Tewkesbury Abbey   3 comments

Tewkesbury Abbey front


Tewkesbury Abbey evokes one of the great puns of British literature:

Now is the Winter of our discontent
Made glorious Summer by this sun of York.

Gloucester, soon to be Richard III, speaks these lines just after the Battle of Tewkesbury referring to the “Sun in Splendour” emblem of his nephew, soon to be the never-crowned Edward V, and of the House of York. The emblem was installed soon after the battle as a Royal ‘fuck you’ to the house of Lancaster (whom the patrons of the Abbey supported):


Tewkesbury Abbey Sun of York

What makes it even more fittingly creepy is its position directly above the plaque to Edward Prince of Wales, Lancastrian son of King Henry VI.  Eddie Wales was slain either in the battle or, much more likely, just after.  The Sun shines o’er the Son.

Tewkesbury Abbey Edward Prince of Wales plaque

While I exercise this conceit that I actually know anything of literature or political history, I’ll point out an unexpected discovery in the Abbey.  Years ago I read a biography of the feminist, suffragist, free-love activist, and 19th century Presidential candidate Victoria Woodhull.  I fell instantly and madly in love with this woman and sill wonder why so few of her type exist today.  While I was studying some stone masonry a few meters away, Jackie called me over to this plaque (I had forgotten she spent most of her last years in self-imposed exile):

Tewkesbury Abbey Victoria Woodhull monument

Other joys of the Abbey are too numerous to tell or show but here is a selection…such as the Publican’s Salvation window:

Tewkesbury Abbey windows publican

This tomb shows a decaying corpse with rats, worms and other vermin nibbling away:

Tewkesbury Abbey decay monument

These two modern windows by Tom Denny bear close examination to find the figures of monks and parishioners hidden within:


Tewkesbury Abbey detail modern windows right

Tewkesbury Abbey detail modern windows left

No large English church would be complete without George and the Dragon:

Tewkesbury Abbey George and Dragon

And, the engineer in me was delighted to find the only two sources of heat in this massive rock, dual furnaces along the west wall…brrrr.

Tewkesbury Abbey furnace

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