Warwick Town and Castle:
Tip 1 Main Attractions: East Gate, The Warwickshire Yeomanry Museum, St. Mary Church, Lord Leycester Hospital.
Tip 2: Warwick castle.
Start & End: Stratford-upon-Avon Railway Station. Transportation : Two train lines connect Stratford-upon-Avon with the rest of UK: the North Warwickshire Line from Birmingham to SuA operated by London Midland and the Leamington-Stratford-London Line, which allows direct services to London operated by Chiltern Railways. A new Stratford Parkway railway station north of the town, next to the A46 road was opened on 19 May 2013. It is intended to ease congestion, as passengers from outside Stratford will no longer need to drive into the town to catch a train. Rail services between Birmingham and Stratford have been increased from hourly to half-hourly in conjunction with the opening of the new parkway station. 1 train every hour and a half, or every hour to Leamington Spa via Warwick, operated by Chiltern Railways (06.26, 07.33, 09.00, 10.37, 11.03, 12.40), Sundays: same hours with additional times: 09.26, 11.26). Lengthy services run daily to London Marylebone or Euston on weekdays (06.26, 07.33, 07.43, 09.00, 09.26, 10.37, 11.03, 11.26, 12.40, 13.03) and Sundays: 09.38, 10.29, 11.29, 12.19, 12.29) . There are two trains per hour from Coventry. One takes 37-45 minutes (HH.25) (change at Leamington Spa) and a longer one two minutes later (HH,27) wwhich takes 75 minutes (via Birmingham stations).
Duration: One day. Distance: 5 km.
Weather: Warwick Castle grounds deserve a bright, smiling day. There is so much to explore and see there !
Orientation: You like grandiose, legendary castles or palaces ? DO NOT MISS Warwick, 13 km. north-east of Stratford-upon-Avon. A short train ride from Stratford-upon-Avon (or, even, from Birmingham). Warwick, itself, is ancient and beautiful.
We start walking from the Warwick Railway station. We head SOUTH on Coventry Rd toward Station Rd, 160 m. We turn right onto St Johns to continue following Smith Street. Smith Street is the oldest shopping street in Warwick and boasts a unique mix of independent shops and restaurants. The buildings are lovely and there re lots of vintage, craft and gift shops. Do not miss the 1 and 3 Smith Street, Warwick and the East Gate, an access point to the town through the former town wall.
We continue south-west along Smith Street. It changes its name to Jury Street. Here, you'll see another styled Timber-framed house:
In the junction of Jury Street and Church Street - we have two attractions. The Warwickshire Yeomanry Museum is open ONLY 10.00 - 16.00 - Saturdays and Sundays. FREE. It is, actually, located in the basement of Warwick Tourist Information Office. A small, interesting museum. Nice memories of the fading British Empire. Great collections for the elders of us. A good chance that you'll find this museum closed if you arrive before 10.00:
Turn up to the impressive St. Mary Church or Chapel, in the same junction, created by Roger de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Warwick, in 1123. St Mary’s is open for visitors every day: April to end of September: from 10.00 - 18.00 , Sundays 12.30 - 16.30, October to end of March: from 10.00 to 16.30, Sundays 12.30 - 16.30. Free. The charge for the tower is £3 per adult, students over 16 £2.50, students under 16 £1.50 and family ticket £6 (2 adults and up to 4 children). Children less than 8 yrs are not permitted entering the tower. A stunning church with lots of historical details and facts. Allow one hour ! It is an outstanding perpendicular Gothic style church. The church, with much of Warwick, was devastated by the Great Fire of Warwick in 1693. The nave and tower of the building were completely destroyed. It was rebuilt In 1704, in a Gothic design by William Wilson. Christopher Wren is also said to have contributed to the design, but that is disputed. The impressive tower rises to the height of 40 metres (165 stairs to climb) . St Mary’s Tower offers spectacular views from the top:
It contains the effigial monuments of Richard de Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick, Ambrose Dudley, 3rd Earl of Warwick, and Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester.
Buried in the chancel of the church is William Parr, 1st Marquess of Northampton, the brother of Queen consort Catherine Parr.
The Crown Court - a stunning court in front of St. Mary Church:
The early Norman church was rebuilt in the 14th century by Thomas Beauchamp, father and son, the first Beauchamp Earls of Warwick. The first Thomas Beauchamp financed his building of the chancel with money obtained from the ransom of a French archbishop. The chancel, vestries, and chapter house were rebuilt in delightful Gothic style, making of St Mary one of the most attractive town churches of its day. The alabaster memorial to Thomas, who died of the plague during the siege of Calais, and his wife Katherine lies in the chancel. But the work of Thomas Beauchamp the 1st was outdone by his descendant, Richard de Beauchamp (d.1439), who provided funds in his will for the creation of a chantry chapel in St Mary's. This, Beauchamp Chapel, is one of the great Gothic architectural achievements in England: a masterpiece of Gothic style which took over 20 years to complete. The chapel, which is dedicated to Our Lady, is composed of three bays, at the centre of which is the tomb of Richard Beauchamp, raised on a pedestal and surrounded by an iron fence.
The effigy of Earl Richard is set upon a chest of Purbeck marble, with a canopy above, and weeping figures below. Richard Beauchamp was the 13th Earl of Warwick, a friend of King Henry V and guardian of King Henry VI:
Robert Dudley and his second wife, Lettice Knollys, are buried on the left of Beauchamp Chapel:
and his brother, Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick, 1528 - 1590, is buried in the foreground on the right:.
Steps by Robert Dudley's tomb lead up into the delightful small C15th Dean’s Chapel with its fan vaulted ceiling:
Warwick Yeomanry Chapel - Great East stained glass window with fine medieval jewelled glass. The east window contains fragments of Medieval glass rescued after destruction of the stained glass windows during the Reformation:
Wall painting: Last Judgement from year 1678. Figures on the right are heading for salvation. Those on the left to hell:
We exit the St. Mary Church and head back down southward along Church Street - until it meets Jury Street. We turn right to High Street (continuation of Jury Street) and walk 160 m. (we pass Swan Street and Brook Street on our right) until we see the Lord Leycester Hospital, immediately beyond the junction with Brook Street). This is not a museum, but a living institution, It is a retirement home for aged or disabled soldier and sex-servicemen (and their wives) (known as 'Brethrens' - similar to the Chelsea pensioners) and located next to the West Gate, on High Street. The building would forever be associated with Queen Elizabeth's favorite, Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester. He converted it in 1571, founding therein a hospital for aged or injured soldiers and their wives, under royal charter from the Queen. Open: Summer (from 1 APR): 10.00 – 17.00 pm, Winter 10.00 – 16.00. Prices (NO Credit Cards !): Adults – £8.50, Children – £5 (ages 5-18; under 5 free), Concessions – £6.50 (students, over 60), Family Ticket £20 (2 adults, up to 3 children). Allow, at least, ONE hour:
Lord Leycester's Hospital consists of a group of outstanding half timbered buildings. The hospital survived the Warwick Fire of 1690's. Can you imagine that the hospital kitchen (nowadays, a cafe' - Brethrens' Kitchen) has continuously provided and served food since early 1500's ? (delicious portions !!). The Great Hall is also over 500 years old and is still in constant use for public venues and private weddings. Visiting the old hospital is a striking experience. You won't believe how this crooked old structure is still standing but it is nevertheless a historical marvel. You are transported, like in a time machine, to an earlier time, the staff brothers are very friendly, the architecture is amazing, the gardens are very pretty and relaxing.
Lord Leycester Hospital Courtyard. You can climb up the stairs in the court yard to get a good view of warwick:
You can also see the Great Hall
and the Guild Hall with its armoury display:
Note: The Museum of the Queen's Hussars is currently closed and in process of moving to a new location just up the road.
The garden, which is tucked away behind the building, should not be missed. The Master's Garden is a green oasis of calm. It is in its best during the Spring or Summer:
The 12th century Norman arch and massive urn which once stood on the banks of the Nile:
Trace back north-east along High Street and turn RIGHT (in the 2nd turn) to Castle Street. On our left the Yeomanry Museum, Information Tourist Office (with WC). The Castle Strret will bring us to Warwick Castle. turn to Tip 2 in this blog (below).
Stratford-upon-Avon Canal:from Stratford to Wilmcote section.
Duration: 1 day. Weather: only bright days. Distance: every direction - 4.5 - 5 km. Start & End: Stratford Tourist Information Office - near Bridge Street. Transportation: frequent trains from Wilmcote to SuA. (11.55, 12.15, 13.15, 13.59, 14.15, 15.15, 15.59, 16.15, 17.16, 18.16, 18.37, 18.44 etc'). Price: £1.80.
The Stratford-upon-Avon Canal runs for just 40 km. from the Birmingham suburbs to the River Avon in Stratford on Avon.
Order of locks (from north to south) - so use it bottom up:
40-50 Wilmcote Locks (11)
62a A46 Chaly Beate Bridge
51 Bishopton Lock
64a Railway bridges
52 One Elm Lock
65 A3400 Birmingham Road bridge
53 Maidenhead Road Lock
55 Warwick Road Lock
68 A439 Warwick Road bridge
69 A422 Bridge Foot bridge
We walk (up) along a short section which climbs gently across quiet rolling countryside and water meadows from SuA to the village of Wilmcote. The towpath from the centre of Stratford to Wilmcote is excellent, wide and for the most part with a good surface. After Wilmcote it becomes more difficult with large sections of mud.
From the Tourist Information Office, walk a few steps northward. On your right - there are stairs descending to the canal towpath. Folow the path NORTHWARD. Just after joining the towpath there are splendid clusters of houses and private boats, on your left, on the opposite bank.
If you stay with the towpath there is no need for any form of navigation for the next four kilometres as the canal takes you northwards and slightly uphill. There are apparently 22 lock gates between Stratford and Wilmcote, a rise of about 40 metres, this is hard work if you are in a canal barge and will take all day, but for the walker it will take between 1.5 and two hours. The return journey is easy, either retrace your steps back down the canal towpath or catch a train or bus back to Stratford:
Most of the time the route up to Wilmcote is in quite beautiful countryside:
There are boat people to chat:
There are some really beautiful little cast-iron and brick bridges that are a charming feature of this canal, built in two halves and separated with a 1inch gap to allow the towing line between horse and boat to be dropped through, without need to unhitch the horse.
You know when you are arriving in Wilmcote when passing a house which looks a bit like a castle on the left hand bank:
Turn left down to the centre of the village, about 250 metres. As you walk down Featherbed Bridge 59. On Featherbed lane, on your right, is the Mary Arden House farm complex. Mary Arden was born in Wilmcote around 1540. A farmer's daughter, she married John Shakespeare, moved to Stratford-upon-Avon, and gave birth to William Shakespeare, who is recognised as the greatest English playwright ever.
Wilmcote is where Mary Arden’s house (she was William Shakespeare’s mother as stated above) is located and a must trip out for tourists staying at Stratford. Mary Arden was the youngest of eight daughters of a well to do farmer Robert Arden, she married the son of one of her father’s tenant farmers, John Shakespeare. Their first child to survive was named William and although we know they had a total of eight children most died young. The Stratford canal at bridge 60 is just 50 meters from the Wilmcote station. For many people the Mary Arden's farm is the best experience of all the Shakespeare houses. There are actually two farms: Palmer’s Farm was for over 200 years, thought to be the house where Mary Arden was born, until in 2000 new evidence was discovered that the Arden’s lived next door in what was formerly known as Glebe Farm. If the museum is open it is well worth a visit. It is open daily except Sundays in wintertime. There is also a museum of agricultural implements and local rural bygones. In Wilmcote there is a choice of two pubs, The Mason’s Arms and The Mary Arden Inn, also in summer when Mary Arden’s House is open they have a cafe. Buy your ticket to the farm in the Tourist Information near Bridge Street in Stratford upon Avon. It is cheaper there. The farm itself isn't huge but there is plenty to do and see, plenty for children and adults alike. NOT suitable for anyone in a wheelchair. The tickets you get allow you to visit the attractions for 12 months. Allow 1-2 hours. Bring food. The restaurant here is a bit expensive with limited, but delicious, selection. Online prices: Adult: £11.92, Child: £7.65 (3-17 in full time education. Under 3s go free), Family: £31.50, Senior: £11.02 (over 60s), Student: £11.02 (in full time education),
Concession: £11.02 (visitors with disabilities). Add 10% for on-the-spot fees. Not cheap.
There are staff members in costume and in character who are working at the farm, and you can wander around watching them and talking to them as they work.No Elizabethean community was without its blacksmith:
Mosaics made by local children:
Farm's Main Courtyard:
Mary Arden House and Zodiac Garden from the 1500s:
Kitchens from the 1600s:
Timber framing in the 16th century:
Tudor Dinner - preparing meal for the farm's workers. The meal is based on vegetables, fruits, herbs and ... flowers. Must be as much colorful as possible. You encounter the smells, the protocol at the board table and the type of food they would of been having during the time period. This is a multi sensory experience:
Falconry displays. Every one is dressed in Tudor costumes:
I found the Wilmcote village quite pleasant. I took the road pointing to Billesley and surrounded the prosperous village consisting, mainly, of holiday accommodation houses and glorious gardens:
Tip 1: (see Tip 2 below for Shakespeare Childhood House and Henley Road).
Main Attractions: Bancroft Gardens, Tramway Footbridge, Stratford Butterfly Farm, Clopton Bridge, Sheep Street, Chapel Street, The Guild Chapel, King Edward VI School, Hall's Croft, Holy Trinity Church, The Swan Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company Tower, Bancroft Gardens.
Start & End: Bancroft Gardens. Duration: 1 day. Distance: 7 km. Weather: ONLY bright days. Lodging: Morris Ohata, Moonraker House Guest House, 40 Alcester Road, T: 01789-268774, 500 m. from the mainline station (but, opposite direction from the city centre): convenient room, superb meals, fantastic dining room. Transportation: You can travel directly to Stratford-upon-Avon train station from Birmingham (Snow Hill or Moor Street stations). Last train back to Birmingham, Monday - Friday at 23.30. Trains from London travel from Marylebone station via Banbury, Leamington Spa and Warwick. The last train back to London, Monday – Friday, is at 23.15.
Introduction: Stratford-upon-Avon lies, formally, in Warwickshire. It rests, magnificently, on the River Avon, 163 km north west of London, 35 km south east of Birmingham, and 13 km south west of Warwick. The estimated population is approx. 29,000 BUT visited every year by millions of visitors. I know, Stratford had been criticized as a 'big tourist trap' and as a 'dump town'. The town is a popular tourist destination owing to its status as birthplace of English playwright and poet William Shakespeare, and receives approximately 2.5 million visitors a year. The Royal Shakespeare Company resides in Stratford's Royal Shakespeare Theatre. BUT, I found this city, during my 3-4 sunny days of visit - charming, colorful, fluent with attractions and routes for walking. So, my conclusion is that with bright days - DO NOT MISS this lovely town - mainly, due to its water-ways, bridges and natural surroundings. The historical aspects are the minor point in this story. Note: Stratford is densely packed in weekends and, ESPECIALLY, during local, annual festivals. You can't find a table in its restaurants during these massive events or times. Another danger (and influx is the water: Stratford's location next to the River Avon means it is susceptible to flooding, including flash floods...
Stratford was originally inhabited by Anglo-Saxons. In 1196 Stratford was granted a charter from King Richard I to hold a weekly market in the town, giving it its status as a market town. As a result, Stratford experienced an increase in trade and commerce as well as urban expansion. During Stratford's early expansion into a town, the only access across the River Avon into and out of the town was over a wooden bridge. In 1480, a new masonry arch bridge was built to replace it called Clopton Bridge, named after Hugh Clopton who paid for its construction. The new bridge made it easier for people to trade within Stratford and for passing travellers to stay in the town. The Cotswolds, located close to Stratford, was a major sheep producing area up until the latter part of the 19th century, with Stratford one of its main centres for the processing, marketing, and distribution of sheep and wool. Stratford is a major English tourist town due to it being the birthplace of William Shakespeare, whom many consider the greatest playwright of all time. In 1769, the actor David Garrick staged a major Shakespeare Jubilee over three days which saw the construction of a large rotunda and the influx of many visitors. This started the process of making Stratford a tourist destination.
Orientation: I spent 3-4 lovely days in Stratford. Two days will suffice. The first for the town itself. The second for the Avon river walk and historical sites around Stratford. Many of the town's earliest and most important buildings are located along what is known as Stratford's Historic Spine, which was once the main route from the town centre to the parish church. The route of the Historic Spine begins at Shakespeare's Birthplace in Henley Street. It continues through Henley Street to the top end of Bridge Street and into High Street where many Elizabethan buildings are located, including Harvard House. The route carries on through Chapel Street where Nash's House and New Place are sited. The Historic Spine continues along Church Street where Guild buildings are located dating back to the 15th century, as well as 18th and 19th century properties. The route then finishes in Old Town, which includes Hall's Croft and the Holy Trinity Church.
Itinerary of 1st day in Stratford-upon-Avon City Centre: We start at the Bancroft Gardens which are situated on the River Avon adjacent to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. This is one of the most visited places in Stratford. The gardens are right in the heart of the town. It is a great place to people watch. There many many attraction spread along these extensive gardens (Avon river, 2 canal basins, 2 bridges, Gower Memorial (Shakespeare with Hamlet, Lady Macbeth, Falstaff and Prince Hal) , many statues, fantastic fountain, flower beds. But, we stay here, just to get a glance and initial impression - before heading, from the gardens, to the Butterfly Farm. It is a very pleasant place with a lot of space, very busy during weekends and holidays. It the perfect place to get views of the town, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) Theatre and the Avon river.
