United Kingdom Trips

London - National Gallery - Level 2

Fabrice Pelletier

United Kingdom

One day in the National Gallery, London (Level 2 ONLY):

Room 2 - Titian - Bacchus and Ariadne:

Room 2 - Palma Veccio - A Blonde Woman - might be NOT on display:

Room 2 - Titian and Venice 1500–1530 - Vincenzo Catena - Portrait of the Doge, Andrea Gritti, probably 1523-31

Room 4 - Germany - Hans Holbein the Younger - A Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling:

Room 4 - Lucas Cranach the Elder - Portrait of Johann Friedrich the Magnanimous:

Room 4 - Younger Hans Holbein - The Ambassadors, 1533:

Room 6 - Venice 1500–1600 - Jacopo Tintoretto - The Origin of the Milky Way, about 1575:

Room 6 - Paolo Veronese - The Rape of Europa, about 1570:

Room 7 - scenes from the Old Testament story of Joseph - Bacchiacca -
Joseph pardons his Brothers:

Room 8: Raphael - Pope Julius II, 1511:

Room 9 - Venice 1530-1600 - Paris Bordone - A Pair of Lovers:

Room 10 - Ferrara and Bologna - Garofalo - An Allegory of Love, about 1527-39:

Room 11 - Joachim Beuckelaer painted The Four Elements in 1569 - The Four Elements: Water - 1569:

Room 12 - Northern Italian Portraiture 1510–1580 - Lorenzo Lotto - Portrait of a Woman inspired by Lucretia, about 1530-2:

Room 14 - Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Adoration of the Kings, 1564:

Room 14 - Jan Gossaert (Jean Gossart) - Adam and Eve, about 1520:

Room 14 - Jan Gossaert (Jean Gossart) - Man with Rosary, 1525-1530:

Room 14 - The Netherlands - Jan Gossaert (Jean Gossart) - THe Adoration of the Kings, 1510-1515:

Room 16 - Dutch Interiors - Johannes Vermeer - Young Woman standing at a Virginal, about 1670-2:

Room 18 - Peter Paul Rubens - Samson and Delilah, about 1609-10:

Room 18 - Peter Paul Rubens - Peace and War, 1629-30:

Room 18 - Peter Paul Rubens - The Judgement of Paris, 1632-5:

Room 18 - Peter Paul Rubens - A Lion Hunt, about 1614-15:

Room 21 - Van Dyck - Anthony van Dyck - Portrait of Cornelis van der Geest, about 1620:

Room 21 - Anthony van Dyck - Portrait of the Abbé Scaglia, 1634:

Room 22 - Rembrandt - An Elderly Man as Saint Paul, 1659:

Room 22 - Rembrandt - Portrait of Aechje Claesdr, 1634:

Room 22 - Rembrandt - Self Portrait at the Age of 34, 1640:

Room 23 - Dutch Portraits - (might NOT be on display) - Judah and Tamar - Aert de Gelder, about 1681:

Room 23 - Frans Hals - Portrait of a Middle-Aged Woman with Hands Folded, about 1635-40:

Room 24 - Biblical Stories - Rembrandt - Belshazzar's Feast, about 1636-8:

Room 24 - Joachim Wtewael - The Judgement of Paris, 1615:

Room 29 - Seaport - Claude, 1644:

Room 25 - A new art for a new nation - Frans Hals - Young Man holding a Skull (Vanitas), 1626-8:

Room 29 - French Painting 1600–1700 - Seaport with the Embarkation of Saint Ursula - Claude, 1641:

Room 29 - Nicolas Poussin - The Finding of Moses, 1651:

Room 29 (may be NOT on display) - Studio of Peter Paul Rubens - Portrait of the Infanta Isabella, about 1615:

Room 30 - Spain - (might be NOT on display) - Diego Velázquez - Philip IV hunting Wild Boar (La Tela Real), 1632-7:

Room 30 - Diego Velázquez - Portrait of Archbishop Fernando de Valdés, 1640-5:

Room 30 - Diego Velázquez - The Toilet of Venus ('The Rokeby Venus'), 1647-51:

Room 30 (might be NOT on display) - Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio -
The Supper at Emmaus, 1601:

Room 31 - A different view of Flanders - Peter Paul Rubens - Portrait of Susanna Lunden(?) ('Le Chapeau de Paille'), 1622-5:

Room 32 - Italy - (might be NOT on display) - Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio - Salome receives the Head of John the Baptist, 1609-10:

Room 33 - France 1700-1800 - (might be NOT on display) - Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun - Self Portrait in a Straw Hat, from 1782:

Room 33 - Jean-Honoré Fragonard - Psyche showing her Sisters her Gifts from Cupid, 1753:

