Evesham Eventually (2)

As I was saying… 

The bridge was erected in 1856 and as far as I can recall it is called the Workman Bridge (named after the mayor at the time).

That is the Avon stretching away into the distance. Evesham sits in a lobe of the Avon, and like Tewkesbury it probably suffers each time the Avon floods. The image below shows the Avon towards the bottom of the lobe and the bus came into the town over a bridge that is just beyond the bend.

Having crossed the Avon at the Workman Bridge I now had a longish walk along the banks till I reached the cemetery. It was a pleasant walk because the area was very beautiful, and of course the sun was shining like crazy. 

I was actually quite grateful for the shade. The bridge in the image above is the one I had just crossed and I was now in a public park called Worksman Gardens and there was one piece of public art that really struck me.

Called Whale Bone Arch, it features a carved Bowhead Whale (Greenland Right Whale) and it was based on a set of real whalebones that used to be on display in Evesham. The arch is the same size as that of a real whale, and it was created by Steven Cooper and the whale was carved by Tom Harvey. The original bones are at the Evesham Hotel. 

And in the distance was the bridge I had come across with the bus. In my original navigation I had considered walking down to this bridge and crossing back into town and walking back to the bus stop, but had scrapped the idea.

The cemetery was in sight! and there were 41 graves to find: 10 from WW1 and 30 from WW2 (and one that is maintained by CWGC). It is not a large amount, but somedays a single grave can keep you searching for hours.

The WW2 graves were mostly laid out in a small cluster of 23 graves, and they were mostly airmen and Canadians. 

The other graves were scattered throughout the smallish cemetery, but unfortunately I could not find the one private memorial from WW1, the graves are not marked and legibility was poor in the one area where I suspected the grave was.  Gravehunting over, it was time to head back to town and considering my bus back to Tewkesbury. 

I leisurely strolled back towards town, enjoying the day and pleasant weather. Evesham Methodist Church is situated on the one corner of the river bank next to Workman Bridge, and it is a very pretty building too.

There were a lot of people about though and it was heading towards 11 am. The bus was leaving at 11H48 with the next one scheduled for 12H48. I had just missed the one so would get the next one, leaving me enough time to find the Quaker Burial Ground. I had first seen one of these in Southampton way back in 2013 and it had been a very pretty place. We have a Society of Friends Burial Ground in Tewkesbury, but it was not recognisable as a graveyard. Personally I find them very interesting people of enormous faith and courage, so finding another burial ground was a good find. The history of the Quakers in Evesham may be found at their website

There were a number of ledger stones laid flush with the grass, the oldest one I saw was from the 1830’s, and there was a burial from the 2000’s in the “peace garden” too. Unfortunately I did encounter one person and I got the impression that it was time to leave as I was disturbing him. It is a pity because I really would have liked to have found out more about the burials.

I was back in town now and located the bus stop and visited that shop I mentioned in the first part of the blog, and it was a real treasure house of goodies. There are a number of things I need to explore further in Evesham, for starters there is Evesham Vale Light Railway, and of course tracking down the whale bones at the hotel and visiting the Almonry Museum and relooking the Abbey area. There are still a few reasons to return to Evesham, and possibly explore Stratford upon Avon as I saw buses tagged with that city in town. The £4 bus fare is well spent, and certainly cheaper than the bus to Cheltenham.  There is also a GWR train that runs from Great Malvern to London on an almost hourly basis and I have used that twice to get to Oxford. 

How does Evesham feature in the Domesday Book?

  • Hundred: Fishborough (‘No longer exists as a named location, but can be identified on the ground.’)
  • CountyWorcestershire
  • Total population: 27 households (quite large).
  • Total tax assessed: 3 exemption units (medium).
  • Taxable units: Taxable value 3 exemption units. Payments of 1.0 rent.
  • Value: Value to lord in 1066 £3. Value to lord in 1086 £5.5. Value to lord c. 1070 £4.
  • Households: 27 smallholders.
  • Ploughland: 3 lord’s plough teams. 4 men’s plough teams.
  • Other resources: Meadow 20 acres. 1 mill, value 1.5.
  • Lord in 1066Evesham (St Mary), abbey of.
  • Lord in 1086Evesham (St Mary), abbey of.
  • Tenant-in-chief in 1086Evesham (St Mary), abbey of.
  • Phillimore reference: 10,1

(Domesday Book images are available under the CC-BY-SA licence, and are credited to Professor John Palmer and George Slater )

On my 2nd visit I found the “Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception and Saint Egwin”  as well as a statue of “Our Lady of Evesham”. I was finally able to get into the church in June 2019

And that was Evesham in a nutshell. I really enjoyed my visit and it was a very pretty place with wide pavements and interesting historical artefacts. And, as such  I will leave you with some random images of my visit. See you again Evesham.


DRW © 2018. Created 19/05/2018. More images added 01/01/2019. Domesday Book images are available under the CC-BY-SA licence, and are credited to Professor John Palmer and George Slater . More images added 23/06/2018

The Friends Burial Ground in Tewkesbury

Ever since my discovery of the Society of Friends Burial Ground in Southampton in 2013, I have kept an eye open for other locations that may have been used by the Society of Friends. 