The RSC from the Gardens:
You can get a boat trip from here, along the Avon to the south and back, which is very enjoyable too. The canal basin is in the focal point of the gardens. You can take a stroll along the riversides. Many tourists from all over the world visit or sample these gardens.
The Bancroft Gardens space was originally an area of land where the townspeople grazed their animals, and the Canal Basin formed the terminus of the Stratford to Birmingham canal, completed in 1816. The Gardens also occupy the site of former canal wharves, warehouses, and a second canal basin, which was built in 1826 and refilled in 1902
We cross the Avon over the Tramway Pedestrian Footbridge, a nice walkway parallel to the Clopton motor bridge You can walk along this footbridge (packed very frequently) and gaze at the swans and mallards down in the river. It gets you from one side of the river to the other and to the Butterfly Farm. Tramway Bridge, which was built in 1823, got its name from being part of a 28 km. long horse-drawn tramway which ran between Moreton-in-Marsh (with a branch to Shipston-on-Stour) and the canal basin at Stratford-upon-Avon:
We head to the Stratford Butterfly Farm. When we complete crossing the footbridge - we turn right (south-west) (turning left is to the Charlecote Park) we connect with Swans Nest and continue along this path until we see the farm's entrance on our left. In the end of the footbridge there are clear signs that will take you from the foot bridge to our farm's entrance.
Opening hours: Winter: 10.00 - 17.00, Summer: 10.00 - 18.00. Prices: Adults £7.25, Seniors and Students £6.75, Children 3-16 Years (under 3's free) £6.25, Family (2 adults & 2 children) £22.50. Disabled accessible. Toilets available. A MAGICAL SITE. Wonderful place to see butterflies in many colours and varieties and the way they develop in their natural eco-system. Allow, at least,1.5-2 hours. Stratford Butterfly Farm was opened in 1985. The key area in the farm is the tropical rain forest with approximately 1500 free-flying, spectacular and colourful butterflies flying all around. The tropical greenhouse is the largest tropical butterfly display in the UK. The following paragraph is quoted from the farm's web site:"Some of the butterflies breed within the Butterfly Farm, the rest are imported from the tropics. All of the places we buy butterflies from are either Conservation projects or Village projects. Butterfly breeding is the main source of income for most of the villagers. These breeding operations have been set up to enable communities to earn a living without causing any damage to the environment and wildlife around them. Not only this good from a conservation point of view, it also allows families all over the tropics to earn a sustainable income and helps to preserve the rain forest whilst educating our visitors".
Other zones in the farm are devoted to: insects (in glass containers), spiders, reptiles including snakes and iguanas, caterpillars and wildflowers garden:
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: it is very hot and humid inside the butterflies' zone of the farm. Prepare a T-shirt for the tropical, rain forest zone. After spending, at least, one our in this area (probably, taking tens/hundreds of photos) - you'll be dripping with sweat, but, fell very happy... The paths, inside, are incredibly narrow so they become, easily, crowded.
From July 2016 had been installed in the farm of around 30 replica Maya & Mesoamerican sculptures which originate from the ancient rain forest civilization in Belize, Central America. Many of the beautiful butterflies on display at the Butterfly Farm are supplied by Fallen Stones, butterflies Farm in Southern Belize, particularly the stunning Blue Morpho:
We return to Bancroft Gardens to explore, more thoroughly, its treasures and to take part with its mass events and festivals. We return back along the Avon Footbridge - heavily packed with locals and tourists, and, down in the river with rowers. Enjoy sunny days in the wide grass lawns and gardens with the backdrop of the river. Features include a human sundial celebrating the Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service, a new performance area and two fully accessible bridges over the canal basin and the lock:
During our stay the River Festival took place in the Recreation Ground. On the other side of the river to the Bancroft Gardens and the theatres is the Recreation Ground (or ‘The Rec’). Occupying a large area running right the way along the river from Tramway Bridge (a pedestrian-only bridge adjacent to Clopton Bridge) to beyond Holy Trinity Church, this is one of the best areas for picnics with plenty of space to play and run around. There’s a large playground here, too. The above Tramway Foot Bridge connects the Recreation Ground with the Bancroft Gardens:
The adjacent motor Clopton Bridge is very busy and not recommended for walkers. Built at the end of the 15th century (from year 1490 !), this wooden bridge over the River Avon was an important section of the road to London during medieval times. it is the only bridge to bring two major roads into and out of the town centre (to/from Banbury, Shipston and Tiddington). Sir Hugh Clopton was a rich merchant and Lord Mayor who paid for the construction of a stone bridge over the Avon:
Take half an hour to explore the various attraction around the Bancroft Gardens. The Country Artists Fountain was made for the 800th anniversary celebration of the granting of the Charter for Market Rights by King Richard I (the Lionheart) in 1196. The fountain was sculpted by Christine Lee and is made of stainless steel and brass. It was unveiled by the Queen in 1996:
In case you are hungry - take the WEST end of Bancroft Gardens and head straight westward to Sheep Street. With The Town Hall at the top of Sheep Street, this road takes you up from the Waterside (east) to the Town Hall (in the west end) past an array of independent shops and restaurants. There is a wide variety of shops in this street including gifts, fashion and footwear. You will see several pretty timbered houses along Sheep Street - more in the western end near the Town Hall:
The junction of Sheep Street (or, better its continuation Ely Street) x High Street and Chapel Street is a good spot to start exploring several timbered houses close around. With your face to the Town Hall (coming from Sheep Street) - turn LEFT (south-west) to Chapel Street to see on your left the Mercure Shakespeare Hotel: another stylized timbered house:
Nash's House, Chapel Street is next door to the Mercure Hotel. It was built on the ruins and gardens of William Shakespeare's final residence - New Place. It has been converted into a museum.
The house was built around 1600 and belonged to Thomas Nash. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust acquired New Place and Nash's House in 1876. The museum traces the history of Stratford-upon-Avon from the earliest settlers in the Avon Valley to Shakespeare's time. NOT recommended for paying a special fee for this museum:
Opposite Nash House, still in Chapel Street is the Falcon Hotel / The Oak Bar:
Walk further south-west along Chapel Street until it meets Church Street and Chapel Lane. In the end of Chapel street stands the The Guild Chapel dating from 1269 and a fascinating part of the history of Stratford-upon-Avon. It is one of Stratford-upon-Avon’s best-known and most important historic buildings. The Chapel houses some of the finest medieval wall paintings in Europe (note: hardly visible), covered up on orders given to Shakespeare’s father in the 16th century following the Reformation, when he was the then Chamberlain of the Corporation of Stratford. They were discovered hundreds of years later and are recognized as some of the very finest surviving. These extraordinary wall paintings, had to be painted over during the time of reformation apparently and were discovered during the chapel's restoration process. The Guild Chapel is open daily between 10.30-16.30. It is free:
The modern stained glass east window features notable Stratford characters including John Shakespeare and Sir Hugh Clopton:
In 17 Church Street you see the Old Grammer School or King Edward VI School an elongated timbered house. It is almost certain that William Shakespeare attended this school, leading to the school describing itself as "Shakespeare's School":
We walk further south along Church Street and turn LEFT (South-east) to Old Town road. On our left is the Hall's Croft - the beautifully furnished Jacobean home of Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna and her husband, Dr John Hall. It is really a beautiful Tudor mansion, with stunning gardens. The interiors are less outstanding: it shows a variety of medical instruments and examples of furniture. But, the garden, outside is beautifully laid out but non-manicured. The cafe in Hall's Croft, is superb. I would recommend the Hall's Croft ONLY if you have the collective Shakespeare's houses pass:
Old Town road ends, in the east, in Holy Trinity Church grounds. Amateur theatre groups stage Shakespeare's plays' performances most afternoons in a park that is adjacent to the church:
Holy Trinity Church grounds - view of the Avon river:
The Holy Trinity Church is often known also as Shakespeare's Church. William Shakespeare is buried and was baptised in Holy Trinity church, and visitors can view not only his grave, but the parish registers that recorded his birth and his death. It is one of England's most visited churches. More than 200,000 tourists visit the church each year. Summer opening hours (April - September): MON-SAT: 8.30 – 18.00, SUN: 12.30 – 17.00. Winter opening hours (November - February): MON-SAT: 9.00 – 16.00, SUN: 12.30 – 17.00. The building is built on the site of a Saxon monastery. It is Stratford's oldest building, and is situated superbly on the banks of the River Avon. In the fourteenth century, John de Stratford founded a chantry, which was rebuilt between 1465 and 1491 by Dean Thomas Balshall, Dean of the Church, who is also buried at the Church. The building is believed to have originally had a wooden spire, which was replaced by William Hiorne in 1763. The Holy Trinity Church and its grounds are brilliant place on its own:
DO NOT MISS taking a pleasant stroll along a tarmac path around the church with fascinating views of the Avon River and its by-side park. If you take a walk to the back of the Church there are some lovely views:
William Shakespeare was baptised in Holy Trinity on 26 April 1564 and was buried there on 25 April 1616. Shakespear's tomb is located at the rear of the church. The church still possesses the original Elizabethan register giving details of his baptism and burial, though it is kept by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust for safekeeping. He is buried in the beautiful 15th-century chancel built by Thomas Balsall. To see the Shakespeare's tomb - you must pay a special fee of £3. it says donation but the narrow entrance is deliberately manned and you feel obliged to pay. Shakespeare funeral and burial being held at Holy Trinity on 25 April 1616. His wife Anne Hathaway is buried next to him along with his eldest daughter Susanna. Good information boards about Shakespeare's birth, baptism, marriage and funeral, and they also explain the significance of these events within Christianity:
Holy Trinity's stained-glass windows. Several large stained glass windows featuring major English and Biblical saints are at the church's east and west ends:
Holy Trinity's east window from the exterior, depicting St Andrew:
Holy Trinity Church Interiors:
Holy Trinity contains many interesting features, including a special ornate chapel is named after Sir High Clopton (1440-1496), a native of Stratford who rose to become Lord Mayor of London (1491-2). Clopton never forgot his roots, and provided funds to pay for Clopton Bridge, which still bears traffic over the Avon in the centre of Stratford. He also built New Place, which later became William Shakespeare's retirement home (see above). Clopton had an ornate tomb built for himself in the Lady Chapel of Holy Trinity, but he was actually buried in London. This did not stop his descendants from claiming the Lady Chapel as their own chantry chapel, and it has since been referred to as The Clopton Chapel:
Here you will find one of the most ornate and expansive (and no doubt expensive) memorials in any parish church in Britain. This is the memorial to Sir John Carew (d.1628), and his wife, Joan Clopton:
Another interesting feature in the Holy Trinity Church are the 26 misericords in the choir stalls. These misericords, or 'mercy seats' are fancifully decorated with carvings of mermaids and mermen, unicorns, and scenes of daily life:
Note, also, the 14th century sanctuary knocker in the church's porch (built c. 1500):
Note also the pre-reformation stone altar slab that was found hidden beneath the floor in Victorian times and has now been re-instated as the High Altar:
We leave the Holy Trinity Church grounds from their north-east edge.First, we notice this moving wall painting into the Avon Park around the church:
We find a path that leads to the western bank of the Avon river and continues northward along the river bank, boats basin and the riverside Avon Park. The park ends in its north edge in the Ferry - where you can hire boat or pay for guided boat. These small chain link ferries complete a short circular walk taking in the canal basin and theatre or just cross the ruver from side to side. It cost 50p which is super value: always lots to see on both sides of the river so the ferry saves your legs. Otherwise it is a long walk round... 50p for a short ride and £6 for 45 minutes boat ride. The only remaining chain ferry in the U.K ! :
This green area you pass on your way to the city centre and Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is comprised of, actually, TWO gardens from south to north: Avonbank and RSC gardens, two connected gardens that run between the northern bank of the river and Southern Lane. The Avonbank Garden, also owned by the RSC, is quieter still, except on days when open-air productions are performed. Sitting between the RSC Garden and the Holy Trinity Church, it is leafier than any of the other open spaces. The ‘pilgrimage’ footpath from Shakespeare’s Church to the theatres also runs through these two gardens. Nearer to the town centre, the RSC Garden looks over the Swan Theatre and is where the RSC puts on occasional events. Despite its proximity to the Bancroft Gardens – only the theatre stands between the two – it is considerably quieter and holds a different atmosphere.
We walk from south to north along the Avon river or along the Southern Lane approx. 800 m. until we see, on our left (west) the Swan Theatre and the RSC - the Royal Shakespeare Company complex. This is a riverside walk which stretches from the Bancroft Gardens, past the theatre, towards Holy Trinity Church. The Swan Theatre is a theatre belonging to the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon. It is built on to the side of the larger Royal Shakespeare Theatre, occupying the Victorian Gothic structure that formerly housed the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre that preceded the RSC but was destroyed by fire in 1926. It Is a wonderfully atmospheric galleried playhouse. As we said, the original Victorian building fell victim to a fire in 1926. The new building was built in 1932 and the inside has been designed to reflect an actual Elizabethan style theatre. The theatre was launched on 8 May 1986 and has subsequently been used for many other types of drama including the works of Chekhov, Ibsen and Tennessee Williams.
Right: The Swan Theatre. Left: Royal Shakespeare Company:
We approach the adjacent RSC building from the south, bordering the Bancroft Gardens to its west side. The Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres are on the western bank of the River Avon, with the adjacent Bancroft Gardens providing a scenic riverside setting. The Rooftop Restaurant and Bar overlooks both the river and the Bancroft Gardens. The complex includes two theatre spaces with rehearsal room, front of house and backstage facilities, exhibition areas, restaurant, cafes, shop and viewing tower. The two theatre auditoriums are placed back-to-back with the fly tower of the principal auditorium at the centre. Designed by a number of architects, principally Dodgshun and Unsworth, 1877-9 and 1881; Elisabeth Scott, 1928-32; Michael Reardon and Associates, 1984-6; Bennetts Associates, 2005-11. The Rooftop Restaurant is situated on the third floor of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
As you approach the main entrance to the building, go inside and turn left and take the lift to the third floor. The Riverside Cafe is on the ground floor of the main RSC building. The Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres were re-opened in November 2010 after undergoing a major renovation known as the Transformation Project. The Royal Shakespeare Theatre was officially opened on 4 March 2011 by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, who were given a performance of the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet.
RSC from the EAST side of the Avon river:
You can take an one hour guided tour that departs from the cloakroom and ,mainly, explores the RSC tower. Make sure you get a space by booking in advance - online or by calling our Box Office on 01789 403493. Note: significant amount of climbing involved. You get a bit (...) closer to the world of theatre on this tour and enjoy spectacular views from the RSC Tower. Tower opening times: Winter (until 27 March), SUN to FRI 10.00 - 16.30. RSC Matinees: 10.00 - 12.15, 14.00, 16.30. SAT: 10.00, 12.15. Summer (from 28 March): SUN - FRI 10.00 - 18.15, RSC Matinees Including SAT: 10.00 - 12.15, 14.00 - 18.15.
Much Ado About Nothing:
Garments from Henry IV play:
Midsummer Night Dream Gregory Doran production in 2005 - super modern costumes:
Hamlet - David Warner in Peter Hall 1965 production:
David Tennant as Richard II in Gregory Doran 2013 production:
Julian Glover as Henry IV) in 1991:
Titus Andronicus - Vivien Leigh as Lavinia and Laurence Olivier as Titus in 1955 production of Peter Brooks:
Picture of William Shakespeare:
View of Bancroft Gardens from the 3rd floor (rooftop):
View of Palmer Court in Staratford from the 3rd floor (rooftop):
The more you climb up higher in the tower - The more beautiful views of the city and the Gardens you get:
The Tramway footbridge and Clopton motor bridge:
The Avon flow to the north:
We exit the RSC building and continue walking north along the river or along Southern Ln until arriving, again, to Bancroft Gardens. Here, we hit,first, the the 800th Anniversary Fountain Basin and a sculpture behind:
Nearby, is, the statue of Shakespeare - the work of Lord Ronald Sutherland Gower, It was presented to the town in 1888:
The smaller figures of Shakespearean characters are of:
and Prince Hal;
symbolizing philosophy, tragedy, comedy and history.
In case you have spare time - try to enjoy the Avon river. The alternative to your own muscle power is to take a sightseeing cruise. Two companies are licensed to take passengers. Avon Boating run half-hour cruises leaving from the Bancroft Gardens in a fleet of vintage boats while Bancroft Cruisers take 45-minute trips from outside the Holiday Inn on the northeast side of Clopton Bridge.
We skip to Tip 2 - continuing our walk along Shakespeare heritage sites. We shall walk 500 m. from Bancroft Gardens to Henley Road (Shakespeare's House).
Start and End: Boots, 92 High Street. Duration: 1/2 day. Distance: 4-5 km. Transportation: buses 71 and 41 from/to Gloucester and Cheltenham. Hourly - with Gloucester and more frequent, every 20 minutes with Cheltenham.
Main Attractions: Tudor House Hotel, Tewkesbury Town Hall, The Ancient Grudge, The House of Nodding Gables, Tewkesbury Cross, The Cross House, Back of Avon road, Tewkesbury Docks, The Avon Lock, Olde Black Bear Inn, The Bell Hotel, Tewkesbury Abbey, Abbey Mill, Victoria Gardens, Severn Ham, The Abbey Cottages, The Royal Hop Pole Hotel.
