musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: Tewkesbury Abbey

The Battle of Tewkesbury 1471

Having seen the re-enactment of the Battle of Tewkesbury I feel that the time has come to try lay it to bed. I have seen enough now to finally make some sort of sense of it, although I probably still don’t know enough. You can read about the actual battle on the relevant page on Wikipedia 

To really understand the whole shebang you need to know where it happened and there are a number of maps out there to show the area. I picked up this one in a shop window although I do not know when it dates from, but it does show the outline of the cemetery which means it was created after 1857 as the cemetery was opened in that year. There is a reason why the cemetery position is important, but that comes later. 

(Lancastrian forces are the darker rectangles, Yorkists are the lightly shaded forces)

What you should know is that the Lancastrians are descendants or supporters of John (of Gaunt) Duke of Lancaster, second son of Edward III, younger brother of Edward the Black Prince. Their badge was a red rose and in the context of the Battle of Tewkesbury and the Wars of the Roses they were the army fielded by Queen Margaret of Anjou, 

The Yorkists were descendants or supporters of Edmund of Langley, fifth son of Edward III and, from 1385 1st Duke of York, and they adopted the white rose as their badge. In the context of the Battle of Tewkesbury and the Wars of the Roses they were the army fielded by King Edward IV.

Having landed at Weymouth the Lancastrians were seeking to cross the River Severn into Wales to meet up with Jasper Tudor and the men he was gathering, then march into Lancashire and Cheshire, and raise the men of the north to overturn the Yorkist throne. The nearest crossing point was at Gloucester and forewarned King Edward sent urgent messages to the Governor, Sir Richard Beauchamp, ordering him to bar the gates to Margaret and to man the city’s defences. When Margaret arrived at Gloucester on the morning of 3 May, Beauchamp refused to let her army pass, and she realized that there was insufficient time to storm the city before Edward’s army arrived. 

Her army made another 16 km forced march to Tewkesbury, hoping to reach the next bridge at Upton-upon-Severn 11 km further on.  The Lancastrians halted for the night at Tewkesbury, while Edward drove his army to make another march of 9.7 km from Cheltenham, finally halting 4.8 km from the Lancastrians who knew they could retreat no further before Edward attacked their rear, and that they would be forced to give battle.

As day broke on 4 May 1471, the Lancastrians took up a defensive position a mile south of Tewkesbury. To their rear were the Rivers Avon and Severn. Tewkesbury Abbey was just behind the Lancastrian centre.  A farmhouse then known as Gobes Hall (Modern day Gupshill Manor) marked the centre of the Lancastrian position. 

Gupshill Manor

The Lancastrian army was approximately 6000 strong, and as was customary was organised into three “battles”. The right battle was commanded by the Duke of Somerset, the  centre was commanded by Lord Wenlock, while 17 year old Prince Edward was present with the centre. The left battle was commanded by the John Courtenay, 15th Earl of Devon. The River Swilgate, protected Devon’s left flank, before curving behind the Lancastrian position to join the Avon. The main strength of the Lancastrians’ position was provided by the ground in front, which was broken up by hedges, woods, embankments and “evil lanes”. This was especially true on their right. On the map below the Swilgate starts at the upper right and cross through the map in front of the abbey. 

The Yorkists numbering roughly 5000, were slightly outnumbered and they too were organised into three battles. King Edward commanded the main battle and his vanguard was commanded by his youngest brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester while Lord Hastings commanded the rear. 

To the left of Edward’s army was a thickly wooded area and he ordered 200 mounted spearmen to occupy part of the woods and prevent the Lancastrians making use of them, or act on their own initiative if they were not themselves attacked. These men really played an important role in the defeat of the the Lancastrians.

Edward then “displayed his bannars: dyd blowe up the trompets: commytted his caws and qwarell to Almyghty God, to owr most blessyd lady his mother: Vyrgyn Mary, the glorious Seint George, and all the saynts: and advaunced, directly upon his enemyes.”

