musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: Church

Worcester Cathedral

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   

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

and a quire,

An organ (or 3) 

and an Altar.

And the High Altar (image below).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Random Images

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

   
   
   
   
   
 

The Cathedral from the bridge across the Severn

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

13/03/2017.

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

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

Updated: 13/03/2017 — 15:37

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, 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 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. 

You can go to that page by clicking the image above, or using 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 will continue 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 its narrow streets, many are taken up by small business that cater for a specialised clientele. They are pretty buildings and some are probably very old, but they are very difficult to photograph.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© DRW 2017. Created 20/02/2017  

Updated: 13/03/2017 — 17:22

St Edmund, King and Martyr, London

One of those chance discoveries I made while in London in 2016, the church is now known as the London  Spirituality  Centre.

Like so many other churches in the city St Edmund, King and Martyr, has become hemmed in by buildings, making  photography of it almost impossible. 

The real beauty of the  church is within, and I spent a few minutes enjoying a really beautiful relic from an age gone by. 

The interior of the building is magnificent, I have seen many beautiful churches but this one really stood out. Built to a design by Christopher Wren it has been around since 1679, having been rebuilt after the Great Fire of London in 1666. 

They have two interesting wall memorials, one of which is dedicated to Charles Melville Hays who was president of the Grand Trunk Railway and who would lose his life in the sinking of the Titanic in April 1912.

The other is to a former Rector of the church: Rev. Geoffrey Studdert-Kennedy, nicknamed ‘Woodbine Willie’, a name he earned during World War 1 in the trenches.

There is a small bronze to Woodbine Willie in Worcester, I discovered it purely by accident in 2017. I eventually found more memorials to him in Worcester and traced the connections between him and the RMS St Helena.

The church also suffered damage during the Gotha raids in 1917 and a piece of the bomb is kept at the church underneath the altar.

The church is no longer an active parish church although it is still consecrated.

I did ask about the churchyard, and it does exist although it was levelled and is now an informal seating area, but some of the headstones still exist.

Apparently there is a crypt under the building but it has been sealed and the attendant was not too sure whether there were still coffins in it.

And then it was time to go and I left this small centre of peace in Lombard Street. It was a really beautiful building and  I was really glad I made that short detour. There are a lot of these churches in London, and we often miss seeing them as we head towards our destinations. I wonder how many Londoners have ever stopped and taken a look behind the doors? not too many I bet. 

© DRW 2016-2017. Created 17/07/2016

Updated: 13/03/2017 — 18:30

St Mary Redcliffe in Bristol

The Church of St Mary Redcliffe.,  
 
 
Continuing from where we left off…

I heard St Mary Redcliffe and could see the spire long before I actually got to the church. It is a tall spire too, and the bells pealing just made me smile. I am very fond of hearing them because the sound tends to blend into your subconscious and you can then pick out individual bells amongst the peal. The large tenor bell is always prominent and it has a regular “bong” that you can almost feel as opposed to hear. Oddly enough, inside the church they are not as loud as outside. 

 
The church is very big, almost on the scale of a mini cathedral, and it is a Grade I listed building. It is constructed in the Gothic style but I was so stunned by the interior that I did not take a good look around the exterior!   
 
The lawn around the church did not contain any visible headstones that I could see (although I did not really investigate this area too well), but that does not mean that there weren’t any that predated the cemetery that I had been to. With a building like this it is very possible that a graveyard did exist but has now been grassed over. The associated graveyard for the church is now close to Arnos Vale.
 
Once I got inside I was amazed at how beautiful it really is, although it is quite narrow inside. 
 

There were a lot of effigies in the church too, and the wall memorials were magnificent, although the really good ones were way too high for my liking.

 

It had some really beautiful stained glass too, although not much survives from the original windows that used to be in the church. The Lady Chapel (above) is probably the most beautiful space in the church, There is just something very special about it.
 

It always amazes me to see how many people come to look at churches like this (myself included), although I will often encounter the bored youngster being dragged along behind their parents. You can see that they are just waiting to take a selfie but would not be caught dead in a place like this. People wander in and out of churches like this and I hope that many have that same sense of awe as I always have.

I was happy to get a closeup of the console for the organ too, I have seen very few of these and it must really be something to play one. This particular organ was built in 1911.

The parish Roll of Honour is a simple one, but it probably many of the names on it may be buried in the cemeteries I had visited earlier in the morning.

The Baptismal Font is really different; with its hanging dove which represents the Holy Spirit. I really struggled to get a decent image of it, but think I have succeeded.

As far as a graveyard goes, as mentioned before, the burial area is close to Arnos Vale, although I did find evidence of a graveyard in the grounds around the church, but it did not amount to much, although a more modern “Garden of Remembrance” has been established in a small area of the former graveyard.