Introduction: Tewkesbury (popularly pronounced: Chichbury) is a town in the far north of Gloucestershire, on the border with Worcestershire. It is situated at the confluence of the River Severn and the River Avon. The name Tewkesbury comes from Theoc, the name of a Saxon who founded a hermitage there in the 7th century, and in the Old English language was called Theocsbury. The Battle of Tewkesbury, which took place on 4 May 1471, was one of the major battles of the Wars of the Roses.
We start at Boots, 92 High Street and walk southward along High Street (we shall repeat this section soon again...). Tewkesbury is now a thriving town and at the same time is a living museum of architecture and social history spanning over 500 years. The town has such a perfectly preserved medieval character that in 1964 The Council of British Archaeology listed it amongst 57 towns "so splendid and so precious that the ultimate responsibility for them should be of national concern". The town includes many timber-framed, Medieval, Tudor buildings - part of them along the High Street.
At the Tudor House Hotel, 51-53 High Street, however, although it is indeed chiefly a Tudor building, the frontage comprises artificial half-timbering attached to a brick-built façade:
Tewkesbury Town Hall, 18 High Street was built in 1788 the town hall is one of the few buildings in Tewkesbury that is built of stone. The towns corn market was held here in the late 18th century. It is NOT a tiber house but the building is full with history.
Country Market in the Town Council at High Street:
On the opposite side: 19 High Street:
The Ancient Grudge, at High Street 15, was built in 1471, the year of the great Battle of Tewkesbury. This is where the building lends it's name, with the ancient 'grudge' referring to the enmity between the houses of York and Lancaster who were the two sides who fought during the battle. The building front was restructured during the late 16th century:
The House of the Golden Key also known as The House of Nodding Gables, 9 High Street is an early 16th century timber framed building, heightened by one storey in the 17th century. The famous 'Nodding Gables' are the result of a break in the ridge piece of the new structure which caused it to slip forward:
Tewkesbury Cross stands in the southern end of High Street. It is the war memorial in the center of Tewkesbury. Here, you find, also, the Tourist Information Office:
Still down southward along High Street, before it changes to Church Street, on your right - you see The Cross House (The Old Court House). It is an absolutely gorgeous 15th Century building. It has a magnificent entrance hall and Elizabethan panelled rooms and a stunning staircase. It is believed to have been at one time the Court House of the Lords of Tewkesbury. Unfortunately the original ground floor windows have been removed, they now exist in the ground floor of The Bull - the extension to the royal hop pole hotel. This building was originally built as two houses in the early 16th century. It was extended in the 17th century, and all extensively restored c1865 by Thomas Collins. He was a builder/restorer, who used it as his own home. The cross house is one of the finest timber-framed buildings in Tewkesbury:
Wadworth Pub or Berkeley Arms house in Church Street:
We return to the Cross (our face to the north) and turn left to Tolsey Lane, and, further west to Back of Avon road or path. We walk northward along the Avon on our left. Coming from the south to the north, along Back of Avon - the river is half-hidden on our left. It is, still a splendid road with red-bricked houses, bridges, gardening beds and the whole is very atmospheric. The more we advance northward - the more we approach the Avon river. The river is referred to as the Stratford Avon or ‘Shakespeare's Avon’ to distinguish it from other navigable river Avons such as the Bristol Avon. The river Avon is navigable from the river Severn at Tewkesbury to Alveston (between Stratford On Avon and Warwick). The river was navigable to Stratford from the river Severn at Tewkesbury in the late 1630s. The Upper Avon (Evesham to Stratford) fell foul of the railways and fell into disuse after 1875. It was finally restored and reopened by HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in 1974. The Lower Avon (Tewkesbury to Evesham)was restored and reopened in 1964. First we hit the neglected Docks - where Back of Avon meets Quay Street:
Second, we face the bridge crossing the Avon from east to west:
The more visible is the Avon and more clearly beautiful:
We cross the bridge over the Avon from east to west and continue northward until we arrive to the Avon Lock. It is the final lock on the RIver Avon that you go through before joining the River Severn. Avon lock at Tewkesbury, is womanned by a lock keeper (tel: 01684 292129):
From the Avon Lock, with our face to the north, we turn right, cross the bridge:
and return eastward to the High Street, via Mythe Road. Here, we hit the Olde Black Bear Inn. Tewkesbury claims Gloucestershire's oldest public house, the Old Black Bear, dating from 1308. It has a continous history as a hostelry, at one time providing stabling for travelers' horses. Although this is currently closed and for sale with its future as a pub in doubt:
Now, we repeat walking the 800 m. along High Street and Church Street from north to south until we hit the Bell Hotel. The Bell Hotel is a large half-timbered structure opposite the Abbey gateway:
The most notable attraction in Tewkesbury is Tewkesbury Abbey. The abbey is thought to be the third largest church in Britain that is not a cathedral (after Westminster Abbey and Beverley Minster). An impressive fine Norman abbey church. The present Abbey did not start until 1102. Built to house Benedictine monks, the Norman Abbey was near completion when consecrated in 1121. As, originally, part of a monastery, which was saved from the Dissolution of the Monasteries by King Henry VIII after being bought by the townspeople for the price of the lead on the roof to use as their parish church. Most of the monastery buildings, as well as the vineyards, were destroyed during this time. After the dissolution in 1540 most of the claustral buildings and the Lady Chapel were quarried for their materials but the Abbey Church was sold to the parishioners for £453. The Abbey is especially STUNNING in the soft light of the morning or evening - against clear sky.
The tower is believed to be the largest Norman tower still in existence in Europe ! The tower once had a wooden spire which may have taken the total height of the building to as much as 80 m. The great Romanesque arch on the west front is particularly striking. Tewkesbury Abbey is famous for the medieval stained glass in its seven quire windows. However, it is less well known that the Abbey also possesses a fine collection of Victorian stained glass, in the north and south aisles, chronicling the life and deeds of Jesus. There are also some excellent modern examples. When entering the nave note the west window: constructed in 1686 to replace one blown in by the wind in 1661. The stained glass, however, was not installed until 1886. The scenes depicted follow the journey of Christ from his birth to his ascension. It had been restored several times. In the ChapelL of Saint Catherine and Saint John the Baptist there are two glorious windows by Tom Denny to mark the 900th anniversary of the coming of the Benedictine monks to Tewkesbury in 1102. They are abstract designs predominately in shades of yellow, green and blues. The overall impression is colour but the more you look, the more detail you realise there is. The theme is: "Labore est Orare" or "Work is Pray":
19th century stained glass windows in the Nave:
The area surrounding the Abbey is protected from development by the Abbey Lawn Trust, originally funded by a United States benefactor. The grounds were well kept and inviting. You see around several majestic trees, with extraordinary size, scattered around the courtyard.
"Touching Souls" sculpture in the Abbey's courtyard:
The whole interior is a breathtaking feat of medieval engineering. The interior of the church clearly reveals its Romanesque origins with thick smooth columns framing the sides of the nave and hefty rounded arches atop the columns:
The Nave of Tewkesbury Abbey. Stepping into the Nave, the first impression is of Norman power with huge round arches and round arches soaring up to a vaulted ceiling. The windows are almost lost. This is Norman architecture at its very best. Side aisles are narrow adding to the overall effect of mightiness and glory:
At the east end of the Nave, the arch rests on the painted head of Atlantis holding up the roof:
The vaulting soaring overhead (and height of the columns) draw your eyebrows and gaze upward:
A carved rood screen separates the choir from the nave. The chancel and decorated vault:
The Sun of York:
On the south wall is the Milton Organ, which is one of the oldest organs still in use. It was originally built for Magdalene College Oxford in 1631 but was bought by the people of Tewkesbury in the 18th century:
Tewkesbury Abbey is blessed with some extraordinary chantry chapels. There are three small chantry chapels off the north wall of the sanctuary; the Warwick chapel, the founder's chapel and the canopied tomb of Hugh Lord Despenser and his wife Elizabeth Montague, with their alabaster effigies:
Figure of a kneeling Edward praying is best seen from the ambulatory on the far side of the choir by the Founder's or Warwick Chapels. The attitude and position of the kneeling figure are unique and it is possibly one of the finest monuments of its type in existence:
Inside, There are amazing vaulted ceiling, many tombs and small chapels. The Tewkesbury Abbey is the resting place of Edward of Westminster, the son of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou and sole heir of Henry VI, who died at the Battle of Tewkesbury in year 1471. The abbey was an host to the terrible aftermath of the battle. The Battle took place almost at the Abbey gates, and when the defeated Lancastrian soldiers took refuge inside the Abbey, they were slaughtered by King Edward IV's men. A reminder of that dreadful event can be seen in the sacristy door; the inner surface of the door is inset with metal from armour found after the battle. Edward of Lancaster's, Prince of Wales, was killed in the battle, and though his final resting place is not known for certain, his memorial is in the Abbey. The only Prince of Wales ever to die in battle. He was aged only 17 at his death:
Saint Dunstan's Chapel - the reredos/icons above the small altar is a reproduction of a 15thC Flemish painting showing the Passion of Christ.Tewkesbury:
There is a small altar at the east end. High on the wall above is a beautiful mural of the Holy Trinity with God the Father holding the body of the crucified Christ with an angel on either side. The small figures at the edges are Lord Edward and his wife Anne:
There is a tearoom/cafe' (separate building across the road) with snacks and home-made cakes and scones. Free admission. Open every day except Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
From the Abbey's gates - you can adopt the Tewkesbury Battle Trail (one hour - hour and a half). There is a special leaflet (from the Tourist Information Office). From my experience the trail is NOT worthwhile. It passes along meadows, grass and green fields. No more.
We exit the Abbey grounds from the north-west gate to Mill Street heading north-west until we hit the Avon river and the Abbey Mill. Tewkesbury has a history of flour milling spanning many centuries. Monks from Tewkesbury abbey used to produce flour at a watermill on the Avon, The Abbey Mill is believed to date back to around the 12th century when the river Avon was diverted into the town to power the mill of the Benedictine Monastry. The Abbey Mill is resting upon the Mill Avon, a channel allegedly built by the monks. The present building is 18th Century and was in use until 1933. The massive Healings Mill complex, we see today, was built for Samuel Healing in 1865. It did not start out that big, but bits were added here and there over the years and it grew into a sprawling tangle of different aged buildings. Luckily, the handsome 1865 buildings survive today:
At the other end of the mill is the entrance to the peaceful Victoria Gardens where you can sit and relax next to the river. A true English garden not to be missed. They are, actually, situated behind Church Street. Bordered by the Avon river on the west, the wooden Avon Mill on the east and the Severn Ham (see below) on the north. it is a lovely site, very tranquil and very well preserved by the local authority:
You exit the garden through the northern gate (near the car park by the Abbey). In the north side of the pleasure gardens - you see a waterfall. Here, starts the Severn Ham - an island meadow land between Avon Mill and the Severn river. It is, formally, part of the Avon river. You can see here various types of birds (ducks, herons, kingfishers, swans). It will take, at least, 30 minutes to walk round the island. Most of the walk is unpaved but it's pretty flat and NOT difficult (if not flooded ! Floods are more frequent during the winters. Avoid when it rains !). There are benches, here and there, particularly along the eastern side that borders the Avon Mill. You can tailor the route and the distance to your energy level. Sometimes the island is shared by herds of sheep. Keep your eye on the path NOT to step on "Bio Mine"...
To return to the city - connect with St. Mary Road and walk along it northward. St. Mary Road meets Church Street in two points. The more southern one is near the Abbey Cottages and Moore Country Museum. The more northern one is near the Royal Hop Pole Hotel and Bar (NOW, Whetherspoons restaurant).
The Abbey Cottages are a continuous terrace of small timber-framed buildings dating back to the late 15th or early 16th century. The Abbey Cottages, adjacent to Tewkesbury Abbey, were built between 1410 and 1412 for the Benedictine Monastery as a commercial venture and consisted of shops which were opened to the street by lowering their shutters to act as counters. They are believed to have been built by and for the monks of the abbey. They were restored 1967 to 1972 by the Abbey Lawn Trust, a building preservation charity. This beautiful row of cottages houses the John Moore Countryside Museum. John Moore was a local author of books on the area and also a broadcaster. A few doors along you will find another museum which is called the 'Little Museum'. This museum is a restored merchant's house, retaining many of it's medieval features:
In case you chose to visit the Abbey Cottages, more in the south, first - push along Church Street - heading to Royal Hop Pole Hotel. On your way, on your left, you see the Old Baptist Chapel, part of the Moore Museum:
The Royal Hop Pole Hotel (golden sign on a white house) in Church Street (which has recently been converted into a part of the Wetherspoons pub chain with the discovery of a former medieval banqueting hall in the structure), mentioned in Charles Dickens' The Pickwick Papers:
It is 500 m. walk back to the High Street - to your bus to Gloucester or Cheltenham.
Start & End: Bristol Temple Meads railway station. Weather and Timing: Only sunny days. Cloudy (NOT rainy) days are acceptable. Expect vast crowds in the weekends along the floating harbour docks. Do not miss the Millennium Square. Bristol always means good vibes - but, reserve it for a sunny day, PLEASE. Duration: one busy day. Orientation: I fell in love with Bristol - although I picked a gloomy day. It is a very promising city. Good vibe and variety ! A great, FREE walk ! A long, busy, quite demanding day. Distance: 18 km.
Part/Tip 1: From Temple Meads to College Green.
Part/Tip 2: From Brandon Hill back to Temple Meads.
Tip 1 Main Attractions: St Mary Redcliffe Church, Floating Harbour, Queen Square, Thelka ship, Pero's Bridge, Anchor Square, Millennium Square, Millennium Promenade, Hannover Quay, SS Great Britain (view from Hannover Quay), College Green, Bristol City Hall, Bristol Cathedral, St Mark's, The Lord Mayor's Chapel.
Introduction and orientation: One of Britain's most popular tourist destinations. The Sunday Times named it as the best city in Britain in which to live in 2014 and 2017, and Bristol also won the EU's European Green Capital Award in 2015. A city of huge potential for growth, investments, attractions and long-run flourishing. Bristol's modern economy is built on the creative media, electronics and aerospace industries, Bristol extensive docks have been redeveloped as magnets for tourism and culture. It is located not far from thr border with Wales. It has an airport and two main railway stations: Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway mainline. Bristol is one of the warmest and sunniest cities in the UK. Rain is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year. Autumn and winter are the wetter seasons. BUT, winter frosts are frequent. Snow occasionally falls from November to April. Bristol is the 11th most populated city in the UK with, approximately, 430,000 inhabitants. The city has its own currency - the Bristol Pound. A typical example for spirit of independence and creativity. The spire fell after being struck by lightning in 1446 and was not rebuilt until 1872. The original stained glass windows were damaged in the English Civil War - and very little remained from them.
Part 1- From Temple Meads to College Green:
We exit westward from Temple Meads station, turn right to Temple Gate. In the 1st cross-lights (Temple Circus) we turn LEFT (west) and the same with the 2nd cross-lights. Just follow the signs to "Harborside".
We follow the Redcliffe Way westward, when the Double Tree Hilton Hotel is on our left. 80 metres further west - you see the St Mary Redcliffe Church. St Mary Redcliffe is one of the largest churches in England, and some state that it is the largest of all. Built from the 12th to the 15th centuries - but, the major part of the mighty church dates from the late 13th and 14th centuries when it was built and decorated by wealthy merchants of the city whose tomb and monuments decorate the church interiors. The church is sited on the red cliffs, above the floating harbour, and was originally at the very centre of shipping and industry, which is the key to its history. The merchants of the Port of Bristol began and ended their voyages at the shrine of Our Lady of Redcliffe. The spire is also the third tallest among parish churches, and it is the tallest building in Bristol. The spire fell after being struck by lightning in 1446 and was not rebuilt until 1872. The original stained glass windows were damage during the English Civil War, caused by Oliver Cromwell's men. Very little had remained of them - new glass being added, mainly, during the Victorian era. Gorgeous church. Allow 20-30 minutes for visiting this church. Open: MON - SAT: 08.30 - 17.00, During certain festivals, the Church is only open for worship:
This church has lovely, unusual exotic carvings on the outside walls:
Very calming and great variety of things to look inside. The Calmness derives from the thick walls. You cannot hear the 15 bells of the church if they ring outside ! The walls consist almost entirely of large stained glass windows, filling the interior with light.
The highly decorated vaulted ceiling in St Mary Redcliffe:
Nave roof with gilded bosses:
The lady Chapel:
William Canynges tomb 15th century:
St John’s Chapel, now known as The American Chapel holds the tomb and armour of Admiral Sir William Penn, father of Pennsylvania's founder. Look out for the giant whale-bone next to the chapel, a souvenir brought back to Bristol by John Cabot in 1497 following his expedition from Bristol to discover North America:
If you get the chance to hear some choir and organ music here, it is well worth it:
We leave St Mary Redcliffe Church and continue walking west along Redcliffe Way. Before crossing the Avon river over the Redcliffe Bascule Bridge we see this sculpture on our left:
After crossing Redcliffe Bascule Bridge with our face to the west - we see this custom house on our right:
and, next, this modern building on the right (west) bank of Avon river:
But, your main sight, at the moment, is the view of the Avon river entering the city from west to east, and, later, flowing from south to north:
Bristol's history as a trading port stretches back to 1051 when it was listed in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. By the 14th-century, the city was trading with Spain, Portugal and Iceland, and ships were also leaving Bristol to found new colonies in the New World. Bristol's history as part of the slave trade is well documented. In 1809, Bristol was transformed by the opening of the Floating Harbour to overcome the challenge of the second highest tidal range in the world. Over the next two centuries the harbour grew as a busy commercial port until it closed in 1975, and, has now, transformed into an amazing destination for leisure, business and residence. 80 acres of tidal river were impounded to allow visiting ships to remain afloat all the time.
