Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Return to Old Milverton

An old postcard of Gaveston's Cross on Blacklow Hill, between Leek Wootton and Warwick.

The level of the Avon River has subsided north of Warwick. At noon today, I crossed the river on the footbridge tucked away behind the Saxon Mill pub in Guy's Cliff. Employees were hosing mud out of the pub, and it was clear that 24 and 48 hours earlier, the water had been much higher. All of that water has flowed south, through Warwick and Stratford and down to Tewkesbury, where the Avon joins the Severn. Water from the flooded river has seeped into Tewkesbury Abbey for the first time since the 18th century. One of the people buried in Tewkesbury Abbey is George, Duke of Clarence, the brother of Richard III who in Shakespeare is drowned in a vat of malmsey. His tomb is in a crypt beneath a grille that looks suspiciously like the grille of a storm sewer drain. I wonder if poor Clarence is drowning again in the muddy water of the Severn and Avon.

One of the things we seem to have left until it was too late this year was a trip down to Gloucester to visit Gloucester Cathedral. Gloucester, unfortunately, is now nearly inaccessible due to the flooding. Gloucester Cathedral is famous for the beautiful tomb of King Edward II. Fans of Braveheart will remember Edward II as the weakling son of the vicious English king, Edward Longshanks. Poor Edward had an unfortunate knack of choosing favorites who annoyed the rest of the English nobility. In 1312, his chief favorite was Piers Gaveston, 1st Earl of Cornwall. The obnoxious Gaveston found himself besieged by the Earl of Lancaster at Scarborough Castle (which we visited in April). He was eventually captured, imprisoned at Warwick Castle, and executed on Blacklow Hill. A cross (with an inscription composed by Dr. Samuel Parr of Hatton) used to stand on this site—where this slip road now comes off the northbound lane of the A46—which I pass on my walks to the Saxon Mill, Warwick, and Old Milverton.

Thanks to a tip from Marise, on LibraryThing, I was able this time to locate the grave of the writer Vera Brittain, author of the superb World War I memoir Testament of Youth. Below are pictures of the grave, and then a picture across the churchyard toward the wooded crest of Blacklow Hill.

1 comment:

fabrile heart said...

Glad you managed to find the grave, thank you for posting the pictures.

I do hope that the rain stops soon.