Evesham and Abbey Almonry
Evesham is a market town in Worcestershire, found roughly equidistant from Worcester, Cheltenham and Stratford-upon-Avon. Evesham lies within the Vale of Evesham, an area comprising the flood plain of the River Avon, and which was once a major centre for market gardening.
The town centre stands within a loop of the Avon and is regularly subject to severe flooding: those in 2007 were the most severe in recorded history.
Evesham was founded around an early 8th century abbey, which was once one of the largest in Europe. The abbey was destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and of it only Abbot Lichfield's Bell Tower remains. During the 13th century, one of the two main battles of England's Second Barons' War took place near the town, marking the victory of Prince Edward who later became King Edward I.
Name of the town
The name of Evesham is from Old English, believed to be from an original Eofeshamme, meaning "Eof's meadow". This Eof is supposed to have been a swineherd in the service of Egwin, third bishop of Worcester. The town bears several names in eighth century charters in which land was grant to the abbey: Cronuchomme (708 and 716), Homme (709), (in) Ethom (710), Eouesham (777), Euesham (784).
Some sources (Rudge, Tindall, Lewis, May, etc.) give the name of the legendary swineherd as Eoves, but it should be Eof, as O.G. Knapp explained in 1920:
It is impossible that Eoves should have been the Swineherd's name for several reasons. In the first place the letter 'V' is not found in the Saxon alphabet, having been brought to this country by the Normans; so that Eofeshamme, given in one of the charters, indicates the older and better form of the name... But even if Eofes is older and more accurate than Eoves it cannot be the original form of the name. A moment's reflection will show that if Evesham means the meadow of some person, the name of that person must be in what Grammarians call the Genitive (or Possessive) Case, Singular. This in modern English is nearly always denoted by 's placed at the end of the word; the apostrophe showing that a vowel has dropped out of the termination. Anglo-Saxon had a larger selection of endings for the Genitive Case, but the one in –es (the original form of our modern 's) belonged to what are called 'strong' Masculine nouns, which usually ended in a consonant. Eofes, therefore, would be the natural Genitive of a man's proper name, Eof. Ferguson suggests that the original form of the name might have been Eofa, but such a name would correspond to the 'weak' nouns which made their Genitive by adding not –es but –an; in which case the name of the town would have been Eofanham, as is shown in the case of Offenham, the Ham of Offa or Uffa. We may therefore take it as certain that the real name of the Swineherd was not Eoves, Eofes, or even Eofa, but Eof. And this is not a mere theoretical reconstruction, for Eof was actually a Saxon name... The form Eoves, though current for many centuries, is a mere blunder.
Evesham Abbey was founded by Egwin, the third Bishop of Worcester, in around 701 AD; according to legend a vision of the Virgin Mary appeared to a local swineherd or shepherd named Eof, which promted the foundation. The Abbey grew to become possibly the third largest in England,
The Domesday Book of 1086 records the town of Evesham, mentioning "Two free men; Two radmen; Abbey of St Mary of Evesham; Abbey of St Mary of Pershore; Edmund, Abbot of St Mary of Pershore; Walter, Abbot of St Mary of Evesham; Aethelwig, Abbot of St Mary of Evesham; King William as donor; Odo, Bishop of Bayeux; Ranulph; Turstin, Abbot of St Mary of Pershore; Walter Ponther; Westminster, Gilbert Crispin, Abbot of St Peter."
The abbey was redeveloped and extended after the Norman Conquest, employing many tradesmen and significantly contributing to the growth of Evesham. Income for the abbey came from pilgrims to the abbey to celebrate the vision and visitors to the tomb of Simon de Montfort.
Evesham Abbey was dissolved as part of the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII, and its building were dismantled in 1540 and sold as building stone, leaving little but the Lichfield Bell Tower. The abbey remains are a Scheduled Ancient Monument (No. WT253), and parts of the abbey complex, Abbot Reginald's Wall (registered monument) and the ruins of Abbot Chryton's Wall (Grade II), are English Heritage listed buildings. The abbey's old coat of arms is used as the badge of Prince Henry's High School.
The Battle of Evesham
Following the Battle of Lewes a year earlier, where Simon de Montfort had gained control of parliament, the Battle of Evesham was fought in August 1265; the second of two main battles of the Second Barons' War. It was a victory for Prince Edward, who led the 8,000 strong army of his father King Henry III, over the 6,000 men of de Montfort, and the beginning of the end of the rebellion. The battle was a massacre; de Montfort's army were trapped in the horseshoe bend of the river, and although de Montfort and his son were killed, Prince Edward's victory did not at once secure the King's hold on the country, and the struggle continued until 1267, after which the kingdom returned to a period of unity and progress that was to last until the early 1290s.
