Since Spring officially started on Wednesday the weather in Stratford has been beautiful. In order to take advantage of these nice days my friend Stuart and I spent the afternoon in the Town of Tewkesbury.
The town is dominated by the 12th century abbey. It was a lovely day.
When the abbey was dissolved under Henry VIII in 1540 (one of the last monastic groups to be dissolved) the people of Tewkesbury bought the church, claiming it as their parish church, and therefore necessary. The rest of the abbey grounds, cloisters, monastic building, etc., were destroyed.
The half-timbered, black and white building on the left is the oldest Baptist chapel in SE England, dating from the mid 17th century.
Old Baptist burial ground.
This is the eastern end of the abbey. Notice the lighter stone on the central part of the building. Before the dissolution there was an extension on the eastern end that served as the Lady Chapel (the cult of the Virgin Mary was very prevalent in the 15th century, when many lady chapels were built all over the country; the most famous being the Henry VII Lady Chapel in Westminster Abbey). In order to be allowed to keep the church as a parish church, the chapel had to be destroyed. You can also see apsidal (circular) chapels on either side, of which there are seven.
This is the south transept. Notice the pink stone? The other, yellow stones are traditional Cotswold stone. If you have read my entry on Chipping Camden (and you are a geek), you will remember that there is pink stone there. When Cotswold stone is burned it turns pink. So these stones went through a fire before they were used in building the church.
The building is Norman (which is British for Romanesque), having been built in the 12th century. I love the round, Norman arches on the main doorway here, with the Gothic windows the arches frame.