Room 33 - François-Hubert Drouais - Madame de Pompadour at her Tambour Frame, 1763-4:

Room 33 - Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun - Madame de Pompadour at her Tambour Frame, 1788:

Room 34 - Great Britain 1750-1850 - Thomas Gainsborough - The Morning Walk, 1785:

Room 34 - George Stubbs - Whistlejacket, about 1762:

Room 34 - William Hogarth - The Graham Family, 1742:

Room 34 - John Constable - The Hay Wain, 1821:

Room 34 - John Constable - The Cornfield, 1826:

Room 35 - Hogarth and British Painting - The Marriage Settlement - , William Hogarth, about 1743:

Room 35 - William Hogarth-  The Toilette, about 1743:

Room 36 - British Portraits 1750-1800 - Joshua Reynolds - Colonel Tarleton, 1782:

Room 38 - Canaletto and Guardi - Canaletto - The Stonemason's Yard, about 1725:

Room 38 - Canaletto - The Grand Canal with S. Simeone Piccolo, about 1740:

Room 38 - Canaletto - Regatta on the Grand Canal, about 1740:

Room 38 - Canaletto - The Basin of San Marco in Venice on Ascension Day, about 1740:

Room 39 - Spain and Venice 1700-1800 - Francisco de Goya - Isabel de Porcel, before 1805:

Room 40 - Italy 1700-1800 - Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo - The Building of the Trojan Horse, about 1760:

Room 41 - Cézanne, Monet, and Matisse - (might be NOT on display) - Claude Monet - Water-Lilies, after 1916:

Room 41 - André Derain - Madame Matisse au Kimono, 1905:


Room 42 (might be NOT on display) - Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Dancing Girl with Tambourine, 1909:

Room 42 - Degas and Art around 1900 - (might be NOT on display) - Pierre-Auguste Renoir - The Lunch, 1901:

Room 42 - Odilon Redon - Ophelia among the Flowers, about 1905-8:

Room 43 (or 41) - Camille Pissarro - Portrait of Cézanne, 1874:

Room 43 - Seurat, Gauguin, and Van Gogh - Georges Seurat - Bathers at Asnières, 1884:

Room 43 - Camille Pissarro - Rainy Morning in Blvd. Monmartre, 1897:

Room 43 - Vincent van Gogh - Sunflowers, 1888:

Room 44 - Manet, Monet, and the Impressionists - Claude Monet - The Beach at Trouville, 1870:

Room 44 - Pierre-Auguste Renoir - At the Theatre (La Première Sortie), 1876-7:

Room 44 - Camille Pissarro - The Pork Butcher, 1883:

Room 45 - Romantic Painters - Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld - Ruth in Boaz's Field, 1828:

Room 46 - 19th-Century Landscape Painting in Europe - Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot - Italian Woman, about 1870:


Ariel Shafir

United Kingdom

Main Attractions: Bell Edison Telephone Building, Birmingham School of Arts, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Victoria Square, Bullring Shopping Centre, The Rotunda, Centenary Square, Library of Birmingham, Birmingham Canal, Brindleyplace, Cube project, The Mailbox, Gas Street Basin.

Start: Snow Hill Railway Station. End: New Street Station. Duration: 3/4 day  - 1 day.

Orientation: Birmingham is served by several railway station (like many other cities in the UK). The distances among the various stations is, very often, no more than 15-20 minutes walk. The city centre is fantastic shopping and the ramped canal system amazing. Nice to walk both day and night time. It does look like it was back in old days in parts. Canals in Birmingham wonderfully restored. A city with around 150 km.s of canals. BIRMINGHAM IS A LOVELY CITY !!!

From the Snow Hill station - we turn RIGHT twice and arrive to Livery Road.  At the 2nd intersection - turn left to Edmund Street. On your right - the Old Conteptibles Pub.  We pass, on our right and our left - the Church Street:

We pass Barwick Street on our left and arrive to Newhall Street on our left and right. Attention the red-bricked building with gorgeous turrets on our right - The Bell Edison Telephone Building (17-19 Newhall Street). it was built as the new Central Telephone Exchange and offices for the National Telephone Company (NTC). The NTC was taken over by the Postmaster General in 1912 and the ownership transferred to the General Post Office. During World War I, it was the Midland headquarters of the air raid warning system:

Opposite, a similar building - The Exchange:

Next, we pass Margaret Street on our right and the Birmingham School of Arts. The foundation stone was laid on 31 May 1884 and the building was opened in September 1885. It is a red-brick Victorian Gothic structure with Venetian style and naturalistic decoration. Completed after its architect J. H. Chamberlain's death by his partner William Martin and his son Frederick Martin. Considered as Chamberlain's masterpiece:

We continue walking south-west along Edmund Street and arrive to Chamberlaine Square. On our left is the tower of the Council House or Town Hall:

The side of the building, which faces Chamberlain Square, is the entrance and façade of the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery which is partly housed within the same building. The front of this building is, actually, in Victoria Square:

The link bridge between the original Art Gallery and the Art Gallery Extension of 1911–1919. The archway or bridge resembles slightly The Bridge of Sighs in Venice:

Big Brum is the local name for the clock tower on the Council House, Birmingham, England. Built in 1885, the clock tower is part of the first extension to the original Council House of 1879 and stands above the Museum & Art Gallery. The clock tower, Museum & Art Gallery and Council House were designed by architect Yeoville Thomason and form a single block. The clock was donated by A. Follett Osler, a local pioneer in the measurement of meteorological and chronological data:

Opening Times: MON - THU:  10.00 - 17.00, FRI 10.30 - 17.00, SAT & SUN  10.00 - 17.00. Free entry. Fascinating museum. The visit is a delight. Quite a lot to see. Allow, at least, two-three hours.  Magnificent building in its own.

--- Faith Section ---

Simhanada Lakeshvara, 11th cent., Bihar, India, Stone:

Statue of Buddha, 7th Cent., The Sultangang Buddha:

Death of Buddha, 10th Cent., Eastern India:

--- Religions Section ---

There is a special hall devoted to the 4 main religions in our world. Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism. Flat, naive exhibition. No inspiration. Skip it.

--- British Modern 20th Cent. Art ---

Henry Moore - The Warrior, 1954:

Head of Rabindranath Tagore, Jacob Epstein, 1926, Bronze:

--- 19th and 20th Cent. Art (including Impressionism from France):

Henry Matisse - The White Fox Fur, 1929, Lithograph:

Alfred Sisley - Church of Moret in the Rain, 1894:

Camille Pissaro, The Pont Boieldieu at Rouen in Sunset, 1896:

Jean-Francois Rafaell, The Awakening, 1890:

--- 18th - 19th Cent. British Paintings ---

Henry Roenburn (Scotland most famous portrait painter), Mrs. Ferguharson of Frinzean, around 1814-1823:

--- The Pre-Raphaelites ---

Ford Madox Brown - The last of England (emmigration from England to America in the 1850s):

Ford Madox Brown - The Death of Sir Tristram, 1864:

Fredrick Sandys, Medea preparing a poisoned portion for Glouke, 1866-1868:

New Lamps for Old, Joseph Southall, 1900-1 (from a legend in 1001 Nights Tales):

Silver and Gold, William Musell Flint, 1931. A stunning picture of a woman wearing a fashionable evening dress of the late 1920s. !:

The Battle of the Amazons, Paul Rubens, 1590:

Everitt Cabinet designed by John Henry Chamberlain. The cabinet was commissioned for Allen G Everitt, Secretary of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, by fellow members of the Society, on the occasion of his marriage in 1880:

--= The Level 3 of the museum is very impressive---

The whole floor hosts a  plaster cast of the original Frieze of the Parthenon in the British Museum in London. There is a collection of Mummies as well.

The section of Ancient Egypt is a bit gloomy and neglected. Funerary Mask, 332-64 AC:

Limestone relief from a tomb wall of Min, Hor-nakht, 18th-19th Dynasty, 1300 B.C:

Granite block, Temple of Bubastis, 22nd Dynasty, 850 B.C:

Ptah-Seker, Osiris figure , Soqqara, 26th Dynasty, 600 B.C:

---Ancient Iraq ---

Fragment of a carved relief from the reign of Assurbanipal, Ninveh, 668-627 B.C:

To exit the museum - press: "Level 2" in the elevator.

Victoria Square resides south to the Town Hall and adjacent to Chamberlaine Square. THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPRESSIVE SQUARES IN EUROPE. Amazing building around. Fantastic mix of colors and shapes. Beautiful scenery of architecture, flowers, buildings and statues. The fountain did not function during my visit. It seems it would be non-operational for a long time. This square always seems relaxing and peaceful BUT with many busy coming and going. Plenty of places to sit, relax, enjoy lunch and chat. The fact that it isn't flat adds to it's interest. There is a lot of work going on during the last 18 months - making it a little tricky to enjoy the surroundings.

The Council House and Statue of Queen Victoria:

'The River' fountain and sculpture (locally known as 'The Floozie in the Jacuzzi'):

The Guardian statue:

(non-operational) water/fountain statues:

(Iron) Man statue by Anthony Gormley:

Flower beds:

From Victoria Square we head southeast on Hill St toward Swallow St, 500 m. Turn left onto Smallbrook Queensway, 320 m. and we arrive to the Bullring Shopping Centre. Bullring is the glamorous heart of Birmingham with over 160 imaginative and iconic shops to explore. It is styled as one word, Bullring. 

