On the 29th of May the House of Commons ordered the Speaker to convey their thanks to the colonel and his officers in acknowledgment of their great service.
There is a willow grows aslant a brook, That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream; There with fantastic garlands did she come, Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples.
In tracing the history of our little town from its origin it has often been observed how important a part has been played in its fortunes by the river that flows through and partly encircles it. It is to the river that the town owes its position, and its very existence probably depended upon the advantages which the stream provided. To the early settlers a good supply of water and natural means of protection were necessary to life, and both these were offered by this narrow tongue of land.
For a long period the river was of little use for traffic, and not until the seventeenth century was it made properly navigable. Now, through the neglect of the owners of the navigation rights, it is once more reverting in places to its primitive character. From Evesham to Tewkesbury the stream is still in good order, but for a short distance only towards Stratford-on-Avon.
Apart from the fascination exercised on the mind by the ever changing surface of water, varied and rippled by motion and by wind, the beauty of this river is mainly due to the delicate and varied foliage of the willows and other trees which grow freely beside it, the luxuriant growth of flowers along its banks—“of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples”—and the variety of blossoming water plants. Few trees are more graceful than the willow when a slight breeze fans its branches, mingling the “hoar leaves” with the grey green of the upper side of the foliage; and many, before and since Shakespeare, have preserved in the “inward eye” such a vision, reflected in “the glassy stream” or more usually in the slightly ruffled surface below. The level meadows, or sloping banks, which skirt the stream have a quiet charm, and beautiful indeed are they in June, when thickly carpetted with buttercups and ox-eye daisies. At almost every turn rise the blue hills, completing the landscape and throwing the sunny meadows into relief.
We can hardly realise to ourselves the protective value of the river in old times without rowing both up and down the stream for a mile or more. Above the town, before reaching the railway bridge we should look back and notice how steeply the land rises from the river on this side. On the margin is the mill, and above are the houses, roof over roof, descending again in steps to the river bridge. At the top is the Bell Tower, and the church spires are seen near it. From the railway embankment, or the higher ground beyond, the best picture which the town affords is to be seen. Below us winds the river, and over the meadows on an eminence is the cluster of houses forming the town; as a background we have Bredon Hill, delicately outlined, or dark blue as if overhanging the vale.