Our Route : The Pink Diamonds indicate The Cotswold Way
Tewkesbury is only a few miles from The Cotswolds so on Sunday my sister and I chose the five mile walk “Thomas Cromwell and Hailes Abbey: how an important abbey was destroyed by a King’s Commissioner”. We drove the few miles to Hailes Abbey and parked up by the church. We decided to have our picnic lunch in the Abbey grounds after the hike.
Hailes Church (undedicated)
After a short distance back-tracking down the lane we headed off the road along grassy field paths to the village of Didbrook. We were surprised that this village had a primary school besides the honey-coloured stone church and houses. The school does serve a largish catchment area though, not just the village.
Acorn Smithy in Didbrook
St George, Didbrook
After Wood Stanway, which we approached along quiet country lanes, we joined the Cotswold Way which is a National Trail and indicates to us a well-marked route with its acorn-topped wooden marker posts. After quite a climb we were pleased to see a wooden bench and enjoy the view towards the Malvern Hills and possibly the Welsh Mountains too.
After passing the ramparts of an Iron Age fort (Beckbury Camp) we came across a bizarre little stone pillar with a niche carved out of it. According to local lore it was from here that Thomas Cromwell (Wolf Hall) watched the destruction of Hailes Abbey in 1539.
A half-mile deviation from the Cotswold Way lead us to the hamlet of Farmcote with its tiny chapel and herb and chilli peppers farm.
St Faith’s Church, Farmcote
“The body of this beautiful little chapel is Saxon and fairly early Norman, though the round Saxon apse was destroyed in the early nineteenth century. It has massive windbraces and huge cross-beams, still bearing the axe marks of pillagers. It is thought that the Saxon builders of the Chapel made have made use of an earlier, possibly even Roman building. The Chapel has a Norman rectangular nave and a tiny chancel linked to it by a narrow Saxon arch. the chancel houses a Jacobean canopied oak pulpit and arcaded reading desk, oak benches of 1597, fine altar rails of the Seventeenth Century and an altar itself of the Fifteenth Century with the original Mensa slab scratched with the five crosses, symbolizing the five wounds of Christ.” BBC Domesday
St Faith’s Farmcote : Interior
From Farmcote we descended steadily down the track (Cotswold Way) to the road and Hailes Abbey where we flashed our National Trust cards and settled at a picnic table for our well-earned tasty lunch! After lunch we walked around the Abbey grounds studying the information boards and the museum artefacts and discovering just how important this lonely ruin off the beaten track had once been.
Welcome to the Cistercian Abbey of Hailes
Hailes Abbey Museum
Hailes as it was
Ruined Cloister Walls, Hailes Abbey
The Drainage Culverts Established by the Monks – Still in Use Today
Goodbye Hailes Abbey