Since opening in 2003 Bullring has helped to transform shopping in Birmingham – making it one of the most popular destinations for retail commerce in the UK. The most known is the Selfridges building (which was inspired by a Paco Rabanne sequinned dress and designed by Future Systems). The store is clad in 15,000 shiny aluminium discs:

Others are: Debenhams, Forever 21, John Lewis, House of Fraser and Hollister and more than 40 restaurants and cafés to relax in. You can enter Nando's restaurant - which down the stairs from the central square of the Bullring complex. It has been an important feature of Birmingham since the Middle Ages, when its market was first held. Two shopping centres have been built in the area; in the 1960s, and then in 2003. the centre has been a huge success, attracting customers from all over the world. A huge variety of shops and restaurants:

Bullring Shopping Centre was master-planned and designed mainly by Benoy international firm of architects. The shopping centre consists of two main buildings (East and West Malls) which are connected by an underground passage lined with shops and is also accessible from St Martin's Square via glass doors. There are three full floors of a myriad of shops, department stores, eateries etc'. Easy access from the main train station (Birmingham New Street Station). The shopping centre's design has both its admirers and detractors:

At the main entrance to the west building stands the tall bronze sculpture of a running, turning bull. It was created by Laurence Broderick and has become a very popular photographic feature for visitors to Birmingham. The statue was vandalized in 2005. The sculpture was vandalized again in 2006.  The sculptor gave support to calls for the statue to be renamed "Brummie the Bull". However, it is more widely known as simply "The Bull.":

Another famous statue is the Statue of Lord Nelson by Sir Richard Westmacott, 1807-09, on the Portland plinth and railings surrounding it. This bronze statue was the first publicly funded statue in Birmingham, and the first statue of Horatio Nelson in Britain. It was made in 1809 by public subscription of £2,500 by the people of Birmingham following Nelson's visit to the town on 31 August 1802, the year before he sailed against the fleets of Napoleon. The statue was unveiled on 25 October 1809, that being the day decreed as the official golden jubilee of George III:

The site is located on the edge of the sandstone city ridge which results in the steep gradient towards Selfridges store. The slope drops approximately 15 metres from New Street to St Martin the Bulring Church. This lovely church, largely rebuilt in the 19th century, is stranded on the southern edge of the Bullring, facing a wall of 21st century consumer paradise. St Martins provides a real tranquil centre to gather your thoughts when you have had enough wandering around the Bullring. Just sitting for a few moments allows you to take a deep breath before heading back into the commercial world outside. In 1873, a former church was demolished and rebuilt by architect Alfred Chatwin, from Birmingham, preserving the earlier tower and spire. During the demolition, medieval wall paintings and decorations were discovered in the chancel, including one showing the charity of St Martin dividing his cloak with a beggar. St Martin was a soldier. He was born in Hungary in 316 and never wanted to join the army but was obliged to by law. At the age of 18, he was posted to Amiens in France. One bitterly cold winter’s night he was riding through the city when he saw a half-naked beggar huddled against a wall. Martin was so moved by the sight that he cut his cloak with his sword and gave one half to the beggar. That night he had a dream in which Christ appeared to him as the beggar and thanked Martin for clothing him. In response, the young soldier got baptised. Later he was to leave the army to become a soldier of Christ, eventually becoming Bishop of Tours in France. St Martin is remembered today for his service to the poor.

The interior has an open timber roof, which shows the influence of the great hammer-beam roof of Westminster Hall in London:

The South Transept has a Burne-Jones window, made by William Morris in 1875. This window was taken down for safe keeping the day before a World War II bomb dropped beside the church on 10 April 1941, destroying all remaining windows:

The West window is a 1954 copy of the Henry Hardman 1875 window destroyed in the Blitz:

Even more south to the church, the Birmingham Open Market is on Edgbaston street, just outside the Indoor markets. Opening times: TUE -  FRI: 9.00 - 17.00, SAT: 9.00 - 17.30. The Bull Ring Open Market has 130 stalls. The wide, covered aisles are suitable for wheelchair users and those with mobility difficulties. The original Market Hall, with room for 600 stalls and an ornamental fountain, was built in 1835, again designed by Charles Edge, the man who finished the Town Hall. In 1940 it was deserted after being hit by a German incendiary bomb. It was still in use although roofless until the redevelopment of Birmingham swept it away in the early 1960s. Work began to redevelop the Bull Ring in 1961 and the new Bull Ring, which cost a total of £8 million, was opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in May 1964. It was meant to be the ultimate shopping experience and was declared to be the biggest indoor shopping mall outside the USA, but many said the feel of the old market had been lost. Now it plays host to more than six million shoppers every year, with 140 stallholders offering fresh fruit and veg, farm produce, delicious cheeses, Carribean food, lots of beautiful fabrics, clothing:

