A Tribute to Iris

One of Evesham’s most knowledgeable historians, Iris Pinkstone, died on May 21st 2020, leaving a fascinating legacy of knowledge of Evesham’s rich history –  in particular that of Simon de Montfort and the Battle of Evesham.

Iris has been largely responsible for creating one of the town’s most interesting historical societies, The Simon de Montfort society –  also for acquiring the public use of the Battle Well on Green Hill, site of the Battle of Evesham on August 4th 1265

She was chairman, and a founder member, the Society and has worked tirelessly for the past 33 years to encourage interest in Earl Simon and his fight for democracy, which culminated in his death at Evesham.

She founded the society’s magazine The Lion and, with the help of Dr John Hunt, started an annual Day School; she instituted the wreath laying ceremony at Earl Simon’s memorial in Abbey Park, on the anniversary of his death as well as a service the following evening at the Battle Well on Green Hill.

But all the while, Iris harboured another ambitious project  – to restore the Battle Field and create a trail that followed the route taken by Earl Simon and his men from Evesham Abbey up to the Battle Field on Green Hill.

In 2008 her ambition came to fruition and a Battle Trail was officially opened by MP Peter Luff. Today there is a marked trail, open to the public,

leading through the town up to the Battle Field which has been carefully restored and looked -after.

Iris also hoped to find the chapel of the Battle Well where, it is said, that after Simon’s death a well sprang up which attracted pilgrims from far and wide – a place where miracles occurred. These stories of healing were subsequently suppressed by King Edward I but a small chapel is thought to have been built on the Battle Field to honour the death of so many. And it was to find the remains of this chapel that was next on the list of Iris’s ambitions.

Being an artist, having previously taught Art and Religious Education at a comprehensive school in Cirencester,  Iris designed and made many beautiful artefacts, including paintings, cards, mugs and books to sell at town events to raise money for the society.

She always stressed that she was not an ‘historian’ as such. It was her creative skills and imagination, together with the help of her hard working committee, that helped the society gain momentum through the years.

For both Iris, and her companion, Alwyn Johnson, promoting knowledge of Earl Simon and Evesham’s rich history was the major focus of her life. And five years ago she was thrilled to received an award from the British Association for Local History (BALH) for her work and dedication to Evesham’s past.

Iris was a kind and thoughtful lady;  a wise mentor to many and good friend to those who would call and visit at her pretty thatched cottage, which, until their death some years ago she shared with Alwyn and her little Schipperke, Dandy, whose barking and enthusiastic greeting terrorised many! She supported many animal charities and loved the wildlife that visited her garden.  Every evening she made a ‘Chappie sandwich’ for her resident fox and was thrilled at the fallow deer that occasionally jumped through her garden.

Sadly in the last few months carers came in to help her twice a day but she still battled-on with her vital work for the Simon de Montfort Society.

Now many more accolades await to recognise Iris’s hard work and dedication;  many ideas are in the air of ways to commemorate the memory of a popular, if somewhat idiosyncratic, lady who will be very sadly missed by her many friends.

MAUREEN BUTLER

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