Tewkesbury has a rich heritage that spans more than 1000 years and the town’s architecture reflects the many periods of prosperity within the town.
Tewkesbury has a mix of half-timbered medieval houses, Tudor buildings, Georgian properties and Victorian homes all sitting side by side. The town was once linked by a network of 90 alleyways that weaved in and out of the narrow streets and if you look around you can still find 30 that exist today.
The main focus of the town is Tewkesbury Abbey, with it’s Norman Tower said by many to be one of the finest in the world. It played a part in the Battle of Tewkesbury along with other sites across the town such as, Bloody Meadow and ‘The Arrivall’ sculptures mark the events that proved decisive in the War of the Roses in 1471. You can visit the various museums that explain the heritage of Tewkesbury, take a walk by the river Avon and enjoy a lunch at the various independent cafe’s and restaurants.
World-renowned for being one of the UK’s greatest examples of medieval architecture, Tewkesbury Abbey has a striking Norman tower and a long nave that has dominated the Tewkesbury skyline for nearly 900 years.
The Abbey’s historical significance means that it’s probably the largest and finest Romanesque tower in England and as the Abbey Church of St Mary the Virgin, it is also one of the largest parish churches in England with music and worship at the heart of its mission and ministry. Tewkesbury’s religious foundations can be traced back to the 7th century when a missionary from Northumbria called Theoc settled in the area followed by a monastery in 715.
The current site of the Abbey goes back to the 10th century when Abbot Geraldus arrived with a group of monks from Cranborne in Dorset to set up a new monastery at Tewkesbury. Tewkesbury Abbey thrived for many years, was Consecrated in 1121, but in 1540, the monastery was dissolved on the orders of Henry VIII and much of the monastery buildings were lost.
Luckily the Abbey survived and was saved by the townsfolk of Tewkesbury who paid £453, which was a huge sum back in the 16th Century. Buying their parish church saved the magnificent building with much of the Abbey remaining unchanged since the early 12th century. Visit the Abbey website for opening times
Victoria Pleasure Gardens
Not far from The Abbey are the Victoria Pleasure Gardens to offer some peace and tranquillity. You can reach the Gardens from the Gloucester Road car park and from Gloucester Road itself opposite the Abbey gatehouse. The gardens were originally created by Tewkesbury Town Council to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, but fell into disrepair after the Second World War, cutbacks and flooding. After the 2007 devastating floods, a group of volunteers was formed to bring life back into the gardens. Their Diamond Jubilee fund-raising enabled them to erect custom-made arches to the entrances of the gardens and to commemorate once again the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria. The Abbey Mill is a dominant feature of the gardens you can continue your walk along the river to what’s left of the Mill Avon building. You can read more about The Victorian Pleasure Gardens here.
John Moore Museum
Established in 1980, the museum was created in memory of the writer and naturalist, John Moore and is situated in a row of magnificent 15th-century timber-framed buildings near to Tewkesbury Abbey. There is an extensive natural history collection with specimens of the mammals and birds native to Gloucestershire. A few doors down is ‘The Merchant’s House’ which has been beautifully restored and furnished as a Tudor shop and home.
The Old Baptist Chapel
Just off Church Street turn into a narrow medieval alleyway to find The Old Baptist Chapel which began life in the 15th century and is believed to be one of the oldest of its type in the country. The building is believed to have been given to the Baptists as a meeting place in 1623 and then ‘modernized’ in the 18th century for use as a minister’s room, adding vaulted ceiling, tall windows, and a baptistery. A larger chapel was then opened in the town around 1805 and the Old Baptist Chapel gradually fell into disuse. Tewkesbury Borough Council acquired the Court and Chapel in 1976 and restored the Chapel to look as it would have been back in 1720. Visit John Moore Museum website for opening times.
Tewkesbury Heritage Centre
Located in the centre of town, the Heritage & Visitor Centre is a good place to start your visit in Tewkesbury. You can journey through the town’s history in the magnificently restored 17th-century building, and chat to the Visitor Centre team who will help you plan your day. The Heritage Centre’s self-guided tour will take you through the history of Tewkesbury, give an insight into the Wars of the Roses, the 1471 Battle of Tewkesbury, reveal the town’s links to the Civil War and show how the industrial revolution affected the commercial prosperity of the community.
Tewkesbury Town Museum
The unspoiled 17th-century building houses Tewkesbury’s rich and diverse history and is one of only a handful that still remains in the town. This museum houses a wide range of artifacts dating from Roman remains through to wartime austerity in the 1940s. There is a collection from explorer Raymond Priestley, who traveled with Captain Scott to the Antarctic and survived, and there is a magnificent diorama of the Battle of Tewkesbury along with a unique fairground model that celebrates the town’s trading heritage.
The building itself was built in the 17th century for a prosperous resident and is a time capsule worth a visit. It was refurbished in the 19th century and later split into two dwellings before being donated to the town as a Museum by an ‘anonymous gentleman’ in 1957. The historic memorabilia in this museum dates back over 1000 years and offers a unique, eccentric glimpse into times gone by.
As a small, independent museum, run by a team of expert volunteers, there is the added opportunity to tap into a raft of unique local knowledge and research and learn more about Tewkesbury’s varied and diverse history. Visit the Museum website for opening times
1.Tewkesbury Market – Visit one of the weekly Markets held on a Wednesday and Saturday morning.
2.The Tewkesbury Medieval Festival held in July – The Battle Of Tewkesbury took place in 1471 and was the final battle in the War Of The Roses between the Houses of York and Lancaster. Every year the Battle Of Tewkesbury is fought with firing cannons, clashing swords and marching soldiers from thousands of re-enactors and enthusiasts from all around the world. The battleground is filled with knights in armor, warriors, and townsfolk in medieval dress and it’s the largest free medieval re-enactment and fare in Europe. Read more about The Medieval Festival
3.The Roses Theatre is Tewkesbury’s busy and popular arts centre with an eclectic program of live events. Find out What’s On
4.The Mop Fair is an annual street fair held in October and offers lots of entertainment for the whole family. Mop Fair
The Commemorative Sculptures
Where the A38 Gloucester Road meets the Tewkesbury Relief Road you will see two sculptures commissioned by the Tewkesbury Battlefield Society to mark the spot of one of the crucial battles of the Wars of the Roses. These spectacular oak sculpture, called ‘The Arrivall’ commemorate those you fought and died in The Battle of Tewkesbury. It overlooks the original battlefield site and the sculpture consist of two timber-framed horses, one with a mounted knight, known as ‘Victor’ to represent victorious Yorkist forces of King Edward IV, and he faces the riderless horse ‘Vanquished’ who represents the Lancastrian forces; his head is bowed in defeat and exhaustion from the battle and both have lances, from which pennants swing gently in the breeze. For more information visit the Society website.
The Fleet Inn at Twyning
The Fleet Inn is about 2 miles from Tewkesbury and is a traditional old English riverside Inn set in its own extensive grounds on the banks of the river Avon. The Fleet Inn at Twyning offers the ideal setting for a refreshing drink, afternoon tea, a relaxing lunch or an evening meal. You can walk from The Fleet Inn to Tewkesbury via a picturesque riverside walk, which should take you an hour or two.
Orchard Side Bed and Breakfast in Hanley Swan is just 8 miles from Twyning and about 11 miles from Tewkesbury, so it’s a great base when visiting this beautiful part of Worcestershire and Gloucestershire.