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Hidden Gems

 Eastleach Turville and Eastleach Martin

The river Leach, which forms the boundary between the two villages of Eastleach Turville and Eastleach Martin is fed by several springs further up the valley. The water is gin clear, shallow and constant and it made the perfect environment in the past for the farming of watercress.

There is no sign of commercial watercress farming these days except for the occasional remains of a structure in the water designed to control the flow. I am sure however that if you were a forager you might expect to find watercress growing wild even today.

The two parishes were separate until 1935 when they were amalgamated which explains why there are two lovely parish churches within 180 yards of each other. These days the smaller church of St Andrew in Eastleach Turville is the place of worship for both communities. The church is perhaps the most interesting of the two. Norman in origin it is full of architectural and decorative features. The walls are lime-washed and It was completely re-roofed in 1905/6 with local elm wood. The pulpit is early 19th century and made up of Jacobean arched panels and the lectern with a wooden shaft carved with vine trails, is said to have come from Tewksbury Abbey.

The larger church of St Michael and St Martin is cared for by the Churches conservation trust. There are fragments of medieval glass in the windows and amongst other treasures the lectern was made in about 1930 from Elizabethan table legs or bedposts. It remains a consecrated church but is rarely used for services except for weddings, christenings and funerals. It remains open however for the huge pleasure of any passing traveller.

Connecting the two villages for many centuries is an old Clapper Bridge. This is a type of footbridge found all over this country, usually where there was a ford in the river for vehicles and ridden horses and a dry bridge was required for people and packhorses on a leading reign. It is made of enormous slabs of stone stretched between stone pillars and is as firm and strong today as it has ever been. The nearby road bridge was built later, in the early 19th century to take carriages and eventually cars and lorries, but this Clapper Bridge is still seen by the locals as the connection between the two communities. It’s named Keble Bridge, after the family of John Keble who was curate here in 1815. His family had been lords of the manor since the 16th century.

Near Keble ridge is a heavy gothic wellhead, built in 1884, which will have provided the village with a convenient water-source, and on this hot day provided Widget with a means of cooling down.

Widget cools down on a hot day

Watch the videos for more historic hidden gems or visit The Local Directory for where to eat, drink and visit.

Leach river, Medieval Churches and Clapper Bridge

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Author: kate

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