© DRW. 2015-2018. Created 13/05/2016
Updated: 31/12/2017 — 16:34

A dash off to Cheltenham

Yesterday I did a fast trip to Cheltenham, it is probably where I will end if I cannot find a place to live locally. It is not too far away, about 45 minutes with the number 41 bus. Unfortunately the usual Clarence Street bus terminal was closed so I ended up not quite where I wanted to be.
 
  
The church is the Catholic Church of St Gregory the Great and it seems to follow the pattern of a number of very similar churches that I have seen elsewhere. It was closed, but I did remind myself to check whether it was open on my way back, it was also a handy landmark to for the bus stop. I had no real destination in mind yet so as it was really about taking a look around and seeing the city and where the amenities are.  
I headed towards Clarence street anyway, passing an old fire station, 
 
and the library  
 
As you can see it was somewhat of a gray day, although there were at least 4 changes to that as the day progressed, the library is on my list for a rephotograph though, it is a stunning building, but not that easy to get a complete image of. 
 
My next encounter was with Cheltenham Minster, St Mary’s.   and it had the only graveyard that I saw in Cheltenham during my visit. Again it is one of those places that you cannot get a decent image of because of  where it sits. In this case trees obscured any semi decent shot that you could take of the church.  
 
I emerged into Clarence Street somehow, and it was kind of quiet, so I went for a quick breakfast while I mapped out a viewing of a potential living place.
 
  
This was probably the main shopping area, and it had a nice mix of old and new buildings in it, definitely worth looking at on my way back.
 
 
  
By now I was just walking, and of course looking for the War Memorial, which I found outside the Municipal Offices which are magnificent.
 
cheltenham 107
 
and for some strange reason their is a fountain depicting Neptune, and it was built in 1893. 
 
  
Continuing with my meanderings I spotted The Queen’s hotel, dating from 1838. 
 cheltenham 135
Outside the building is the remaining plinth from a Crimean War Memorial, it once held a pair canon which had been captured at Sebastopol. At the base of the plinth it still says ‘Taken at Sebastopol’, but in April 1942 both guns were recycled as armaments.
 

I had also spotted this very ecclesiastical looking building and had intended walking around it to investigate what it was.
There was evidence of a church in the building as witnessed by the gargoyles and statues around it.

It turns out that the whole block is more or less Cheltenham Ladies’ College.  It is a magnificent wedding cake of a collage, but the odds of getting into that chapel are non-existent..

It was time to head off for my viewing and leave this part of town behind. There was not too much to see on my walk, although I did grab a pic of the Holy Trinity Church

It looked like a very grim building, but apparently it has one of the larger congregations in the UK.

My viewing completed, I headed back towards town and had my sights on trying to find Cheltenham Spa Railway Station, which curiously enough was not in the town centre. On my way I came across the really stunning Christ Church, which seemed way too big for the small space it occupied.
cheltenham 207

 


The church dates to the 1830’s and must have seemed very impressive at the time as it would have dominated the surrounding area, today it is really a large church on a small stand. Also close by was this beauty which was yet another  care home.

And of course this one which may be part of the Ladies College

Eventually though, I found my goal, and the station proved to be somewhat of a damp squib. Unfortunately I was not able to get down to platform level.

It was getting to be time to head home, and I turned back towards town, finding this really nice bridge along the way.

 

From there it was a matter of navigating back to High Street Close and my bus back to Tewkesbury. And, as usual, I shall leave some random images behind. It is entirely possible that I will revisit this page as I am not quite done in Cheltenham, a return visit has to happen at some point.

 
 The local cemetery is called Prestbury, and it is where I went next.
 
© DRW 2015-2018. Images migrated 01/05/2016
Updated: 31/12/2017 — 16:35
DR Walker © 2014 -2018. Images are copyright to DR Walker unless otherwise stated. Frontier Theme