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 half-timbered buildings. Many with overhanging gables, all tightly packed together and interspersed with narrow alleyways and small courtyards.
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 several miles down to Offenham.
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, which has 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 on foot. Of its many interest buildings are 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, in the centre of town, 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.
The town has an impressive array of independent shops, including the 1471 Delicatessen selling traditional local foods such as Old Spot Pig Pie and Tewkesbury mustard balls.
Tewkesbury's jewel in the crown is its striking abbey with a unique 132ft high square tower - one of the finest Norman structures in the country. This superb structure has cathedral-like proportions. Inside it has some superb roof vaulting and the same type of vast cylindrical arches as those found in Gloucester Cathedral. The beautifully decorated central Norman tower is the largest still 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.
This fine timber frame house 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.
Opening times: times vary see website for details - Admission
Location: 41 Church St, Tewkesbury GL20 5SN
Tel: 01684 297174
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 a sum of £400. 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
Location: Church Street, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, GL20 5RZ - Tel: 01684 850959
Displays artifacts of local history and archaeology. One of the most interesting exhibits is a scale model of the 1471 Battle of Tewkesbury.
Opening times: weekends
from 11am - Free Entry
Location: 64 Barton St, Tewkesbury GL20 5PX
Tel: 01684 292901
Attractions & Theme Parks:
Bourton-on-the-Water Model Village | Cotswold Motoring Museum | Dean Forest Railway | Edward Jenner Museum | Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway | Keith Harding's World of Mechanical Music
Castles, Monuments & Heritage Sites:
Berkeley Castle | Chedworth Roman Villa | Clearwell Caves Ancient Iron Mines | Dean Heritage Centre | Hailes Abbey | Odda's Chapel | Prinknash Abbey and Pottery | Sudeley Castle & Gardens | Uley Long Barrow
Gardens & Historic Houses:
Bourton House Garden | Chavenage House | Dyrham Park | Hidcote Manor Garden | Kiftsgate Court Gardens | Littledean Hall | Lodge Park Sherborne Estate | Sezincote | Snowshill Manor | Westbury Court Garden | Westonbirt National Arboretum
Nature, Wildlife & Scenic Sites:
Birdland | Cotswold Falconry Centre | Cotswold Farm Park | Nature in Art | National Birds of Prey Centre | Prinknash Bird and Deer Park | Wildfowl Wetlands Trust