Evesham is a picturesque town with a great shopping offer set along side the beautiful Abbey Park and the River Avon. You’ll find high street names such as Bon Marche and Sports Direct alongside fascinating independent stores and a great selection of café’s and restaurants. The Saturday Charter Market draws traders from across the UK and has become a key attraction for local shoppers as well as attracting visitors to the Vale of Evesham.
There is no more beautiful way of exploring the Vale of Evesham,
and beyond, than by cruising the River Avon in anyone of the number
of craft that are for hire from Evesham’s riverside - several
of which provide their own commentary on local sites of interests
and nature reserves. Equally interesting are the delightful
lie along the riverbanks - each one tranquil and giving a unique
perspective of the Vale.
As the river loops around Evesham it passes under the new Abbey Road Bridge which was completed in 2014.
Ham was the Saxon name given to a piece of land in the loop of a river. This ham provided such a superb defensive position that Evesham grew to become a strategic town through the ages. And so the Avon flows on; on past Evesham Marina and Weir Meadow Caravan Park before reaching the weir and Evesham lock with its unusual triangular lock keeper's house.
During the civil war the strategically important bridge at Evesham was destroyed twice and the river blocked by the king's army as they retreated from the Roundheads in 1644. Massey eventually took Evesham in 1645 but it wasn't until Cromwell's death that the navigation was restored and opened to trade. Henry Workman built today's bridge, in 1856, funded by public subscription. Then, the river beneath the bridge was a maze of shallows and treacherous currents, so Workman had it dredged into one channel and constructed the public park beside the river with the dredgings.
A frequent visitor to Evesham Abbey, during the reign of King
Cnut, was Lady Godiva
(Godgifu). Prior Efic, of Evesham, was Godiva's friend and father
confessor. When he died, the Evesham Chronicle records that he was
buried, in Evesham in the presence of Lady Godiva, in the church
that she built. The most likely place for this church, which was
dedicated to the Holy Trinity, was adjoining the Abbey, but some
historians think that Godiva built either the church at Hampton or
the original 11th century church at Bengeworth. Looking across the
green lawns of Abbey Park you can see the remains of the cloister
arch and some of the ancient surrounding walls. Nearby is a
substantial portion of the Abbey Gatehouse next to the Almonry -
now the town's Heritage Centre. Also along this western side of the
river is the long established
Evesham Rowing Club , founded in 1863.
Near to Workman bridge, on the eastern bank, is the recently restored public quay, which, for centuries, was the landing stage for goods brought up the river from the sea, via the River Severn at Tewkesbury. Beside the quay once stood Bengeworth Castle, built by the Norman baron, William de Beauchamp, and destroyed by Abbot William de Anderville, (Abbot of Evesham 1149 1159), in retaliation for de Beauchamp having vandalised the abbey and stolen valuable artefacts from the church. For this, de Beauchamp was excommunicated and the Abbot consecrated a burial ground on the site of his castle.
A stroll up Port Street will take you past the newly refurbished Regal Cinema that offers the best in comfortable modern cinema whilst retaining the fully restored charm of its Art Deco origin. Further along Port Street you will find the remains of Bengeworth village with its ancient monuments near the old village green (now the site of the Talbot pub). In Church Street, are the remains of the 13th century tower and porch of the original St Peter's church, dismantled by the Victorians in 1872 in order to build the new St Peter's nearby. Opposite the porch can be seen the remains of Bengeworth Manor - once owned by King Cnut.
Returning, down the hill, to Workman Gardens, look across the river and see beautiful Abbey Park, with its 16th century bell tower, and 12th century churches - which escaped destruction by Henry VIII's commissioners. Here, on the grassy slopes, stood one of Britain's finest abbeys - almost totally destroyed by Henry VIII's commissioners in 1540.
The riverbanks are lined with avenues of Lime trees and cater for walkers, anglers and boaters alike - as well as being the main venue for the town's annual Asparagus Festival beginning 23rd April, the VE Vintage Festival and Morris Festival in June, the River Festival and Festival of Sport in July and the Evesham Angling Festival in August.
Evesham is a hive of activity for Tourists and Local alike please explore the rest of the site for more information.