The mediæval town developed within the meander of the River Avon, while Bengeworth developed to the east on the opposite bank of the river. In 1055 a market was granted to the town by King Edward the Confessor. In the 11th century Leofric, Earl of Mercia, had a hunting lodge at Bengeworth. Leofric founded Holy Trinity Church with his wife Godifu (Lady Godiva). Godifu, who died in about 1067, is possibly buried at the abbey.
During the reign of King Stephen, William de Beauchamp erected an adulterine castle at Bengeworth, whose occupants vied for control of the town and abbey. When Abbot William had the castle destroyed between 1149 and 1159, he consecrated the site as a graveyard to prevent the castle from being rebuilt.
Evesham is on a horse-shoe shaped peninsula almost completely surrounded by water in a loop of the River Avon between Stratford-on-Avon and Tewkesbury. The modern town encompasses Bengeworth and Greater and Little Hampton, which were originally independent villages on the opposite bank of the river. Evesham is linked to Bengeworth by Workman Bridge and Hampton by Abbey Bridge, or New Bridge the first completely structural concrete bridge in the country.
The Cotswold Hills stretch from the east to the south-west, while to the west the area is bounded by the Malvern Hills. To the north the land is flat with gentle undulations. The Avon, a tributary of the River Severn, is navigable but mainly used by leisure traffic and there is a marina providing moorings.
The River Avon at Evesham has always been susceptible to heavy flooding which is well documented from the 13th century. In May 1924 floods at Evesham ranked 5th in the annual flood list 1848 to 1935. In May 1998, Evesham was one of the towns worst hit by record flooding along the River Avon. The river rose 19 feet in just a few hours, sinking tethered narrowboats, flooding areas of Bengeworth, and threatening the 19th century Workman Bridge as static homes from a riverside caravan site broke up and became wedged in its arches. In July 2007 Evesham had its heaviest rainfall for 200 years, reaching more than 320% the average in some areas. In the Severn catchment, it caused some of the heaviest floods recorded, and in Evesham the flooding was the worst in its recorded history.
Due to its exceptionally fertile soil, market gardening is carried out on a commercial scale in the surrounding area, known as the Vale of Evesham, which is known for the growing of fruit and vegetables. A decline in the second half of the 20th century resulted in the closing of Evesham's Smithfield Market while the Central Market stopped being used for produce auctions.
Between 1983 and 2008, Evesham was home to computer manufacturer Evesham Micros, later renamed Evesham Technology. It was a significant contributor to the United Kingdom's domestic computer and digital television market. At its peak, the company employed up to 300 people with a chain of 19 retail stores in towns and cities throughout the UK. It went into liquidation in 2008.
Retail and food outlets are provided for in the traditional high street and the Riverside Shopping Centre, and Four Pools Lane Retail Park. Evesham Country Park, located out of town, has a garden centre, shops, a miniature railway and a wildlife centre.
In 1728 the London to Worcester road through Evesham was turnpiked, as was the Evesham to Alcester road in 1778 improving communications in the area. Evesham is at the junction of the A46 and A44 trunk roads – the four-mile, £7 million, A46 single-carriageway bypass to the east of the town opened in July 1987 as the A435.
The River Avon is a navigable waterway linking the River Severn at Tewkesbury to the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal at Stratford-upon-Avon. The river between the town and Stratford is managed by the Upper Avon Navigation Trust, and below by the Lower Avon Navigation Trust, reflecting the administration of the river since the Restoration, when the lower Avon required only modest repairs, but significant money was required to be spent was required above the town. The ancient Hampton Ferry links the town to Hampton.
In 1845 an Act of Parliament was passed for the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway and Evesham Railway Station opened between Honeybourne and Pershore. The station is on the Cotswold Line from Oxford to Worcester, Great Malvern and Hereford.
