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Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Tewkesbury and Cheltenham

We covered a fair bit of ground today. Christine and I walked around to her local Swindon Village Church of St Lawrence which was open this morning for a morning tea for the old folk of the village. The organisers thought they had their first customers, but recovered quickly to offer information about the church. The man in charge of the bells (6 peal) offered to show us around the tower but we explained that regretfully, my knees were not up to it. It is a keen group, very committed to their community.
The tower and pa rts of the chancel are Norman but the church was largely rebuilt in 1844-46.the hexagonal tower is one of only two in the country - the other also in Gloucester.
I noticed a few interesting tapestry kneelers
We walked home and set off by car to Tewkesbury. 
The Abbey Church of St Mary the Virgin in Tewkesbury is the second largest parish church in England and a former Benedictine Monastery. There has been a church on the site for 1200 years and the present building is 900 years old.

In spite of having the most medieval monuments outside of Westminster Abbey, it was open, light and uncluttered.

Perhaps part of the lightness comes from having the largest Romaneque dome in Europe.
There were some beautiful and moving monuments, including the simple floor plaque to Edward 
Westminster, Prince of Wales, last of the Lancastrians and son of Henry VI, killed, ages 17, at the Battle of Tewkesbury.
The House of Lancaster lost the battle of Tewkesbury and several survivors sort asylum in the Abbey. Part of the Yorkist Army broke in and slaughtered them, after which the Abbey was closed for a month, cleansed and reconsecrated.

There are a few nice touches - an upholstered tapestry chair
some beautiful stone carvings on the pulpit
a lovely pair of  abstract windows
a couple of industrial-scale heaters 
and a sale of plants in the north aisle! 
We left Tewkesbury for the Cotswolds.By this time I had realised I had come out today without my portable battery pack - and would run out of battery at the rate I usually take photos, so I rationed myself. I wanted to be sure I had sufficient battery for our last planned stop of the day. Even so, to do justice to the Cotswolds, I am going to post a separate blog.

I will however, post here the final stop of the day, for which I saved my battery.
Cheltenham Racecourse was a favourite of the Queen Mother, and patronised by the Queen, who came to Cheltenham by train, using a railway line saved, repaired and maintained by the Gloucester Warwickshire Steam Railway volunteers. During school holidays and race days steam trains operate to the station directly behind the grandstand. 
The grandstands at Cheltenham are still being extended
The racecourse looks vast
The box on the left side of the lower tier was where, before he retired, the company for whom Eddie, my cousin-in-law worked, entertained on race days. 

We covered a lot of ground today in this contained, small, varied and culturally rich region of England.  I am privileged to have had generous and knowledgable local guides. I will post about the Cotswolds separately.


  1. Your dad would have enjoyed the racetrackphotos. I am in awe of all these beautiful churches and their rich histories. Vivienne.

  2. Shades of Dick Francis! Several of his stories are set in Cheltenham race course. I had never even tried to visualise it, so it's good to get the idea.
    Loved your pictures of the cathedral. The vaulting is wonderful.