As they moved towards the Lancastrian position the Yorkist army found that the ground was so broken up by woods, ditches and embankments that it was difficult to attack in any sort of order. Yorkist archers and artillery showered the Lancastrians with arrows and shot.  The Duke of Somerset led at least part of his men via some of the “evil lanes” to attack Edward’s left flank.  Edward’s men resisted stoutly, beating back Somerset’s attack,  the 200 spearmen Edward had earlier posted in the woods attacked Somerset from his own right flank and rear.  Somerset’s battle was routed, and his surviving army tried to escape across the Severn. Most were cut down as they fled. The long meadow astride the Colnbrook leading down to the river is known to this day as “Bloody Meadow”.

As its morale collapsed, the rest of the Lancastrian army tried to flee, but the River Swilgate became a deadly barrier. Many who succeeded in crossing it converged on a mill south of the town of Tewkesbury and a weir in the town itself, where there were crossings over the Avon. Here, too, many drowned or were killed by their pursuers.

Two weeks ago I found a memorial that I did not know about before and it was situated in an area known as “The Vineyards” and is on the edge of the cemetery. (position can be seen on the map below)

The Vineyards formed part of the battlefield and the memorial is sited on what was then Holme Castle, and the Abbey is visible in the distance. I was standing with the cemetery behind me when I took this image. The memorial  marks where the defeated Lancastrians routed and fled towards the “safety” of the town and presumably to seek refuge in the Abbey. Fortunately the Abbey played no part in the battle, but was caught up in the aftermath

Wars of the Roses Reference

Holme Castle Reference

Margaret of Anjou was taken captive by William Stanley at the end of the battle,  while her only son, Edward of Westminster was killed, although the manner of his death is not clearly known, some sources state he was executed in the market place of Tewkesbury. The Queen was completely broken in spirit and ended her days in France as a poor relation of the king. She died in the castle of Francis de Vignolleshis in Dampierre-sur-Loire, on 25 August 1482 at the age of 52 

The grave of  Edward, Prince of Wales, the last legitimate descendant of the House of Lancaster may be found in Tewkesbury Abbey. 

“Here lies Edward, Prince of Wales, cruelly slain whilst but a youth, Anno Domine 1471, May fourth. Alas the savagery of men. Thou art the soul light of thy Mother, and the last hope of thy race.”

A number of others from the battle are also buried in the Abbey, and it is likely many of the foot soldiers were buried where they fell. History is not altogether clear as to their fate, after all, in this struggle for power they were really just pawns in a larger power game between kings and queens.  

The Arrivall

Just past Gupshill Manner on the Stonehills roundabout on the A38. there are two large wooden statues collectively known as The Arrivall.  The two 5 metre works, feature a victorious knight on horseback and a defeated horse. They took 15 years to plan and two years to make and they were created by Sculptor Phil Bews from the Forest of Dean and were unveiled in May 2014. They pretty much sum up the battle in two images. Unfortunately  I have never been able to see them up close and personal but only managed images from the bus.

More reading:  

Matt’s History Blog

Wikipedia page on the Wars of the Roses

UK Battlefield Resource Centre

Tewkesbury Battlefield Society

There is a lot written about the battle and the consequences thereof, who wrote the story? probably the winners. Personally I really deal with aftermaths, as my collection of references above shows. I do not know the whole story, but one of these days I will do the tour and hear another version and hopefully I will be able to add even more to this page afterwards. 

DRW © 2018. Created 17/07/2018

Updated: 25/07/2018 — 05:38

Evesham Abbey

Sadly, Evesham Abbey is really a small collection of foundations, walls, artefacts and a tower left over following the carnage of the dissolution of the monasteries and the reformation. and, unlike the ruins of Netley Abbey, there is less to see at the place where the Abbey used to stand.  The biggest surprise though is that there are two parish churches (St Lawrence and All Saint’s Church) in close proximity to the space that was occupied by the Abbey, and they have both survived. 

The one information board has a layout off what the area may have looked like.