It is possible that the 8th century Saxon Minster Church of Evesham Abbey was founded on the site of an even older church. The mediæval town had two parish churches, All Saints and St Lawrence built within the abbey precinct. Churches in Evesham include:
- Church of England:
- All Saints
- St Andrew's
- St Peter, Bengeworth
- Baptist: Evesham Baptist Church
- Evesham Evangelical Church
- Vale Of Evesham Christian Centre
- Methodist: Evesham Methodist Church
- Quaker meeting place
- Roman Catholic: St Mary & St Egwin Church
Evesham had a distinctive dialect, which locals called "Asum Grammar", or "Asum Grammer". The editor of the local newspaper quoted extracts from a fictitious dictionary of the language. In 1891, a glossary was published of words and phrases in South-East Worcestershire, comprising the district around Evesham and Pershore. This publication itself built on that of an 1882 author identified only as "Mrs Chamberlain". Prior to the 1882 book, little attention had been paid to the dialect of "the old Worcestershire folks", despite it being "interesting and peculiar". A decline in the dialect was already being noted, attributed at that time to standardisation of English schooling, something noted also by later writers on English dialects.
The dialect continues to decline, but is stronger in older generations. More recent factors in its decline are attributed to changes in market gardening, where the dialect was to be heard at its fullest, and the impact of television. In the local dialect, "Asum" is a contraction of the town's name. Asum was an ale produced by the now defunct Evesham Brewery. "Eve-shum" is the more common phonetic pronunciation, but "Eve-uh-shum" is not common.
Evesham Arts Centre was built in 1979 and is staffed and operated by volunteers. It provides a venue for professional and amateur performance. Events hosted include drama, stand-up comedy, brass bands, orchestras, pantomime to ballet. The centre has a raked 300-seat auditorium, full technical facilities and film projection and a 60-seat studio space for smaller shows. The centre's foyer it is an exhibition space for local artists. The centre is managed by the Evesham Arts Association, a registered charity.
The Regal Cinema reopened in December 2009. Its Grade II listed building was designed in 1932 by architect Archibald Hurley Robinson. who was responsible for several public buildings in classical and Art Deco styles, including 55 other cinemas. The Regal is the most important surviving example.
Mediæval Evesham, and the Earl of Evesham, inspired a novel Winning His Spurs by historical fiction author G. A. Henty. Local folklore is provided for by the Legend of Evesham surrounding the life of Eof, an 8th-century swineherd credited with the founding of the town, and St Egwin the Bishop of Worcester who founded the abbey and who whose feet had been fettered and the key thrown in the River Avon. According to the legend, the key turned up in Rome inside a fish. On returning to Evesham, Egwin declared that a monastery be built on the spot where the key had been cast in the river.
A statue of Eof by sculptor John McKenna stands in the market place, funded by the townsfolk and unveiled in June 2008.
- The Evesham Journal
- The Evesham Observer
| ("Wikimedia Commons" has material|
- Evesham Town Council
- Almonry Museum and Heritage Centre
- Evesham - a 1904 book about the town, by Edmund H. New, from Project Gutenberg
- Evesham Arts Centre
- Worcestershire County Council web site
- BBC Battle of Evesham, 4 August 1265
- BBC Battle of Evesham timeline
- Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Abingdon (II) Chronicle (1037) þæs geres ær gefor Æfic se æðela decanus on Heofeshamme
- Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Abingdon (II) Chronicle (1054) Ðæs ylcan geares man halgode þæt mynster on Eofeshamme on .vi. Idus Octobris
- Knapp, O.G. (1920). Evesham and Eof. Evesham Journal.
- New, Edmund H.; Project Gutenberg (2004) (1904). "Evesham". London: J. M. Dent. http://ia700106.us.archive.org/0/items/evesham13754gut/13754-h/13754-h.htm. Retrieved 10 January 2011 See chapter 2
- "Welcome to the Almonry Website". Almonry Museum and Heritage Centre. http://www.almonryevesham.org/. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
- Evesham, Worcestershire in Folio 175v Great Domesday Book
- (PDF) p.2 Archaeological assessment of Evesham, Hereford and Worcester, Arts and Humanities Data Service, http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/adsdata/arch-435-1/ahds/dissemination/pdf/PDF_REPORTS_TEXT/WORCESTERSHIRE/EVESHAM_REPORT.pdf p.2, retrieved 2011-01-10
- Page, William; Willis-Bund, J. W., eds (1971). Houses of Benedictine monks: Abbey of Evesham. Victoria County History, Worcestershire. 2. London, UK. pp. 112–127. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=36469. Retrieved 26 September 2010.
- "West Midlands: Wychavon" (PDF). Heritage at Risk. English Heritage. 2010. p. 73. http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/publications/HAR-2010-regional-registers/wm-HAR-register-2010.pdf. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
- Burne, p. 168.
- Battle of Evesham, English Heritage, http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/caring/listing/what-can-we-protect/battlefields-offline/battle-of-evesham, retrieved 2011-01-10
- "Battle of Evesham, 4th August 1265". The Battlefields Trust. http://www.battlefieldstrust.com/resource-centre/mediæval/battleview.asp?BattleFieldId=14. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
- Prestwich (2005), p. 121.
