AwreGloucester
Nr Newnham-on-Severn
Gloucestershire GL14 1EW
 
 
 

Awre is a tiny village on the south-west edge of the Forest of Dean, in Gloucestershire. This ancient settlement is recorded in the Doomsday Book of 1086 and was well established before that time.

Its name is pronounced two ways – ‘oar’ or ‘ar’. As a child, this writer lived not more than a few miles from Awre and remembers it always being called ‘ar’. Local author, Humphrey Phelps, in his book “The Forest of Dean” recounts a local joke about the name:

“...stone was brought by rail via Blakeneny to Awre Junction and the South Wales line. Awre, by the way, is pronounced ‘oar’ or ‘ar’, the latter used to be favoured by the people of Awre. And they had their little joke at Awre Junction, the porter would shout “Ar for Blakeneny” and back would come “It’s B for Blakeney”. A joke that never grew stale, country people used to enjoy the old jokes best and find them even funnier with constant repetition.”

Now for the real reason why you should visit Awre - it is famous for the Severn, salmon, cider and psalms.

The Church of St Andrew, Awre is an unusual church with an extraordinary treasure. The road to Awre is really not much more than a narrow lane apparently leading nowhere but keep driving and you will eventually reach the hamlet.

Awre is an isolated village, surrounded by open fields, the odd dairy farm and beyond the village, the mighty River Severn.

Once upon a time, the open fields were filled with apple, plum and pear orchards used for making jams, and a powerful, tasty cider. But with the importation of foreign fruit from Europe, the trees were grubbed out and the rich alluvial soil put to pasture. A few gnarled old fruit trees still remain and are a picture in their spring blossom.

Awre survives because it is on slightly higher ground than the lost village of Woodend which was on the banks of the River Severn. Woodend Lane leading to the river is all that remains of the village, washed away by the river in the 18th century.

The centre of Awre village is marked by the War Memorial and this is a good place to start exploring a village that has changed little over the centuries. In the last fifty years only five bungalows and two houses have been built.

Accommodation - Search & Book through Tripadvisor here:
 
River Severn
The wide river is so deceptive; it looks placid and calm with large sandbanks exposed at low tide. Quite often you will see cattle out on the large sandbank known as ‘the Noose’. But do not be fooled, the tide roars in from the Atlantic Ocean up the Bristol Channel, forcing its way up the ever narrowing estuary of the River Severn.
 
This tide is known as The Severn Bore and draws surfers to ride the wave, and watchers to marvel at this phenomenon.
 
The Bore is at its best during Autumn and Spring tides. For detailed information go to:
 
Land Disputes
These tides cause extreme erosion and give the Severn its wide horseshoe bends, building the soil up on one side and taking it away from the other. Riverside communities have learned to live with the constant ebb and flow of land but in the 12th century the river gave Awre new land. It swept ground over from Slimbridge on the opposite bank, and later swept it back again.
 
Slimbridge decided to secure the new ground for itself. The men of Awre took the Slimbridge people to Court. Unhappily, Awre lost both their case and the land. Slimbridge still has the land which is now the famous Slimbridge Wildfowl Trust (Slimbridge WWT Wetland Centre).
 
Salmon Fishing
Fishing and some shipbuilding were the main pursuits of these riverside communities. Fish traps called putchers are still used to catch Severn salmon and this method is unique to the River Severn.
 
A walk down Woodend Lane will bring you to the fish traps. Racks stick out into the river at right angles to the tidal flow. Stacked on the bank you will see the conical-shaped putchers. These used to be made out of hazel and willow, but are now made of metal.
 
The putchers are held in the racks as the tide and fish flow upstream past them. As the tide flows out, the salmon are swept into the narrow end of the trap and remain there, alive and well until the fishermen harvest them before the next high tide. There is nothing like fresh caught Severn salmon for dinner! See Google Map Latitude 51.762N, 2.4289W
 
Further Information
The village does not have an official website but this link will supply interesting historical detail:
 
Getting There By car
- From Gloucester:  Take the A48 South through Westbury-on-Severn. At about 4 miles (6 km) south of Westbury-on-Severn, look for the village signpost to Awre on your left. It is about 2 miles (3 km) to Awre.
 
Google Map - Awre