Make no mistake, it is a very pretty area today with lush green lawns and gardens, but given where the building stood it would have been spectacular to see from the River Avon that would have flowed past it.  The Evesham Abbey Trust  is really the proper place to find out more about the archaeology and history and to promote an understanding, appreciation and engagement with the heritage and history of the site where the Abbey stood.

The bell/clock tower was spared the destruction of the Abbey, probably because it was not a physical part of the original building, although today it looks almost lonely without it’s context, but we are fortunate that it survived because it is very beautiful. The tower was built between 1529 and 1539 by Clement Lichfield, the last Abbott of Evesham. It is 33 metres high and was restored in 1951 with the original peal of 10 bells recast and increased to 12.  The tomb in the front is that of the remains of Simon De Montfort, Duke of Leicester, who was killed in the Battle of Evesham on 4 August 1265

The gateway led out into what was then the Monk’s Graveyard, and that now lies under Abbey Park. During the 19th century excavations unearthed some of the graves of the monks. They were wrapped in a shroud and placed on a wooden board with a simple wooden marker. Higher up in the hierarchy would entitled you to be buried within the Abbey along with your marks of office (rings, keys, chalices, lead seal, etc.). Some of these were recovered from the grave of Henry of Worcester who was the Abbot of Evesham and who died in 1263.

The cloister arch would have been between the cloisters and the chapter house. 

This is the area behind the archway, it is a real jungle or grassland.

Some of the boundary walls still exist, 

and of course the Almonry found a new purpose.

The remains on a Norman gateway to the Abbey is still to be seen today, and it dates to roughly 1130. 

What the the Abbey looked like is really educated guesswork, although foundations do exist and they give a rough outline of the shape of the building, but from the foundations upwards it is an educated guess. Was there a spire? if there was there is no trace of it. However is is reported that it reached 310 feet into the sky (Salisbury Cathedral Spire is 404 ft), the Chapter House was 50 feet in diameter and 10 sided, while the Abbey was the 3rd largest in England. 

In the Almonry Museum they have a model of what the complex may have looked like:

The sad reality though is portrayed on one of the information boards at the site.

On the 30th of January 1540 the soldiers came and the monks were ordered to leave. The Abbey buildings were given to Sir Philip Hoby, who reused the stone. It was acquired by the Rudge family in 1664 and has been in the family ever since.

And to me that sums up the Abbey, and what the people of Evesham saw once the deed had been done. I can only speculate on how the monks and clergy felt when they watched the building being destroyed.  And I can just imagine the smug looks of the accountants of the day as they catalogued the assets that were seized. All that loot into the coffers of the state and a community robbed of an item of beauty. Some of the stonework was reused in the building of the city hall, and you can bet there are other properties in the town with stonework too. 

A local artist, Ian Gibson has done some paintings showing what the Abbey may have looked like, these can be viewed at on the relevant page of The Evesham Abbey Trust

That sums up Evesham Abbey, it may be gone but it really lives on in local history and in the physical remnants left behind. Tewkesbury was fortunate that they were spared this destruction and the Abbey still exists as an integral part of the town. Evesham was not so lucky.

DRW © 2018. Completed 01/07/2018. Some images from the information boards may be copyright. Images from Almonry Museum added 13/09/2018

Updated: 13/09/2018 — 15:53

Let there be snow!

Yes it is true, it is snowing outside. We had our first flakes on Friday but it was not a significant amount. But the weather forecast for the UK predicted snow wherever you go for today!

I woke at 7.30 but it was too dark to see much and I managed to bounce my flash off the flakes outside. It looked very promising and when I made my usual call home it was belting down outside. Here are some of my first pics. 

And yes, it is cold, and no I do not have snow boots and yes my hands are frozen. But… I am chuffed. I will periodically post new pics as I venture out. I am not likely to take a long trip because I do not want to get caught in it and it does appear that snow will be with us for most of the day.

11.55.