Try to find your way to the Rotunda. From the Open Market - you head to the north-west corner of the Bullring complex. The Rotunda is in the intersection of High Street and (our well known) New Street. The Rotunda is a cylindrical 81 metres high-rise building. It was completed in 1965. It was refurbished between 2004 and 2008 and was turned into a residential building. The building was officially reopened on 13 May 2008:

With our back to the Rotunda building we enter New Street and walk north-west. Flowers stall in New Street:

We cross Corporation Street - where, on our left, is the Grand Central Shopping Centre. On the background we see the "Brum" clock tower of the Town Hall:

New St turns slightly right and becomes Paradise St. Slight right onto Fletchers Walk and turn right to take the stairs. Turn left and you face the grandiose Centenary Square. SUPERB ! MAJESTIC !! Named in 1989 to commemorate the centenary of Birmingham achieving city status. The square is used as a staging area for many of the city's main cultural events including the German (Frankfurt) Christmas Market, Arts Festivals, Remembrance Day Services, New Year's Celebrations and during Christmas hosts a temporary ice rink and Ferris wheel. The area was an industrial area of small workshops and canal wharves before it was purchased by the council in the 1920s for the creation of a grand civic centre scheme to include museums, council offices, cathedral and opera house. The scheme was abandoned after the arrival of World War II with only the Hall of Memory and half of the planned Baskerville House complete. The Centenary Square is especially pretty in Spring and Summer with flowers in full bloom. 

On our left, as we enter the grandiose square, is the War Memorial. This is the oldest building in the square:

The Baskerville House is, on our right, immediately as we enter the square from the east:

The square is bounded to the north by Birmingham Repertory Theatre (1971),

Library of Birmingham (2013)

and Baskerville House (1938) (see above). The western edge of the square is defined by the International Convention Centre (1991),

Symphony Hall (1992)

and Hyatt Hotel (1990).

Symphony Hall and Hyatt Regency Hotel:

To the south of the square is Broad Street beyond which are the House of Sport (1951),

Birmingham Municipal Bank headquarters (1933) and Alpha Tower (1972).

The southern side of the square is earmarked for redevelopment as part of the Arena Central scheme. To the east across Centenary Way is the Copthorne Hotel (1987),

Birmingham Central Library (1974) and Chamberlain House (1987). The NEW Library of Birmingham was opened on 3 September 2013, it replaced Birmingham Central Library. The library is viewed by the Birmingham City Council as a flagship project for the city's redevelopment. It has been described as the largest public library in the United Kingdom, the largest public cultural space in Europe, and the largest regional library in Europe.It is the 10th most popular visitor attraction in the UK:

This bronze sculpture by Gillain Wearing challenges what is meant by "family": I am not sure you'll see this sculpture. I heard it was removed during year 2017:

The Birmingham Library from the Repertory Theatre:

Library of Birmingham opening hours: MON - TUE: 11.00 – 19.00, WED - SAT: 11.00 - 17.00. An architectural magic. On 17 July 2014 the Library of Birmingham was nominated as one of the six short-listed buildings for the 2014 Stirling Prize, awarded for excellence in architecture. YOU MUST ENTER AND VISIT THE BUILDING.
The views from the Birmingham Library viewing platform are outstanding. The breathtaking views of Birmingham and the Centenary Square around the Library stunning tower is another inspiring magnet  attracting visitors from all around the world to this wonderful building:

The secret garden on level 4 with the raised beds, birds' boxes interwoven with gravel paths reflect the façade pattern, which has been used as the identity of the Library. (It has also been used in the floor pattern and on the Library teams uniforms...):

On level 7 there is even more beautiful and stunning "secret garden". The views of this garden combined with the mighty landscaping of the Centenary Square, downstairs - are unforgettable. BOTH ROOF GARDENS ARE A MUST !

