The most dominant feature of the Gloucestershire town of Tewkesbury, aside from the confluence of rivers Avon and Severn, the medieval buildings and alleyways, the 10th century Abbey and the site of the 1471 Battle of Tewkesbury, is the Severn Ham, a vast rich meadow between the town and River Severn.
In the past the Ham was reluctant host to events such as horse racing, a regular fair ground and in winter, a festival of ice skating. Today it’s precious to walkers, picnickers and lovers of natural fauna and flora. This includes the rare Sulphurwort (Oenanthe silaifolia).Grass species include Cocksfoot, Meadow Foxtail, Meadow Barley, and Smooth Brome (Bromus racemosus). There is Marsh Foxtail in the wetter areas. Flowering species such as Meadow Buttercup and Lady’s Smock are plentiful. Trees and scrub grow on the margins, offering shaded spots for fishing and bathing.
The site is important for protection, being one of the few remaining ham meadows in England which are traditionally managed by those who hold rights to graze stock and make hay. It is rich in alluvial deposits from regular annual flooding. Its name derives from the Old English word Hamme meaning place in the bend in the river. Heaven forbid that the Ham at Tewkesbury would be despoiled by ‘development’.
Travel close to home.