Time was catching me and I had to start making tracks and I left the sanity of this beautiful place to wind my way to the harbour. I was hoping for some decent exteriors of the whole building, but alas the weather made sure that my images were less than mediocre. Trying to fit it all in is a major difficulty, and traffic just makes things more awkward.

I shall leave you with some random images from the church, enjoy them, and I hope that one day I will be able to add more.

Random Images.
 
 
   
 
 
 

© DRW 2015-2017. Created 03/10/2015, images migrated 02/05/2016

Updated: 15/12/2016 — 07:39

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. 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 2015-2017. Images migrated 01/05/2016
Updated: 15/12/2016 — 19:24

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 2015-2017. Images migrated 01/05/2016
Updated: 15/12/2016 — 19:27

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.

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.

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 view is spectacular, and it was a really enjoyable exploration that happened purely by accident.
© DRW 2015-2017. Images migrated 01/05/2016
Updated: 15/12/2016 — 19:27

Birmingham Cathedral

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

The High Altar is similarly overlooked by a grand window.

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

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

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

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

 

The sign above the door?

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

I was rewarded by a door and some steps….

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

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

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

 
Updated: 15/12/2016 — 19:34

Stratfield Mortimer: churchyard of St Mary the Virgin

In my quest to photograph war graves I tend to watch out for churches, and I spotted this church as I went through Mortimer Station on my way to Swindon in January. It was quite a large spire, easily seen and really worth a day trip because it was reasonably easy to get there by train, and with a spot of decent  weather this morning I grabbed my goodies and headed out, catching the local between Basingstoke and Reading.
  
The trip didn’t even take 15 minutes, and by my reckoning if I could grab my pics I could dash back to the station in time for the 11H48 train. After all, there were only 5 CWGC grave to find, how difficult is that?
 
The church is a quick walk away and I was feeling very confident by the the time I got there. 
 
It almost feels as if the church is too big for the rural setting that I was in, although the village of Mortimer is quite a large one if you see it from the aspect of Google Earth. 
The church of St Mary the Virgin was built in 1869 on an old site. It is a large building designed in the early 14th-century style, and consists of a chancel, north chapel, and south organ chamber, over which is a tower. The walls are of squared rubble with external dressings and an internal facing of ashlar and the roofs are tiled. The tower is of three stages and has an octagonal stone spire.The church has a large churchyard with an additional area to the west where modern burials take place. 
  
 
I did a quick look around before starting my search, there was one standard CWGC headstone, but to my dismay the other 4 were all private memorials which made things a bit more complicated. The problem with PM’s are that often their inscriptions are no longer legible or they are obscured by vegetation. To make my life more complicated I was suffering from battery problems with my phone and was not able to connect to CWGC to see what other information there was apart from the names. 
The North side of the church

The North side of the church

Generally the information contained at the CWGC will include a grave number or rough location of the grave (West of church etc.), and if you can access the headstone reports there are often descriptions of the headstone (Large cross with kerb). It is also possible to narrow down a possible area using dates, but that can be hit or miss unless the cemetery is laid out in an orderly fashion. Sometimes you find a poppy cross or a poppy wreath to make your life easier, and sometimes there are badges, regiments or corps mentioned on the tombstones. 
  
I was able to find 3 more graves using names only, although the one was more of a fluke than anything else. I was however missing one grave, and it was listed as being “north of the church” (the area to the left of the church in the image above). This area did not have too many graves, but they were not too legible, and some were totally engulfed by vegetation.  This was not looking good at all.  
 
By now my train had come and gone, and the next one was due at 11H48, which left me time to find what I was after. I was carrying a spare battery for my phone so was able to do a quick change and access the headstone report which narrowed my field down to a “large cross with kerb”. There were not too many of them in this area so it was a case of checking each one. 
 
The second one I found was a possibility but the inscription was totally overgrown, I would have to come back to it after I had checked the remaining crosses with kerbs.  
 
And then I hit paydirt, a large cross which had been toppled was a likely candidate and I was able to read the name after brushing away the leaves. I had found my missing soldier! 
 
The rent was paid, I could take a few more pics then head off to the station. 
 
The church is a pretty one, as oft these country churches are, and it really has an imposing spire. It is probably much bigger than some of the churches in Basingstoke, and I would have loved to see inside of it. Along the south wall there is an area that has been paved with headstones, and I really preferred that to them being used as paths or propped up along the walls.
 
 
And a last mystery was the group of headstones all on their own in one corner of the churchyard, were these non-conformists? or a family plot? I will probably never know.
  
Then I was out the door and heading to the station.  It had been quite a hunt, but I had achieved what I wanted. 
 
