Just beyond is a double cottage dividing the road into two, and on the right is a shady lane. This is Blayney’s Lane, and, as already mentioned, it was once the London road; by pursuing it we come to the river meadows and Offenham Ferry. The main road runs straight on, and leads, through the village of Norton, to Alcester, Stratford, Birmingham, &c. The way to the left is the old Worcester road, and skirts the grounds of the Abbey Manor. If we take this lane and descend the hill we may turn sharply to the left near the bottom and return to the town by the “New Road”; or walk on a short distance with Wood Norton—the Duke of Orleans’ house—on its wooded slope, in full view, and follow a lane on the left leading to Chadbury Mill.
The Abbey Manor, with its pretty grounds, is not open to the public. In addition to the beautiful views obtained from its walks and lawns it contains many treasures of local interest. Chief among these are fragments of columns, window tracery, sculpture, and other relics brought by an ancestor of the present owner, a noted antiquary, from the site of the Monastery. Here are carefully preserved a splendid abbatial chair richly carved and of great size, bearing the monastic arms, and in remarkable preservation; also two quaint effigies of men in plate armour fashioned in solid oak about three-quarters of the size of life. These figures stood on the face of the belfry tower, and, by turning on a pivot, struck the hours; they are in all probability coeval with that building.
In one of the shrubberies, hidden from public view, is an obelisk commemorating the fall of Simon de Montfort, and in the plantation near the lower road is a tower, like the house denoting the period of the late Georgian Gothic revival, and bearing the name of the Earl of Leicester.
THE BATTLE OF EVESHAM
When the barons in armes did King Henrye oppose, Sir Simon de Montfort their leader they chose; A leader of courage undaunted was hee, And oft-times he made their enemyes flee.
At length in the battle on Eveshame
The barons were routed and Montfort was slaine.
—THE BEGGAR’S DAUGHTER OF BEDNALL GREEN.
One of the treasures of the Abbey of Saint Mary and Saint Egwin at Evesham was the tomb of the great and popular hero Simon de Montfort. Such tombs were a source of much profit to the ecclesiastical institutions of those days. Hither pilgrims flocked in great numbers, particularly on the day specially devoted to the memory of the saint or martyr, and offerings were made proportionate to the wealth of the devotee. Not only was it supposed that spiritual advantages could be gained by devotion at these holy places, but cures innumerable were believed to have been worked through the intercession of the departed spirit. Hence the great monasteries often partook of the nature of our present-day hospitals, “the maimed, and the halt, and the blind” thronging thither; and, if at first unsuccessful, trying shrine after shrine in the hope of eventual restoration to health.