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Tewkesbury variations

A choir and an organ in Gloucestershire UK -
appreciated by

'Two first-class new recordings ...'

Variation : The Milton Organ of Tewkesbury Abbey. © 2003 Regent Records

Two first-class new recordings reveal something of the splendours of music-making in the central English town of Tewkesbury, situated in Three Choirs Country, midway between Gloucester (in whose county it narrowly stands) and Worcester.

Tewkesbury Abbey, consecrated in 1121, is one of the two largest parish churches in England, and proudly boasts the largest Norman tower in the country, which can be seen for miles across the low-lying Vale of Evesham. Tewkesbury began as a substantial early eighth century Benedictine Monastery : the religious house lasted until the Reformation, and part of its remains can still be seen around the present Abbey Church.

Some of the greatest and most powerful families of the England Middle Ages worshipped here : the de Clares, the Despensers and the Beauchamps -- as the Abbey's impressive tombs and fourteenth century stained glass bear witness. The town witnessed the bloody final defeat of the Lancastrians by Edward VI's forces under Richard, Duke of Gloucester (the future Richard III). Henry VI's slain son, Edward Prince of Wales, is believed buried in the precincts.

The Abbey is home to a host of major choral events including an imaginatively programmed choral society and a specialist summer course in Church Music. In particular, it maintains one of the finest surviving Choir Schools in England, the Abbey School, which furnishes the boy choristers for the Abbey's regular services, and an organ deemed by many to be the oldest in England still in daily use, with one of the most striking histories of any British instrument.

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Copyright © 24 May 2003 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK


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