In October 2018 I visited the village of Overbury as part of my village tour. I had really stopped there to photograph the War Memorial; however the legibility of the memorial is poor due to wear on the stone plaques and base. I did notice a newish screenwall structure in the churchyard, and on a trip through to Evesham saw a stone mason at work on the wall. Could it be they were reproducing the war memorial names onto the screenwall? There was only one way to find out and that was to head out and see for myself. I had to leave enough time for the work to be completed though and as a result I only tackled this visit in 2019.
The image above shows the lychgate of St Faith’s, Overbury. The central plinth has the plaques on either side of it. The new structure is shown below.
Unfortunately my supposition was wrong and it does not have the Roll of Honour on it, but a list of names of those who may be buried here or who were cremated, with their ashes interred at this spot. There went my theory down the pipes. I now had anything of up to an hour to spend while waiting for my bus onwards to Evesham. The next hamlet on the road is Conderton, but it is too far to walk to and look around in such a short space of time so I remained in Overbury. I had photographed quite a bit of it in 2018, so I really wanted to add to those images.
Behind St Faith’s is Overbury Court, a Georgian house dating from 1740. It is privately owned so I did not try for a photograph of it. The gate is in the lane next to the church.
There were too many comings and goings in the lane so I did not even attempt a peek through the railings. But the house has extensive gardens and it is a very picturesque area. You can see part of the roof of the house in the image below.
Heading back towards the bus shelter, I looked left and right and didn’t cross the street.
You may think that these rural roads are quiet but it was a regular hustle and bustle which was made worse by the narrow roads, parked vehicles, the occasional tractor, horses and delivery vans.
I walked for awhile, enjoying the countryside and the horses having an early breakfast.
There was also the village cricket pitch for those who have 5 days to spare.
Dare I say “Howzat?”
This is the road looking back towards Overbury, the building on the left is a pub and the building on the right may have once been a tollgate/booth given how the window impinges onto the road.
My mission was accomplished. Had I planned it slightly better I probably would have been able to visit Conderton too, but my planning was not great and I had limited time available to get a bus. I wanted to visit Evesham after this so really had to get on the road. Look, there is my bus, I must go…
I arrived at Ashton-Under-Hill (Google Earth 52.039141°, -2.003869°) at roughly 9.08 am. This village intrigued me the most because it bigger than the two I had just visited, and it had an interesting mix of old buildings. There was a War Memorial and a church with two CWGC graves in it. The Saturday bus also seems to take a slightly different route to the weekday bus and that affected what I had to do because the bus dropped me off past my intended targets.
Once it dropped me off it would travel a bit further, reverse, turn around and head towards Sedgeberrow and Evesham.
There it goes now! I stayed with this raised embankment because the War Memorial was situated on it. From what I read this was not the original location of the memorial, and it appears to have been originally located on private land.
It is described as “Cross, with laurel wreath wrapped round the shaft, on a stepped square base,” it has 8 names from the First World War and 2 from the second. The front is engraved as follows:
There are also shorter name lists on either side of the memorial.
The memorial looks out over the “Ashton First School and Village Hall”
The rent was partly paid, and I continued my walk to my next stop which is the church of St Barbara which is roughly 200 metres away.
If you did not know the church was there you would probably have missed seeing it, as it is set back from the road and only the lych gate and a badly eroded 15th century cross is situated in front of it. The 17th century thatched cottage is what drew my attention originally and I wonder whether it was the rectory?
There is a small door that can be seen between the two windows in the image above, and it is engraved 1624. Like so many parish churches it is a mix of old and older. The oldest parts date from Norman times, represented by the South doorway with its characteristic rounded arch. The Tower with its 6 bell ring, was begun in the 13th century. while the Chancel was rebuilt in 1624 by Sir John Franklin, then Lord of the Manor. St Barbara is the patron saint of armourers, gunners and blacksmiths. (https://www.ashtonunderhill.org.uk/organisations/st_barbaras/). The lych gate dates from Mach 1931
Amazingly the church was unlocked and I was able to see inside of it.
It is not a spectacular church, but it did have some lovely stained glass in it. The ROH was small but there were 3 personal memorials in it, one of which I am reproducing here because it is such a poignant one.
Then it was grave hunting time and I battled to find the one grave which was a private memorial. It too had been recently restored which is probably why I could not find it. Many of the private memorials are in a poor condition and are the responsibility of the family. The rent was paid, it was time to look around and get my bus onwards to Evesham. It was due at 10.22 but it was only 9.43. There was one more building that I wanted to find and apart from that I had the 40 minutes to idle.