The Floating Harbour near Redcliffe Way:
After crossing the Avon and the bridge we pass Welsh Way on our right and arrive to the Old City and to the Queen Square.The site on which the Square was built lay outside Bristol's old city walls and was known as the Town Marsh. The Square was planned in 1699 and building finished in 1727. It was named in honour of Queen Anne. The north side and much of the west were destroyed in the Bristol Riots of 1831 (after the House of Lords rejected the second Reform Bill, which aimed to get rid of some of the rotten boroughs and give Britain's fast growing industrial towns such as Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham, Bradford and Leeds, greater representation in the House of Commons) and rebuilt. In 1937 the Inner Circuit Road was driven diagonally across the Square but in 2000 it was removed and the open space restored.Many of the buildings now have listed building status. Coming from the east to the square - you see, first, this impressive building with sculptures:
The Square had been restored to a very high standard. The railings and forecourts of the surrounding buildings have been reinstated, and the central open space with its promenades and equestrian statue restored to their former grandeur. The restoration is recognized as a major success. In the centre of the Square is a statue of William III by John Michael Rysbrack, cast in 1733 and erected in 1736 to signify the city's loyalty (bad state). I've been in this square in June, when the Comedy Festival took place and the square's centre had been closed. It is rather a huge (the second largest in England, second to Bath) historic square with sculptures, beautiful Georgian buildings and huge chestnut and macadam trees:
We are stone's throw from the floating harbour. From the square we walk SOUTHWARD to Grove Avenue, turn RIGHT (west) to The Grove. On our left is the Mud Dock and, in the corner, the Thelka ship: a former cargo ship moored in the Mud Dock. The ship was built in Germany in 1958 and worked in the coastal trades. In 1983 the ship was bought to Bristol. It was used as a theatre, cabaret, comedy, plays, musicals, and poetry events. The ship also contained an art gallery. The ship has now been returned to its original working name of Thekla and is run as a night club:
We turn right (NORTH) and we reach a bridge (south to north) that connects with Prince Street (Prince Street Bridge). Here we have a views (better ones in a sunny day...) of the harbour's basins and piers:
Turn your head right to see the St Mary Redcliffe Church in the east:
We cross the bridge and walk a bit along Prince Street from SOUTH to NORTH. On our left is the Arnolfini Centre for Contemporary Arts. The listed building also houses a popular café bar (open ONLY from 19.00 or 20.00):
If you walk, a bit, more to the north promenade along the channel (parallel and west of Prince Street) - you'll see the famous V-Shed waterfront and bar, Canon's Road (one of the most famous bars in Bristol) - Bordeaux Quay:
On our right is the Grain House (right from the Narrow Quay), 14 Narrow Quay. The building includes a restaurant and YHA hostel. Beyond it the Pero's Bridge with its horn-shaped counterweights which connects west and east banks of the channel / promenade from south to north or, in other words, It links Queen Square (Farr's Lane) in the (more tranquil) Old City and the bustling entertainment area of the Millennium Square and Bristol Aquarium. The bridge was designed by the Irish artist Eilis O'Connell. The name reminds us, again, Bristol's link to slavery: the Bridge is named after Pero Jones, an enslaved African who came to live in Bristol. Pero Jones was bought by wealthy slave plantation owner and sugar merchant, John Pinney, to work on his local plantations:
Before you step onto the Pero's Bridge - look to your left (west): the Bordeaux Quay:
... and to the east:
Walk along Pero's Bridge and we arrive to Anchor Square. Located right by the Waterfront its in a lovely location, and all the places surrounding the square are very modern and beautifully designed. The square is equipped with beautiful fountains and water displays. It is really just a nice place to go to especially when they've got some kind of entertainment going on or they are screening a live show or play in the giant plasma situated at the adjacent Millennium Square. On our right is the Bristol Aquarium:
Opposite is the the massive @ Bristol building (see below). On your left is the Pryzm Building:
We walk a bit further WEST to arrive to the stunning Millennium Square. A breathtaking square. A great big BBC screen for the sports-inclined and large water features, fountains and pools for the little ones.
Millennium Square is home to a BBC Big Screen and a large water feature:
A bronze statue of Bristol-born actor Cary Grant by sculptor Graham Ibbeson was unveiled by Grant's widow in 2001:
Other bronze sculptures include William Penn:
and poet Thomas Chatterton- all three by Lawrence Holofcener:
There are also a number of small painted bronze Jack Russell terrier dogs by Cathie Pilkington, some of which are set into the paved surface, as if they were swimming:
The Energy Tree, designed by artist John Packer provides free mobile phone charging points and Wi-Fi:
We continue WESTWARD along the Millennium Promenade -on our left are colored blocks of residence:
and Rainbow Casino. Crossing the Cathedral Way and Canon's Way along the Millennium Promenade, very nice paved path/bridge - on both our sides are nice blocks and pretty plantation:
The complex of buildings on your left form "The Crescent" of Bristol (see our blog on Bath):
The Millennium Promenade ends, in the west, in Hannover Quay viewing platform: a wooden bridge/path with stunning views of the port and Brunel's historic ss Great Britain (in the opposite bank). Here, in this point - you see the genius in constructing the floating port of Bristol: an artificial dockland area within the very urban confines of Bristol had been carved out of the landscape between 1804 and 1809. By the installation of cleverly-placed locks on the River Avon (and the cutting of a new channel that, to this day, allows the great waterway to skirt the centre of the city), the harbour helped Bristol to cement its place as arguably Britain's key port of the time (Liverpool was its main rival) – despite the fact that it sits some five miles inland from the Severn Estuary ! The Floating Harbour is one of the most thriving areas of the city, thanks to a multi-million-pound regeneration effort that, since the 1980s, has transformed Bristol harbour from a time-faded industrial zone into a major tourist attraction:
The SS Great Britain is the highlight of Bristol Harbour. You can see it, a bit from a distance, from Hannover Quay landing point. In 1970 the SS Great Britain returned to the original Great Western Dockyard where she had been built - on the opposite bank of Hannover Quay. You can cross the rive to the ship - by ferry:
We retrace our steps and walk the whole way from Hnnover Quay BACK to the Millennium Square. On our right wall paintings and graffitties:
We turn left onto Cathedral Walk, turn right (north-east) to Anchor Road. On our right is the Ibis Centre hotel (lavatories !). Around you can find several budget restaurants and eateries. I ate in the Slug and Lettuce - grilled salmon + king prawn risotto + drink: 11.67 GBP. We cross the premises of the Cathedral Choir Primary School (might be closed during specific hours along the mornings) (the school on our right, east) and we climb, heading to the Bristol Cathedral. We pass through a marvelous gate adjacent to the Central Library - arriving to the MAGNIFICENT College Square or College Green. College Green is surrounded by a number of historic and important public buildings, including the Council House, the Lord Mayor's Chapel, the Cathedral and the Abbey Gatehouse.
Rammohun Roy statue by Niranjan Sarkar’s statue was unveiled in 1997 in College Green or College Square near the Cathedral. Rajah Rammohun Roy (1772 - 1833), known as the 'Father of Modern India' is buried in Bristol, where he died suddenly in 1833. Rammohun Roy's far reaching influence in India was apparent in the fields of politics, public administration and education as well as religion. The Rajah is remembered in India particularly for founding the Brahmo-Samaj, the Hindu reform movement, and for his work in fighting for women’s rights, including an end to "sati", the practice of widow-burning:
Another statue is of Queen Victoria's which stands at the apex of the College Green:
You cannot miss, on your left (WEST) the grandiose Bristol City Hall built as crescent. It was designed in the 1930s but built after World War II. The architect was Vincent Harris. Nowadays, it is a great venue for conferences, meetings and events. We also have several rooms which are licensed for weddings and civil partnerships:
When we climbed to the College Green where our face to the north - the Bristol City Hall is on our left (east side of College Green) and the Bristol Cathedral is, immediately, on our right (south side of College Green hill).
Founded in 1140 and consecrated in 1148, Much of the church was rebuilt in the 14th century. In the 15th century the transept and central tower were added. The nave was demolished during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539. In the 19th century a new nave was built by George Edmund Street partially using the original plans. The structure of the church was completed with the Pearson's towers in 1888. Little of the original stained glass remains with some being replaced in the Victorian era and most replaced after the Bristol Blitz in WW2.
Muslim pupils visiting the Cathedral:
Remarkable feature of Bristol Cathedral is the vaulting of its various medieval spaces. The work that was carried out under Abbot Knowle. The spectacular vaulting of the choir and tower(s) can be seen from the Cathedral's nave, with clustered columns and marble shafts:
Effigy of Sir Charles Vaughan (a Welsh landowner) in Bristol Cathedral:
South Transept - This carving of the Harrowing of Hell is one of the finest examples of Anglo-Saxon stonework in existence, and the most important object to survive from Bristol before the Norman Conquest. It proves that there was a place of worship on this site in ancient times. It dates from just before the Norman Conquest. The Harrowing is the term used to describe the newly risen Christ descending into hell, standing on the head of Satan, to assert his victory over the powers of evil, and to rescue Adam and Eve (representing all people) from imprisonment:
Berkeley Chapel - This chapel was originally a vestry and place of prayer for the souls of the Berkeley family. The Family are the only English family still in existence in England that can trace its ancestors from father to son back to Saxon times. English history has been lived out within these walls - and by this family. The Castle ( in the town of Berkeley, Gloucestershire) is the oldest building in the country to be inhabited by the same family who built it:
Berkeley Tombs (14th century Lords) - Memorial of Thomas B. Ferrers Berkeley (died 1321) and Lady Joan Ferrers (Died 1301):
Adjacent to the Berkeley Chapel are the Eastern Lady Chapel (photo below) and the Choir:
There are also marvelous stained-glass windows:
In the most northern end of College Green (just the opposite direction to the Bristol Cathedral) waits for you the St Mark's, The Lord Mayor's Chapel. The Chapel was built in year 1230, by Maurice de Gaunt, a cousin of Thomas, Lord Berkeley (see above), as the chapel to St Mark's Hospital. The Hospital, served by a number of clergy and lay brothers, served the city citizens. In 1541 Henry VIII emptied the complex, at the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and the City fathers purchased the buildings and extensive lands from him. The Lord Mayor's Chapel is now the only building left. Nowadays, it is the only municipally-owned church in the UK. Open: WED - SUN:10.00 - 12.00, 13.00 - 16.00:
We head now to Brandon Hill. Move to Part/Tip 2 below.
Main Attractions: The Cross, the New Inn, St John's church at St Lucy's Gardens, Gloucester Cathedral, Bishop's Monument, Alney Island nature reserve, The Quay, Glocester Park, Greyfriars Priory, Eastgate Market, Statue of Marcus Cocceius Nerva Augustus, Blackfriars Priory, St. Nicholas Church, Folk Museum, The Cross.
Start: Eastgate Street x Brunswick Road. End: The Cross. Duration: 3/4 - 1 full day.
Weather: you will be surprised - but this itinerary is good also for rainy days (especially, rainy mornings). No doubt about bright day. Gloucester Docks will shine under the sun.
Transportation: Gloucester has good railway connections with London, Birmingham, Bristol and Cardiff. There is a direct link from Heathrow Airport. Trains from London depart from Paddington Station and have a fastest journey time of 1hr 40 minutes to Gloucester. BUT, nearby Cheltenham has more stopping trains, so it may be necessary to get a train to Cheltenham and change trains for Gloucester. Trains between Cheltenham and Gloucester operate every half hour and take around 10-15 minutes. From London it is 2 hours to Cheltenham. There is a direct link from Birmingham Airport with a fastest journey time of 1hr 15 minutes to Cheltenham and 1 hr 30 minutes to Gloucester.
By bus - your best bet is Stagecoach bus company. Buy 7 GBP daily explorer ticket which entitles you unlimited travel by Stagecoach buses from/to Gloucester and the Cotswolds or other towns around. We recommend, heartily, this option !
History: Gloucester was founded in AD 97 by the Romans under Emperor Nerva as Colonia Glevum Nervensis, Parts of the walls can be traced, and a number of remains and coins have been found, though inscriptions are scarce: Part of the foundations of Roman Gloucester can be seen today in Eastgate Street (near Boots), while Roman tombstones and a range of other Roman artefacts can be seen in Gloucester City Museum. in the late 4th Century the town returned to the control of Celtic Dubonni tribe. Gloucester was captured by the Saxons in 577. Gloucester's core street layout is thought to date back to the reign of Ethelfleda in late Saxon times. In 1051 Edward the Confessor held court at Gloucester. The Norman conquest of England was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England by an army of Norman, Breton, and French soldiers led by Duke William II of Normandy, later styled as William the Conqueror. The Hastings battle marks the formal conquest of England in 14 October 1066. After the Norman Conquest, William Rufus made Robert Fitzhamon the first baron or overlord of Gloucester. It was granted its first charter in 1155 by King Henry II. In 1216 King Henry III, aged only ten years, was crowned with a gilded iron ring in the Chapter House of Gloucester Cathedral. Gloucester's significance in the Middle Ages is underlined by the fact that it had a number of monastic establishments: St Peter's Abbey founded in 679 (later Gloucester Cathedral), the Franciscan Greyfriars community founded in 1231, Dominican Blackfriars community founded in 1239. The main export, during the Middle Ages, was wool which came from the Cotswolds and was processed in Gloucester. in 1378 Richard II king of England established Parliament in the city. You can see the Parliament Rooms at the Cathedral. The well known Siege of Gloucester, during the First English Civil War, in 1643 was a battle of the English Civil War in which the city held out against Royalist forces, and the besieged parliamentary forces emerged victorious. Gloucester Day is commemorated, annually, for celebration of the Siege of Gloucester. In 2015, Gloucester was a host city for the Rugby World Cup. The city has population of more than 152,000 citizens and is the 53rd largest settlement in the United Kingdom.
We start at the most central spot in Gloucester - in Argos shop where two central street intersect: Eastgate Street and Brunswick Road. Note the impressive inscription opposite Argos shop:
From one of the the most central squares in Gloucester we advance north-west along Eastgate Street, heading to The Cross - passing the Eastgate Shopping Centre on our left:
On our right are several historical buildings including Gloucester Guildhall and (the nowadays) TSB Lloyds building. Note their roofs:
In the end of Eastgate Street we arrive the most epic centre of Glocester - The Cross: , where the four main streets of Gloucester (Northgate, Eastgate, Southgate and Westgate Streets) meet. The Cross is also the highest point in the city.
St. Michael's Tower is on the corner of Eastgate and Southgate Streets and the entrance is in Southgate Street. It was built in 1465 on the site of the previous St Michael the Archangel. It is no longer used for religious ceremonies. It has recently been renovated and is now ‘A tower of learning’ – a place where the community and visitors can learn about Gloucester’s rich past, while recording today’s history for future generations to enjoy. Free entry. Open from 3rd April to 30 September. The Tower is also the starting point for our City Tour with a qualified guide, leaving the Tower at 11.00 everyday:
We turn right (north-east) to Northgate Street, and note, immediately on our right the New Inn, 16 Northgate Street. The Inn is entered through a carriage way from Northgate Street. It is the most ancient, still preserved, timber framed house in Gloucester used as hotel and restaurant. There is also a coffee shop and a nightclub which is open most Saturdays. It is the most complete surviving example of a medieval courtyard inn with galleries in Britain, and is a Grade I listed building. The Inn was built in 1450 by John Twyning, a monk, as a hostelry for the former Benedictine Abbey of St Peter. In 1553, King Edward VI died and Lady Jane Grey was proclaimed Queen from the first floor inn gallery.
Further north-east along Northgate Street - turn, a bit, left to St John's Lane to see the Spire of St John's church at St Lucy's Gardens, behind St John's Church Hall in Hare Lane. The top of the steeple of the church was removed for safety reasons in 1910; the church tower and steeple were medieval, the main body of the church was replaced in 1734. There is an information board by the stonework which has been added since 2011:
It is 5 minutes walk from the gardens to Gloucester Cathedral. Head east on St John's Ln, turn left toward College Green, turn left twice along College Green, turn right onto College Green and the cathedral is on your right:
Gloucester Cathedral, 12 College Green, in the north of the city near (formal name: Cathedral Church of St Peter and the Holy and Indivisible Trinity), originates in the foundation of an abbey dedicated to Saint Peter in 681. Gloucester Cathedral is one of England's finest churches, a masterpiece of medieval architecture consisting of a uniquely beautiful fusion of Norman Romanesque and Perpendicular Gothic from the mid 14th century onwards. Until the Reformation this was merely Gloucester's Abbey of St Peter, under Henry VIII it became one of six former monastic churches to be promoted to cathedral status, thus saving the great church from the ravages of the Dissolution. It is the burial place of King Edward II. The cathedral is Wonderful place definitely worth a visit. Enjoy beautiful architecture, find space to sit inside in silence, contemplate and simply hide from the world. The ceilings and stained glass windows are fantastic. Many films were filmed in the cathedral and you'll observe easily see why. You can spend here 2-3 hours to enjoy the beautiful architecture, lovely stained glass and incredible vaulted cloisters. This cathedral is unique because all along the cathedral walls are plaques that give you information to understand and become aware of past events that took place at the cathedral. Volunteers inside are very welcoming. Free guided tours inside as well.
Important note: The outside is a bit unavailable because of reconstruction in the near future. Although undergoing a major refurbishment, the Cathedral is still an oasis of peace and calm. The repairs might take place also in the interiors.
