A pleasant medieval town with a long history dating back way before the 13th century. Located in a strategic position at the junction of the Rivers Avon and Severn, it has more than its fair share of charming old buildings. The town centre is a mix of Georgian, early Victorian and Medieval timber framed houses, all tightly packed together and interspersed with narrow alleyways and small courtyards.

Market Cross
Tewkesbury Market Cross © Travel About Britain

The town's early prosperity was facilitated by the rich wool trade and easy movement of goods along the river. The ancient bridge over the Avon at Tewkesbury is well over 750 years old. Today the river's broad waterways are mainly used for sailing and boating. Some of the loveliest stretches of the Lower Avon can be navigated for many miles up to Evesham and beyond. Boat trips from the waterside (Back of Avon) are available from April to October.

Tewkesbury Hop Pole

Hop Pole, Church Street © TAB

Many grand old public houses can be found within the town's precincts, such as The Hop Pole, an ancient establishment mentioned in Dickens Pickwick writings. Also the Bell Inn, previously a monastery guest-house with a number of interesting 13th-c wall paintings. The Black Bear, a half-timbered structure located at the top of the High Street, is reputed to be the oldest pub in town (circa 1308).

Tewkesbury is fascinating place to explore. Of its many interest buildings is the 16th-c Warwick House and The Tudor House hotel (circa 1540), which has a priests' hiding hole in the chimney. Cross House, which overlooks the market cross, was once the Court House of the Lords of Tewkesbury. The town's Baptist Chapel (built around 1655), is one of the oldest of its kind in Britain.

Taking pride of place is Tewkesbury's striking abbey. With its cathedral-like proportions it is one of the finest Norman structures in the country. It has exquisite roof vaulting and the same type of vast cylindrical arches as those found in Gloucester Cathedral. The beautifully decorated 132ft (40 meter) high square Norman tower is the largest in existence.

The Battle of Tewkesbury (4 May 1471) was one of the fiercest battle of the Wars of the Roses, which took place in a field just south of the town. The defeated Lancastrians were pursued into the sacred precincts of the Abbey Church, where much blood was spilt. A number of monuments and memorials to the battle can be found within the abbey. In particular, a plaque marks the burial place of Prince Edward. The 17 year old son of Henry VI, who was brutally murdered by the Yorkists within the abbey. Details of the battle are illustrated in the Town Museum.

Tewkesbury Medieval Cottages

Medieval Cottages, Church Street © TAB

The town has an impressive array of independent shops, including a 15th-c Delicatessen selling traditional local foods such as Old Spot Pig Pie and Tewkesbury mustard balls.

The 17th-c timber-framed Old Hat Shop (near the Market Cross in Church Street) has been authentically restored by the town council and townhouses the town's tourist information and heritage centre. From here visitors can explore the town's long and interesting history using hand held visual and audio guides.

The town is well known for its Mop Fair, held annually in October. During these two autumn days the town is transformed with colourful stalls, amusement booths and exciting fair ground rides. The origins of the fair go back many centuries, to a time when servants and labourers would come to the town looking for employment.

Places of Interest to Visit in Tewkesbury

The John Moore Countryside Museum

John Moore Countryside Museum

This fine 15th-c timbered row of cottages in Church Street was once home of the author John Moore. It has detailed Moore exhibits plus displays on local heritage, living history and natural history. Includes access to the Old Baptist Chapel behind.

Opening times: times vary see website for details - Admission Charge
Location: 41 Church St, Tewkesbury GL20 5SN
Tel: 01684 297174
Website: johnmooremuseum.org

The Severn Ham

The life and history of Tewkesbury is closely associated with the confluence of the rivers Severn, Avon and Swilgate. The region is often subject to periodic flooding from high spring tides, and a number of key watermeadows around the town are used to mitigate the effects of these seasonal deluges. The finest of these is the Severn Ham. An area of land that became an island when the Mill Avon was dug to provide a leat to drive the town's watermills. The land was originally owned by the Abbey, along with ancient rites for the townsfolk to graze their cattle. Today it forms a managed nature reserve and common area, where the grass is cut once a year to provide a natural habitat for birds and wildlife. The Ham is the perfect place for a peaceful walk or to sit and observe the wildlife, which on occasion includes cormorants, kestrels, woodpeckers, kingfishers and wildfowl. Salmon can often be observed jumping the weir in late autumn.

Tewkesbury Abbey

Tewkesbury Abbey Church

The abbey dates from the early 12th-c and is one of the largest Parish Churches in England. It was bought by the townspeople after the dissolution of the monasteries for the princely sum of £453. The abbey church was once part of a large Benedictine monastery and has splendid vaulted ceilings and a Purbeck marble altar. Some of the original medieval stained-glass windows still survive. The impressive view from the top of the tower takes in the Malvern Hills and Welsh Mountains.

Opening times: all year Sunday 7.30am - 6pm. Mon-Sat 8.30am - 5.30pm - Donations accepted
Location: Church Street, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, GL20 5RZ - Tel: 01684 850959
Website: tewkesburyabbey.org.uk

Tewkesbury Museum

Tewkesbury Museum

Set in a restored timber framed building with overhanging jetties, it displays artifacts of local history and archaeology dating back to Roman times. One of the most interesting exhibits is a scale model of the 1471 Battle of Tewkesbury. There is also a diorama of the famous Mop Fair along with photographs and information boards. Along with these permanent displays are a number of local exhibits that change throughout the year.

Opening times: weekends from 11am - Free Entry
Location: 64 Barton St, Tewkesbury GL20 5PX
Tel: 01684 292901
Website: tewkesburymuseum.org

Map of Tewkesbury


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