It is a  special experience to see and use the contemporary glass elevators in the library building:

The Centenary Square was equipped with several famous (and controversial) statues in the past. Most of them were destroyed (Forward Statue - by a blaze) or removed (Ordinary Birmingham family - by Emma Jones). Still, you can see green, planted and manicured sculptures like this one in front of Birmingham Library:

We enter the ICC and Symphony Hall complex. It is an underground shopping centre - leading to the Birmingham Canal basin:

Exiting the shopping centres passage we face a bridge over the Birmingham Canal. The canals were the life-blood of Victorian Birmingham and the Black Country. At their height, they were so busy that gas lighting was installed beside the locks to permit round-the-clock operation. Boats were built without cabins for maximum carrying capacity. Do not underestimate Birmingham waterways. Many people say that Birmingham has a larger network of waterways than Venice. Many of our canals were built at the height of the industrial revolution. Birmingham's waterways make the ideal spot to unwind in the middle of a busy city. You can admire the historic architecture and passing boats on a towpath walk or cycle. You can enjoy a boat trip down the canal, or explore the vibrant waterfront by visiting one of the cafés, bars and restaurants: The Malt House, The Prince of Wales, The Queens Arms or the Tap & Spile:

View from the canal basin to the ICC and Symphony Hall. The sculpture is The Battle of Gods and Giants by Roderick Tye. It symbolizes Birmingham's struggle to rebuild its centre.

Birmingham Canal opposite ICC and the Symphony Hall:

We cross the Birmingham City Central Path canal from east to west to Brindleyplace - the Waters Edge (more punctually, the Waters Edge is the most eastern part of Bridleyplace...). Brindleyplace is a large canalside development. It was named after Brindley Place, the name of the street (in turn named after the 18th century canal engineer James Brindley) around which it is built. In addition to shops, bars and restaurants, Brindleyplace is home to the National Sea Life Centre, Royal Bank of Scotland, Orion Media, Ikon Gallery of art and the Crescent Theatre. The site covers 69,000 m² of redevelopment on a grand scale - the UK's largest such project.] The Birmingham Canal Navigations Main Line Canal separates Brindleyplace from the International Convention Centre, although there are linking bridges. The National Indoor Arena, Old Turn Junction and bustling bars of Broad Street are nearby. The area occupied by Brindleyplace was, at the height of Birmingham's industrial past, the site of factories, however, by the 1970s as Britain's manufacturing went into decline, the factories closed down and the buildings lay derelict for many years. Brindleyplace is full with interesting buildings. A variety of architects were used to design the buildings in the complex to create a range of architectural styles:

WE shall enter Brindleyplace and change direction - walking into this quarter with our face to the south-east.  We cross Brindley Place and Brunswick Streets and, on our left, is the Ikon Gallery. The gallery features temporary exhibitions over two floors. Ikon shows works by artists from around the world and a variety of media is represented, including sound, film, mixed media, photography, painting, sculpture and installation. FREE entry. Opening Times: TUE – SUN: 11.00 - 17.00:

Oozels Street separates between the Ikon Gallery (north-east side of the square) to the Oozels Square. The square's epic centre is the RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) building in the south-east edge of the square. The square is surrounded on three sides by modern buildings and on one side by the historic building, used to be a school, but is now the modern art museum - Ikon Gallery:

With our face to the RBS main building (south-west) - the Broad Street is on our left. I did not find a reason to devote time to this street .

Oozele Square, the north-east side of the square: the Ikon Gallery:

Brindleyplace has three famous squares: Brunswick Square, Oozelle Square and Central Square. If we walk from the Oozelle Square NORHWARD (between the Brindleyplace Six building on your left and Brindleyplace Two building on your right) - you arrive to the Central Square. The square is paved in York stone and has a fountain featuring 38 jets of water. I found the squares in Brindleyplace - very impressive, neatly maintained and designed:

Three Brindleyplace from Central Square:

"Aquaduct" sculpture by Miles Davies in Central Square in front of Four Brindleyplace, made of bronze and phosphor:

At Ten Brindleyplace-  you see a sculpture "Future" by Robert Bowers, located outside the "Ten Brindleyplace" building:

We RETURN to the ICC. We cross the bridge with our face (north-east) to the ICC building and our back (south-west) to Brindleyplace:

The bridge leads back into the ICC building:

We exit the ICC building and turn RIGHT (south-east) to Bridge Street. The Hyatt Regency hotel is on our right. We pass the Holiday Street on our left and pass through the Cube project. My opinion: it looks like a Tetris Cube... Widely considered one of the most successful additions to Birmingham’s ever-changing skyline, The Cube 25-storey structure also includes the UK’s largest automated car park. Award-winning architect Ken Shuttleworth (who designed London's Gherkin building with Norman Foster) was chosen for the project, whose world-class portfolio includes The Gherkin and Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok Airport. Taking inspiration from the city’s jewellery making tradition, his vision for The Cube was to create “an enchanting jewellery box” rich with light and intricate gold and bronze geometric shapes. The site is enclosed by The Mailbox complex, Commercial Street, Washington Wharf apartment complex and the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. Astonishing views all around. I was told to climb to the the top floor and have breath-taking views of Birmingham. Didn't do that due to the late hour arriving here. Come here before the dusk hours - and enjoy first-class landscaping all around. RECOMMENDED !

