At first glance, Upton upon Severn looks like many another country town, but its appearance conceals a secret past.
Upton upon Severn used to be a port, as well as being the only river crossing for many miles. For centuries before modern transport, it was alive with river craft carrying goods from and to the rich agricultural areas around it. Today, pleasure craft have taken over. There is a flourishing marina on the east bank, and Upton’s historic prosperity can be seen in its variety of delightful old buildings, including pleasant places to eat and drink and many independent shops to browse for a perfect gift or souvenir.
Upton is a town with a liveliness out of all proportion to its size. Its attractive shops, its delightful inns and a variety of events each year, such as the Jazz, Folk, Blues and Sunshine Festivals draw crowds in their thousands. It’s a place that has much to reveal.
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Look out for the “Pepperpot”, a most distinctive medieval church tower topped by an 18th Century cupola in place of a spire. Inside (it’s now the Tourist Information and Heritage Centre) you can find out what happened to the church and also discover its part in one of the most dramatic episodes of the Civil War and the great plague.
UPTON IN BLOOM
Upton upon Severn has entered the annual RHS Heart of England in Bloom campaign since 2003 and has gained a Gold award every year, and won its category. It has been nominated for the RHS Britain in Bloom national campaign five times, gaining a Silver, two Silver Gilts and, in 2018, a Gold award. Volunteers run every aspect of the stunning floral displays and also maintain permanent flower beds.
Today’s Upton Bridge is still the only Severn crossing for quite a long section of the river. As you look at its modern structure, try to imagine the bridge which Cromwell’s men managed to cross, in a famous skirmish not long before the Battle of Worcester. Then ask yourself where the old bridge stood – it was not on the site of the present one!
HENRY FIELDING AND TOM JONES
Henry Fielding the famous dramatist, journalist and author, who based his books on friends and colleagues, stayed at The White Lion in Upton upon Severn and in 1749 wrote of The White Lion in the History of Tom Jones, ‘Tom took … his redeemed lady … to that Inn, which in their eyes presented the fairest appearance in the street’ and he called the hotel ‘a house of exceedingly good repute’. He also mentions The Rose Room and The Wild Goose Room, both of which remain in use today.
It was recorded in 1822 that there were 17 Taverns and Coaching Inns in Upton for a population at the time of 2,319 – there are now 8 of the original drinking establishments but the population hasn’t changed that much, now approximately 2,600.
17TH CENTURY BUILDINGS
When you look at the buildings in Upton, remember to raise your eyes above the shop fronts as many of these buildings are older than they look and it’s by looking up that you see the clues to their age.