Twas time to enjoy the view.
The village history says:
“… A walk along the almost mile long village street (now called Beckford Road to the south and Elmley Road to the north) will take the visitor past a wide selection of the local rural architecture typical of both the Cotswolds and the Vale of Evesham.
In addition to timber-framed and stone cottages there is a black and white farmhouse dating back to the 15th century, an elegant stone manor house built before 1700, tall brick houses from around 1800, also many red-brick Victorian cottages and a scattering of 20th century houses in a variety of styles. The non-conformist chapel was built in the 1920s. The village also has two schools; the old Village school in the centre built in the 1860s with the more modern village hall attached, and at the north end the 1960s Middle School. The village pub ‘The Star Inn’ offers a warm welcome, traditional Ales and home-cooked food.”
And just in time for my bus too. I am off to Evesham to get more images from the museum, I will continue this grand tour at a latter time, visiting Beckford and Sedgeberrow. As they say in the classics:
DRW 2018 – 2019. Created 21/10/2018. The Open Domesday Project and the associated images are kindly made available by Professor J.J.N. Palmer. Images may be reused under a Creative Commons BY-SA licence.
The day finally arrived, it was time to embark on my grand tour of the villages en route to Evesham. The weather forecast was favourable, my navigation was done and all that was left was hitting the road. My plan was to travel by bus to Kemerton, take my pics and then head over to either Overbury or Ashton-Under-Hill, and from there to Evesham. The only real hard and fast decision was that Kemerton would be my first stop.
I grabbed the 07.35ish 540 bus in misty weather and even the sun was still partly asleep at this time of the morning, and I duly arrived in Kemerton at 7.50ish. Everybody was apparently asleep too.
I did not venture into the side streets of the village, but only the main street, and there is not a lot to see.
Lost? this may help.
As you can see the sun was starting to colour the sky and the light was improving considerably.
Even the local shop/post office looked like it was starting to stir. This was the only shop I saw in the village. While “The Crown” was the only pub I saw, although there may be others.
And finally, the reason for my early morning sojourn.
The War Memorial is described as a “Latin Limestone Cross atop a tall shaft, which is on a 5 stage base. The design of the cross was adapted from an ancient village cross in the village of Laycock.” (https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/32460). It was unveiled on 9 January 1921, and was made by Sir Herbert Baker RA (possibly the architect?), Messrs E T Taylor of Tewkesbury and Mr A Stanley of Kemerton. It is a Grade II listed structure.
There are 20 names from the First World War and 7 from the Second World War on the memorial.
The building in the picture behind the memorial had an interesting sign painted on the wall, although I do not know if it is a period sign or a recent addition.
The rent was paid, it was time to walk across to Overbury which was less than a kilometre away, past the village hall (dated 1902),
although walking on the pavement was difficult because the grass was heavy with dew. Not much was stirring here, but then it was still early.
Much to my delight I found a Catholic Church on the outskirts of the village, and it still had a graveyard.
It is called St Benet’s Catholic Church (served by the Benedictines of Douai Abbey), and it was built in 1843 by M E Hadfield, together with the adjoining Priest’s House.
I had missed the local Anglican Church though, so that is another reason for a return to the village. Across the street from the church was a large field with grazing sheep and a white painted farmhouse in the distance. There was a hint of mist in the air and the slowly lightening sky was still coloured orange by the sun on the clouds. It was one of those moments that always leaves me breathless.
In fact there were sheep having breakfast on both sides of the road. This chap was resting his wary head and we exchanged Baa’s.
For some strange reason I took almost no images of the Lych Gate structure as I was too intent of trying to get the names instead. Once that was done I tackled the Churchyard, 4 of the headstones were standard CWGC pattern while the last was a private memorial, and it had been recently restored too.
Rent paid, it was time to move onwards. And I seemingly did not photograph the church completely, although it was not easy to get an unobstructed view of it. Fortunately I did get the back of the Lych Gate.
The Exif data of this image puts the time at 8.34 and I still had to find the bus stop to get the bus that theoretically should arrive about 8.50. I had scoped the route out on my maps and the bus stops were marked on it, so no problemo!
In fact, the timetable listed the bus stop as “opposite shelter”, and this is the shelter….
The shelter however is on the side heading back to Tewkesbury, and Google Earth marks the stop as being roughly 50 metres before the shelter, and the locals said the stop was at a small bench 50 metres on the other side of the shelter. This is the UK, if you do not stand at a designated bus stop the bus will not stop!