The long awaited last night fish and chips on the beach in Aldeburgh were delicious. The always popular fish and chip shops meant a 15 minute queue but worth the wait and we managed to find a seagull-less sheltered spot on the beach to tuck in. Simon and Mary, our hosts, had arrived back from their fishing, golfing and general whooping it up in the Highlands and Borders and the next day it was time for us to say au revoir and head off on a road trip of our own. First stop Stansted Airport.
We took this photo as a bit of a joke to send to family and make them wonder what we were up to. The truth is that car hire is invariably cheaper from an airport so after picking up our snazzy little Citroen C3 we hit the road.
Worcestershire, Shropshire and Herefordshire are counties we had either never visited or only passed through so this was an area we wanted to explore. ‘Should we or shouldn’t we‘ is always not far from our thoughts but having deployed the JWIRA (JWalking In Risk Assessment) we headed north west for our first stop, Worcester. An almost daily swim in the sea at Aldeburgh, a sun lotion requirement on a couple of days and a no jumpers required approach, the sudden change in the weather to wind and rain lashing the windscreen was a bit of a shock. Arrival was to dark gloomy skies.
The next morning things were looking brighter so after stashing our back packs in the car (quite a novelty for us!), we downloaded a town walk and headed off the see some of what Worcester had to offer.
Famous for (but not in any particular order): Worcester Porcelain, Worcestershire Sauce (Lea & Perrins), the huge Cathedral, the final battle of the English Civil War in 1651 and flooding from the River Severn.
House-to-House Tour of Worcester
We started by walking over the Newnham Bridge where we had a good view of the town. There are so many historic buildings in such a small space that photos with a short description are the way to go with this.
The Rectifying House – so called because it is the process of purifying alcohol by distilling it to remove water and other bits and bobs which took place here during the 18th century. This used to take place at the back of this building but when the river flooded everything had to be moved up to the first floor and the barges would even sail up to the balcony to load/unload. Some flood! We found flood levels over the years engraved into the wall on the river embankment just to prove the point.
Berkeley Hospital, Chapel & Almshouses – date from the late 1600s and give a calm twist to the busy modern street.
Battle of Worcester 1651– King Charles II and 16,000 Royalists were totally outnumbered by Oliver Cromwell’s 28,000 strong New Model Army. The King hid in this house before putting on a disguise and escaping from the town. He hung on for another two years as King before Oliver Cromwell ruled the British Isles as the Lord Protector until his death. By 1660 King Charles II had regained the throne.
Market Buildings – We came across this pristine market building but no customers to be seen.
The Tudor House Museum – This beautiful building was originally three separate houses built around 1520. Over the years theses buildings have been homes and workshops for weavers, carpenters, bakers, Air Raid Wardens’ Post, and even a brewery. More recently it has been a tea room, hairdressers and chip shop. Now a museum, this will hopefully secure it’s restoration and future.
Worcester Cathedral – This Anglican Cathedral was built and added to between 1084 and 1504. Volunteer Guides gave us loads of information on this huge building with an unusual Chapter House, eerie crypt and beautifully designed and furnished coffee shop. The stained glass memorials to fallen soldiers made me feel that their memory would not fade, unlike the letters on a headstone. The tombs of one King of England and one heir to the throne lay within the Cathedral (more on that to come).
And so much more ……. Every corner you turn there is a plaque commemorating something historic. We took so many photos and this was only day one of our trip.
Among the many many plaques to long gone heroes and people of note there are just a few that I should mention.
Edward Elgar – or Sir Edward William Elgar, the English composer, was born in Worcester in 1857 and lived here later in his life. His music features in British and international classical concert performances.
King John – King of England from 1199 to until his death from dysentery in 1216. His biggest claim to fame was the signing of the Magna Carta which established that everyone is subject to law, even the King. Although historians claim he was petty, spiteful and cruel, maybe in those days they were the traits needed to keep your throne (head?). His death was so sudden that he had to quickly draw up a will which was only 300 words long and it named 13 trusted men to carry out his wishes. The throne went to his eldest son Henry III who was nine years old at the time. His tomb takes centre stage in the Cathedral.
Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales – He was heir to Henry VII but died at 15 years old at Ludlow Castle whilst on honeymoon with Catherine of Aragon. This meant Henry VIII came to the throne and he married Catherine who swore that her marriage to Arthur had not been consummated. The rest is well known history….. Arthur’s tomb is in the Chantry Chapel of the Cathedral although his heart is said to be buried at Ludlow Castle.
Hannah Snell – This sign intrigued me and with so much male history I thought we needed to redress the balance.
Hannah Snell was the first female British soldier, although she did have to disguise herself as a man. She was born in Worcester but moved to London, married a Dutch seaman and had a daughter.
A year later in 1745 the child died so she borrowed a man’s suit and signed up in the hope of tracking down her husband who had abandoned her when she was pregnant. She discovered later that he had been executed for murder. She served overseas and only revealed her secret after 5 years. She later married, had children and lived to the age of 69. What a gal!!
It was a damp start to the day but a little rain isn’t going to put us off it just increases social distancing because everyone else stayed home.
23/09 – 24/09/2020