On my way back I grabbed a long distance shot, it was a really pretty area and I had 6 other parish churches more or less in this area that I had to get pics from. I was not sure if/when that would happen though, but I just hope that they are not as elusive as these graves were.
 
I got to the station in time, and shortly afterwards they announced that the train had been cancelled due to a “train fault”. I could not believe it. The next train (which was actually the same train) was only due at 12H48. The same train runs on this short line that goes from Basingstoke, Bramley, Mortimer, Reading West and Reading. And if it is broken nobody goes anywhere. 
 
The station is a pretty building, but sadly the toilets were locked. And, there was nothing to see apart from the lines and the station building. I had 70 minutes to use up and I was cold and hungry. 
  
The big conundrum was that if they did not fix the train, I could be stranded here for even longer than an hour, at which point I would probably have really done my nut.  I was contemplating heading to a nearby restaurant which was advertising Sunday lunch, but I was too scared to use the money I had with me in case I needed to get a taxi home. 
 
Finally, after what seemed like hours the train came around the bend before I went around the bend and I was on my way home. 
 
The moral of the story is that it is not always possible to find all the graves you are after, and occasionally you need additional information to back up your search. Not all wartime casualties are buried with a CWGC headstone on their graves, some were buried by their families, and often that family is no longer able to care for the grave which makes it all the more important that we photograph them before it is too late.
 
Oh, and don’t think that your train will always be on time.
 
© DRW 2015-2017. Images migrated 26/04/2016
Updated: 15/12/2016 — 19:46

Random Churchyards: St Johns Lockerley

On my way to work each morning by train I pass a church in Lockerley. It is one of those churches that stands out in the countryside and as it had a graveyard I was definitely interested. I had tried many time to get a photograph of of it from the train but most of my attempts were lousy. I especially wanted one of those misty shots so beloved of horror movie makers, and this is probably the best I was able to do. 
  
The church is almost halfway between the stations of Mottisfont & Dunbridge and Dean on the way to Salisbury, although it is a shorter distance from the former. The station is a typical country station, with a  level crossing and and very few people waiting to catch trains. 
Mottisfont & Dunbridge Station.

Mottisfont & Dunbridge Station.

With hindsite I should have taken more pics around the station, but I was more intent on getting to my destination.   I had quite a dodgy walk along a country lane with no pavements, in constant fear of being run over by a passing vehicle. I do not always know why I do these things, but I will keep at it anyway. I also had the weather to contend with, and as I left Southampton it started to drizzle, but had cleared by the time I reached Romsey. 
 
 
20 Minutes later my goal was in sight, and it was hard to believe this was the same church that I passed every morning and afternoon. It was even better up close and personal.
 
 
 
  
The foundation was laid in 1889, and this church replaces an older Saxon era church that occupied an area where the churchyard is today. The slightly sunken area is where that older church once stood. 
 
  
I was told that the local “Lord of the Manor” wanted a more picturesque church to look out on, and the present church is the result. 
 
The church has an extensive graveyard, and surprisingly enough there were four CWGC headstones, which made this trip worth while making. 
 
  
The churchyard is still in use too, and an additional area has been consecrated next to the church to cater for new burials. Unfortunately there is no crypt to explore (much to my dismay). Most of the headstones in the older area of the churchyard are illegible. Time, moss and materials have rendered many of them beyond recovery, but there is a map of the layout of the churchyard, so it is possible that somewhere a list of names exists too.
 
 
There is one tantalising item in the churchyard which may have been the altar of the former Saxon church, and there is an engraving of sorts, but most of it is missing. 
 
 
I was fortunate that during my visit the church was open, and I did manage to have a look around inside. It is not an elaborate building inside,  but it is a good solid building, with not too much ornamentation, and it does have a good feel about it.
 
 
  
I was hoping that there was at least a war memorial inside the church but thus time around I was disappointed, the closest was a small framed list of names.  
 
 
The spire houses a working set of bells, and I heard them chime on my way back to the station, although I was not able to access the belfry. 
 
 
The carving behind the altar was magnificent. almost out of character with the rest of the church, and it was surmounted by a beautiful stained glass window. 
 
I also found a modest brass plaque, attesting to the origins of the church. 
 
  
And with that it was time for me to go home. I had a train to catch at 11H14, and it was already 10H55, would I make it? 
 
 
 
I got to the station as the train pulled into the platform, and was fortunate enough that I did make it in time, but no photographs of the station were possible. See, I should have taken them when I arrived. 
 
It was a great morning outing, and I was very impressed with what I saw this morning. I really enjoy finds like this, they make it all worth while. 
 
© DRW 2013-2017. Images recreated 14/04/2016
Updated: 13/12/2016 — 19:49
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