2017 Events with reviews
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During the talk given by James Pettifer on 14th November in St. Andrews Hall on the origins of what became known as Pettifer’s Yard i.e. 19 High Street, he showed an old map of what was a Saxon settlement around Pershore with the Avon even then becoming known as a trade artery. We were told that if Chaucer is read it is made clear that the Saxon times produced the equivalent of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll!
Amongst No. 19’s claim to fame was being one of the first in Pershore to have a Thomas Crapper toilet installed, although the building at the rear was an C18 woolbarn during the times when wool stapling was at its height and one of the sources of local wealth.
A talk was given by Keith Goddard one of the extremely knowledgeable trustees of Number 8, beginning with a little of the history of the building originally called Portland House and much more about the conversion from a very rundown building to a community centre featuring a theatre, dance studio, meeting rooms and café.
He showed an early photo dated approx. 1890 with the next one dated 1905 featuring a retail shop called Greenhous with a Georgian style frontage after which in 1960 the Co-op installed 2 bay windows, it later became the YMCA charity shop.
Wychavon District Council agreed to buy the building and after 5 years when Number 8 proved it was a viable proposition, agreed a 99 year lease at a literally peppercorn rent. Number 8 Theatre and Community Arts Centre opened its doors in December 2004 having run a makeshift cinema for a while every Saturday night at the rear of the charity shop.
The various phases of the building were shown from excavating a mediaeval cooking pot which it is rumoured later became a chamber pot, found in a cellar under the rear yard of the property, through to its latest refit his year after which it was officially re-opened on 28th September. Who knows what the future holds?
From the outset the community enjoyed daily Anglo-Catholic worship which continues to the present time. Residency in the community has been expanded to welcome practising Anglicans from anywhere in the country. Many visitors still attend Sunday celebrations of the Mass.
Both the Almshouses and St Leonards Church, a masterpiece of Victorian Gothic architecture, were designed by Philip Charles Hardwick,a member of the Oxford Movement. This was reflected in the Anglo Catholic choir school tradition. The choristers, who boarded within the community, sang in daily services until the choir school closed in 1945.
The church is famous for its frescos, devised by Revd James Skinner, the first vicar-warden. Frescos of saints, (female!) surround the walls of the St Leonards. St Leonards, a grade 1 listed building, continues to benefit from the generous donations of benefactors.
Within the community were the cloisters, reconstructed medieval chapel, theological library and the Grand Hall. It was there that two of the residents plied us with coffee, tea and cake.
He gave a brief history of the company, owned by the two Sicilian Billie brothers still very much involved after 22 years. The company employs 400 mainly Eastern European workers living in accommodation provided by the company including the converted Victoria Hotel in Pershore.
Tomatoes are planted in January and ready for picking in about 10 weeks without any spraying, don’t think anyone realised until we were shown around the glasshouses that each plant stem is about 30m long and bears up to 43 trusses all hydroponically grown and fertilised by bees brought in specially.
Rainwater harvesting assists the hydroponic growing and water is constantly pumped along each row. Plants finish cropping in November allowing a couple of months for clearing and burning before replanting in January although the waste plants can’t be fed into the anaerobic digester because of the amounts of string around which the stems entwine in the glasshouses.
Many thanks to John and staff for an enjoyable and informative visit and it was good to learn that these very same tomatoes can be bought in our local greengrocers.
Even more photos were enjoyed via the digital expertise of Chris Ludlow who showed not only photos inherited from his parents but many from his own vast collection via his laptop screen.
The morning also presented an opportunity for chats over a cup of tea and an opportunity for old and new residents to intermingle. The main request of the morning after a cuppa was for a similar exhibition next year – so watch this space!
We also saw Thomas the Tank Engine having been brought from its home in Llangollen for this special event day
After the tour came the cream tea served on the 2.45pm train to Cheltenham Racecourse when a couple of our male members were invited to ride on the footplate for part of the journey.
A delightful journey through the beautiful Gloucestershire countryside bathed in sunshine.
After Alice’s death in 1920 Edward developed other female friendships including, particularly, another Alice.
Elgar first big success came with ’Variations on an an original theme’(Enigma) in 1899, a masterpiece in form and presentation.
Our speaker, during his research on Sir Edward Elgar, thought he might have cracked the ‘Enigma’ of the variations, written mainly in the key of G major, with some in the minor, but ending in G major; Edu….in….G major becomes E ni Gma. Will we ever know?
This typically Georgian style walled kitchen garden set in the grounds of Croome Court is now open to the public most weekends during the summer and is well worth a visit. You never know, tea with homemade scones may be on the menu and you will be made very welcome. For more details see: croomewalledgardens.com