The Cathedral is open 365 days a year and entry is free. There is a 3 pound charge for taking photos but it is not well displayed - and, practically, it is all free.
The cathedral is 130 m long, 44 m wide and 69 m high (including its tower). It has a fine central tower of the 15th century topped by four delicate pinnacles. The central tower itself is 29m high and can be seen from many kilometres away.
Take a short stroll around the cathedral to capture some wonderful sights around:
Gloucester Cathedral seen between an old Tudor building and a Victorian red brick house:
Church House (the old deanery and former abbot's lodging, now offices, reception rooms, and a restaurant), with a medieval door with wrought iron hinges:
The entrance to the Cathedral:
The nave is massive Norman with an Early English roof; the crypt, under the choir, aisles and chapels, is Norman, as is the chapter house. The nave of the new church was finished around 1121, and is similiar to Tewkesbury Abbey in its use of massive round pillars. These pillars are so huge and imposing that they seem to overwhelm the interior space and almost make the triforium and vaulting into an after-thought:
Note the floor tiles in Nave of Gloucester Cathedral depicting scenes from the Bible:
The most famous tomb in the cathedral is of King Edward II, deposed by his wife Isabella along with her lover Sir Roger Mortimer in 1327. When Edward II was murdered at nearby Berkeley Castle in 1327, three other abbots refused to accept the king's remains, possibly because they disapproved of his reported "unnatural" lifestyle. Thoky accepted the body, risking the displeasure of Edward's many enemies:
There are other interesting historic monuments, including that of Robert, Duke of Normandy, whose vividly painted effigy outshines Edward's. Robert was the eldest son of William the Conqueror, and one of the most generous early benefactors of the abbey. He died in 1134:
Another interesting memorial is that of Edward Jenner, whose research helped discover a vaccine for smallpox. Jenner is not actually buried here, but in the village of Berkeley where he lived.
Tomb of Thomas and Christian Machen:
The Lady Chapel is regarded as one of the greatest treasures of Gloucester Cathedral but has been identified as the most ‘at risk’ part of the building. So, it might be closed for the next 3 years. Nearing a state of irreparable deterioration, the Lady Chapel restoration project will be a major undertaking for Gloucester Cathedral over the next three years. The latest medieval additions to the church are equally glorious, the Lady Chapel is entered through the enormous east window and is itself a largely glazed structure:
St Andrew’s Chapel was redecorated (created in 1868 by Thomas Gambier Parry) during the Victorian era and the colour is vibrant and joyous. The idea was to overwhelm the senses, to teach from the pictures and the stained glass for populations who were largely illiterate and who lived in very dark confined homes. When they entered a Cathedral, it would have seemed as if they were indeed closer to heaven - in these sacred spaces that hit all their senses at once:
Seabroke Chapel - Abbot Seabroke's Tomb:
The windows of the cathedral contain stained glass from the 14th century to the present day. In the Cloisters the majority of medieval glass has been lost however the Great East Window, situated in the Quire behind the high altar, dominates the very heart of the Cathedral and is as big as a tennis court - installed in the early 1350’s, the window is one of the greatest landmarks of English medieval glass. The East Window (1347-50), which commemorates the English victory at Crecy, is glorious. It retains some of its original stained glass. When it was installed in the 1350s it was the largest stained glass window in the world.
Other stained-glass windows in the cathedral:
There is a new stained glass window created by Tom Denny, which is a memorial to the Gloucestershire WW1 poet, Ivor Gurney. They are in a special, stunning chapel devoted to Jerald Finzy, choral composer 1901-1956. One of the most beautiful chapels, I've ever seen in churches or cathedrals !!! Unbelievable beauty !!!
Processional cross made in 1923 and used in coronation of Elizabeth II in year 1953:
The choir dates from the 1330s when an ambitious rebuilding project lasting 20 years resulted in major changes to the cathedral. The Gothic choir is a unique and spectacular work, the walls so heavily paneled as to suggest a huge stone. Note the magnificent carvings of the choir stalls as well. You might be flooded with wonderful singing voices from the choir and the inspiring tunes from the organ. The world famous organ, was constructed in 1666 by Thomas Harris. Information on organ concerts:
The choir is probably the work of Walter Ramsey, who probably designed the chapter house at Old St Paul's Cathedral in London. Ramsey decided not to pull down the 12th century Norman choir, but to cover it with new masonry. The result is a wonderful example of Gothic style, and contrasts perfectly with the earlier Romanesque nave:
The choir seats boast a marvelous collection of misericord carvings; 46 of these are medieval and a dozen are Victorian additions. Among the multitide of carvings are depictions of the pagan Green Man symbol. In fact there are 40 Green Men throughout the cathedral, so many that you can purchase a Gren Man trail pamphlet from the cathedral shop to help find them all!
The fan vaults are far more ornate that French Gothic architecture of the same time period. The vaulting is primarily 13th century, and leads your eye inexorably towards the choir(see above).
You can do the tower GUIDED tour up onto the roof and see the bells in the tower. The bells ring daily at 9.00, 13.00 and 17.00 (16.00 on Saturdays and Sundays). Try to see if the peregrine falcons are still nesting in summer or spring months. A nice bonus is a delightful view of the city from the tower heights. The Tower Tour season usually runs from April until the end of October: MON-FRI 14.30, SAT 13.30. Adults £7.00, Children (who must be aged 6 or over and accompanied by an adult) £1.00.
Tthe crypt still follows the original layout. Descend the steps from the South Transept to discover the hidden subterranean level of the Cathedral. The crypt is one of the four apsidal cathedral crypts in England, the others being at Worcester, Winchester and Canterbury.
The cloisters at Gloucester Cathedral are the earliest surviving fan vaults, having been designed between 1351 and 1377 by Thomas de Cambridge. The early 16th century cloisters to the north of the nave are highly decorated. There are a lot of interesting graves there including kings. The Cathedral cloisters were transformed into the hallowed corridors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft in Harry Potter films: The Philosopher’s Stone (2001), The Chamber of Secrets (2002) and The Half Blood Prince (2009). The cloisters contain an amazing number of stained glass windows. Note: in a rainy day the cloisters might be quite dark. You'll need artificial light for taking photos - but, that's NOT permitted. Try to get a special permission to have photos with flash and tripod inside the cloisters:
Note: Gloucester Cathedral excels in their temporary art exhibitions which are massively varied. So, try to tune up with their web site - to get the updated information about their current , inspiring exhibition.
The best way to get out of Gloucester Cathedral is not simple. There is no signage easing your way out. You, easily fall trapped with the multiple parking yards around. SO, we offer two alternatives: Head east and turn right toward Pitt St, slight left along Pitt St. to see the students of Kings Junior school (near Pelican Inn):
BTW - If you walk out of the cloisters to the location of Kings Junior School you can still see the stone coffins of the monks built into the wall:
We return to Pitt street and continue walking straight (north-west) until we meet the Archdeacon Street. OR - we head southwest toward College Green. This road will lead us, with our face to the north-west, onto St Mary's Square. Here, you can see the Monument commemorating Bishop Hooper on the site where the bishop was burnt at the stake in 1555 (we'll return here later). when Mary Tudor came to the throne in 1553, she set about undoing the religious reforms of the preceding years. The married priests were driven from their churches, the images replaced and the mass restored. Hooper was sent to the Fleet prison in London, where he remained for seventeen months in horrible condition, but refused to recant and was condemned to death by burning at the stake:
From St Mary Square we continue north-west to meet the Archdeacon Street (St Mary de Lode Church on our left).
In Archdeacon street - we change direction. Pay attention: NOT EASY TO FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS. NOT ALL ROADS ARE WITH CLEAR NAMES. BE VERY CAREFUL IF IT IS RAINING. We head to Alney Island Nature Reserve. Head NORTH-EAST on Archdeacon St toward Mount St, 25 m. Turn left onto Mount St, 105 m. Turn left onto St Oswalds Rd, 160 m. Turn right onto Royal Oak Rd, 20 m. Continue onto Westgate St (bustling street with noisy traffic), 25 m. Slight left onto Westgate St, 90 m. Turn right toward Westgate St, approx. 55 m. You crossed the Severn river. Turn left, 160 m. Slight right, 52 m. Slight right, 320 m. Turn right, 160 m. and you see the Alney Island nature reserve on your left. It looks very desolated but, it is ,actually, less than 1 km. from the city centre. Alney consists mostly of low-lying farmland, and parts are sometimes subject to flooding when the Severn rises. The Island is formed because the River Severn splits into two channels around it, isolating the land in the centre. It was designated as a special nature site in 1993. On the island you can see the The Alney Island railway viaduct on the South Wales Railway leading west from Gloucester to Cardiff Central. The nature reserve is predominantly neutral wet grassland and flood meadows with broadleaf trees:
Our next destination are Gloucester Docks, considered to be the best-preserved Victorian port in the country - approx 1.6 km walk. Most of the way is, again, back along Westgate Street. We trace our steps back along Westgate Street. We continue and follow this street when it turns right (SOUTH) (where the Severn river is on our right) - to meet The Quay.
Gloucester dock lock -.locking up from the River Severn into the docks:
Although the weather may be, very often, wet and windy you can enjoy walking around the docks area. You can walk around for hours, in a bright day, looking at all the ships and boats before having something to eat in the Gloucester Quays Shopping Centre. I loved the place. The Quay marks the north part of the city’s historic docks area. The National waterways Museum is in the most southern part of the quays and the docks. The walking distance between then is approx. 700-800 m. Gloucester Docks and Quays can trace their roots back to the 1800s and they were once the hub of the UK’s most inland shipping port. As an ancient port, and later when port status was granted by Elizabeth I in 1580, shipping to and from Gloucester had to navigate the treacherous tidal River Severn. The Docks and associated canal to Sharpness, completed in 1827, changed that and enabled significant growth in trade with all continents. Cargoes of grain and timber dominated, though goods including wines and spirits and oranges and lemons were brought by large sea going ships. Salt from Worcestershire was the main return cargo. The run down Victorian docks at Gloucester have been transformed into a place where people of all ages and interests can have a wonderful day out. Gloucester Docks and its perfectly preserved Victorian warehouses recently enjoyed a starring role in Disney's upcoming ‘Alice in Wonderland: Through The Looking Glass’ (Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska):
Today pleasure boats have replaced the ships and barges and the docks are a lively visitor attraction with year round events and family entertainment – from outdoor theatre to weekend food markets. The docks are worth seeing. The warehouses have been renovated and there's a lot of history there. The docks still have an active shipwright; and now act as a marina and visitor destination – visitors can see the Waterways Museum and the award winning Regiments of Gloucestershire Museum, as well as regular Tall Ships festivals and other events. Contemporary landscaping and public art also enhance the current setting for waterside restaurants and shopping. Explore the museums, outlet shopping, Sunday markets and restaurants, all at Gloucester's Historic Docks. It is lovely in the sunset hours and evenings as you can see the sun go down through the old bridges and mills.
The National Waterways Museum waits in the southern end of the port. Opening hours: 17 January to 9 April: TUE - SUN: 11.00 - 15.00, 10 April to 5 November: daily: 10.00 - 17.00, 7 November to 24 December: TUE - SUN:11.00 - 15.00:
The Gloucester Quays Designer Outlet Centre is further south and has a collection of high street and designer labels. Open: MON - FRI: 10.00 - 20.00, SAT: 10.00 – 19.00, SUN: 10.00 – 17.00:
For those who are interested in Soldiers of Gloucester Museum - we'll combine this site, later, after quitting the docks area.
The Gloucester Shopping Centre is you best bet for lunch. Stop for a drink and bite to eat on the stunning waterfront, whether you fancy a meal at one of the quality restaurants including Carluccio’s, Bill’s, Nandos, Pizza Express, Bella Italia and Zizzi, or a leisurely coffee and cake at one of the café bars, Costa Coffee and Caffè Nero. I enjoyed (as usual) my budget and filling meal in Nando's, 3, Merchants Road. Quick service. Cheap, clean and all around good.
We head, now, after having a meal to Gloucester Park. Head northeast on Merchants' Rd and turn right onto Llanthony Rd. Turn right onto Southgate St. Turn left onto Spa Rd, 320 m. Turn left onto Montpellier and Gloucester Park will be on your right. Very average park, lacks color but well kept and clean. Note the bronze statue of Robert Raikes, English philanthropist and founder of the Sunday School Movement, in eighteenth century clothes, pointing at a Bible in his left hand:
Limestone statue of Queen Anne - quite in a bad state:
Exit the park at its northern exit or, better, its north-west end. Walk WEST (left) along Park Road, turn right (north) to Brunswick Street and note ( a bit further) The Brunswick pub on your right:
DO NOT walk along Brunswick Road until its northern end. Turn LEFT (north-west) to Greyfriars Road to see the remains of the 16th century Greyfriars Priory. The Grey Friars, or Franciscans, were followers of St Francis of Assisi and founded many religious houses across Europe. They earned their name from the grey habits that were worn as a symbol of their vow and gestures of poverty. The Franciscan friary at Gloucester was founded in 1231. in 1643 the priory was severely damaged by Royalist forces during the siege of Gloucester. Most of the spacious structure had been demolished, but the remains of the church can still be seen – its spacious proportions demonstrate that it was designed to hold large congregations in keeping with the Franciscans’ vow to poverty and modesty and their fame as preachers:
Adjacent to the priory is the Eastgate Market or Shopping Centre. There are 4 entrances to the indoor market: via Eastgate Street, Southgate Street, Greyfriars and Via Sacra. The Market is opens six days a week - Monday to Saturday: 8.30 - 17.00. Lots of independent little stalls. Some of them are brilliant. Fresh and awaking smells:
Turn to Southgate Street to see the Statue of Marcus Cocceius Nerva Augustus - The Emperor after whom Roman Gloucester was named - Colonia Nerviana Glenvensis. It was sculpted by Anthony Stones:
Turn LEFT (south-west) to Southgate. Turn RIGHT to Commercial Road and, again, turn right onto Ladybellegate St to see, on your right, the Blackfriars Priory with its magnificent timbered roof. The most complete example of a medieval Dominican Priory in Britain. The original medieval cloister, completed in 1239, Inside, you can see the rooms' complex where the friars were trained for their preaching mission over 750 years ago. The original study cells are housed in the oldest surviving library building in the country. OPen: March until the end of September:
Sunday-Monday: 10.00 - 15.00. FREE:
If you walk northward along Ladybellegate St until it meets Longsmith Street - you see this splendid wall painting:
Turn left (west) to Longsmith Street. In the 2nd intersection - turn right (north) to Berkeley Street. If you continue a few steps direct onto College Road - you see, again, the Gloucester Cathedral:
Turn right (east) to Westgate Street and see the Gloucester Shire Hall.The building opened in 1816 and was designed by Robert Smirke for Gloucestershire magistrates. It is the home of Gloucestershire County Council:
We walk approx. 500 m. EASTward along Westgate Street until we meet St. Nicholas Church (on our left). St. Nicholas Church is just up on the left before you walk into the pedestrianised area of the city centre. The church dates back to the 12th century, though most of it was rebuilt in the 13th and larger windows were added later. This church was built for merchant traders beside Gloucester’s (not existing today) west gate. The church is a city landmark, known for its leaning, truncated white stone spire. Damage was caused to the spire by a direct hit by Royalist troops during the Siege of Gloucester in 1643:
Many of its wonderful monuments and memorial slabs commemorate significant citizens, some showing figures in glorious Stuart costume. Most important is the altar tomb of Alderman John Wallton (died 1626) and his wife Alice. On either side of the chancel are 16th century squints, giving the congregation a view of the sanctuary and there is an unusual Royal Arms above the south doorway that references not one but three monarchs - George I, George II and Charles II (see below):
Behind St. Nicholas church (if you walk along St. Mary Square northward) stands Statue of Charles II dated 1662 by Stephen Baldwyn:
With our face at Westgate Street to the east, on our right, opposite St. Nicholas Church is the Folk Museum or Life Museum, 99-103 Westgate Street, set in Tudor timber-framed buildings, one of which was traditionally associated with the final night of the protestant martyr, Bishop Hooper(see above the Bishop's Monument at the St. Mary Square which is few metres from this museum). A beautiful building in its own right, filled with treasures from daily life. Very extensive and rich museum. Open: MON - SAT: 10.00 - 17.00. Prices: adult - £5.00, concessions - £3.00:
Continuing along Westgate Street eastward we pass College Street on our left. On the 2nd road - we turn left to St. John Lane to see this brilliant wall painting:
Further walking along Westgate Street eastward (or south-east) brings us to The Cross - Gloucester centre (where, more or less, we've started our daily Gloucester route of walk):
Main Attractions: Painswick - St. Mary Church, Painswick village, Painswick Rococo Garden, ACP Gallery,
Tip 1: Painswick - 1/2 day. Cheltenham-Painswick-Cheltenham.
Tip 2: Cirencester - 1/2 day. Cheltenham-Cirencester-Cheltenham.
----------------------------- Tip 1: Painswick -----------------------------
Transportaion: Bus No. 61 leaves from Cheltenham Promenade (Stop 2) at: SUNDAY 10:10 (arrives to Painswick at 10.50), weekdays: 07:25 08:35 09:40, Saturdays: 07:45 08:40. Buses back to Cheltenham (opp. the St. Mary Church: Sunday - 14:28 16:28, Saturday: 17:48, weekdays: 15:48, 15:58, 16:48, 17:48. Buy an unlimited Stagecoach one-day ticket for £6 and use it for the following two trips.
