Working on historic Excavations at Evesham Abbey

This post comes from second year undergraduate student Chris Chamberlain, who is contributing to a project on the Rudge family excavations of the Evesham Abbey grounds from 1811-1834 as part of the HM5002 Engaging Humanities module.

A Brief history of the Abbey:

Evesham Abbey was founded by Saint Egwin of Worcester during the 8th century, and was an integral place of worship and commerce for the Evesham area. This was especially the case after the Norman conquests due to the efforts of Abbott Aethelwig, and lasted until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1540 when the Abbey was demolished. Only the 16th century bell tower remained intact.

The 16th century bell tower in Evesham, with the All-Saints church in the background. Photo taken by Gregory Larson, 2012

After his death at the Battle of Evesham in 1265, Simon de Montfort was interred near what is believed to have been the high altar of the Abbey. His son, Henry de Montfort, was also buried there. The Abbey’s founder, Saint Egwin, was enshrined at the Abbey, alongside the remains of other saints, including Saint Credan, Saint Wigstan and Saint Odulf. These important burials speak volumes as to the importance of Evesham Abbey in medieval Britain.

The Rudge Family Excavations, 1811-1834

Edward Rudge (1763-1846), who was primarily a botanist, owned the grounds on which much of the Abbey once stood. His son, Edward John Rudge (1792-1861), was considered an antiquary, and was eventually made a fellow of the Royal Society in 1847. Edward John Rudge made the first excavation of the Abbey grounds following its destruction and his investigation still stands as the most extensive excavation of the ruins to date. He published his findings from the excavations in volume 5 of the Vetusta Monumenta in 1835.

This schematic featured in Vetusta Monumenta, vol.5, 1835, published by the Society of Antiquaries, London. It shows the foundations and floorplans discovered during the Rudge dig.

Edward John Rudge’s memoir in the Vetusta Monumenta provides us with an indication of the scale of the Abbey. He states that it stood at almost 300 feet long and 300 feet tall. In total, it is estimated that the Abbey covered an area of 90,000 square feet.

There is no doubt that the Abbey itself dominated not only the local landscape, but also the daily life of Evesham for over 800 years. It would likely have remained an integral place of Catholic worship if it were not for the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century. For artists impressions of what the abbey looked like and for more information on upcoming projects, follow this link: Evesham Abbey | Evesham Abbey Trust

Gloucester History Festival 2019: the CC4HH Exhibits

The programme for this year’s Gloucester History Festival is finally here, and we’re very excited that the student projects conducted for CC4HH will be displayed in two separate exhibits throughout the festival. These are part of the Festival’s ‘City Voices’ programme which explores aspects of local history and heritage. The theme for this year is ‘Power and the People’.

Firstly, the projects exploring Gloucester’s Windrush Generation and Gloucestershire’s LGBTQ+ community will be exhibited at the Eastgate Shopping Centre (see pic above) in Gloucester from the 7th to the 21st of September. The projects exploring Cheltenham’s history, which include life in the workhouses, a history of Pittville, and the Heritage Lottery funded project led by Dr David Howell ‘Cheltenham: Diasporas’ will be exhibited at the Chapel Arts gallery on Knapp road in Cheltenham from 4th to the 14th September. After this date, these exhibits will be relocated to the Quad Walk Gallery in the Francis Close Hall campus library at the University of Gloucestershire in Cheltenham. Ultimately, all the exhibits will be made available on the website. Here’s a sneak preview of a couple of the panels from the Windrush and Workhouses projects.

We’re very much looking forward to this year’s exhibits, which will be the third year in the life of the Centre, and the second year of collaboration with the Festival.