NEXT THREE CHOIRS FESTIVAL: HEREFORD 28 JULY- 4 AUGUST 2018  

The Dean's Blog

Follow the Dean's progress as he walks the Three Choirs Way this week: covering 90 miles between our three host cities.

Day 1

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Setting out from Hereford with Poppies in the background. Accompanied for first mile by Howard and Heather and John and Averil.

 

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My companions and I part at the pub and I walk on!

 

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St Nicholas Chapel, Checkley

 

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Jennifer Bury cycles out from Ledbury to share a mile or so of the journey...

 

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...and takes photo of the walker with Ledbury in the distance.

 

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Rather underwhelming today but 'The Wonder', pictured here is the scene of the 1575 Slip when Marcle Hill moved a mile over three days and caused a mini rift valley.

 

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New born lambs play in the fields near Aylton

 

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Ledbury - day 1 completed - 15 miles?

 

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...and a welcome tea with Lady Gill Curtis in Ledbury!

 

Day 2

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Setting off from St Michael's Church, Ledbury

 

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St John the Baptist, Eastnor

 

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Visited Bircher House at Eastnor en route, to see Pauline. Last October I officiated at a wedding blessing at Eastnor Church for Pauline and her husband, Ray, on their 44th wedding anniversary.

 

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Crossing from Herefordshire to Gloucestershire over the ford.

 

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Bromsberrow Church - lovely medieval stained glass.

 

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St Bartholomew, Redmarley

 

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...and the story of St Bartholomew in stained glass...

 

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Masses of bluebells in the hedgerows all along the walk

 

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Hartpury - the medieval tithe barn, once owned by St Peter's Abbey, Gloucester.

 

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Hartpury - even in the smallest village, the Roll of Honour from the First World War contains many names.

 

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Hartpury - the famous bee shelters

 

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The River Severn comes into view

 

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Arrive at Gloucester Cathedral and am welcomed by the Dean, Stephen Lake. A busy day there, with installation of a new chorister at Evensong and The Princess Royal expected for an evening function for St George's Day.

 

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Project Pilgrim at Gloucester is coming to a conclusion and magnificent it all is:
- wonderful landscaping in the Close
- beautiful new inner south porch
- splendid new welcome area and interpretation throughout the building

Congratulations to all - a huge transformation!

 

Day 3

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Setting out from Gloucester - rainy today!

 

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Wonderful tithe barn at Ashleworth

 

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Ashleworth Church

 

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Inside Ashleworth Church. No carpets, I see - the church is prone to flooding.

 

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On to Deerhurst, with its two Saxon churches - this one is Odda's chapel dating from the 1060s.

 

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 And the Priory church itself dating from c. 800.

 

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Wonderfully lit Saxon font

 

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And delightful beast heads carved either side of the door.

 

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Deerhurst isn't just Saxon - the sanctuary furnishings are a rare survival of 17th century woodwork.

 

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David Coulton, an old friend and one of the clergy at Tewkesbury Abbey walks with me from Deerhurst to Tewkesbury.

 

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And there's a welcome from old friends at the Abbey!

 

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I always love the Easter Garden at Tewkesbury Abbey - life sized and beautifully lit.

 

Day 4

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After three days walking I've covered 45 miles but back in Hereford on Wednesday. Visit of Sophie, Countess of Wessex to see Poppies and to spend time with the wonderful ladies who were part of the ammunitions team during WW2 - what a great record of service and how lovely that they're at last being recognised. HRH was lovely with them and her visit was hugely appreciated.

 

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Still in Hereford and visit of Hambleden Valley Singers for Evensong. Our saint, Thomas Cantilupe was baptised in St Mary Hambleden Bucks in 1218 - so 800 years ago. Each member of the choir was presented with a specially designed pilgrim badge and is wearing it in the photo - taken at shrine of St Thomas. The Friends of Hereford Cathedral will visit Hambleden in August and renew baptism vows at the same font!

 

Day 5

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Back on the road after excitements of Hereford yesterday! Today Worcester to Upton - just 10 miles or so... Janet Harvey walks with me for a while and sees me out of Worcester!

 

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Kempsey Church with blossom everywhere

 

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I love these 18/19th century tablets - they commemorate such amazing paragons!

 

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Arrive at Severn Stoke - in the churchyard there is a medieval cross with an aperture in base where the consecrated host would have been placed during the procession on Palm Sunday - a rare survival.

 

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Today's destination - Upton-upon-Severn and the Pepperpot on the riverside.

 

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The Pepperpot was the tower of the parish church replaced in the 1870s. The present church has this contemporary metal sculpture by Anthony Robinson - meant to be dancing angels but to me always seems more akin to dancing prawns!!

 

Day 6

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Call at Leigh with its wonderful Tom Denny window

 

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Nice weather for ducks they say - but not for walking...!

 

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Another river to cross - this time the Teme at Bransford

 

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Arrived at last - and staying with good friends Jenny and Evan Sawyer at Brockhampton

 

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Alfrick - superb 17th century glass with blossom outside. Richard and Annette were cleaning the church and very kindly asked me to their home at the top of Crews Hill for a welcome cuppa when I had made the ascent!

 

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Start the day at Worcester Cathedral with Eucharist and seen here after the service with Dean Peter and Precentor Michael

 

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...and its superb 17th century tombs...

 

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...getting there...

 

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At Linley Green an appropriately names house for today - it simply hasn't stopped raining all day...

 

Day 7

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I set off on the final day from Brockhampton, seen off by our friends Jenny and Evan Sawyer, who scooped me up on arrival last evening - soaked through, gave me a wonderful supper and got me ready for the last leg of the journey!

 

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First stop: St Peter, Bromyard

 

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Primroses and violets abound on the lane from Bromyard to Pencombe

 

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In Pencombe Church a rather touching inscription - a young man who died in the 1830s while exploring the interior of Africa... makes my jaunt around the Three Choirs cathedrals appear quite small beer!

 

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Arrive at Bodenham and Pete and Jo Beavan make me very welcome and give me lunch

 

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We're joined by more walkers from Bodenham for the walk to Marden

 

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A walk through the woods...

 

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...and arrival at Marden...

 

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Marden Church and we're on home ground as the last part of the journey is the familiar pilgrimage route from Marden to Hereford, in the steps of our own patron saint, St Ethelbert, King and Martyr. Ethelbert died at Marden in 794 at the hands of King Offa of Mercia and Hereford Cathedral is dedicated in his honour.

 

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Home at last! And ending at the poppies, where I began 6 days and 90 miles ago! Gill and Jules Atkins there to welcome me and I then returned to the Deanery for a welcome cup of tea!

So many people to thank - all who supported me with sponsorship - final figure yet to be known but it's well over £3,000 - so warmest thanks to all for kindness and generosity - it will be a huge help to the Three Choirs Festival and SHYPP.

Thanks to all who welcomed me into their homes and gave me hospitality.

Thanks to Phoebe, Abby and Clare for picking up the blog each day and putting it on the website and Facebook.

Thanks to those who walked with me on sections of the route and were my fellow pilgrims.

Thanks to all who prayed me around the route - I felt that support!

Thanks to Tim who fetched and carried me!

Thanks to Gill and Julie for their admin back up.

Thanks to my colleagues back at the cathedral, who gave me the space to do this and who supported me in this endeavour.

Now we look forward to the Three Choirs Festival - it's a great institution and I'm delighted to have been some small support to it - and to have been given the excuse to walk between three wonderful cathedrals!

Thanks to you all!

Michael