Introduction: The historic wool town/village of Painswick is nestling quietly in Gloucestershire, standing on a hill in the Stroud district and, marvelously, overlooking one of the Five Valleys. Its attractive cobbled, narrow streets and traditional architecture draw a lot of tourists every year. The town is mainly constructed of locally quarried Cotswold stone. The town's many beautiful buildings can be seen as you wander around its quaint and narrow streets. Many of the buildings feature south-facing attic rooms once used as weavers' workshops. The New Street, constructed around 1428 when the wool and cloth trade was flourishing, contained the oldest building in England to hold a Post Office, (recently closed) and Painswick's only example of exposed timber framing. Note, also, the Beacon House with its magnificent Georgian Frontage and the Falcon Hotel with the oldest bowling green in England. 14th century houses in Bisley Street (see below) include two original Donkey doors - wide enough for allowing entry of donkeys who carried the wool from the numerous mills along the local valleys. Today there is a variety of small shops and galleries to browse around with pubs, restaurants and tea shops that serve good food. The village's centre always has art on show in it's numerous artists' studios. From early July to August bank holiday Painswick celebrates the Art Couture festival with fantastic costumes paraded and stalls in the narrow streets. The famous Cotswold Way (CW) footpath which runs from Bath to Chipping Campden goes through the village. Painswick is about halfway along its 160 km. length. A restful relaxing stop on a day walk in the Cotswolds.
History: During the first English Civil War (1642–45) Gloucester town was a Parliamentarian stronghold. It was surrounded by the Royalist army. After the siege of Gloucester was broken on 5 September 1643, the Royalist army encamped overnight at Painswick, with the King staying at the local Court House. Ttradition has it that King Charles went up to the Beacon and, seeing the beautiful valley to the east said "This must be Paradise". Since then that valley, and the hamlet on its western side to the north of Painswick have been called Paradise.
In one sentence: Painswick is a fantastic place, offering a really amazing walk around the St. Mary church grounds and along the village narrow roads.
Tip: check calendar to see if there are special events happening in Painswick village.
Painswick is now best known for its (originally Norman) St. Mary church's yew trees and its wonderful Rococo Garden. The Church of Saint Mary was built between 1042 and 1066 by a rich Anglo Saxon man, who was then Lord of the Manor. In 1377 the chapel at the north side of the church was rebuilt and dedicated to St. Peter. This is the oldest part of the church. The church of St Mary was extended around 1480 in the English perpendicular style. The nave and tower were built about 1480 and by 1550 the sanctuary has taken its present form. The spire was not added until 1632 and can be seen from afar. The church remained in this form until the 1st English Civil War when it was occupied by Parliamentarians in 1644. The Royalists recaptured the village, however, after severe fighting. Bullet and cannon shot marks remain on the church tower to this day. Try to find a scar on the spire (September 5th, 1643) from a Cromwell (the Parliamentarians) canon ball. The church was greatly damaged by fire. In 1657 a gallery was added to the north aisle. In 1740 the south aisle was built with a gallery above. A west gallery was added in 1840. In 1877 the church was restored by public subscription. The Bell tower contains 14 bells.
Do pop inside the St. Mary interiors for a moving visit. The inside is light, airy and spacious, with a delightful altar piece in the side chapel. Inside there is a huge wooden Great War memorial. The font dates from 1661 and replaced one destroyed during the civil war. The Royal arms over the entrance door are those of William IV. The First World War screen was carved by a Belgian refugee and lists all those from Painswick who served and the names of those who died in gold. The organ was originally built in the 18th century, but only the casing remains. By the nave, admire the massive sailing ship model -- a symbol of finding safe haven. Inside, you'll find a surprising variety of leaflets in European and non-European languages. FREE:
King David on a stained-glass window:
The church courtyard is notable for its ancient and numerous yew trees. Note the names of their respective sponsors attached to them, The churchyard also has a fine collection of chest tombs and monuments from the early 17th century onwards, carved in local stone by local craftsmen. The oldest tomb, with fossils on the top, is of William Loveday, Yeoman, dated 1623. The St. mary churchyard is full of stunning yew trees all well manicured and lovely maintained. A fairytale garden. I just could not stop taking photos. Tradition holds that the churchyard will never have more than 99 yew trees and that should a 100th grow the Devil would pull it out. According to the last count of the trees - there are 103 immaculately coiffured trees...
Spare time to marvel around the number of Table Tombs in the graveyard, many of which have wonderful carvings:
The village itself, an old world charm, is well worth a walk round, very quiet, sometimes deserted, roads but some with interesting shops and eateries. The wealth from wool production and weaving in the area gave the town many fine buildings. We leave St. Mary Church and its wonderful courtyard, heading northeast on New St. toward Victoria St., 65 m. We turn right onto Victoria St., 60 m. and turn left onto George Ct. On our left is the Town Hall (Painswick Parish Council):
Return to Victoria St., continue walking eastward until it meets St. Mary Street and turn RIGHT (south) to St. Mary Street to get a marvelous sight of the parish church:
Before turning left (south) to Hale Lane - we see Rosemary Cottage:
Walking along Hale Lane - we see, in front of us, the Cotswolds hills:
Turn right to Knapp Ln:
Turn left (east) to Kings Mill Lane (on your right is the Painswick Stream). On your right is the Ticklestone Lane:
On your right is the Capp Mill. This 17th-century Cotswold mill is delightfully situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty overlooking a picturesque trout stream in the beautiful grounds of the owner’s home:
In the end of Kings Mill Lane, turn LEFT (north-west) and climb the STEEP Tibbiwell Ln. It is, approx., 7 minutes demanding climb. On your right is the Golden Heart teahouse and on your left is the Cardynham B&B Guest House. Turn right to St. Mary Street and left to Bisley Street:
We continue northward along this street. It continues as Gloucester Street and after 10 minutes of mild climb (cemetery on our right and stones bench on our left) - we arrive to the Painswick Rococo Garden. Note: Bus # 61 (Stroud to Cheltenham) stops ½ mile away. This garden is a pleasure ground created in the decadent and fun loving early 18th century. Follies nestle in a hidden valley surrounded by magnificent Cotswolds views. A large Kitchen Garden produced many crops that are used in the garden's own restaurant.
Entrance to the Rococo Garden. On your left are the Cotswolds fields:
On your right are the Sequoia trees:
During the nineteenth century, the original eighteenth century design was lost as much of the garden was converted to grow fruit and vegetables. Using a painting, by Thomas Robins in 1748, the garden is being fully restored to its eighteenth century character. Its main features are rococco buildings, woodland walks and well-planned vistas. In spring, the snowdrops are dramatic. Open: 10th January - 31st October: everyday: 10.30 - 17.00. Prices: Adults £7.20, Seniors (60+) £6.30, Children (5-16) £3.30, Family (2+2) £18.00. There is a splendid cafe to refresh as well (homemade cakes) (closing: 14.00):
The celebrated Rococo Gardens at Painswick House are open to the public throughout the year. In late Winter and early spring the carpets of snowdrops are truly breathtaking. Designed in the early 1700s by Benjamin Hyett, Painswick Rococo Garden is the country's sole surviving rococo garden. A truly unique, magnificent garden. Set on different levels with lovely views and aspects leading to and from the unusual small gardening beds and buildings. It is set in a shallow valley (a natural bowl) and intended to be viewed from a distance. The setting is glorious with views over the surrounding countryside. Carpets of snowdrops everywhere. It is a compact garden but seems to swallow visitors so you don't feel crowded. Note: those with reduced mobility would find the steep slopes and steps down into the gardens difficult ! Picnics are NOT allowed in the garden.
Rococo Garden Upper Viewpoint:
view from Rococo Garden Upper Ramp:
The highest point in the gardens is the Red House. The Red House is the principal folly building in the garden and displays many of the classic attributes of the Rococo period.The building underwent a substantial stabilization project to prevent movement to the outer walls. The landscape setting has also been returned to the layout represented in the painting dated 1748 that is the basis of the restoration. Note: there is another (smaller) red house in the gardens: the Eagle's House.
View from the Red House:
Turn right from the Red House to the Bluebells Walk and the ' pigeon house'. It is a steep climb as is the bluebell area:
After the steep climb, the path calms down to have a nice view of the Anniversary Maze. The maze is wonderful viewed from above:
A path to the right will bring you to fantastic sights of the Cotswolds hills:
Pond and Statues:
The Exedra Garden:
Big Urn opposite the Kitchen Garden:
A miniature fairy-tale castle and willow hermitage to rest in:
We leave the gardens, retrace down along Gloucester Street, cross the New Street and see a signpost pointing to the "Galleries/Function". Here we find the ACP Gallery with its extraordinary "wearable" art (ACP = Art Coture Painswick). You can see, here, models displaing avant-garde, astonishing creations of wearable art. Open: WED – SAT: 10.00 - 16.00. FREE. Every year, on July, the gallery conducts an innovative festival that transforms the streets of Painswick into a place of wonder and carnival: the event features stage shows among the St. Mary Church yew trees, where participants display their astonishing creations of wearable art before a panel of celebrity judges.
Life cycle of Butterfly:
Spread your wing:
Fish and Chip:
Bourton-on-Water, Batsford Arboretum (near Moreton-in-Marsh), Sezincote, Broadway Tower, Moreton-in-Marsh.
Main Attractions: Bourton-on-the-Water: High Street, Dragonfly Maze, Stow-on-the-Wold, Birdland Park and Gardens, The Model Village, Model Railway, Cotswold Motoring Museum.
Batsford Arboretum and Falconery, Sezincote House and Garden.
Broadway Tower, Moreton-in-Marsh.
Duration: 1 day. Transportaion: By bus: there are regular buses to Moreton-in-Marsh from Cheltenham Royal Well bus station (Stand E) on the 801 Pulham’s Coaches service. Cheltenham Royal Well - Moreton - MON-SAT: 07:40 (M-F only), 08:40, 10:10, 11:40, 13:10, 14:40, 16:10, 17:10, 18:30. Moreton-in-Marsh - Cheltenham - MON-SAT: 06:50, 07:55, 09:15, 10:45, 12:15, 13:45, 15:00, 16:30, 17:40, 18:45, 19:50. Bus 801 Summer Sunday Timetable (May to September inclusive) From 7th May 2017: from Cheltenham Royal Well to Moreton Railway Station: 13:15, 17:00. From Moreton Railway Station to Cheltenham: 11:45, 15:30, 18:20.
Bus 801 itinerary: Moreton-in-Marsh – Stow-on-the-Wold – Bourton-on-the-Water – Northleach – Andoversford – Cheltenham Royal Well.
Planning ahead your day: plan your visit during the months May - September and ONLY on Thursdays or Fridays. ONLY during these times - you can visit the stunning Sezincote House and Garden. It is a 1 hour ride by the bus (quite a bumpy way) from Cheltenham to Bourton-on-Water. There, you can have a 1.5 or 2.45 hours relaxed stroll and catch the next bus continuing to Moreton-in-Marsh. From there it is an 30-45 minutes (2.5 km.) walk to Batsford Arboretum. From the Corn Exchange in High St, Moreton-in-Marsh you head south on Fosse Way/High St, 32 m. At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Bourton Rd and follow Bourton Road for 2.3-2.5 km. to see the Batsford Arboretum and Garden Centre on your right. On your way you pass the Moreton-In-Marsh Caravan Club site (600 m. from Moreton). In their office you can get more up-to-date information.
Bourton-on-the-Water is only 6 km. from Stow-on-the-Wold, and, is one of the most popular tourist spots in the region being serviced by the many shops, cafe's, and attractions. It, often, has more visitors than residents during peak times of the tourist season. Regularly voted one of the prettiest villages in England, Bourton on the Water has a unique appeal to visitors and residents alike, there is plenty to see and do with a wealth of attractions and shops, restaurants and tea rooms, or simply for you to enjoy some tranquil time by the River Windrush with its beautiful bridges throughout. It is known for its picturesque High Street, flanked by long wide greens and the River Windrush that runs through them. The small historic core of Bourton-on-the-Water along with associated areas along the River Windrush have been designated a UK Conservation Area. Walk along the river for a very rewarding and refreshing experience. The river Windrush that runs right through the centre of this lovely village, and the combination of the water with the honeyed stone, the low bridges and the weeping willows have a uniquely pleasing effect. The river is crossed by several low, arched stone bridges beside neat tree-shaded greens and tidy stone banks. These arched bridges have led to Bourton-on-the-Water being called the "Venice of the Cotswolds". Standing back from the river are traditional Cotswolds buildings, many of which are now tourist shops for the day-trippers and visitors. On the fourth Sunday of each month, there is a farmers' market. The Windrush was one of the rivers that burst their banks in the floods of 2007. Keep an eye on the weather. Since we stay in Bourton only very short time we stick along the High Street which is particularly picturesque with the River Windrush running through it with several pretty little stone bridges crossing. This walk makes use of the North Cotswold Diamond Way and the Oxfordshire Way to take you through the countryside to the nearby fishing lakes. You could also extend your walk by following the Windrush Way west along the river. The walk also passes Birdland (see below). It is, approx. 800 m. walk from the Primary School to the Birdland - all along the High Street (from north-west to south-east). We suggest you walking along the High Street (continuing as Rissington Road) the whole way to the Birdland (and the adjacent Dragonfly Maze) and, then, return (along Rissington Road) to the Model Village, continue south to the Windrush river and return along the river back north-west, passing the Tourist Information Office, arriving to the Motoring Museum and cutting back (north) to the High Street 801 bus station. There, catch the bus further to Moreton-in-Marsh:
After walking the whole section of 800 m. along the High Street - you see, on your right and white and yeloow signs of the Dragonfly Maze. The Dragonfly Maze, designed by Kit Williams Dragonfly Maze - which comprises a yew maze with a pavilion at the centre. The object is not only to reach the pavilion, but to gather clues as one navigates the maze. Correctly interpreting these clues when one reaches the pavilion allows access to the maze's final secret.Constructed by Kit Williams of 'golden hare treasure hunt' fame. The maze deserves at least 45 minutes. It is NOT an easy task to decipher this maze. £3 per adult:
The Birdland Park and Gardens Is an authentic zoo for birds and is home to some of the most exotic and rare birds from around the world, including the only group of King Penguins in England. It has a remarkable collection of penguins, some of which have come from the owner's islands in the South Atlantic. There are bird-of-prey displays and a penguin feeding demonstration. It has, also, a large pond full of salmon which can be fed by the public. Getting up close to the exceptional collection of birds is all part of the experience. The majority of the birds are NOT kept within cages, it is nice to see them in the open. Open Daily: from 10.00 (Except Christmas Day), Easter – 2 November: 10.00 – 18.00, NOV – MAR: 10.00 – 16.00. Last admission one hour before closing. Prices: Adult £9.95, Child (3-15) £6.95, under 3s are free, Senior / Student £8.95. Book online and save 10%: https://birdland.digitickets.co.uk/tickets?_ga=1.22414078.450432006.1489910727
We return along the High Street back to the west and see the Model Village on our RIGHT (north). The Model Village is an excellent miniature of Bourton using authentic building materials depicting Bourton-on-the-Water as it was in 1937 at 1:9 scale. It was built by local craftsmen in the 1930s, and opened on the Coronation Day of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth1937. It, actually, replicates and depicts the village of Bourton - so, I do not know if it is worth the (quite low) admission fees: Adults £3.60, Children aged 3 to 13 £2.80, Over 60's £3.20, Under 3's Free. Open: every day (except for Christmas Day). Summer: 10.00 - 18.00, Winter: 10.00 - 16.00:
Bourton Model Village is famous for it's miniature bonsai type trees, which are carefully pruned to keep them to scale. The Bourton village itself also features a large range of evergreen miniature trees:
During the summer, a game of medieval football is played with goalposts set up in the River Windrush itself. Two teams play with a standard football, and a referee attempts to keep order. Crowds line the banks of the river, and the aim is to score as many goals as possible (while getting everyone else as wet as possible):
From the Model Village continue north-west along Rissington Road (passing the Post Office on your left).On your right is the The small Model Railway Exhibition on the High Street has some of the finest operating indoor model railway layouts in the country. It is mainly a shop (with online service). It is frequently closed so double-check opening times. Formally open: June - August: daily including Sundays, 11.00 - 17.00, September - May (Excluding January): weekends only (Sat & Sun) 11.00 - 17.00:
When you pass Moore Road on your rihjt - turn left to Sherborne St - to see the The Cotswold Motoring Museum in The Old Mill. It is home of Brum (the adventurous four-wheeled hero of children's TV). The Cotswold Motoring Museum & Toy Collection is fluent with vintage car collections, classic cars and motorcycles, caravans, original enamel signs and an intriguing collection of motoring curiosities. Open: everyday, from mid-February to mid-December 10.00 – 18.00. Prices: Adults £5.75, Children 4–16 years £4.10, Under 4s Free, Family 2 adults & 2 children £18.00:
In case you call in Stow-on-the-Wold Market Square- do not miss the village's houses and renowned bakery. In Huffking bakery all the products are handmade and made of original Cotswolds ingredients. The staff members there believe very firmly in sourcing ingredients locally wherever possible. The Huffkins bakery and tea room deserve a visit for its own !!!
As we said in our introduction, keep in mind it is a 45 minutes - 1 hour walk from Moreton-in-Marsh via the Monarch’s Way to Batsford. This picturesque footpath brings you right up to the Arboretum. The Batsford Arboretum is located on the outskirts of the village of Batsford near Moreton-in-Marsh.
