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Where is this?

Tetbury is an old market town in the heart of the Cotswold. In the Middle Ages known for its wool market, now more famous for its proximity to High Grove, the home of Prince Charles

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Tetbury, Gloucestershire

The Gloucestershire market town of Tetbury has welcomed visitors for centuries.  On our Saturday afternoon excursion, the flags were out, the fresh bunting was excitable, and the sun was shining.  We managed to secure what seemed to be the last parking space in the town, and set off for a pleasant amble. 

tetbury's clock

As visitors, we had parked in the car park.  Locals, on the other hand, knew they had the absolute right to park, or more correctly abandon their vehicles, on yellow lines, on junctions, or parallel with other vehicles, especially when they wanted a conversation with another party.  That was probably why the glamorous wedding guests were descending from a 1930’s style coach, hanging onto their hats and definitely teetering over the uneven pavements on their on-trend impossibly high shoes. I noticed the pharmacist had a display of blister treatments in his window, was this a coincidence?

Under the Market Cross building, which stands at an awkward crossroads for both pedestrians and motor vehicles, stall holders were selling a variety of fruit, vegetables, and country condiments, as well as crafts and books.  The style and prices of produce may have changed, but it was easy to imagine traders from long ago gathering here to sell their possibly more essential wares.

tetburyThe range of shops in Tetbury is much more extensive than a few years ago.  Once, it was a great place for antiques, but very little else.  The antique shops are still there, but have been supplemented by a range of independent quirky traders, offering clothes and artifacts from Afghanistan, interesting clocks and timepieces, unusual fashions,  and of course the Duchy of Cornwall store. We were even asked for directions to this, so it is evidently one of the major draws to this charming town. 

The atmosphere inside the store, even on a hot day, was airy and pleasant. We selected some useful gardening implements, but also spent a lot of time weighing up the comparative merits of different types of biscuits and jams.  When we realized that what we needed was a cup of tea and scones, we headed across the road to a delightful courtyard and a welcome break. 

Thus refreshed, we continued to the end of the street, where a four way convergence of roads made crossing over somewhat lively, then continued past another wedding party and down a side street. You get the feeling that Tetbury has seen it all, done it all, and will still be standing when we are dust.  But it is not a museum; real people live there and share a stewardship of its history. 

On our way back to the car park, we called in at the parish church to see the flowers left from the wedding, and had the added bonus of a singer and the organist rehearsing Ave Maria in the loft.  The stained glass windows, the pews each with a door to the aisle, and the dark wood satisfied our visual senses, so that the total was a greater than the sum of the parts.  As we adjusted our sunglasses and stepped out into the sunshine again, for a wander round the graveyard, we agreed that Tetbury is a very worthwhile destination for a sunny afternoon. 

July 31, 2009

 

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