Dominated by beautiful old black and white buildings and next to the River Severn, Upton is known for its small independent shops and its popular annual music festivals such as the "Sunshine Festival" and "Blues Festival". The town quayside is always busy with private and hired river cruisers and narrow boats with opportunities for visitors to take boat trips in the summer.
The river has been a big part in Upton’s history and was a natural barrier for militaries such as advancing Romans against the ancient Britons and during the English Civil War in the Battle of Upton.
Leading up to the Battle of Upton, on August 6th 1651 Charles II had marched south from Scotland into England. By the 22nd he had reached Worcester but the threat of the Parliament army surrounding him led him to fortify his position, to do so he sent some of his troops south to defend the river crossing at Upton.
In the early hours on 28th August 1651, 18 Parliamentary soldiers crossed the river via a board along a stretch of broken bridge to surprise the Royalist forces. This would help them open the way to Worcester where the King's army was. Unfortunately, they were spotted and had to take refuge in a church. As Major-General Lambert (2nd in command to Cromwell) noticed this, he started to send his troops across the river, as there was a spot downstream where the water was shallower. His men crossed whilst the Royalists fought against the soldiers in the church but as more men crossed the river, the Royalist forces decided to retreat and return to Worcester.
King Charles II would now have no hope in defending Worcester, which was proved on 3rd September 1651 at the Battle of Worcester, the final battle of the English Civil War.
Today, walkers, cyclists and fishermen are all drawn to Upton, especially as Upton lies on the popular "Severn Way". This long distance (220 miles) footpath follows the river from source to sea. The route uses Upton's bridge to transfer from one bank to the other.
The 60 hectares of flood plain next to Upton, called "The Ham", is one of the oldest Lammas meadows in the country. No fertilisers, pesticides or herbicides are used and it has been granted the title of Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The Grasslands Trust explains that the Lammas meadows are a special kind of flood meadow managed under a common system, whereby strips of meadow are randomly allotted (by drawing lots) to commoners to take hay, but grazing is shared by all the commoners. The Lammas meadow system is very ancient, possibly over a thousand years old.