Opening hours: every day from 9.00 to 17.00 Monday to Saturday and from 10.00 to 17.00 on Sundays and bank holidays. Prices: Adults £7.95, Concessions (65+) & students £6.95, Children (4-15) £3.50, Families (2 adults and 2 children) £19.95. During midweeks expect very few people there, and you can spend a relaxing couple of hours strolling around the arboretum. BUT, during the weekends it can be VERY crowded and chaotic. it's beautiful whatever the season. The Batsford Arboretum really peaks in autumn with the vibrant colours of the trees (mainly, Acers). Great views and variegated vistas but ONLY in a bright day. Good map and paths well kept. Some of the paths can be quite slippery when it is wet. Expensive restaurant (better, canteen). Take a picnic with you:
55 acres of Parkland overlooking the Evenlode Valley containing over 1500 species of trees. In spring displays of flowering bulbs, wild flowers, and magnolias. In the autumn is is an astonishing display of trees and shrubs. A lot to see - ponds, plants, wildlife, lake, garden centre, Falconry Centre (see below):
The Cotswold Falconry Centre is right next to Batsford Arboretum and home to around 150 Birds of Prey – many of which can be seen in free-flying demonstrations each day. The Falconry Centre is open from mid-February to mid-November. Visitors to the Falconry Centre are eligible for a 10% discount on entry to Batsford Arboretum and vice versa. Just show your Falconry ticket at the Arboretum Entrance. Prices: Adults: £10, Concessions: £7.50, Children (4 - 15 years): £5, Family ticket (2 adults & 3 children): £25. Season tickets are also available.
Up to an hour long and four flying displays a day, Free flying demonstrations take place daily from 11.30, 13.30, 15.00 and also at 16.30 in the summer. Please note: Dogs are not permitted at Cotswold Falconry Centre (except guide dogs). Exceptional experience. Astonishing range of birds of prey in action. Each display, featured a different selection of hawks, falcons. eagles, kites, owls and even vultures, flying free or to the glove.... The birds are well kept and look happy to perform their admirable demonstrations.
African Pygmy Falcon:
Flint Burrowing Owl:
Desmond - Great Horned Owl:
Red Backed Hawk:
Black Chested Buzzerd:
Black Chested Eagle:
Aplomado Falcon (Falco femoralis):
'Grace' the Barn Owl, in flight:
Chris and Falcon in flight:
Now we retrace our steps and head back eastward with our back to the Arboretum and our face to Moreton-in-Marsh. On Monarch Way (A44), on our right (south), 200 m. after exiting the garden centre - we have a path leading to Sezincote House and Garden. The path is approx. 500 m. walk from the road. This stunning complex is open May to September inclusive ONLY on Thursdays, Fridays and Bank Holiday Mondays: 14.30 to 17.30. Admisson: £10 (includes house tour and garden). A fabulous, fairy-tale place hindered by several points. Attention:
no credit or debit cards accepted and no children are permitted !!! Tea and cake served May to September. The complex is a bit of a walk but disabled parking is available close to the gate but even from there there is a bit of a climb up to the house. Map is £3. No free maps. DO NOT buy a map. It is terribly outdated. They use machinery during visiting hours. Expect noise and dust.
The fascinating Sezincote House (named in The Doomsday Book) (frequently not open for visitors) was built in Regency time by a man who made his fortune in the East India company and it inspired many features of the Brighton Pavilion. The architecture has an Indian style. It is topped by copper onion dome straight out of India. Sezincote House is dominated by its red sandstone colour, typical in Mughal architecture. The house is made of stone, taken from a nearby quarry and may have been artificially stained. Inside, the dining room has fabulous painted walls of an Indian scene painted by an artist who had never been to India. Inside, there is also a sequence of extra-large windows with an arch-shape at the top. When the Sezincote House is open - there is a 45-minute historical tour outlining the origin, history and furnishings of this amazing house. The house is a memorial monument of Colonel John Cockerell, grandson of the journalist Samuel Pepys, who returned to England after having a fortune in the East India Company. John died in 1798, three years after his return, and the estate passed to his youngest brother Charles, who had also worked for the company. Charles commissioned his brother Samuel, an architect, to design and build an Indian house in the Mogul style of Rajasthan. Once completed, Sezincote dazzled all who came. When the Prince Regent visited in 1807 he was so impressed that he went on to change his plans for the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. Designed by John Nash, it echoed the exotic Indian style he had admired at Sezincote.
The landscape was designed by Humphry Repton. It is essentially a renaissance-style garden with elements of Hindu style, as seen in the crescent bridge with columns. There is a small area of formal garden to one side of the house, with a moderately nice water feature (which I would not describe as a "canal" as you can easily step over it) but it is strangely soulless and empty. The rest of the gardens, reached after a pleasant stroll (you go down) on mostly grassy paths along the hillside, are gorgeous but, again, hilly so you might a bit struggle (stepping stones under the bridge). There is also a fair uphill walk back to the entrance. It is a lot longer on the way back. The gardens' planting is lush, and there is plenty of it along the stream: the stream itself starts in a very nice circular pond with fountain, and paves its way down the hillside, through a larger pond with a bridged island, to a terminal (being renovated, during summer 2016). There are some lovely mature specimen trees to be seen, and there is a nice rambling "route" to be taken, which allows you see all of it - you don't keep walking into dead ends.
The temple to the sun god Surya at the top of the garden:
In the charming curved orangery they serve superb and inexpensive tea and cakes:
Return from Sezincote House and Garden to the A44 road (Monarch Way).Here you have two options, depending on the exact hour you finished with the Sezincote site: return to Moreton-in-Marsh High Street or catch a bus to the Broadway Tower.
The #1 bus passes from the Batsford Arboretum bus stop (its destination is Startford-upon-Avon) every two hours: 09.30, 11.30, 12.30, 13.30, 15.30, 17.30 heading to the Broadway Tower near Moreton-in-Marsh. Please make sure with the exact timetable. The bus departs from Moreton-in-Marsh High Street at (MON - SAT only !): 09.28, 11.28, 13.28, 15.28, 17.28, 19.28. The bus arrives to the Fish Hill Picnic Area, on Buckle Street and to Broadway High Street - and from there you climb uphill 1.2 km. on foot to the Broadway Tower. Fish Hill got its name because, after their efforts of climbing the steep hill, local people would go to the pub at the top to refresh themselves, and would drink ‘like a fish’:
The Broadway village is a Cotswolds classic for a very good reason, It was ’discovered’ by the Victorian artistic elite in the 1870s and has been adorning calendars and biscuit tins ever since. From Broadway High Street follow the Cotswolds Way (CW) Acorn signs up the climb to Broadway Tower which has a William Morris Room and refreshments. Bear in mind it is quite demanding climb uphill. The views all the way up are beautiful as are the sheep. Sometimes, you can see deer nearby:
The Broadway Tower is a unique place, standing in its dramatic location at 20 m. high (spiral staircase) it has some of the best views in England. You can see up to 16 counties from the top of the Tower. It’s a paradise for cyclists, walkers and wildlife lovers. Perfect for a half-day out. NOT suitable for people with mobility problems. Open: everyday: 10.00 – 17.00 daily. The adjacent Morris and Brown Cafe (excellent coffee), (toilet facilities): everyday 9.00 – 17.00. Prices: Adult £5.00, Child (6-16) £3.00, Child (0-6) FREE, Concessions £4.50, Family (2+2) £14.00. Bunker & Observer Post £4.00, Bunker & Observer Post & Tower combined £8.00. Annual Pass £10.00.Online tickets: https://broadwaytower.co.uk/shop/
The "Saxon" tower was designed by James Wyatt in 1794 and built for Lady Coventry in 1798–99. The tower was built on a "beacon" hill, where beacons were lit on special occasions. Lady Coventry wondered whether a beacon on this hill could be seen from her house in Worcester — about 35 km away — and sponsored the construction of the folly to find out. Indeed, the beacon could be seen clearly. Over the years, the tower was home to the printing press of Sir Thomas Phillipps, and served as a country retreat for artists including William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones who rented it together in the 1880s. William Morris was so inspired by Broadway Tower and other ancient buildings that he founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings in 1877. In the late 1950s, Broadway Tower monitored nuclear fallout in England; an underground ROC Corps bunker was built 50 yards from the Tower (see below). The bunker was one of the last such Cold War bunkers constructed and, although officially closed down in 1991, the bunker is, still now, one of the few remaining fully equipped nuclear/atomic facilities in England. Nowadays, the Broadway Tower is a touristic site with a country park with various exhibitions open to the public at a fee, as well as a gift shop (over-priced stuff) and Morris and Brown Cafe'. Near the tower is a memorial to the crew of a WW2 British bomber plane that lost its bearings and crashed into the hillside here, killing all on board during a training mission in June 1943:
On a clear day the views from the tower are stunning. It's a great photo opportunity. The views are incredible and made better by a fabulous day. You are at the second highest point in the Cotswolds with its beautiful landscape laid out beneath you, so take a few minutes to soak in the breath-taking views over fields, hills and hedgerows as far as South Wales in the distance:
The Cold War Experience at Broadway Tower: fifteen feet below a field on the Broadway Tower estate lies a relic of the Cold War. Note: access to the bunker is via a ladder. There is no disabled access. Children younger than 12 are not allowed access to below ground areas. Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Suitable clothes and footwear must be worn. The former monitoring bunker was once part of a wider network of similar structures all over the United Kingdom built to study and report the effects of nuclear explosions and the resulting radioactive fallout. They were/would be expected to spend 3 weeks below ground during a Nuclear Exchange. The Broadway Tower bunker was closed in 1991. It has now been fully restored to how it would have been in the 1980’s at the height of the Cold War. The Cold War Bunker is open ONLY at Weekends and Bank Holiday Mondays from 1 April to 31 October - 10.00 – 16.45 and the guided tour lasts around 45 minutes. Special openings are available to Schools, History Groups and pre-booked parties during the week. Admission Price of the Bunker & Observer Post: £4.00.
To return to Broadway village - walk back along Coneygree Lane turning right (north) at 11th Century St., Eadburgha’s Church and back to the village. To return to Moreton-in-Msrsh - catch, again, bus Johnsons #1 from the Broadway Village High Street. It departs every two hours, Monday to Saturday: 11.58, 13.58, 15.58, 17.58, 19.56. In case you have still daylight time - we'll visit the beautiful market town of Moreton-in-Marsh. Return to the Corn Exchange in the High Street and head northward along this main street:
On your left is the Redesdale Hall, town's main public hall dating to 1887, with a clock tower above. The Redesdale Hall hosted the local council house. It was erected in 1887 by Sir Algernon Bertram Freeman Mitford, Lord of the Manor of Moreton in memory of his kinsman, Earl of Redesdale (1805-1886). The White Hart Hotel is also visible beyond, as is the Crown Inn:
Note the special houses, or better, cottages along the western side of the High Street. A few of them are hotels or guest houses or even manors:
A bit further north is the Tourist Information Office and, on your right (east) is the Congregational Church:
Moreton-in_marsh Infants School:
Moreton-in_Marsh old Post Office:
Old houses in Moreton-in-Marsh:
A symphony of old roofs:
Beyond the Cacao Bean coffee house - the High Street turns right (east) leading to the Moreton-in-Marsh Railway Station.
Catch a train from Moreton (weekdays:13.58, 15.55, 16.56, 18.12, 20.01) or the Pulhams Coaches #801 bus to Cheltenham: MON-SAT: 12:15, 13:45, 15:00, 16:30, 17:40, 18:45, 19:50.,
Main Attractions: The Promenade, Imperial Gardens, Montpellier Gardens, Montpellier Walk, Suffolk Parade, Montpellier, High Street, Bath Road, Sanford Park, Pittville Pump Rooms.
Start & End: Cheltenham Royal Well Bus Station, Royal Well Road. Duration: 1 day. Distance: 12 km. Weather: Any weather.
Introduction: Cheltenham isn’t the most obvious UK city break destination - but, I do, heartily, recommend you to target this splendid town for one of your weekends. Full with white-washed mansions and houses, with its gorgeous Georgian architecture and great places to eat, drink and shop. Cheltenham is, particularly, a big festival city – with annual jazz (May), science (June), music (July) and literature (October) festivals.
From Royal Well Bus Station, Royal Well Road head southwest toward Royal Well Pl, 80 m. Turn right onto Royal Well Pl, 5 m. Turn left onto and continue to follow St George's, 80 m. Continue onto the Promenade for further 160 m.
Carry on down the Promenade, Cheltenham’s main shopping street lined with elegant Georgian buildings. Cheltenham's famous Promenade dates back to 1818 when the avenue of elms and horse chestnut trees were first planted. If you’re in the mood for shopping, you can find the usual high-end, high-street shops on the Promenade. the Promenade offers a pleasant place for a stroll and ranks amongst England's most beautiful thoroughfares:
This impressive building of the Municipal Offices is on the western side of the Promenade in Cheltenham was built in the 1820s. In total it is sixty-three bays long:
On your left Cavendish House department store on the Promenade:
The Long Gardens are home to Cheltenham's war memorial: another statue (opposite the Cheltenham Borough Council) is the The Boer war memorial:
The nearby statue of 1906 commemorates Edward Wilson, born in Cheltenham and lost on Scott's ill-fated Antarctic expedition of 1910-12:
The Promenade is very much central to life in Cheltenham and this famous local landmark lies in the heart of the town centre, stretching from (north to south) Pittville Park past the Imperial Gardens and towards Montpellier Gardens. During the summer months, the Promenade is at its best, when it is adorned with colourful hanging baskets, overflowing with seasonal floral displays.
Further south along the promenade, on your LEFT is the Town Hall. Cheltenham Town Hall is unusual in that it operates solely as a venue for public events, and NOT as office space - be found in the town's neighbouring Municipal Offices:
The Imperial Gardens, which can be found at the front of the Town Hall (still on your left) (east), were originally planted out for the exclusive use of the customers of the Sherborne Spa. The spa was constructed in 1818 on the site now occupied by the Queens Hotel (see below). Along the years, the gardens have undergone many changes, with the formal style you now see being laid out just after the second world war. The Promenade's colourful Imperial Gardens are laid out with an ever-changing display of ornamental bedding plants. Each year, approximately 25,000 bedding plants are used to produce the magnificent floral displays enjoyed by thousands of visitors every year. During the summer months, the Imperial Gardens becomes host to many outdoor events and festivals including the Literature, Jazz, Science and Music Festivals:
Neptune fountain, at the end of the gardens was designed by Joseph Hall and was sculpted in 1893 by local firm RL Boulton and Sons. It is considered to have been styled on the Trevi Fountain in Rome. It was restored in 1989. The building behind the fountain used to be the ABC cinema:
The Queens Hotel behind the Imperial Gardens:
Continue further south-west along the Promenade and you see the Montpellier Gardens on your left. This parks is used as festival venues, with marquees, shops, cafés and lots of free events. But even if you’re not there for a festival, you can take a walk around the gardens. A full size bronze statue of Gustav Holst (1874-1934) is the centrepiece of the Imperial Gardens with a fountain and surrounded by octagonal plinth depicting the planets. The renowned composer of works such as 'The Planets' was a native of Cheltenham and the Holst Birthplace Museum can be visited in Clarence Road. This commemorative statue, by Anthony Stones, was unveiled in 2008 and shows Holst with conducting baton in hand:
Every summer you can see a free exhibition of local artists: "Art in the Park". On Montpellier Walk, on our right, you will find a line of Caryatids (modelled on The Acropolis in Athens) at the side of every shop alongside a feast of cafes with alfresco dining, a deliciously continental feel to the area. The earliest two were made from terracotta by the London sculptor Rossi and date back to 1840, while the remainder were created by a local man from Tivoli Street, with an additional pair added in the 1970s. Developed in the 1830s and 1840s, the Montpellier area of Cheltenham takes its name from the fashionable French town, which was renown at the time for being a pleasant place to live:
The Montpellier quarter is set at the end of the Promenade just after Montpellier Gardens. At the southern end of the Montpellier Gardens we turn LEFT (south-east) to Montpellier Terrace. Later, we turn RIGHT (south) to Suffolk Parade. Shopping here is in individually styled shops and boutiques with everything from clothes to homeware, and a dance shop sit side by side in Regency buildings with restaurants and a wine bar to give this quarter of the town a real village feeling to the Cheltenham shopping experience:
The Suffolks have become popular for antiques, homewares or individual specialist shops. Home to a restaurant in a church and one which used to be an art deco cinema (see immediately below), this quarter has an artistic appeal all of its own. Along the Suffolk Parade - do not miss (on your right) the Daffodil for dinner. The restaurant serves modern British food in a converted art deco cinema, full of gorgeous original 1920s design features. Head upstairs for a drink in the Circle Bar first, with a great cocktail list and half-price Champagne and sparkling wine on Friday nights from 18.00 to 20.00. Then walk down the sweeping stairs to the restaurant – where the cinema screen used to be you can now watch the chefs in action in the open kitchen.
