Take a walk around Pershore
(click images to enlarge)
Our tour begins in Broad Street at the hub of Pershore where the High Street and Bridge Street meet and is unusually wide because until 1836 there were some houses and a shambles in the centre. On one corner is the Royal Arcade converted into shops in the 1980s where a blue Civic Society plaque on the wall commemorates the fact that ‘This Regency building was formerly the The Royal Three Tuns Hotel visited in 1830 by Princess (later Queen) Victoria and her mother the Duchess of Kent’. The building is circa 1830 and offset by the ornate ironwork of its balcony. Broad Street is surrounded by fine Georgian houses with some Venetian and Palladian style windows, all built by John Hunter, a prosperous merchant, about 1810.
Numbers 7 and 9 Broad Street are both perfect examples of Georgian domestic architecture, Number 9 also has well proportioned bay windows with a pediment at roof line emphasising the symmetry of the elevation.
Opposite is the Baptist Chapel, a Victorian building on the site of one of the earliest Baptist foundations in the country, thought to date from 1658. Inside its gallery fronts are panels reached by a graceful curving stairway. Two shops facing the entrance to Broad Street also have Regency balconies, flanked by an imposing group of Georgian houses built about 1810.
From there can be seen the Abbey Tower considered to be Pershore’s treasure. The Abbey was founded in 689. Late in the 10th century it became a well organised Benedictine monastery, but almost at once it suffered heavy financial losses when many of its local estates, including much property in Pershore itself, were seized and made over to the newly founded Abbey of Westminster. It remained however, a monastery of considerable importance with a church of architectural distinction. The original Saxon church, traces of which were discovered during the recent restoration, was rebuilt in Norman Romanesque, seen in the tower arches and the south transept. In 1223 a fire ruined the Norman presbytery when the tower fell destroying the roof.
The blackened stones were cleared and the new, Early English eastern limb replaced them. The vaulting, with its wonderful carved bosses, is of the following century. In the 14th century the fallen Norman tower was replaced by the present one, designed probably by the same architect as Salisbury Cathedral. At the dissolution of the monasteries, Pershore went the way of other religious houses, and its domestic buildings are no more. An extensive Victorian restoration was carried out between 1862-64 by Sir Gilbert Scott followed in 1992-96 by another especially to the south transept and tower whilst inside a new floor was laid over underfloor heating when new lighting and acoustic systems were also installed. St. Andrew’s opposite is another mediaeval church serving the tenants of the Abbot of Westminster; it has now been de-consecrated and is available for community use.
Outside in St. Andrews Gardens is a two-sided modern sculpture The Moon Goddess by Peter Inchbald. Passing through the open grounds of Abbey Park which was purchased after the war by a far-sighted local authority and formerly the monastic precincts, the bottom of Newlands is reached. The half timbered structure on the left has been faithfully and beautifully restored by the Worcestershire Historic Buildings Preservation Trust and is thought to be on the site of the Almonry where the monks housed their visitors and dispensed charity to the poor.