I went down to the Abbey to see what it was looking like, I was too wary to use the bike, and considering the slush on the roads I am glad I did not. Ugh, what a mess!​

 

The Abbey always presents interesting photographic opportunities, and just think how many snow storms it has seen during its long existence.​

 

My real aim was to do another “Cemetery in the snow” post, similar to the one I did in Basingstoke in 2015, but the cemetery is quite a long walk away and I was not going to tackle that! Instead I headed across to the old Baptist Chapel and its associated graveyard. I have not done a separate post on the chapel so will do that after I am finished playing in the snow.

11/11/2017

10/12/2017

And then it was time to wend my way home along the cycle path. It is hard to believe that this was once a railway line 

And that was the day, or should I say morning. It is still snowing outside although the weather forecast is for sun tomorrow. We will see when we get there. Will I use the bike tomorrow? probably not. I am not that confident with the inevitable slippery roads, and because of the low temperatures there is no way of knowing what conditions will be like out there in the morning, or in the evening. We will just have to wait and see.

Tuesday 12 December.

The leftover snow is still on the ground, the pavements are ice rinks, the temperatures are low but the light is fantastic. I took these on my way to work this morning.

And that concludes the weather. We now return to our regular programming. 

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 10/12/2017

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 17:01

Tewkesbury Mini-steam Weekend 2017

It was that time of the year when Tewkesbury holds a number of events in and around the town. The first event that I attended this year was the mini-steam weekend that was held on the 24th and 25th of June. I attended the event last year too as well as in 2015. I had an information leaflet somewhere but seem to have mislaid it again so will really cheat a bit if I need info. The event is held by the Model Steam Road Vehicle Society. in the grounds of the Tewkesbury Rugby Club.

The engines on display are not the large full sized beasties, but smaller versions that mimic their bigger breathren; and like the full sized vehicles are feats of engineering way beyond my skill level. Realistically most of the machines this year were the same as I saw last year, in fact that was the problem with the event this year, I had seen it before but I do look for the odds and ends that make it different. 

This was the first engine that I saw while I was walking to the event, I have seen this guy quite often with his engine “Jack”, and he seems to thoroughly enjoy himself. The Abbey can be seen in the background of the image. 

The event has the usual mix of traders, enthusiasts, vintage cars and interested parties, and quite a few of the engines were raising steam when I got there.

Oh, and having their brightwork polished. Make no mistake, these machines require lots of time, patience and probably a healthy bank balance too. 

This wonderful showmens engine is typical of that particular type of vehicle with loads of shiney brass fiddly bits.

I am always fascinated by the electrical plant on these machines. It has a certain “Frankensteinish” look about it.

Here are a few of the steamers just waking from their slumbers while their owners had that first cuppa.

There was one exhibit that I ended up rooted to the spot at. It featured a single sided ploughing engine (my terminology may be out of wack though), and I spent quite a lot of time listening to the owner enthusing about his pet project. And, she was a beauty. 

I am no boffin on these things, but this system uses a single ploughing engine, an anchor, with an associated trolley and a double ended tool carrier. Wait, let me see whether I can find a link to explain it all. http://www.steamploughclub.org.uk/index.htm has a nice description on how steam ploughing actually works. In the image above the engine is closest to the camera. The dolly in the middle looks like this. Since the war ended GI Joe has gone into the ploughing industry.

The other end (called a travelling anchor) looks like this….

And it has the large disk-like wheels to prevent it being pulled sideways by the engine with ballast on the opposite side to the engine to prevent it from tipping from the load. A large twin forked anchor is set into the ground ahead of it and it is winched forward to the anchor as the rows are ploughed.  

These models are really magnificent and the owner is rightly proud of them too. I can see why. 

A full sized ploughing engine? they look like this… 

Continuing on my meander I also spotted this quirky steam powered ape. 

Who says steam in not versatile?

While I was walking around a number of engines were making their way to the arena where they circled around in a slightly haphazard way.

You can even use steam to walk the family dog and tow the family around.

