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Worcestershire
Almonry Museum, Evesham Near Abbey Park, in centre of Evesham The Almonry is a stone and half timbered building which grew from the 14th century onwards near the site of the ruined Evesham Abbey. Now it is a museum of local history from prehistoric times to the present day. There are many Roman and Saxon exhibits and other displays include a 14th century psalter and the Great Chair of Evesham Abbey and a room devoted to Simon de Montfort, father of England's Parliament.
Avoncroft Museum of Buildings Off A38, 2 miles south of Bromsgrove The Avoncroft Museum of Buildings offers fascinating insights into the past. Some 20 buildings spanning seven centuries of English history have been rescued from destruction and re-erected on this 15 acre, open-air site in the Worcestershire countryside. The museum's first acquisition was a 15th century merchant's house from Bromsgrove, opened to the public in 1967, and since then the collection has steadily expanded. Besides the buildings, Avoncroft has a display of carts and caravans. On certain days a Shire horse gives wagon rides, and there are train rides on a miniature track.
Bewdley Museum In centre of Bewdley Housed in the Shambles - an 18th century butcher's row, the past life, trade and industries of the townspeople are the museum's concern: Bewdley was once a thriving little inland port and a centre for the craftsmen of the Wyre Forest. Displays in the historical galleries include charcoal-burning, basket-making, coopering and the making of besoms, or birch-twig brushes. Rope-making was another important concern, and hand-turned machinery from an old local ropeworks demonstrates how ropes were made. In a restored foundry, complete with forge, grinding wheel and finishing shop, brass founding may be seen on most days. The museum also makes workshops available to present-day craftspeople.
Bretforton Manor On B4035, 4 miles east of Evesham Built on the site of a ruined monastery, this gabled 450-year-old mansion is reputedly haunted. Inside there is much carved oak, some said to come from a Spanish ship wrecked at the time of the Armada, and there is a priest-hole in the library. The grounds contain the old village stocks and a thatched barn with a horse-drawn cider mill. There is also a 15th century stone dovecote - one of five in the village. In the village square, the half-timbered Fleece Inn contains Stuart pewter, among other antiquities. A farmhouse in medieval times, the Fleece is one of a small number of inns owned by the National Trust.
Broadway Tower Country Park Off A44, 5 miles south-east of Evesham Broadway Tower was built by the 6th Earl of Coventry in the 1790s - simply, it seemed, to have something to look at from his family seat at Worcester, some 20 miles away. Crenellated in sham medieval style, the building was designed by the architect James Wyatt. It was erected on Broadway Hill - at 1024ft above sea level the second highest natural point on the Cotswolds - and climbing the spiral staircase, 65ft further, to the summit of the tower, the visitor can enjoy a stupendous panorama. Three exhibitions are mounted in the building: one to William Morris, another to sheep farming and a third to the story of the tower itself. In the country park around there are rural walks.
Droitwich Spa Brine Bath In centre of Droitwich Deep under Droitwich are deposits of rock salt from which briny waters well up. Before the Romans came Ancient Britons produced salt from these waters by evaporation, but it was the health-conscious Victorians who built the first brine baths for therapeutic purposes. Droitwich brine is ten times as salty as normal seawater, and taking a dip in it is comparable to relaxing in the Dead Sea: the water in amazingly buoyant, making it possible to float without effort. From 1836, Droitwich became a fashionable spa town. After its Victorian heyday the spa trade languished for many decades, but it revived in the 1980s.
Hanbury Hall Off B4090, 2.5 miles east of Droitwich The red brick Queen Ann house was built for Thomas Vernon, a prosperous barrister, and has its completion date, 1701, carved above the front door. Not much has changed since then. The house has fine furniture and eye-catching staircase murals and ceilings. The Long Room contains English porcelain from the Watney Collection.
Hartlebury Castle Off A449, 3 miles south of Kidderminster Nothing remains of the medieval exterior of Hartlebury Castle, for the original fortress was sieged, looted and ruined by Roundhead troops in 1646. The present three-wing mansion was built 30 years later with 18th century alterations including many arched windows. The Bishop of Worcester's House is in the south wing by a chapel, the north wing holds the Worcester County Museum and the central block contains the State Rooms, which are used for various public and religious events.
Pershore Abbey In centre of Pershore People have worshipped on the site of this abbey since AD 689, when Ethelred, King of Mercia, endowed a monastery there. Much of what is seen today is Early English work, dating from the 13th century, but there are also the remains of a Norman building, including a window and a corner of the original tower. When the monastery was surrendered to Henry VIII in 1540, the townspeople paid 400 to save part of it as a parish church.
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