Worcester Cathedral and Strensham Church Services

Worcester Cathedral

Another port of call during the weekend was Worcester. I wanted to visit the Cathedral in connection with my family history researches. It’s a lovely cathedral and you can see its tower from a distance so not hard to find in the centre of the city.

Worcester Cathedral

It was wet and cold on my visit the Saturday before last (9 March) so this photo of the Cathedral with blue sky behind is taken from the Worcester Cathedral website. Here is Dean Peter Atkinson’s Welcome Message introduction from that same website :

Worcester Cathedral is a magnificent sight as it rises majestically above the River Severn. Worcester has been the seat of a bishopric since the Seventh Century, and the Cathedral was served by monks until the Reformation. St Oswald and St Wulfstan were among the bishops. Since the Eighteenth Century, the Cathedral has been famous for its part in the annual Three Choirs Festival, the oldest choral festival in existence. Today the Cathedral is the centre of a vibrant community of clergy and laypeople, offering the praises of God each day, serving the city and the diocese of Worcester, and attracting visitors from all over the world.

St George's Chapel

St George’s Chapel, Worcester Cathedral

I had contacted the Vergers in advance in order arrange to see the Roll of Honour in which my relative is listed and introduced myself to a volunteer welcomer on arrival. A Verger was summoned and soon I was able to inspect the book and find his name. I then took some time to look around the St George’s Chapel where the Roll of Honour rests.

King John

The most significant tomb in Worcester Cathedral is that of King John.

Mrs Henry Wood

In addition, in the “Poets Corner”, I found the memorial to Victorian author Mrs Henry Wood. A prolific writer, she is perhaps best known for her book “East Lynne”.

Flags St George's Chapel

St George’s Chapel, Worcester Cathedral
The Church of St John the Baptist, Strensham
Church Key
For most people the name of the village of Strensham is synonymous with the Motorway Service Station of the same name on the M5. But for me it is the village where my relatives lived during the early years of the last century. More about them later. Strensham is divided in more ways than one; there’s a Lower Strensham and an Upper Strensham and the M5 motorway cuts between the two. However, far from the noise of the Services and the Motorway, Strensham church lies down a long lane across fields and even far from the Strenshams. It stands on cliff overlooking the River Avon. Now that I have visited I notice that you can see its creamy white tower as you drive up and down the motorway.
St John's Strensham
The Church of St John The Baptist, Strensham is listed in Simon Jenkins’ England’s Thousand Best Churches and given one star. It is also cared for by The Churches Conservation Trust. And there is a whole page about it in Jonathan Keates’ The Companion Guide to The Shakespeare Country. 
Companion to Shakespeare Country
One remark in this book that I rather like is his “More Norfolk than Worcestershire (it recalls Ranworth), this set of twenty-three paintings is extraordinary “.
Painted panels
Well, my family came from Norfolk to live in Worcestershire for possibly a couple of decades in the early twentieth century, returning to Norfolk before 1920. In addition to these painted panels the church boasts some impressive monuments, superb linenfold panelling and early 16th century pews.
Linenfold panelling and pegs
The chancel lights up as you enter but elsewhere it looks as if the gas mantels are still in use during the occasional services that are still held here.
Interior St John's Strensham
Keates goes on to say “Next to these is my favourite Worcestershire tomb, a great piece of English art,  full of unrivalled zest and excitement. Edward Stanton’s superb fantasia on the death of Sir Francis Russell in 1705 is as much Gothic as baroque in its marble schadenfreude. His face (a portrait, surely) a wrenched simian mask, he is shown half-lying as his kneeling wife beckons him towards a heaven blobbed with clouds and putti whirling a coronet.”
The Baroque Sir Francis Russell and his wife
The Baroque Sir Francis Russell and his wife
River Avon and Eckington
The Church is perched on a cliff and overlooks the River Avon

2 comments on “Worcester Cathedral and Strensham Church Services

  1. Nilly says:

    The church would make a lovelier place for resting & refreshing than the usual services, so I think we’ll make a point of stopping here next time.

    • Excellent idea, Nilly. We only don’t know Strensham Services because we travel to Devon via M1, M69, A46 (stopping always at The Fleece in Bretforton) joining the M5 at jct 9 just south of the service station.

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