There was a small display of vintage cars, and there were some I had not seen before.

And then there was this Kombi in the distance, she should have been in that line-up too.

By now I was considering my homeward trek and stopped at some of the traders tents to look around. The one tent had all of these wonderful old vintage and not so vintage tools in it, and what a strange eclectic collection it was. 

And while I was loitering there I heard a strange noise behind me… 

And then it was time to go. However I shall enthral you with my random pics.

   
   

And that was my day. Hope you enjoyed it too.

One final pic… because this is one of the things that Tewkesbury is known for:

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 24/06/2017

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:57

Remembrance Day 13/11/2016

Following Armistice Day we commemorate Remembrance Day  and this year I spent it in Tewkesbury. Last year I had not been able to be at the War Memorial in person, but this year I did.

The service is held at the Abbey, and then everybody moves to the War Memorial at the major crossroads in town. I did not attend the Abbey service, but waited till it ended,  taking photographs in and around the graveyard while I waited. There is a very  poignant memorial to Major James Cartland who was killed on 27 May 1918 and it has been the focus of the Somme 100 commemorations.

While I was taking these images the service ended and the people started to leave the Abbey

I changed position to where the parade would be marching out from, and it was a long parade too.

Apart from the military there are a number of civilian groups in the parade, including military veterans, emergency service, scouts, school groups, and all shapes and sizes and colours and creeds. The problem is that by the time the front of the parade has reached the memorial the rear hasn’t left yet.

The area around the memorial is in the shape of a Y standing slightly skew, with the memorial in the centre on a small island. The through roads had been blocked off and just as well as the small area around the memorial was packed. 

I ended up close to the memorial, but nowhere close enough to see the base of it. I am sure that most of the town was there, and it is not a large town. The one thing I have seen in the UK is that people take the period around Remembrance Day seriously. 

It is hard to know how children process the events, certainly those in the parade must have known a bit about why they were there, and I am sure that some must have family connected to the armed forces. I do not think I ever attended one when I was young in South Africa, but I am sure my father did. It does not really matter though, what is important is that we were here with a common purpose. I dusted off my beret for the occasion, and was probably the only Bokkop in town. 

Unfortunately the low angle of the sun and the surrounding buildings cast dark shadows over the parade, but at least there was sun, sort of… 

And then the last post was played and there was 2 minutes of  silence.  The two minutes of silence originates in Cape Town; one minute was a time of thanksgiving for those who had returned alive, the second minute was to remember the fallen. Before the period of silence a bugler plays the Last Post and Reveille signals the end of the silence. It is a very moving moment, and the only noise was the occasional small child who may have been puzzled by the cessation of hubbub around them.

And then we reaffirmed our commitment to the fallen and those who survived:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Called the “Ode of Remembrance”,  it is taken from Laurence Binyon‘s poem, “For the Fallen“, which was first published in The Times in September 1914.

And then it was over, the parade marched out from around the memorial to form up once again.

and the memorial was once more visible.

The parade then marched past the memorial, presenting their salutes and under the command “eyes right”. I would hope that those who marched past today will one day stand where I was and watch servicemen and women from the future march past too. 

and while the front of the column was smartly turned out, things became slightly more ragged as we reached the back.

But, if amongst those kids just one takes this parade to heart and becomes a greater part of Remembrance then I acknowledge their salute. 

I took a short walk down the road to check out a building, and when I returned to the area of the memorial things were almost back to normal with traffic restored and families were heading home and people in uniform going wherever they went after a parade like this.

The poppies will slowly disappear from the shops and clothing, although some of us will keep them visible for much longer. The wreaths will fade and and the red dye will run in the rain, frost will cover the memorial and once again clouds of exhaust fumes will envelop it. I always thought it was a stupid place to put a war memorial, but if you really think about it, everybody that drives past here has to see it, and maybe that is a good thing after all.

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 13/11/2016 

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:31

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 2015-2018. Images migrated 01/05/2016
Updated: 31/12/2017 — 16:37
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