In the intersection of Suffolk Parade and Upper Bath Street (the 7th to the left) we'll see interesting church:
Suffolk Parade continues as Great Norwood Street and ends at the the Norwood Triangle. Here we take the Gratton Road leg and we turn RIGHT (west) to the Grafton Road. In the corner of Gratton and Grafton roads stands the St Philip and St James, Leckhampton church (popularly called: Pip & Jim). The church is in the Victorian Gothic style, with a fine carved stone reredos in the chancel:
We continue westward along The Park:
We turn RIGHT (north) and walk 320 m. along the Tivoli Road until we turn left to the Andover Road. On our left is the Tivoli Stores Area. We cross the road (cautiously) and turn right to the Lansdown Parade. On our left is the Lansdown Pub:
The Lansdown Parade ends in a roundabout. We shall continue northward along Montpellier Street - BUT, before we take the Parabola Road leg from the rounabout. On the third turn to the right stands the majestic white building of Malmaison Cheltenham hotel, in the heart of Montpellier – Cheltenham’s most stylish district, with plenty of bars, restaurants and boutiques. Set in a white Regency villa, the hotel is classically grand from the outside but inside it’s modern and stylish, with lots of contemporary furniture and artworks, and Hi-Tech and smart technology features inside. There’s lots of space to relax, with a cosy lounge-come-library and a Victorian conservatory as well as a smart bar, restaurant and spa. After the sterling slump - you can book a double room starting from 105 GBP a night !:
Retrace your steps and walk back in Parabola Road - to start walking northward along the Montpellier Street leg. On our left is the Courtyard Specialty Shopping centre. We continue walking north-east along Montpellier Street, crossing the Fauconberg Road. On our left is the Cheltenham Ladies College: an independent boarding and day school for girls aged 11 to 18. The college gets high UK rankings during the last 10 years:
Continuing walking along Montpellier Street brings us onto Royal Well Rd. Continue to follow Royal Well for 320 m. and turn right onto Clarence St. Turn left to the High Street. In the intersection of Royal Well and Clarence Street - you hit the Well Walk Tea Room for afternoon tea. It’s one of Cheltenham’s oldest shops and inside is packed with quirky antiques and crafts. Don’t miss a slice of one of their cakes:
With our back to The Promenade (to the north-east) we turn RIGHT (south-east) to the High Street, and, immediately, RIGHT (south-west) to Regent Street to see, on our left the Everyman Theatre. The Everyman Gloucestershire's theatre - is running shows from year 1891. The interior auditorium is an architectural masterpiece designed by Frank Matcham (it was originally called "The Opera House") and has inspired generations of performers. You visit the Everyman to see ballet, opera, drama, dance, comedy, music events or traditional pantomime. There are two stages in the building - the 694 seat main stage and the 60 seat Studio Theatre, originally named The Richardson after Ralph Richardson.
Further, along Regent Street, still, on your left is the Kibou Sushi, 18 Regent St. A bit higher prices (compared with regular Sushis) - BUT, wonderful food in a small, beautiful restaurant. A few metres further south-west we see the Regent Arcade shopping centre. Clean, bright with lots of shops to pop into. Good WC facilities:
Again, retrace your steps and RETURN the whole Regent Street BACK and turn right onto High Street. Cheltenham’s High Street has been voted the most popular High Street in England. High Street is mainly pedestrianized. On our left (north) is the Beechwood Shopping Centre. Here and there you see buildings, still displaying evidence of the town's regency architecture.
On the 4th road to the right, we turn RIGHT (south-west) to Bath Road. Forming a quarter of the town, for the local community and visitor alike, shopping in Bath Road has something for everyone from ironmongery, shoes and health food to clothes and gift shops. Added to which are banks, a supermarket, pubs, cafes and restaurants for that all-round local shopping experience if you want to try a different experience to town centre shopping in Cheltenham. I recommend having lunch or dinner at the Wetherspoon / Moon under Water, 16-28 Bath Road. 8 oz. steak, rice plate, basket potatoe, peas, mushrooms and lemonade - £11. Cheap meal. Modern decor and very clean. Polite and efficient service.
On your LEFT (east) is the Sanford Park. The recreational side of the park, across College Road and adjacent to Sandford lido, is popular for picnics and games, and also has a large play area and toilets. The ornamental side of the park is divided into three sections: The main part houses a fountain with seating, landscaped beds, and stunning flower displays in the summer months. The Annecy Gardens, named after one of Cheltenham's twin towns, are to the north side of the park, and the Italian Gardens (see photo below), complete with sunken pool and fountains, lie to the west. A meandering path leads to the restful cascade pools and the River Chelt. The Cheltenham Lido is an heated pool (BIG one for adults and a small one for children), which means you can be confident of being able to enter the pool in any summer weather:
Then burn your meal off with a walk to the Pittville Park and Pittville Pump Room, about 30-40 minutes north of the town centre and 1 mile (1.6 km.) walk from Sanford Parks. Built in the 1820s, this was Cheltenham’s largest spa building, surrounded by manicured lawns and ornamental lakes. You can still taste the medicinal spa waters from the pump (open 10.00 – 16.00, unless closed for an event. From the Sandford Park Alehouse, 20 High St. - head BACK northwest on High St., 160 m. Slight right onto High St, 320 m. Turn right onto Pittville St, 110 m. Continue onto Portland St., 320 m. Continue onto Evesham Rd. , 650 m. and the entrance to Pittville Park will be on the left. Lovely place to go for a walk or a run or just to sit in the sunshine. Stunning park, nicely maintained with a huge brand new playground. Generous investment in new park equipment. A brilliant palce in a sunny day !!!
The two lakes straddle the main road, however, the lake with the new playground adjacent also has large menageries with various birds and small animals and two cafes, one by the playground and one nearer Cheltenham Town Centre. The lakes are exquisite and include an island nature refuge. There are many flower beds which look superb in early Spring and Summer:
The park is beautifully landscaped and on the rise is Pittville Pump Rooms, 800 m. walk along a special path. It is standing at the northern end of Pittville Park, and here you can take the spa waters that made Cheltenham's popularity more than a century ago. The Pump Room was built by the architect John Forbes between 1825 and 1830. The Pittville Pump Room was the last and largest of the spa buildings to be built in Cheltenham. The Pump Rooms building is overlooking the lawns and lakes of Pittville Park. The striking Main Hall with its ornate domed ceiling and crystal chandeliers, accommodating up to 400 seated guests. It is used for concerts, exhibitions, parties and dinners. The original marble spa water pump stands proudly in the apse, which can accommodate smaller meetings. Upstairs the bright and sunny Oval and West Rooms. The benefits of Cheltenham's mineral waters had been recognized since 1716, but not until after the arrival of Henry Skillicorne in 1738 did serious exploitation of their potential as an attraction begin. After the visit to Cheltenham in 1788 of King George III, the town became increasingly fashionable, and wells were opened up at several points round the town. Pittville, the vision of Joseph Pitt, was a planned 'new town' development of the 1820s, in which the centre-piece was (and remains) a pump-room where the waters of one of the more northerly wells could be taken. When not in use, you can wander into the Main Auditorium to see its fine interior and sample the fountain’s historically medicinal Spa Waters for free. Open: WED - SUN: 10.00 - 16.00:
From Pittville Park we head south on Evesham Rd, 75 m. Turn right, 45 m.
Turn left, 480 m. Sharp left onto Hudson St, 3110 m. Continue onto Hanover St. Head south on Hanover St toward Dunalley Parade. Turn left onto Dunalley Parade, 320 m. Turn right onto Marle Hill Parade, 70 m. Continue onto Dunalley St, 160 m. Continue onto Henrietta St., 160 m.
Turn left onto High St, 320 m. Turn right onto Clarence St., turn left onto Imperial Circus and turn right onto The Promenade.
Main attractions: Bournemouth Pavillion, Bournemouth Aviary,Bournemouth Lower, Central and Upper Gardens, Coy Pond, Talbot Heath Nature Reserve, The Square, Bournemouth Pier.
Start & End: Bournemouth mainline railway station. Duration: 1 day.
Weather: bright or cloudy day. Distance: 13-14 km.
Introduction: With 10 km. of golden sands and sea, the cosmopolitan town of Bournemouth has it all: wealth of festivals and events, variety of shops, restaurants and holiday accommodation, seafront hotels, quality B&Bs, vibrant nightlife and winning gardens and countryside.
Itinerary: From Bournemouth station turn LEFT (south-east) to turn RIGHT (South-west)) and join Holdenhurst Road. Follow the blue/white sign of "City Centre". On our left is the Unisys apartments' complex:
Keep walking south-west along Holdenhurst Road until you arrive to the Lansdowne Point, and, further, to the Lansdowne Roundabout. If you continue on the same road and direction you continue south-west along Bath Road and the Ramada Hotel on your right. With the Royal Bath Hotel on your left - turn RIGHT (North-west) to Westover Road. Immediately in the beginning of Westover - you see the Bournemouth Pavillion on your left. The Pavilion Theatre is Bournemouth's iconic venue for year round exhibition, stage shows, Opera, Ballet, fashion shows, Pantomime and Comedy as well as for corporate presentations and dinner dances, product launches and small conferences. . Built in the 1920s, opened in 1927 by The Duke of Gloucester. and refurbished in 2007 - it retains its nostalgic and elegant styling. Open: everyday: 10.00 - 17.30:
On our right are the Odeon Cinema. A bit further, on your left is the Bournemouth Aviary, 26-29 Westover Rd. The main purpose of the aviary is a rescue centre for captive-bred caged birds. The aviary is, actually, in the most upper part of the Lower Gardens (see below). Open all-year around and everyday. The Aviary was originally maintained by Bournemouth Council, but it is now run entirely by volunteers. Most of our birds are rescued, or have been born at Bournemouth Aviary. Free entrance:
Taking Westover Road to its end, turn RIGHT (north-east) to Gervis Place. On your right is the Arcade (also known as Gervis Arcade or the Royal Arcade) - Entertainment Centre which is located at the entrance to Bournemouth Pier. The Arcade is a whole shopping trip in itself:
Behind the Arcade complex - we see the top spire of Saint Peter Church. We leave the Gervis Square and turn left (south-west) to the Lower Gardens. Bournemouth Gardens run for 3.5 km. from south-east to north-west. The Gardens are divided into four named sections (from south to north): The lower part - the Lower Gardens, in the town centre, from the Pier Approach to The Square, is naturally the busier section and also the more formal. The farther upstream, the less formal and manicured, the more unspoilt and the less frequently visited; the Central Gardens, from the The Square to Wessex Way; the Upper Gardens, from Wessex Way to Branksome Wood Road; the Coy Pond Gardens, alongside the pond of that name (see below). We could approach the Lower Gardens from the Pavilion or from the Pier Approach, turn right (north) and embark on the most southern stretch of the gardens (Lower Gardens) before we reach Gervis Place. These gardens are a beautiful part of Bournemouth and are kept in a superb condition by the council staff. They are beautifully kept and are almost litter- free:
Sometimes you can see The Bournemouth Eye in the Lower Gardens, the tethered balloon gives rides up above the Bournemouth town:
We shall walk in the Lower Gardens along the Bourne Stream from
south-east to north-west. The distance from Bournemouth Pier to Coy Pond (see below) is approx. 3.5 km. The stream is running through ALL the THREE gardens. They get busy during the day, especially, in bright days. crowded in good weather. Great fun to watch the squirrels climbing the trees and looking for nuts and seeds in the grass.
When we see The Square and the Town Hall and Methodist Church on our right (north) - it is here where the Lower Gardens end and the Central Gardens start. We shall return to these places later:
View from the Cenotaph (in the border between the Lower Gardens and the Central gardens) to St. Peter Church:
The Central Gardens extend from the town centre to Prince of Wales Street. The Central Gardens are well signed. They have a play area with wooden equipment, attractive parkland, a cafe and tennis courts. Access is from Bourne Avenue and Avenue Road. Remember, from here until Coy Pond - no toilets or refreshments !
Crossing the Prince of Wales street - we start the Upper Gardens. There are TWO paths fro here. Both of them leading to Coy Pond. The two paths are bordered by posh mansions and villas of locals. The Upper Gardens have a more natural feel and planting. As you walk along you’ll see a number of little red bridges that cross the stream and a lovely old folly which is now home to bats. The gardens will eventually lead you to ornamental rockeries and Coy Pond, from here on the path is unpaved and can be boggy so it’s not suitable for wheelchair users. The Upper Gardens were originally laid out as a private garden for the Durrant family in the 1860s. The Upper gardens have a “three continent” theme with three separate sections. The first has a European theme, the second an Asian Theme and finally the third theme is based on plant species from North America. The Upper gardens hold many unusual tree species including a North American Giant Redwood (believed to be the largest in the country) and a group of mature Persian Ironwood trees. Many of the trees in this garden were planted during the later part of the 19th century and are well over 100 years old. Within the Upper Gardens there are a number of wooden walkways that allow the visitor to stroll through the lush but boggy foliage and at first hand inspect the rare and uncommon species growing there. Although more of a “nature trail” than the other two gardens, the Upper Gardens are still very accessible and require no special footwear. They are by far the quietest of the three gardens. The TREE TRAIL: There is an excellent computerized leaflet including the trees' guide along the Upper Gardens (and a bit from the Central Gardens): http://www.bournemouth.gov.uk/Parks/FindParksGardens/Documents/BournemouthTreeTrail-2011-final-lowres.pdf
Sowarra Cypress in the Upper Gardens:
As you walk into the first section you are greeted by a rather elegant Gothic style Victorian water tower, fashioned after a castle turret. In bygone days this used to provide water for a fountain and was fed, in turn by a pump driven by a water wheel from the nearby river Bourne:
Beyond the Tower we pass a bridge and a small waterfall:
We continue walking north-west along the Bourne stream until our path is met by the Branksome Wood Road. Here, start the Coy Pond Gardens and we face the Coy Pond itself (the borough of Poole). Coy Pond was created in 1888 at the time the railway embankment was constructed behind it; its name is a reminder of a previous life as a decoy pond. The tranquil pond and gardens are an idyllic picnic space adorned with weeping willows that dominate the banks of the Bourne stream and forming an almost continuous canopied corridor of trees (Cypresses and astonishing Redwoods) from Branksome Wood Road to the railway embankment. Overall, the collection of trees and plants is stunning. The pond and its gardens is a popular destination with local people and is an ideal venue to have a picnic. The pond is now fronted on three sides by residential properties and by Coy Pond Gardens to the south. It features a wooded island. The pond is fluent with number of waterfowl species including Coots, Moorhens, Mallards and Canada Geese:
Continue northward along Coy Pond Road, Thwalte Rd and slight right (north-east) to Wren Crescent. Now, we take a desolated section of walking. AVOID IT IN CASE OF RAIN ! The Wren Crescent turns 180 degrees to the LEFT (west). We climb along the Wren Crescent (passing under a red bridge with its red ballards).
We turn RIGHT (north) to Dalling Road. In the end of Dalling Rd. we turn RIGHT (east) to the Bourne Valley and the Talbot Heath Nature Reserve (no shelter, except of trees - in case of rain):
We take the main firm gravel path. In every intersection - we slight or turn RIGHT. After 15 minutes of walk we arrive to the East Avenue. In addition to the heath you will fine stream-side wooded vegetation, some attractive woodland (predominantly oak and silver birch), an area of grassland with chalk influences and some wild scrub along the valley bottom:
We end our crossing of the Bourne Valley (from west to east) in the East Avenue. Walk eastward along East Avenue and turn RIGHT (south) to Rothersay Rd. On our right is the Talbot School:
Turn RIGHT (south-west) (NOT LEFT) to Glenferness Ave. In the end of Glenferness Ave - we turn LEFT (east) to Barnksome Road walking a long way eastward. We can walk approx. 3.2 km along Branksome Road until we arrive to The Square OR we can turn right to Bournemouth Gardens (Brunstead Rd or further south in the Prince of wales- to the Upper Gardens, Queens Rd to the Central Gardens). Anyway, depending on the weather, all these options will bring us to The Square. The Square is a busy place both by day and by evening, being right in the heart of Bournemouth City. There are seven roads leading to and from all parts of the borough that converge in this square. The seven roads are: Avenue Rd, Bourne Ave, Commercial Rd, Gervis Place, Exeter Rd, Old Christchurch Rd and Richmond Hill.
A lovely place to sit and watch the world go by: restaurants, bars, cafe's, cinemas, top world famous hotels (The Royal Bath) including the just built Hilton, beggars, street-sellers etc'. The Square separates the Central Gardens from the Lower Gardens (all under the square). The Square has undergone a number of facelifts in the last 200 years since Bournemouth was officially founded in 1810 by Lewis Tregonwell. Since year 2000 the square has been almost totally pedestrianized. This year marks the the turn of this square: It is a vibrant and exciting place to be. You feel in with the crowds, thousands of shoppers (the square is FULL with market stalls but no shops). The surrounding gardens and the flowers beds give it a lovely feel.
Food market in The Square:
Since we entered the Lower Gardens from The Square (in the beginning of our itinerary) - we'll complete our last section of these wonderful gardens by walking along the first section, not yet explored - from Bournemouth Pier to The Square:
The Bournemouth Pier lies behind the southern edge of the Lower Gardens. Off season it's free to get on the pier, during the main season there is a small fee to get on (£1.00 admission for entry). Quite average. At the pier entrance you'll find a large arcade with the latest games, a number of units selling everything from ice-cream to sun hats, postcards and lots more. On a sunny day you will have blue skies in the background and the beautiful, award winning beaches. On the pier itself you'll find the Rock Reef activity centre, a new climbing wall, zip line (flying fox) (at the end of the promenade, where you can descend from a large tower to the beach below) and Key West Restaurant. Deckchairs along the pier for just £3 for the day. Lovely views all around and great pics can be taken. The beach is a bit dated out BUT full with activity and holidaymakers:
From the Bournemouth Pier to the mainline train station - we have to walk back for 1.8 km. From Bournemouth Pier head northeast on W Undercliff Promenade, 55 m. Slight left toward Exeter Rd, 65 m. Turn right toward Exeter Rd, 15 m. Continue to follow Exeter Rd, go through 3 roundabouts, 1.3 km. Slight left onto Holdenhurst Rd and continue to follow Holdenhurst Rd. Go through 1 roundabout, 160 m. Turn left
and Bournemouth mainline station will be on the right, 150 m.