Some months ago I tweeted that I was carrying out some research on medieval fishing techniques. Someone from the Gloucester Waterways Museum was kind enough to tweet back to say they could help so yesterday I set off, writing pad and camera phone in hand to get down to some much needed research. It turned out that the Waterways Museum doesn’t hold any information on Elver Fishing but the Gloucester Folk Museum does. I was in the mood for a walk as the weather was glorious so I set off, this time, to the other side of Gloucester.
Trace, the staff member at reception was very helpful and went in search of a book, “Fishing on the lower Severn”, published by Gloucester City Museums. The book cost all of 30p so I snapped it up and then went upstairs to the ‘Fishing Exhibition’.
Normally, I wouldn’t find ‘fishing’ very interesting (apologies to all you keen ‘fisher-people’) but because this research will most likely form the prologue for my second historical novel I was fascinated! I highly recommend a visit to this exhibition.
Thirsty from my endeavours, I wandered into the Tea Rooms for a cold drink. I last visited the tea rooms when they were first introduced. I have to say they have come along way since. I bought a ginger beer which cost £1.80 and it was my absolute favourite – Fentimans. I also couldn’t resist buying a mug with the Folk Museum’s fabulous building as a motif. This was another bargain at £2.50.
As we are in the midst of a heatwave, I went to sit in the Tea Rooms’ Garden. In the words of Frances Hodgson Burnett I was “standing inside the secret garden.” This truly is another of Gloucester’s secret gems.
I sat in the shade by the water feature.
Behind me was the famous ‘Corkscrew Hazel’ which, according to an article in The Telegraph, appeared “ spontaneously in a Gloucestershire hedgerow in the early 1860s.” I only know this because Cherry, the dedicated gardener of this halcyon spot in the city, informed me. Tending the garden for more than ten years, Cherry is a mine of information.
Ahead of me was a mature Fig Tree by the side of a garden shed which wouldn’t look out of place in Misselthwaite Manor!
I then went in search of the elusive pineapple. I’d first come across it on an earlier visit to the Folk Museum. The garden was so lush and teeming with greenery I couldn’t, at first, locate it. It has since been moved to a more prominent and fitting place and here is the picture I took of it.
Nigel Cox, former head of the museum informed me that this magnificent pineapple finial once graced the rooftop of Gloucester’s Victorian Spa building and that pineapples symbolized welcome which is why, I suppose, they can be seen gracing the entrances of some of the more grander estates in England. Another hidden gem!
The Folk Museum is one of the most magnificent examples of historic architecture in the city. An amalgamation of a Tudor Merchant’s house and a 17th century town house, it has been tastefully restored and well maintained. Purported to have been the lodging house of Bishop Hooper on the night before he was burned at the stake for heresy just outside St Mary’s Gate. A memorial to him stands on the very spot. It is also the place where one of my characters in City of Secrets faces a similar fate!
My spirits were high as I walked back towards the Quays. The sun was shining and the city had a ‘happening vibe’ to it. Stallholders were setting up for the popular and highly successful Gloucester Quays Food Festival. Visitors and citizens were enjoying the sun, sitting outside at the various cafes, bars and restaurants. It really felt that Gloucester had ‘turned a corner’ in its lengthy quest to re-generate.
I’ll leave you with this image of a bee enjoying the sun in the Secret Garden!