When I was in Basingstoke the Holy Ghost Cemetery had Quaker graves in it, but they were part of the general population of the cemetery as opposed to being in a separate graveyard.

Tewkesbury surprised me because there is a Society of Friends Burial ground in the city, and I briefly went into it when I first arrived in the city in 2015. I really stumbled onto the burial ground by accident, but never quite registered where it was. When it came to finding it once again I was stumped because I could not find it in the many alleys and passages that still exist in the city.
This weekend I decided to remedy that and go find the place! Strangely enough it did not feature on my mapping facility of my phone, so it was really a case of investigating every alley and passage until I found it. 
And finally I found it. The white cottage is one of two original meeting houses of the Society of Friends that exists at the site. 
The signs on the gate tells us nothing about the burial ground itself, apart from the date 1660.
When I had first seen this spot in June 2015 I had thought that it was strange that there were no headstones, but then I was looking at it in the same context as the burial ground in Southampton. This one has no surviving headstones, and was probably abandoned when the a new meeting house was erected in Barton Street. in 1804. 
There is not much to see in the burial grounds, it is now a pleasant garden space and is very pretty.
Personally I was hoping to find some sort of information board, but there is nothing. And naturally, the moment I was inside the space half of Tewkesbury decided that they too wanted to come in too, so I left. 
In researching this space I found a few answers, but I now need to investigate the hall in Barton Street (now called the George Watson Memorial Hall) to see whether there are answers there, and the possible continuation of this graveyard. 
The Quakers stopped using this space around about 1950 too as it was too large, which could indicate that the Quaker movement was in decline in the city. Hopefully I will find a few answers there, but somehow I doubt it.
The burial ground was not what I expected, but it is an interesting space in the city, one of many that existed a long time ago and which is now different from what it originally was.
© DRW. 2016-2018   Created 07/05/2016

The Society of Friends Burial Ground, Southampton.

I must have walked past this place at least 10 times before it actually registered with me that there may be something of interest behind the fence. 

And, even when I finally did have a look I missed the important sign on the gatepost.

My contact at the Hamble Valley and Eastleigh Heritage Guides was quickly able to inform me that this was the Quaker Burial Ground, and that with a bit of luck I would be able to swing a visit to it if I emailed the right person. My curiosity was piqued, and I managed to reach the right person and a visit was organised. Unfortunately I had to pull out at the last minute due to a job interview, but all was not lost because one Saturday morning I went past and the gate was unlocked. 

I did take pics, but was really missing the context of the cemetery from somebody that was connected with it, and sure enough, a visit was organised to the cemetery by the Friends of Southampton Old Cemetery and I headed back again on the 12th of October. Theoretically at this point I should have been living in Salisbury, but my plans there went awry.
It is not my place to explain the history behind the Quaker movement in Southampton, there are others much more qualified than I am, suffice to say that the burial ground has been around since 1662, and is still in use today.
The headstones (technically these are footstones), are all of identical size and shape and are inscribed with name, age and date of death. This exemplifies the principles of equality and simplicity which are part of Quaker belief. 
The graves are laid out in a North/South Orientation on either side of a central path, and the earliest stone now visible marks the grave of Anna Thompson who died in 1817. However, there are much older graves in the cemetery that were not marked with stones, and these date back to the founding of the burial ground. 
In 1841, an additional plot of land was purchased to the west of the burial ground, thereby doubling the size, and making more land available for new burials. The burials are laid out on a map, and while some of the inscriptions are long gone, the map does hold the information as to who is buried in the plots.
The burial ground is a peaceful one, the noise of the traffic outside is easily forgotten once standing amongst the graves of those long passed on, and there is a feeling of tranquillity within its walls. Sadly though, it does have its fair share of vandals and ne’er-do-wells, but overall I expect most people just walk past it, blissfully unaware of the history buried within. 
Maybe that is a good thing? because preserving a space like this is important, not only from a historical point of view, but as a green space inside a busy city. 
It is also important to consider the context of this burial ground as a part of the city of Southampton. When George Fox, founder of the Quaker movement visited Southampton in 1662, there were twenty two local Quakers in prison for holding illegal assemblies, refusing to take the oath of allegiance or failing to doff their hats to those in authority. They were probably imprisoned in the Bargate, which today still exists, although no longer a prison or seat of authority. 
The city has changed, rulers have come and gone, and the world has passed this small haven of tranquility by. But, like so many other burial grounds, churchyards and cemeteries there is much to see if you stop and look, and while there try to imagine those who walked this path before you.
Special thanks must go to Margaret Matthews, (Convener of Burial Ground Committee), who took time out to show us this treasure, and for permission to use information from the handouts. And to Friends of Southampton Old Cemetery and Geoff Watts who arranged this visit. 
I paid a visit to the Friends Burial ground in Tewkesbury when I moved there, and my thoughts and images are on the relevant post. I also visited the Friends Burial Ground in Evesham in 2018, and the former burial ground in Bristol
DRW © 2013-2018. Images replaced 13/04/2016, two new links added 25/08/2018