The Mailbox project resides south-east to the Cube. The Mailbox is an upmarket shopping and office development. It serves as the base for BBC Birmingham. Above the front shops it has an additional 6 floors which includes a Malmaison hotel and residential apartments. The Worcester and Birmingham Canal passes along the back with a number of restaurants overlooking. The views from the Cube to the Mailbox and the adjacent canal branches - ARE OUTSTANDING:

From the Cube and the Mailbox developments we descend to the canal level and walk BACK from south-east to north-west - heading back to the ICC building. The canal is on our right:

The more we advance westward - we'll see the spectacular Birmingham Library silhouette or colorful rooftop structure:

We arrive to the Gas Street Basin. Good place to go for a lunchtime or  evening walk along the canals. There are a few nice bars and restaurants about and the canals go to the mailbox and off Broad Street. A very pleasant place to relax and take in the sights and sounds of canal life. Very scenic area. A lot of photo ops. A lot of house boats. This is  old Birmingham:

We pass under the bridge (which bears Broad Street above) and, soon, we face the ICC. From the ICC we take the underground passage to connect with New Street Station(approx. 850 m.): Take the stairway up to the 3rd floor. Exit the complex. Head east, turn right toward Fletchers Walk, turn left toward Fletchers Walk, 160 m., turn left toward Fletchers Walk, take the stairs, turn left onto Fletchers Walk, turn left onto Paradise St, slight left at Hill St, 160 m. Continue onto New St.

Charlecote Park and House

Ariel Shafir

United Kingdom

Introduction: It is a very peaceful place. It is rural Warwickshire. The estate has many facets - each worth a one-day visit: the house itself steeped in history is comprised of several beautiful buildings: the main lawn overlooking the river is magnificent, the gardens are superb and walking into the extensive deer park is unforgettable, delicious food in the Orangery cafe' serving a range of hot meals and light snacks as well(mainly: bacon sandwiches, quiche, potatoes and salad and cakes). If you use public transportation - you'll need, at least, 3/4 day. The grounds are extensive and your walks will consume, each between half an hour and an hour and an half. It is a bit of a walk from the bus station ( and the car park) to the estate's house itself.

Location and transportation: Charlecote is a delight to visit Charlecote Park is 10 km. south of Warwick and 6 km) east of Stratford-upon-Avon, on the banks of the River Avon near the (large) village of Wellesbourne. It is maintained and  administered by the National Trust (NT). NT members have free entrance. Public transportation is with bus only: the Stagecoach X18 bus from Stratford-upon-Avo to Royal Leamington Spa. Some services even go as far as Coventry. The bus stops near Charlecote Pheasant Hotel, There is NO shelter with the bus stops. In case of rain - wait in the hotel's facilities. Times of departure from Stratford (weekdays): 08.23, 09.05, 10.07, 10.38, 10.51. SAT: 09.08, 09.51 (X17), 10.38. SUN: 10.33, 11.33, 12.33, 13.33.

History: The Lucy family owned the land for 800 years, since 1247. Charlecote Park was built in 1550 by Sir Thomas Lucy (1532-1600), a magistrate under Elizabeth I, on the foundations of an even earlier medieval house. The house has Tudor appearance  with iconic gatehouse and romantic turrets. Queen Elizabeth I stayed in the room that is now the drawing room. Young William Shakespeare (a legend) had been brought into court, to be tried by Sir Thomas Lucy I for poaching his deer. It is unclear whether there were any deer in the park at that time. The story goes that Shakespeare was forced to flee the area to avoid prosecution by Sir Thomas. The young playwright escaped to London, and the rest, as they say, is history. Although the general outline of the Tudor/Elizabethan house remains, nowadays it is in fact mostly Victorian. Successive generations of the Lucy family had modified Charlecote Park over the centuries. In 1823, George Hammond Lucy (High Sheriff of Warwickshire in 1831) inherited the house. The lands around the house were landscaped by Capability Brown in about 1760. This resulted in Charlecote becoming a popular destination for notable tourists to Stratford-upon-Avon from the late 17th to mid-18th century. Brown created a raised lawn and planted it with the cedars of Lebanon which you see today:

Opening hours: House - 11.00 - 16.00, Garden - 11.00 -18.00, Deer Park and Outbuildings - 10.00 - 18.00. On Wednesdays during Warwickshire school holidays the house is open for afternoons only, 12.00 until 15.00 with last entry at 14.30. Prices (House, Gardens, Park & Outbuildings): adult - £12.00, child - £6.00, family - £30.00.

