U.K. 2013  

 Day 15, Tuesday

 September 17, 2013

Tewkesbury and Gloucester


We had to catch a 9:00 train this morning, so we got up at 6:30.  We had a hard time getting ready because this hotel has a fancy, complicated control box for the shower.  We couldn’t seem to adjust it correctly so we were either too hot or too cold.  The breakfast buffet (our first here) was kind of skimpy. There was an assortment of cereal and a few pastries.   Other things could be ordered from the menu.  As we remember from our 2003 trip, the English eat "different" things for breakfast like blood pudding, baked beans and tomatoes to name a few.

The sun was shining for once; we took at taxi to the train station for the train to Tewkesbury.  It was a 35 minute train ride.  When we got off there was no station building or taxies …sort of out in the middle of nowhere except for a few business type building.  There were sign for a bus stop,but no bus-a little scary.   We finally found a taxi which took us to the Tewkesbury Abbey.

One of the reasons we chose to go to Tewkesbury Abbey is that I made a model of it.  The model is a lovely building and we wanted to see it in person. SEE MY MODEL.


Upon entering church,we went to the bookstore to get our tour.  One of ladies had been in D.C. recently.  They were confused because they thought that we were coming at noon for a tour with the Vicar.  I had an email on my phone that said we were having a 10:00 tour.  They said they would get someone to give us a tour but in the meantime go to their tea room and have a cup of coffee.  We hadn’t had coffee this morning.  

Presently, the lady that we had talked to, brought a man over who was a tour guide.  He was a retired head master of a school.   He gave us a wonderful two hour tour.  He was extremely knowledgeable, quite humorous and told wonderful stories. 

Tewkesbury Abby a very good example of Norman architecture.  It was started in 1102 to house Benedictine monks.  Embellishments were made in the first half of the 14th century in the Decorated style.  After the Dissolution of the Abbey by Henry VIII, some of it was destroyed.  It later became a parish church, which it continues to be to this day. 

The tower, completed in the latter half of the 12th century, is the largest and finest Romanesque tower in England.

Note the photo at the right where evidence of a former pitched roof had been. There were a large number of beautiful windows and well as a fantastic ceiling.





The nave, looking east, is dominated by great Norman columns, each more than 30 feet high and over 6 feet in diameter and surmounted by a Romanesque arches. Above  the arches  is a triforium . 





 The great vault of 1340 replaced a flat wooden ceiling.  The 15 bosses of the central rib tell the story of the life of Jesus.  The bosses of the subsidiary ribs on either side feature angels playing medieval musical instruments.

Tewkesbury Abby bears a significant resemblance to its sister Church of St. Peter's, Gloucester in the nave elevation and the ambulatory plan.


Above the high altar at the East end and the Norman choir is a colorful 14th-century stellar vault, painted and gilded, and later decorated with the York issued badges of the sun in splendor.


On the south side of the nave, there are the remains of the 15th century cloister.  The pillars of the choir, originally as tall as those of the nave, were cut down to half their height in the 14th century reconstruction. 


The most recent stained-glass is that found in the Chapel of St. Catherine and St. John the Baptist.  This was created by Tom Denny for the 900th anniversary of the monks first arriving at the Abbey.  The theme of the two windows is the Benedictine motto "to work is to pray."

We certainly are glad that we had chosen to visit this lovely church.  Our thanks goes to Rupert Cordeaux who has produced the model kits for most of the English Cathedrals and a few of the non-Cathedral churches and abbeys.  If I had not purchased and made this lovely model, we would have missed a very inspiring visit to Tewkesbury Abby.

 About noon, the Vicar showed up to greet us.  After a little time with him, we needed to go several blocks away to catch a bus to Gloucester.  He said he would show us the way.  When we came out of the Abbey, it was pouring (what else is new?).  He walked us to the bus stop anyhow. What a kind man.


