Alcester, Warwickshire, England

We travelled on from Morecambe to Alcester in Warwickshire which is a small town with around 9,000 inhabitants. Of course you’ll know that when an English place name has chester, caster or cester in it it means that their was a Roman camp there. Castris is Latin for camp. So it’s no surprise that there’s an interesting wee museum in Alcester (which the locals pronounce Ulster, exactly like the place in Ireland) and it has quite a lot of things in it which have been found locally. Apparently Roman Alcester is only a few centimetres below the soil. As someone who was brought up in Scotland and north of the Antonine Wall, the Roman Empire stopped just a few miles south of Dumbarton, I find it really exciting to think that you could be digging in your garden and discover Roman artefacts. If I lived in Alcester I think I’d be forever poking around in the soil.

Anyway the town is only 8 miles from Stratford-on-Avon which we also visited but Alcester turned out to be a really lovely wee town although like many places it’s feeling the pain of the downturn in the economy. There are lots of charity shops, which I’m not really complaining about because as you can imagine – I did rather well out of them bookwise!

This is the main street, I think it’s really lovely, it’s pretty enough to be on a jigsaw puzzle or chocolate box. I’m used to grey stone buildings which can be quite depressing at times so whitewashed buildings make a nice change.

The Main Street in Alcester
This is one of the pubs, I have to say that Alcester is well served with boozers!
The Three Tuns

This road is just off the main street in Alcester and I just had to take a photo of it as the buildings are leaning every way you can imagine but still managing to stay up somehow.

Tudor/Elizabethan houses.

This small road or alley way close to the main street feels like Shakespeare could have been a frequent visitor, I’m sure the place has hardly changed since those days.

Tudor alley

This is the buildings on the opposite side of the street. Our own house is over 100 years but it always amazes me that there are actually people living in these types of houses which must be about 500 years old, or maybe even older.

Tudor alley

These brick houses are at the bottom of the same street.

Tudor alley

Yet more cute, chocolate boxy English buildings.

Tudor /Elizabethan street

Obviously Jack took this one as that’s me in my raincoat on the left hand side, not realising that he was taking a photo. As you can see it wasn’t actually raining at this point, things did get much worse!

Tudor /Elizabethan street

So that’s Alcester, a small town that I would definitely visit again, I’m sure there’s much more to explore in the area. We hadn’t even heard of the place until we bought a grandfather clock for a spot in our hall which was just crying out to be filled with one. I had wanted a Scottish clock but I had been looking for years but in Scotland they tend to go for silly prices so I gave up and bought an English one as you can see.

It has the name T. Jorns ( a very unusual name) and Alcester painted on the clock face and when we looked it up we discovered that it was in Warwickshire, which accounts for the apples painted in the corners of its face as it’s apple growing country. I’m sure that when I started to do some research that I discovered that there was still a shop in Alcester which was owned by a Jorns, an electrical shop. Sadly there’s no trace of one now, which isn’t really surprising as there are hardly any independent electrical places around now. Thomas Jorns did actually make the clock, sometimes the name and place on a clock just tells you where it was bought rather than made. It’s just a 30 hour one which means that you pull a chain to wind it up instead of using a key but it keeps good time and has a lovely sound to the bell when it strikes the hours, and as it’s nearly 200 years old I think that’s not at all bad. If I forget to wind it up and it stops – I notice immediately because it sounds as if our house’s heart has stopped.

Clock Face T Jorns Alcester

Corbridge Roman Fort

We visited Corbridge in Northumberland during the summer holidays. The Roman remains there are quite extensive although it’s thought that there is still a lot to be found underneath the surrounding fields.

The town which I was brought up in is situated just to the north of the Antonine Wall which was the wall which marked the farthest point of the Roman Empire. They might have managed to get a bit further north but I don’t think there is any proof of that. I’ve always found it really funny that the Romans managed to conquer just about everyone else but the folks of the Dumbarton area were just too much for them to cope with.

So visiting this Roman ruin was a real novelty for us and there is quite a lot to see inside as well as outside. There is an interesting museum on the site which houses a lot of the artefacts which have been dug up from there. It’s well worth going to see if you’re in Northumberland.

Hadrian’s Wall is another great place (thing). It was built by the Romans to stop the Scottish savages from being able to attack the Romans. The first time I went there on a school trip with the Latin/Classical Studies department I couldn’t get over how big the wall is. The Romans must have been very scared of us. I’ve always fancied walking the whole length of it, the whole breadth of the border, but life has somehow got in the way, maybe one day!