Tewkesbury: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 51°59′11″N 2°09′42″W / 51.98634°N 2.16159°W / 51.98634; -2.16159

Tewkesbury is located in Gloucestershire

 Tewkesbury shown within Gloucestershire
Population 10,016 (2001 Census)
OS grid reference SO895325
    - London  94 miles (151 km) ESE 
District Tewkesbury
Shire county Gloucestershire
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district GL20
Dialling code 01684
Police Gloucestershire
Fire Gloucestershire
Ambulance Great Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament Tewkesbury
List of places: UK • England • Gloucestershire

Tewkesbury (pronounced /ˈtjuːksbri/) is a town in Gloucestershire, England. It stands at the confluence of the River Severn and the River Avon, and also minor tributaries the Swilgate and Carrant Brook. It gives its name to the Borough of Tewkesbury, of which the town is the second largest settlement.

The name Tewkesbury comes from Theoc, the name of a Saxon who founded a hermitage there in the 7th century, and in the Old English tongue was called Theocsbury.[1]



Tewkesbury is named after the Saxon hermit, Theoc, who is thought to have founded a hermitage there in the 7th century.[1] Evidence of a church predating the abbey suggests that a considerable settlement rose up on the site previous to the Norman Conquest{{[2]}}. Evidence of monastic buildings from the years immediately following the conquest can still be seen surrounding Tewkesbury Abbey, [3] which was begun in 1090 and consecrated on 23 October 1121.[4]

Tewkesbury was the site of the Battle of Tewkesbury on 4 May 1471. At the “Bloody Meadow,” south of the town, Edward IV's Yorkist forces defeated the House of Lancaster in a historic battle of the Wars of the Roses with a bloody aftermath. Tewkesbury was incorporated during the reign of Elizabeth I.

Like many towns in the west of England, Tewkesbury played an important part in the development of religious dissent. English Dissenters in Tewkesbury contributed to the Monmouth Rebellion of 1685, and Samuel Jones ran an important academy for dissenters, whose students included Samuel Chandler, future archbishop Thomas Secker and Joseph Butler, in the early 18th century.[5]

Historically, Tewkesbury is a market town, serving the local rural area. It underwent some expansion in the period following World War II. Tewkesbury has also been a centre for flour milling for many centuries, and the water mill, the older Abbey Mill still stands though it has now been converted for residential use. Until recently flour was still milled at a more modern mill a short way upriver on the site of the town quay; parts of the mill dated to 1865 when it was built for Healings and it was once thought to be the largest and most modern flour mill in the world. The Mill has, in the course of its history, had three forms of transport in and out: road, railway, and canal and river barge. Whilst the railway line was brought up along with the rest of the Tewkesbury to Upton-upon-Severn railway line (originally running to Malvern) in 1961, the two barges "Chaceley" and "Tirley" remained in service right up to 1998 transporting grain from Avonmouth and Sharpness to the plant. However, the mill closed in November 2006, ending at least 800 years of milling in Tewkesbury [6] and 140 years of milling on that particular site.[7] The two barges were also sold and left Tewkesbury for the last time in March 2007.[8]

The town also hosts a large Armed forces vehicle supply and maintenance depot at nearby Ashchurch. During the early 1990s, several local shops and businesses closed, including the town's Roses Theatre; the latter re-opened in 1996.[9]



Tewkesbury flooded in July 2007

The area around Tewkesbury is frequently affected by flooding. In general such flooding causes little damage to property as the town is surrounded by large areas of floodplain which restrict urban development and the ability for the town to spread. However, extreme flooding events have caused damage to property and affected transport links, the most significant events occurring in 1947,[10] 1960[11] and 2007.

2007 Floods

In July 2007 the town came to both national and international prominence, appearing on the front page of numerous national newspapers, when it suffered from some of the worst flooding in recorded British history. Both rivers which meet at Tewkesbury were overwhelmed by the volume of rain that fell in the surrounding areas, up to 5 inches (130 mm) over a 5 day period, which started on Friday 20 July. All four access roads to the town, the Gloucester road (old A38) from the south, the A38 to the north-west, the B4080 north-east to Bredon and the A438 east were flooded and rendered impassable.[12] The only major remaining access was via what was once a railway line, the embankment allowing for access via foot or cycle, although many braved a route through a residential estate, where the flood levels were low enough to wade through.[13] Despite the lack of access several businesses remained open, most notably the Old Plough pub on Barton Street, where the clientele lined much of the street.[14]

For the first time in its 100-year history the Mythe Water Treatment Works flooded, resulting in the loss of tap water for 140,000 homes over a period of two weeks.[15]



Ashchurch, Mitton, Newtown, Northway, Priors Park, Walton Cardiff, Wheatpieces.

Nearby places


At the 2001 UK census the town itself had a population of 10,016. If the neighbouring parishes of Walton Cardiff (1,291 including the large new Wheatpieces housing development), and Ashchurch (6,064 including the even larger but older Northway residential area) were added, the figure rose to 17,371, perhaps a more accurate reflection of Tewkesbury's total population. The Tewkesbury urban area is divided in two by the north-south running M5 motorway, opened in February 1971. However, the town is generally considered as the built-up area to the immediate east and west of the M5 at junction 9, with the town centre, abbey and old town situated to the west. The close proximity of large areas of land that are prone to flooding, as evidenced by the severe floods that struck the region in July 2007, would make further expansion difficult. However, the present Borough of Tewkesbury, created on 1 April 1974, also contains a large portion of rural north Gloucestershire, extending as far as the edges of Gloucester itself and also Cheltenham, and has a present population approaching 80,000.[16]


The Tewkesbury War Memorial, locally known as the Cross

The town features many notable Tudor buildings, but its major claim to fame is Tewkesbury Abbey, a fine Norman Abbey, originally part of a monastery, which was saved from the Dissolution of the Monasteries by King Henry VIII after being bought by the townspeople for £453 to use as their parish church.[17] Most of the monastery buildings, as well as the vineyards, were destroyed during this time. The Abbey Mill however still remains, resting upon the Mill Avon, a channel built by the monks. The weir exists to this day, and the channel represents one of the biggest projects in Tewkesbury's history, though the present sluice gate dates only from the 1990s, replacing two installed in the 1930s. The Abbey Mill is also sometimes known as "Abel Fletcher's Mill", but this is simply the name given to it in Dinah Craik's novel John Halifax, Gentleman, whose setting Norton Bury is based on Tewkesbury (see the Tewkesbury in Literature section below).

The Abbey is also thought to be the site of the place where the hermit "Theoc" once lived. The great Romanesque arch on the west front is particularly striking, and the stained glass window at this end has recently been restored. The monastery was founded by the Despensers as a family mausoleum, and the Despenser and Neville tombs are stunning examples of small-scale late medieval stonework. The tower is believed to be the largest Norman tower still in existence (though that at Norwich Cathedral is another strong contender). The tower once had a wooden spire which may have taken the total height of the building to as much as 260 feet (79 m), but this was unfortunately blown off in a heavy storm on Easter Monday 1559; the present pinnacles and battlements were added in 1600 to give the tower a more "finished" look. The height to the top of the pinnacles is 148 feet (45 m). The Abbey is thought to be the third largest church in Britain that is not a cathedral (after Westminster Abbey and Beverley Minster). From end to end it measures 312 feet (95 m), though prior to the destruction of the original Lady Chapel (also at the time of the dissolution), the Abbey's total length was 375 feet (114 m). The Abbey is a parish church, still used for daily services, and is believed to be the second-largest parish church in England, again, after Beverley Minster.[18]

The Royal Hop Pole, mentioned in 'The Pickwick papers'

Tewkesbury claims Gloucestershire's oldest public house, the Black Bear, dating from 1308.[19] Other notable buildings are the Royal Hop Pole Hotel in Church Street (which has recently been converted into a part of the Wetherspoons pub chain with the discovery of a former medieval banqueting hall in the structure), mentioned in Charles Dickens' The Pickwick Papers, the Bell Hotel, a large half-timbered structure opposite the Abbey gateway, and the House of the Nodding Gables in the High Street. The historic Abbey Cottages, over 500 years old, were rescued from dereliction in the 1970s; one houses a museum, the others are residential homes and commercial offices. At the Tudor House Hotel in the High Street however, although it is indeed chiefly a Tudor building, the frontage comprises artificial half-timbering attached to a brick-built facade. Marks & Spencers was once the location of the Swan Hotel, where a balcony still is today and from which local election results were announced[citation needed].

Also notable to the town's architecture is the Old Baptist Chapel (on Church Street) built in about 1655, as one of the earliest examples from that denomination, behind the chapel is a small cemetery of those who were members of the chapel.

Just to the west of the town is Thomas Telford's impressive Mythe Bridge over the River Severn, a cast-iron structure with a 170-foot span, opened in 1826. Tewkesbury's other notable bridge is the stone-built King John's Bridge over the Avon, commissioned by King John in the late 12th century as part of improvements to the main road from Gloucester to Worcester. Original stonework can still be seen on its north side; the bridge was considerably widened in the early 1960s to meet modern traffic requirements.


  • The National Cycle Network is to soon complete its work in this area and connect Tewkesbury to the National Scheme, as well as improving localised cycle routes[citation needed].
  • Tewkesbury has a variety of Bus Services but it is mostly served by Stagecoach Group and FirstGroup, the services link the town to nearby Cheltenham and Gloucester. With more limited services into Worcestershire.


Festivals and fairs

  • In February Tewkesbury holds a Winter Beer Festival, organised by the Tewkesbury branch of CAMRA.
  • Since 2005, an annual Food and Drink Festival has been held, in or near the Abbey grounds.[21]
  • In July the town hosts Tewkesbury Medieval Festival, "Europe's largest battle re-enactment and fair". Thousands of re-enactors travel to the town from around the world to re-enact the Battle of Tewkesbury near to the original battle site. The festival includes a "living history" recreation of a medieval encampment, games, food and a large fair where re-enactment clothing, furniture and weaponry can be purchased. In 2008 the festival celebrated its 25th Anniversary.
Tewkesbury Medieval Festival 2007
  • In July the Water Festival takes place with events on the river and the banks including an evening procession of brightly-lit boats normally ending with an impressive firework display. The festival started in 1996 but its future is now in question due to funding issues and the 2006 event was much reduced in scale. Ironically, the event was cancelled in 2007 as it coincided with the Summer 2007 Floods. It did in fact go ahead later in the year and was a great success; it is scheduled again for 2008 on Saturday, September 20, (however this was also cancelled due to flooding in the weeks prior to the event), with the real festival starting on Friday 19th.
  • In October the town holds the annual Mop Fair. Originally a "hiring" fair where people came to seek employment, the event is now just a large funfair taking over much of the centre of town. The Fair itself is also an underlining point of Tewkesbury's industrial past, as Walker Gallopers were produced in the area by Walkers in the early 20th century.[22] The Fair is organised by the Tewkesbury Fair Society.[23]
  • Every year at the end of July and into August the Abbey hosts a festival of liturgical music entitled Musica Deo Sacra (Music Sacred to God).[24]

Cultural references

  • Victorian authoress Dinah Craik (1826-1887) visited Tewkesbury in 1852, and later set her most famous work John Halifax, Gentleman (pub. 1857) in the town, calling it Norton Bury in the book. There is a "Craik House" in Church Street, near the Abbey, but Mrs Craik never lived there and had no other connection with Tewkesbury. There is a memorial to her in the Abbey's south transept.
  • Author John Moore (1907-1967) was born and lived in Tewkesbury. He set his novel Portrait of Elmbury (pub. 1945) as a "fictionalised biography" of Tewkesbury, the town being the "Elmbury" of the book. Another of his books, Brensham Village (pub. 1946) used nearby Bredon as its basis. A Local Museum has been named after him.
  • A.E. Housman's A Shropshire Lad also mentions Tewkesbury, as well as nearby Bredon Hill, even though neither place is in Shropshire.
  • The opening scene of the 1995 film version of Richard III takes place at the Field Headquarters of King Henry's army at Tewkesbury.

Notable people

Sports and recreation

  • Tewkesbury Town F.C. have two teams in the Saturday Cheltenham Leagues, one in the Evesham Birdseye Sunday League Division 2 and one in Cheltenham Sunday League Division 2.
  • The cricket team, Tewkesbury Cricket Club 1st XI play in the Gloucestershire Division of the West of England Premier League.
  • The rugby team, Tewkesbury RFC, plays Rugby Union in Gloucestershire Division One and recently gained promotion to Gloucester Division Premiership
  • The running club, Tewkesbury AC compete in local, national and international running events and triathlons.
  • Cheltenham College Boathouse is situated at Lower Lode
  • Cascades swimming pool is situated in the centre of the town.
  • Facilities at Tewkesbury School are used as a public sports centre for swimming, gym, squash and other sports.

Twin town


  1. ^ a b Toulmin Smith L., ed. 1909, The Itinerary of John Leland, London, IV, 150
  2. ^ Elrington, C. R. (1968). A History of the County of Gloucester: volume 8. pp. 110-118. 
  3. ^ Elrington, C. R. (1968). A History of the County of Gloucester: volume 8. pp. 110-118. 
  4. ^ Continuator of Florence of Worcester
  5. ^ W. Davies, The Tewkesbury Academy with sketches of its tutor and students [1905]
  6. ^ Abbey Mill
  7. ^ Tewkesbury.net
  8. ^ End of an Era - Healings Mill (photos of barges leaving Tewkesbury)
  9. ^ Roses Theatre Trust
  10. ^ The great floods of 1947, The Guardian July 25th 2007
  11. ^ Historic flooding in the Severn catchment, Geographical Association
  12. ^ BBC Gloucestershire
  13. ^ ibid.
  14. ^ ibid.
  15. ^ ibid.
  16. ^ Tewkesbury Borough Council - Statistics
  17. ^ Tewkesbury Abbey - History
  18. ^ Jenkins, Simon (1999). England's Thousand Best Churches. p. 228. 
  19. ^ Pub-explorer.com
  20. ^ Tewkesbury Grammar School 1576 - 1972, Paul Fluck, Grenfell Publications 1987
  21. ^ http://www.tewkesbury.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=1645
  22. ^ Anthea Jones Tewkesbury
  23. ^ http://tfs.mikeyjsfunfair.co.uk/
  24. ^ http://www.tewkesburyabbey.org.uk/even.htm

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Get in

By car

Tewkesbury is easily accessible from the M50, M5 and the A38, which is the main trunk road through the town. Visitors from South Wales should use the M50, and get off at Junction 1, following the A38 into Tewkesbury. Visitors from the North or South should use the M5 motorway and leave at Junction 9. Tewkesbury is approximately 2 miles west of the junction and is well signposted from here.

By train

Tewkesbury is served by the Ashchurch for Tewkesbury railway station, which is approximately 3 miles to the east of the town centre. Trains are infrequent and a bus service linking the station to the town centre has been withdrawn, so visitors arriving by train to Ashchurch for Tewkesbury station will need to book a taxi in advance. If you are travelling by train, you should look at trains to Cheltenham Spa, as these are more frequent and Cheltenham has regular bus services to Tewkesbury.

By bus

Buses serve Tewkesbury from many neighbouring towns and cities. There are regular services from Gloucester and Cheltenham and occasional services from Worcester. Bus services also link Tewkesbury with Ledbury, Pershore, Evesham, Upton upon Severn and Hereford. Tewkesbury Bus Timetables

Get around

Tewkesbury is a fairly small town and very flat, and is therefore best explored on foot. There are many cycle routes throughout the town, but no bicycle hire.

The Abbey
The Abbey
  • Tewkesbury Abbey a truly beautiful building that can hold up its head in the same county as the fabulous Gloucester Cathedral.
  • Abel Fletcher's Mill now apartments but the name for the mill comes from the novel, 'John Halifax, Gentleman' that is based on Tewkesbury.
  • The Severn Ham An island to the west of the town created by the merging of the River Avon, Mill Avon and the River Severn. Best approched via Abel Fletchers mill to appreciate some stunning medeival buildings.
  • Gupshill Manor, Gloucester Road, 01684 292278 (info@gupshillmanor.co.uk), [1]. M-Sa 11AM-11PM, Su Noon-10:30PM. Wonderful food in one of the older buildings in Tewkesbury. £10-15.
  • Hungry Horse (The Wheatpieces), 2 Clifford Avenue, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire GL20 7RW. Good selection of food and drink.  edit
  • Hilton Puckrup Hall, Puckrup (on the A38 north of town, south of the M50), 44-01684-296200, [2]. Set on a golf course a couple of miles north of Tewkesbury proper. £99-200.
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

TEWKESBURY, a market town and municipal borough in the Tewkesbury parliamentary division of Gloucestershire, England, 151 m. N.E. of Gloucester by the Midland railway. Pop. (1901) 5419. It lies in a flat pastoral district, with low hills to the south, on the Warwickshire Avon, close to its junction with the Severn. The Severn is crossed by an iron bridge with a flattened arch of 170 ft. span, erected by Telford in 1824. Of the great Benedictine abbey, one of the richest foundations in England, refounded and enlarged by Sir Robert Fitz-Hamon in the 12th century on the site of an ancient hermitage and Saxon monastery, there only remain the gate and a few other fragments. The abbey church, however, consecrated in 1125, is a magnificent specimen of early Norman. This elaborate cruciform building consists of nave and side aisles, with transepts united by a grand central tower richly arcaded. The choir terminates in an apse and is surrounded by an ambulatory. One of the most remarkable features of the building is the unique western front, the central part of which is occupied by one vast arch extending from the ground to the roof. Originally it was filled in with Norman windows, but a Perpendicular window now occupies the space. The whole building underwent restoration in the Decorated period, and of this style it is one of the finest existing examples. The Norman windows in the nave were replaced, and stone groining was substituted for the carved wooden ceiling, a like transformation taking place in the transepts. The Norman columns in the choir still exist; but above them rises a grand superstructure of Decorated work. The elegant clerestory windows are of the 14th century, with stained glass of the same date. The ambulatory was re built some distance farther out, and from it projected a beautiful series of chapels. The elaborate tombs include those of Sir Robert Fitz-Hamon, the De Spensers, Alan prior of Canterbury, Sir Guy de Brien, and the vault of George duke of Clarence (murdered in the Tower) and his wife Isabella. Edward, prince of Wales, slain after the battle of Tewkesbury (1471) by the Yorkists, is also buried in the church. Of the two organs, one, dating from the early 17th century, is of singularly beautiful tone. In the High Street there are several ancient timbered and gabled houses. Remains of an ancient wall have been discovered adjoining the town. There are a free grammar school (1625) and a number of charities and almshouses. Tewkesbury is chiefly dependent on its agricultural trade. Below the junction of the rivers there is a great lock and weir on the Severn, up to which the stream is sometimes reversed by the tidal bore. The borough is under a mayor, 4 aldermen and 12 councillors. Area, 2532 acres.

Remains of Roman encampments and roads prove that the earliest settlement near Tewkesbury (Theotesburg, Theockesburia, Thooksburi) of which we have evidence was a military encampment against the British. It was the site of .a Saxon castle and monastery, and its position near navigable rivers led to the growth of a town, which was a borough with a market in 1087 when it was part of the royal domain. It was subsequently granted to Earl Robert of Gloucester, who granted a charter before 1107, which exempted the borough from certain tolls and from suit at the hundred court. Edward III. confirmed this charter in 1337, and made Tewkesbury free from tolls throughout England. The borough was incorporated by Elizabeth by a charter of 1574, which was confirmed in 1604, 1605, 160 9 (when the manor and borough were sold to the corporation) and 1685, while the town was governed under the charter granted by William III. in 1698 until the corporation was remodelled in 1835, the modern government consisting of a mayor, 4 aldermen and 12 councillors. Tewkesbury returned two members from 1609 to 1867, when it lost one member, and in 1885 the representation was merged in that of the county. A fair on July 20 was granted in 1323, and fairs on September 21 and August 24 in 1440, and on April 25 in 1574. For the last May 3 was substituted in 1605, and two more fairs on June r 1 and September 29 were granted in 1609. All these grants were confirmed by the charter of 1685. One fair only is now held, on October 10. It is a pleasure fair and a fair for hiring servants, and has lost the commercial importance of the early wool fairs. The long-existing provision trade along the four rivers declined through railway competition. Cloth-making lasted from the 11th century until the beginning of the 18th; gloving in the 17th century was followed by worsted-combing in the r8th. Cotton-thread lace-making, introduced in 1825, collapsed about 1862. Tewkesbury was once celebrated for the manufacture of mustard, which ceased to be important at the end of the 18th century. Stocking-frame knitting was the chief trade in 1830, but has been replaced by the boot and shoe trade. Tewkesbury was strategically important in the Wars of the Roses, and was the site of a battle in 1471, and in the Civil War was four times besieged.

See Victoria County History, Gloucestershire; James Bennet, History of Tewkesbury (1850); William Wyde, History of Tewkesbury (1798).

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