Tewkesbury by Water and Land – by Debs and Trish
Despite encouraging weather forecasts at the start of the week, when we met just before 2.00 pm umbrellas were already raised, not quite the water element we wanted, however spirits were not unduly dampened.
Twelve lucky departed on very comfortable and aptly named ‘Aqua Patio’ boat – relaxing on what felt like floating sofas – for a 45-minute river trip. Andy, our captain supplied relaxed and interesting commentary on the town and wildlife as we glided along the River Avon – ‘Shapespeare’s Avon’, to be specific. Did you know that there are 9 different River Avons in the UK? A result of the fact that the word ‘Avon’ is related to the Welsh word Afon, both being derived from an old Brittonic word simply meaning ‘river’. Along the way Andy pointed out Tewkesbury Marina, the Sailing Club, and commented on the visible evidence of how high the water level has risen during floods. Some buildings are even on stilts! We also enjoyed a bit of wildlife spotting, seeing 2 herons in flight and families of geese and swans.
The four who did not go on the boat set off to explore the High Street shops, two of whom were soon distracted by the lure of tea and very good chocolate brownies in Melanie’s Coffee Shop – lovely to see that Melanie is still captain of that enterprise.
At 3.00pm the ‘Land’ element of the afternoon started with meeting Steve (from Tewkesbury Museum) outside the Roses Theatre and for a guided walk through the town. He provided a fascinating commentary on the development of industry in past centuries that made the town an important hub of exports – sadly all long gone and the dock area looking in need of new use and purpose. There was also information about the way the town layout, characterized by many Alleys and Courts, developed over centuries; today, behind more modern frontages a surprising number of medieval buildings survive.
We arrived at Tewkesbury Abbey in time for a quick look inside the impressive parish church, originally consecrated as a Benedictine Abbey in 1121 – if you visit look at the Consecration Crosses carved into the stonework on the left of the entrance door – before settling down in the All Souls Tea Room for our now traditional cream tea.
For those with the stamina it is worth taking a trip (be warned, over 200 steps) up the Abbey Tower on the rare occasions that it is opened to the public; the view from the top shows a rare medieval survival in the townscape below.
Postscript For music lovers:
This year’s Abbey festival of music – Musica Deo Sacra – will be held at the beginning of August (1st-7th). For more information contact the Abbey Office On 01684 850959 or see https://www.tewkesburyabbey.org.uk/mds2020/