Pilgrimpace's Blog

middle march 5 – stratford to evesham

Thanks to Karin’s brilliant idea, this pilgrimage has been named “Middle March”.  I don’t think I’ll visit Coventry this time, and I can’t think of obvious George Eliot connections with the other places I’ll be visiting, but I’m enjoying this pilgrimage from home and there are obvious possibilities for several more …

I returned on the early train to find Stratford mercifully cool, damp and deserted after Sunday’s heat.  I began in Holy Trinity, joining the queue for Shakespeare’s Grave, and then finding prayerful quiet in the Chapel dedicated to Thomas Becket.  I am aware I have not finished my walk to Canterbury and hope St Thomas does not mind this journey to some Midland saints, as it were, on the way.

By a mixture of river-side paths, abandoned railways and minor roads (as well as the wettest and muddiest beanfield I’ve ever lost the path in) I walked towards Evesham, climbing gradually to take the ancient greenway along the top of Cleeve Hill.  The final miles were through the Vale of Evesham and it was interesting to walk through such intensive and industrial agriculture, bringing back memories of the first few days out of Valencia on the Levante.  Perhaps the strongest memory is of walking past an overgrown orchard where the smell of ripe plums was intoxicating.

And then into Evesham where the Abbey Tower still stands.  The body of Simon de Montfort was buried here and he was an important, if unofficial political saint.  Today he is commemorated as a pioneer of representative democracy and it is fascinating to find Jonathan Sumption (in The Age of Pilgrimage) stating that he was chiefly venerated by poor people in areas such as London.  Perhaps he was not so different from Becket.  The Abbey was quickly squashed in the Dissolution and there is a marginal note in a Bible in the Museum there recording this.

So, the first major place of pilgrimage on this journey.  At least two more to go.

I’ve had a few days with my family and will be back at work tomorrow.  This pilgrimage will continue, but more fitfully.



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