- Williams, Ann, "Godgifu (died 1067?)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography(Online edition) 2006 (Oxford University Press), http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/10873, retrieved 10 January 2011
- "English heritage". National Monuments record. http://www.pastscape.org/hob.aspx?hob_id=328415. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
- William Dugdale; Caley, John; Ellis, Sir Henry; Bandinel, Bulkeley (1819). "Evesham Abbey in Worcestershire". Monasticon anglicanum: a history of the abbies and other monasteries. 2. p. 4.
- "Evesham History". Evesham Town Council. http://www.evesham.uk.com/eveshamhistory.aspx. Retrieved 21 February 2010.
- New, Edmund H (1904), chapter 2
- Erwood, Guy (2007), Historic Flooding in the Severn Catchment (p.5), "from Flood History - recent flooding", in Managing Flood Risk - Bewdley Case Study (Geographical Association), http://www.geography.org.uk/download/GA_BewdleyFloodHistory.doc, retrieved 10 January 2011 Click on 'flood events' link, then on 'history of flooding' within that document
- "Evesham". Environment Agency. 17 December 2009. http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/research/library/publications/40587.aspx. Retrieved 21 February 2010.
- Fiveash, Kelly (11 February 2009). "Evesham Technology confirmed dead". Channel Register. http://www.channelregister.co.uk/2009/02/11/evesham_dissolved/. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
- "Shopping". Evesham Town Council. http://www.evesham.uk.com/shopping.aspx. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
- English Turnpikes, Tuurnpikes, http://www.turnpikes.org.uk/English%20turnpike%20table.htm, retrieved 2011-01-12
- "Aldington: Evesham Bypass A46". Badsey.net. 25 October 2006. http://www.badsey.net/places/roads/bypass.htm. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
- J. Davies, Shakespeare's Avon: the history of a navigation (Oakwood Press, 1996), 25-9.
- "Asum grammar". Badsey. 7 May 2006. http://www.badsey.net/present/asum.htm. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
- "News: Past". Eversham Journal. 19 August 2010. http://www.eveshamjournal.co.uk/news/past/8338935.150_years_of_news/?ref=rss. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
- Chope, R. Pearse (1891), The Dialect of Hartland, Devonshire, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co, p. v, http://www.archive.org/stream/dialecthartland00chopgoog#page/n10/mode/2up, retrieved 13 January 2011
- Mrs Chamberlain (1882), A Glossary of West worcestershire Words, London: The English Dialect Society, p. vii, http://www.archive.org/stream/aglossarywestwo00hallgoog#page/n5/mode/2up, retrieved 13 January 2011
- Wakelin, Martyn (2008. First published 1978), Discovering English Dialects, Shire Classics, Oxford, UK: Shire Publications, p. 51
- "Life in Evesham". Evesham Town Council. http://www.evesham.uk.com/lifeinevesham.aspx. Retrieved 10 January 2011.
- "Evesham Arts centre". http://eveshamartscentre.co.uk/about.html. Retrieved 3 October 2010.
- "Evesham Regal Trust". http://www.communigate.co.uk/worcs/eveshamregaltrust/. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
- "British Listed Buildings, Evesham". http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/en-486875-regal-cinema-evesham. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
- "The Regal Events". http://www.theregal.ac/Upcoming_Events.html. Retrieved 3 October 2010.
- Henty, G. A. (2008). Winning His Spurs. BiblioBazaar. ISBN 9781604245974.
- "The Statue of Eof - the Legend of Evesham". Evesham Town Council. http://www.evesham.uk.com/page1418123.aspx. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
- Mills, A.D. (1998). Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford. ISBN 0-19-280074-4.
- Burne, A. H. (1950, reprint 2002), The Battlefields of England London: Penguin ISBN 0141390778
- English Heritage (1995). English Heritage Battlefield Report: Evesham 1265.
- Maddicott, J. R. (1994), Simon de Montfort, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press ISBN 0521374936
- Powicke, F. M. (1953), The Thirteenth Century: 1216-1307, Oxford: Clarendon. ISBN 0192852493
- Prestwich, Michael (1988), Edward I, London: Methuen London ISBN 0413281507
- Prestwich, Michael (2005), Plantagenet England: 1225-1360, Oxford: Oxford University Press ISBN 0198228449
- Cox, Benjamin G. (1977), The Book of Evesham, Chesham: Barracuda Books ISBN 0860230430