Let us then guard this goodly heritage for ourselves and our children with jealous care, trusting that in fulness of time their handiwork may be not unworthy to stand beside the best that has been accomplished in the past. These storied towns may then be with us still to teach what no history book can tell, and to inspire us with the spirit of emulation for those qualities which sleep with the Genius of the Past.
EVESHAM AND THE VALE
Great Evesham’s fertile glebe what tongue hath not extolled. As though to her alone belonged the crown of gold.
Evesham stands on a kind of peninsula formed by a deep loop of the river Avon on its way from Stratford-on-Avon to Tewkesbury. The broad vale in which it lies is enclosed by a semicircle of hills, which provide a background to every varied landscape, and give a sense of homeliness and seclusion which those who are familiar with unbroken stretches of level country will at once recognise and appreciate. From the east to the south-west range the Cotswolds, not striking in outline but depending for their beauty in great part upon the play of light and shade and the variety given by atmospheric effects. To dwellers in the vale the appearance of the hills not only reflects the feeling of the day but foretells the coming weather. When a delicate, blue haze shrouds their forms, entirely obliterating the more distant heights, the pleasure-seeker rests content in the promise of a fair morn; but no pleasant expectations can be formed when, robed in deepest purple, they seem to draw in and crowd together, and with vastly increased bulk to frown upon the darkening vale.
[Illustration: EVESHAM AND BREDON HILL FROM THE PARKS]
At each end of the Cotswold range, as seen from Evesham, stands, sentinel like, an isolated elevation, and in early times, as present remains testify, both these were occupied as fortified posts. To the east is Meon Hill, and to the south-west stands Bredon, the nearest and most prominent of the group. In the south-east the position of Broadway is decisively marked by its pseudo-Norman tower, and due south the level outline ended by an abrupt escarpment to the eastward is Cleeve Cloud, carrying the range on towards Cheltenham and Bristol.
But the chief glory of the vale, so far as its background is concerned, is the truly mountainous outline of the Malvern Hills, the whole length of which is seen bounding the western horizon. The breadth of the valley here is more than twenty miles from hill to hill, and includes both the Severn and its tributary stream. To how many does the thought of sunrise not recall this undulating range illuminated and glorified by the clear beams of the early sun striking across the vale and thrown back in glittering fragments by the long line of houses at its base! And few