Friday, January 13, 2017

Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire

Clifton-Taylor’s English towns: Down by the riverside

Next in my short series of posts on Alec Clifton-Taylor’s 1970s television programmes on English towns see the presenter not far from my backyard, exploring the town of Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, as Vauxhall Vivas and Rover 2000s zoom about in the background. Tewkesbury is a waterside town by two rivers (the Severn and Avon) built around a huge medieval abbey. I’ve posted about Tewkesbury several times before, noting its vulnerability to flooding, its noble abbey, its historic houses, and its very special Baptist chapel. My photograph shows the west front of the abbey, its enormous Norman arch now filled by a late-medieval window. Clifton-Taylor ranges outwards from this huge stone pile to the town’s mainly timber-framed buildings, up its characteristic alleys, and along its bounding rivers. There are interesting diversions on brick production and glass-making on the way, too.

Tewkesbury is a busy local centre, and much appreciated locally, but many tourists miss it, because they are distracted by the Cotswolds ten or twenty miles away. It’s well worth the diversion, as Clifton-Taylor fascinatingly shows.

1 comment:

Joseph Biddulph (Publisher) said...

There's no need to convert me into a fan of Tewkesbury! In a half-timbered secondhand bookshop I acquired a key Irish text as well as several P G Wodehouses. Much of the immediate local area here in Pontypridd was owned by the Abbey, a bit of cattle-raising mountain given away when the Norman Advenae lords stole somebody else's country, and kept the corn land. Ewenny Priory near Bridgend has Romanesque columns so much like the ones at Tewkesbury (and Gloucester) that I suspect the same builders.

Curiously, by the time the improver of Ewenny, by the name of De Londres, died, the massive Romanesque was already old hat: his tombstone at Ewenny is decorated in a delicate flowing Early Gothic style.

As with Battle in Sussex, it seems to me that the different frontages in the main streets (Y-shaped) still occupy the same width as when the town of Tewkesbury was laid out: the buildings have been changed, but not the boundaries between them. This might warrant further investigation, and some measuring?