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Worcester & my 12th Birthday

Sunday 27th August 1972 - Worcester

After breakfast we went to church in Shrewsbury at the Abbey church. There wasn't a big congregation but it was nice. To keep out the cold they had two doors and then a thick curtain. As we were driving along we saw a huge thatched roof. We stopped and took a photo. It was of an inn called the Pound Inn near Church-Stretton . It had gorgeous hanging baskets full of flowers all around the inn. The inn was built in 1650. The thatched roof was really magnificent and on the top and edges were fancy cuttings which made it look really great. To get to Worcester we decided to pass through the Long Mynd, a mountain range. It was really beautiful. The mountains didn’t have many trees near the top and it looked lovely and smooth. There were so many different types of green which blended perfectly with the yellow hay. There were the greens of different fields, trees and the mountains. With the greens and the yellow with white sheep dotted all over it. It looked gorgeous! We saw our first wild English animal today but could not identify it. It ran across the road was small, had a long body and could have been a stoat.

We stopped at Stokesday Castle to look around and it was beautiful. To get in we had to walk across a ramp which originally have been a drawbridge. The ramp ended at the gatehouse, a very old brick and timbered house where we had to pay. First of all we went into the Great Hall which was built in 1305. The Great Hall was a huge room where they probably would have eaten and slept. In the centre was a bricked in hearth. Stokesay Castle is really a fortified manor house. In the basement of the North Tower we found a drain and what we thought was a kitchen but is really a storeroom because in those days they usually put the kitchen away from the residential area for fear of fire. In the top of the North Tower was probably a bedroom. It had a fireplace with a chimney and the remains of a cupboard. In the solar is a fireplace with wood in it and a table. Looking over the hall, it has 2 small windows or peepholes. Occasionally we went along a passage which is a dead end and smells a bit, so we suspect it was a toilet. In the bottom of the solar is a cellar. In the Solar room are some cupboards without doors. Nearly in every room is a fireplace. In the South Tower we climbed up some windy stairs until we got to the battlements. There were slit windows on the battlements and inside the building for shooting arrows. There were 2 chimneys up there and the roof is made of slate. Next to the castle is St. John the Baptist Church which probably served as a chapel for the people living in the castle. The font unit is very plain. The date is not known, but it is believed to be very ancient. The last 6 pews at the back of the church were made in the 16th century or earlier because they had escaped destruction in Cromwellian times. The ledges on the seats in front are not for books but to rest the feet and keep them off the ground because in those days the floors were just rubble and stones. In front of the nave and just behind the sanctuary is a box like thing where the people who lived in the castle could pray in private. Outside there was a monument on the wall which was wearing away on the sides. This was because soldiers sharpened their swords on it. In some places it was nearly wearing away on the poles. The church and castle were very interesting.

As we were driving along the beautiful big trees leant over the road, nearly touching in the middle. In Ludlow when Mum and Dad went to a pub we went to Ludlow Castle which was next door. It was huge and old ruins. There were passageways everywhere. There is a round chapel cut off from the rest of the building and was probably the first of such round churches built in England under the influence of the Templars. The exceptionally fine Norman doorway which dates later than the original building is magnificent as it has all fancy carvings around it. It is an early 12th century nave of the chapel of St. Mary Magdalene. To get over the inner moat we walked across a stone bridge which replaced the drawbridge.

The Judges Lodgings were erected by Sir Henry Sidney in the late 16th century. There is a coat of arms above the door in the inner gateway to the Judges Lodgings, but I didn’t notice it. There is a 16th century Newel Doorway leading to the Norman stairway which leads to the top of the Keep. In the Pendower Tower two princes, sons of Edward IV resided before being taken to the tower of London where they were murdered. There is a big room called the Armoury which we walked through. The Council Hall containing the Comus Room in which Milton’s "Masque of Comus" was first performed. We thought it was a banqueting room. It also had a hearth. Prince Arthur’s Apartments were occupied by him after his marriage with Catherine of Aragon in 1501. The Great Norman Keep was originally a gatehouse. In the 12th century it was changed from a Gatehouse to a Keep or the Great Tower. The well is one of very great depth and is very wide. Occasionally we found a passageway that wound everywhere and then went up some steps. At the top it stops and there is an awful smell. In the corner is a square where you look down and see a winding passage. It’s a toilet and when they sat on the stone square their business went down the passage and into the moat. The castle was very exciting as it had millions of passageways everywhere. It was huge and we all loved it.

When we arrived in Worcester we drove to our hotel, The Great Western Hotel. Our rooms are lovely, airy and roomy. We then went in Worcester itself and looked around. Most of the shops were closed. We swalked to Worcester Cathedral where Daddhy would be attending the Three Choirs Festival. The choirs are coming fromWorcester, Gloucester and Hereford. There will be 300 people in the choir and 100 in the orchestra. The church is huge. In the cloisters were 6 huge bells sitting all in a row. Cromwell’s Puritans were smashing the tombs in the church and the dean stood up and told them off and they were going to shoot him, but they were told not to. This is illustrated on the west front. In the nave are big Norman arches that are very decorated. Above them are smaller Gothic niches. This is because the Norman style was in its late years just when Gothic was coming in. That is why there are mixtures of both styles. The ceiling is painted in colours of blue, brown and orange. The North transept was built about 1260. In the South transept the eastern wall is Norman built in 1100 and the western walls if Gothic built about 300 years later. In the ceiling where the tower starts is an uplifted square, kind of like a lantern. The stained glass windows are really colourful. There is a big chair in he sanctuary on the north side and is said to be used by King Stephen in 1140. The chair was old, huge and brown.

The Lord Lieutenant of the county, the mayors and the councillors of the 3 cities of Worcester, Hereford and Gloucester marched out of the Cathedral and down the streets to the city hall after attending the opening service of the Three Choirs Festival. There were only 3 women and everyone in the parade wore their ceremonial robes of red. We walked through the town to the River Severn where we sat on the grass and watched some canoes racing. We then walked by the river on a pathway. There were people fishing everywhere and for their bait they had maggots which we could see wriggling around. It looked awful! If you went to the Three Choirs Festival you could join the club where you ate dinner and lunch. Daddy asked if we could join. We could and ate dinner there.

Monday 28th August 1972 - Worcester

Today we were going to try to drive to Wales. To go there we decided to drive through the Malvern Hills to Hereford. At some stages when we got quite high we could look right over the countryside which was like a patchwork quilt. It is too picturesque to describe. It was bright greens, yellows and browns. It was really beautiful. In Hereford where we stopped we looked in the shop windows and in any shops that were open as it was Bank Holiday. In one shop of British crafts we shopped for a long time. All the crafts were of a very high standard. In a garage where we refuelled near Hereford the man spoke kind of Welsh, all sing-songy. We then went to Hereford Cathedral where the Three Choirs Festival would be held in another year. In the Cathedral was a map of the world drawn by a priest in 1300. He thought that the world was flat and it looked all funny. Scotland wasn’t joined onto England and the words were in Latin I think. Most of the information I wrote about Worcester Cathedral is about Hereford. They are the arches, Cromwell’s Puritans, the old chair, the ceiling and the North Transept. We only had time to get just inside the border of Wales at a town called Hay on Wye. Half of it in England and half in Wales. The streets were very narrow and everything is stone. It’s very pretty. Around the Welsh border the country was beautiful, especially with the River Wye running through the green and yellow fields. We bought some lunch and drove back into England and ate it by the roadside on some grass. Across the road we picked gooseberries and ate them. They weren’t very ripe and I couldn’t really taste them. To get to Worcester we again went via Malvern. On the way from the car we saw some men and women doing folk dancing. Going along the roads was really beautiful. There were enormous trees leaning all over the road and nearly touching the ground on the side away from the trees. It was beautiful. We then had tea at the festival club and watched TV at the lounge in our hotel.

Tuesday 29th August - Worcester

We were going to try to get to the Cotswolds, one of England’s most beautiful areas. As we were driving we passed a tractor carrying a wagon full of hay and the wagon chained on to the back of it had its load all over the road. There were bales of hay everywhere. We stopped at a town called Evesham which is on the River Avon. It was a bit sluggish. Evesham is not in the Cotswolds. The first little Cotswold village we passed through was Broadway. It was a quaint little village with narrow little street, tiny little shops, stone houses with stone walls around the houses. All little villages are usually made of stone. Their gardens are beautiful with green rolling lawns and blooming flowers everywhere. The villages are really pretty. All over Broadway flags were flying, British, Australian, Swedish and American and many more. It was a lovely village. After Broadway we climbed a hill in the car and there were beautiful big trees leaning all over the road. At one stage we passed millions of wild flowers by the roadside. There were daisies, red poppies and lots more. They looked pretty!

Separating the fields were stone walls that are hand made. As we travelled through different counties and shires we noticed that the appearance of the countryside changed. In some areas there are stone walls separating the fields and in other areas, hedges. Churches changed. In one county they were mainly spires and in others, towers. The west of the country is greener than east. It changes all the time. We stopped at a Cotswold village called Stow on the Wold. Again everything was stone. The stone walls around the houses were really beautiful. They were hand made but different from those in the country. The walls in the country have the rocks just kind of vertical, horizontal and oblique and those in the town were horizontal rocks not cemented together other than the middle. At the top were vertically placed rocks. We turned around to go back to Worcester. Again the beautiful green fields we passed. Mum and Dad went to an Overseas Sherry Party where they met people from all over the world. We had lunch at the club. As it was my birthday we went shopping for a frock. Eventually I got one and it was beautiful. At the breakfast table I had received a card from Aunty Joy and Uncle Phil. At 6.00 we went to the club for dinner and then went back to the hotel. I had a wonderful day!

Posted by hillbillyramsey 17:00 Archived in United Kingdom

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