The bus ride, in the rain, took about 30 minutes to Gloucester. I have a Rupert Cordeaux model of Gloucester Cathedral but I have not made it.  We stopped at the bus station and walked about 10 minutes to the cathedral.  It was drizzling some, windy and very cold.  We were greeted at the door by a lady who had just return to Gloucester from Washington, Baltimore, and Boston. We had 2:30 appointment for a tour so we had over an hour to rest and refuel.  They had a nice tea room, so we had a sandwich, chips and a piece of cake.  We met our guide, Pat, who gave us a extremely interesting tour.   

Gloucester Cathedral

 Following the Norman invasion of England, William the Conqueror appointed Serlo, a monk from Mont St. Michel in Western Normandy, as Abbott of Gloucester in 1072.  Serlo set about planning the building of a new Abbey in the Romanesque style, which was consecrated in 1100.


Gloucester's magnificent tower is 220 feet tall and is visible from miles around.  It was built from 1450 to 1457.


Gloucester is one of the six former abbeys refounded as cathedrals under King Henry VIII.  From 1089 up to the Reformation in 1540, it was a Benedictine monastery dedicated to St. Peter.  





The main entrance to the Cathedral is the south porch, which dates from the early 15th-century.  It underwent restoration around 1870.







The nave dates from the last years of the 11th century and is an outstanding example of Romanesque building.  The vast cylindrical Norman columns, 32 feet high and 6 feet in diameter – very similar to those that we just saw at Tewkesbury – carry an arcade of  narrow arches above which is a relatively low triforium and clerestory.  During the 1420s two of the most westerly bays were rebuilt in perpendicular style.


The window behind the high altar is the second largest window in area of medieval stained glass in any British church.  It measures 72' high and 38' wide.

The floor gold color tile floor in front of the altar is similar to the floor at Tewkesbury




As part of the 900th anniversary celebration of Serlo' s foundation in 1089, the South ambulatory Chapel was refitted with a new altar, seating and a new stained-glass window by Tom Denny portraying the New Testament story of Thomas in the presence of the risen Christ.  This is the same Tom Denny who designed the modern window in Tewkesbury Abby which we saw earlier today. 


Along the north ambulatory is the tomb of King Edward II.  

King Edward was born in 1284 and reigned from 1307 to 1327.  For over 70 years, it was a site of special pilgrimages.






 Gloucester's great cloister is famous for its magnificent fan vaulting above all four of its walks. Begun in the latter half of the 14th century and finished before 1412, it replace the Norman cloister.  The  design incorporated a row of 20 cubicles along the sidewalk; each had a wooden desk, which the monks used for study.  Along the west end of the North walk was the washing place which made use of the local stream. Two of the Harry Potter books were filmed using these cloisters.

Leading off the ambulatory at the East End is the Lady Chapel, the last part of the church to be built in the medieval style.  It has vaulted roof on a series of stone arches filled with stained-glass windows.





We even went down into the crypt, which in contains the earliest Norman work.  There is a central area, which is beneath the choir and a walkway all around it from which five chapels open out.  We had another wonderful tour of the magnificent Cathedral with a very knowledgeable guide.  Thank you, Pat.  



We left about 5:00 pm and walked to the train station which was about a block from the bus station. It took about 40 minutes to get back to Worchester.  Again a taxi ride back to our hotel.  We were tired and cold so we decided to eat there again.  We split a dinner.  Kathleen had soup for a starter.  I just had Jack Daniel.  We shared a small stuffed pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon and a potato cake.  Both were delicious.




Day 1 -Arrival in Edinburgh

Day 2 - Edinburgh

Day 3- Edinburgh to Inchcolm Abbey

Day 4 - Edinburgh to Melrose & Rosslyn

DAY 5 - Edinburgh   

DAY 6 - Edinburgh

DAY 7 - York  

DAY 8 - Durham

DAY 9 -York 

DAY 10 - Lincoln

DAY 11 -Ely  

DAY 12 - Peterborough

DAY 13 - Cambridge 

DAY 14 - Ely to Worchester  

DAY 15 - Tewkesbury and Gloucester

DAY 16 - Hereford         

DAY l7 - London   

DAY 18 - London  

DAY 19 - London   

DAY 20 - London to Guildford, Chichester, Midhurst

DAY 21 - London      OUR LAST DAY