Lucy family, the owners built a special gatehouse for queen Elizabeth I, who visited their estate, which still stands today ! The original two-storey Elizabethan gatehouse that guards the approach to the house remains unaltered. You can climb to the top of the gatehouse for a great view of the house:

There are eighteenth-century lead statues to west side of the steps to the Cedar Lawn.These are almost life-size figures of a shepherds:

House Interiors: The Charlecote House tells, mainly, the Lucy Family story: their portraits as well as through the objects they collected from around the world. You, easily, observe the design influence they had on the house and parkland. You see how Mary Elizabeth Lucy spared no expense furnishing it in Victorian times.  

The Great Hall has a barrel-vaulted ceiling made of plaster painted to look like timber and is a fine setting for the splendid collection of family portraits. Other rooms have richly coloured wallpaper, decorated plaster ceilings and wood paneling. There are magnificent pieces of furniture and fine works of art, including a contemporary painting of Queen Elizabeth I.  Inside there are the official rooms like the dining room, library and entrance hall:

Sir Thomas Lucy & Family - picture on the western wall of the Great Hall:

the Great Hall the southern wall - Casandra (was in love with Appolo) and fall of Troy:

The Great Hall leads to the Billiard Room:

Queen Elizabeth I stayed in the room that is now the drawing room with the harp:

Ebony Bedroom. So called after the grand ebony-wood bed which dominates the room:

Ebony Dressing Room:

Marvellous Teak Cabinet:

The Library. All are original books including copies of Shakespeare plays. The large library has a beautiful view out into the garden and down to the river:

The dining room is set out ready for an important visitor:

Even the traditional kitchens are open with cooks making period cakes.

No “upstairs downstairs” here – servants at Charlecote used to live in outbuildings next to the house and the laundry, brew-house and tackroom provide a real sense of the physical hard work undertaken employees in years gone by:

Straw-goofed house:

laundry Room:

Behind the house there is not-so-big area of formal gardens and terraces. The gardens include a formal parterre and colourful herbaceous plantings:

The Parterre. Mary Elizabeth’s presence still influences the gardens. Her formal riverside Parterre was carefully reinstated twenty years ago and twice a year the estate's gardeners co-ordinate a new design and organise the back-breaking planting of thousands of new bulbs and bedding plants. The summer scheme is planted in mid-June and is in full colour by early July:

In the south-west side of the estate flows the river Avon:

The south-west side of Charlecote estate:

Deer in front of the south-west side of the estate:

Beyond the gardens and the house there is a large deer park designed by Capability Brown, where a herd of deer still roam. The woodland walk and the wider parkland (inspired by ‘Capability’ Brown), offer miles of walks and views across the River Avon. A herd of fallow deer has been in the park since Tudor times. The deer walks, surprisingly, are very close to human walkers. A rare opportunity to catch splendid photos with these noble animals:

Opposite the Charlcete Park there is family-run Charlecote Plant and Shrub Centre:

Finally, there is an extensive West Park. It is closed, every year during October-November weeks to allow for the deer not to be disturbed during the rut. But the West Park is mainly inhabited by Sheep, rams and breeding ewes. The lambing period starts in early April. The ewes girls are painted in red, green or blue. If there is no warning or restriction of public entry - OPEN THE GATE YOURSELF ! 

The West park is far more extensive than the Deer Park. If not closed or restricted - you'll spend more than one hour exploring its splendid landscape and animals:

Do not miss the Lime Avenue. These ancient lime trees – two distinct varieties, totalling 133 trees in all - are badly in need of arborial restoration and conservation work. Funds had been raised for continuing their existence:

Charlecote House from West Park:


Ariel Shafir

United Kingdom

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

Ariel Shafir

United Kingdom

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

54 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:

Palmer's Farmhouse:

Falconry displays. Every one is dressed in Tudor costumes:

Barn Owl:

Common Buzzard:

Eagle Owl:

White Ferret:

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:


Ariel Shafir

United Kingdom


Tip 1: (see Tip 2 below for Shakespeare Childhood House and Henley Road).

          (see Tip 3 below for a short walk along the river Avon).

          (see Tip 4 below for 1/2 day walk to Shottery, Ann 

           Hathway's Cottage).

Tip 1 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 Stratford 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:

Bancroft Gardens:

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:


Lady Macbeth,


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).

Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire

Ariel Shafir

United Kingdom


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.

Our itinerary:

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.


Ariel Shafir

United Kingdom


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[2] 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:

William Tyndale

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:

The Nave:

The Choir:

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.


Ariel Shafir

United Kingdom


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[4] 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:

West front:

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):

The Cotswolds -Painswick and Cirencester

Ariel Shafir

United Kingdom

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:

Lambs Statues:

The Exedra Garden:

Big Urn opposite the Kitchen Garden:

A miniature fairy-tale castle and willow hermitage to rest in:

Plunge Pool:

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: