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Evesham, a Glorious Place to Enter the English Cotswolds

Mar 1, 2008
Evesham has been called the Gateway to the Cotswolds, and makes a great centre for exploring the beautiful countryside.

Roughly equidistant between Worcester, Cheltenham, and Stratford-upon-Avon, and situated on the River Avon in the fertile Vale of Evesham - still famed for fruit growing and market gardening - the town provides the ideal setting for coarse fishing, angling, boating and riverside walks. Boats may also be hired for day cruises for short breaks to explore the charming waterways of the Cotswolds.


Evesham can trace its existence back to the 8th century. The name Evesham is derived from "Eofs ham" ("ham" in English placenames meaning "homestead"). Eof (or Eoves) was a humble swineherd, who saw a vision of the Virgin Mary and reported his experience to Saint Egwin, third Bishop of Worcester.

Ecgwin also experienced the vision when he went to visit the spot, and founded the Benedictine Evesham Abbey there in 709. By the time it was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1540 the Abbey was estimated to be the 3rd largest and most powerful in England, and funded smaller abbeys and churches in Belgium, the Netherlands and France. A large source of income came from pilgrims to the abbey.

A thriving town grew up around the Abbey, and it was here on 4th August 1265 that Simon de Montfort, known as the father of the English Parliament, and his alliance of rebellious barons were defeated at the Battle of Evesham by the royal forces under Prince Edward (later Edward I).

De Montfort was killed in the battle and his remains buried in front of the High Altar in the Abbey Church. A modest stone memorial in the park now marks the spot where de Montfords burial took place.

Attractions in Evesham

Much of the Abbey was dismantled and sold as building stone, leaving little but the twin Churches of All Saints and St. Lawrence and the fine 16th century bell tower remaining in the Abbey precincts. Abbey Park and its adjacent riverside meadows are now the venue for fairs, concerts, river activities and the Evesham Show.

There are several other houses of historic interest in the town, notably a fine 15th Century timbered merchants house called the Round House (now a bank), a late 17th Century town house, Dresden House, once occupied by Dr. Baylies, physician to Frederick the Great of Prussia, and an old manor house once owned by King Canute.

No visit to Evesham is complete without a visit to the Almonry - dating back to 1400 this was once the home of the Almoner at Evesham Abbey, and remains a superb example of early English architecture. It now houses a Tourist Information Office and Heritage Centre, and an excellent museum of social history of the town and Vale of Evesham.

Places to Get More Information About Evesham

UK Battlefields Resource Centre - Battle of Evesham
Evesham Tourist Information
River trips and boat hire on the River Avon
Evesham Business Directory
Evesham Abbey 360 Panorama
More information about the Cotswolds

The limestone hills of the Cotswolds are preposterously photogenic, strewn with countless picture-book villages built by wealthy cloth merchants. Wool was important here as far back as the Roman era, but the greatest fortunes were made between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries, during which period many of the regions fine manors and churches were built.

Largely bypassed by the Industrial Revolution, which heralded the areas commercial decline, much of the Cotswolds is a relic, its architecture preserved in often immaculate condition.

Numerous churches are decorated with beautiful Norman carving, for which the local limestone was ideal: soft and easy to carve when first quarried, but hardening after long exposure to the sunlight. The use of this local stone is a strong unifying characteristic, though its colour modulates as subtly as the shape of the hills, ranging from a deep golden tone in Chipping Campden to a silvery grey in Painswick .

The consequence of all this is that the Cotswolds have become one of the countrys main tourist attractions, with many towns inundated by tea and souvenir and antiques shops.

To see the Cotswolds at their best, you should visit in winter or avoid the most popular towns and instead escape into the hills themselves. This might be a tamed landscape, but there is good scope for walks, either in the gentler valleys that are most typical of the Cotswolds or along the dramatic escarpment which marks the boundary with the Severn Valley.

A long-distance path called the Cotswold Way runs along the top of the ridge, stretching about one hundred miles from Chipping Campden past Cheltenham, Gloucester and Stroud as far as Bath. A number of prehistoric sites provide added interest along the route, with some - such as Belas Knap near Winchcombe - being well worth a diversion.
About the Author
Ann is a part time content author writer for the Laughing Camel Online Road Trips and Destinations Project where she compiles some unique tour routes and destination information.

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