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Evesham

Evesham is a middle-sized, rural market town in Worcestershire, roughly equidistant between Worcester, Cheltenham and Stratford-upon-Avon, that was originally built within a loop of the River Avon, which flows through the Vale of Evesham. Due to its development as a mainly agricultural centre, and being overshadowed by these towns, Evesham has little of interest for tourists, although it is handy for visiting the Cotswolds.

Evesham is not entirely devoid of interest, however, and is actually richer in history than Stratford, despite Stratford's connections with Shakespeare. For example, not only was Evesham the focus of a major battle - the Battle of Evesham - but it was also home to one of Europe's largest abbeys, of which only the Bell Tower remains. Evesham Abbey was founded by Ecgwin, Bishop of Worcester, (later Saint Ecgwin, sometimes spelled Saint Egwin) following the vision of the Virgin Mary by a local swineherd (or shepherd, the matter is disputed) named Eof, which vision also appeared to Ecgwin. The name of Evesham is derived from "Eof's ham". Evesham Abbey funded smaller abbeys and churches in Belgium, Holland and France. A large source of income came from pilgrims to the tomb of Simon de Montfort who was killed at the Battle of Evesham on 4 August 1265.

One historical quirk of Evesham is that the town consists of Evesham on the north side of the river (within the loop of the river) and Bengeworth on the southern side. Bengeworth was always the secular side of the river, and at one stage had a castle vying for control with the abbey across the river. Unfortunately for Bengeworth the knights went on a drunken spree and damaged a grave or two in the Abbey graveyard, giving the monks an excuse to attack and level the castle. This historic imbalance is still visible in the distribution of shops and roads.

Modern reasons to visit Evesham include a major angling contest held every year (whose name escapes me), the marina, and the Abbey Gardens including the two parish churches that remain within the grounds of the old abbey.

The best way to reach Evesham is probably by train from Worcester or London, or by the number 28 bus from Stratford-upon-Avon.

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