Gloucestershire is steeped in history and Tewkesbury is well known as the site of the final battle in the Wars of the Roses between the houses of Lancaster and York. The battle was fierce and defining for the throne of England, which had been contested between the two factions for many years, despite the protagonists being kinfolk.
In 2013 on 13th and 14th of July, Tewkesbury will hold a Medieval Festival as it has done for the last twenty-five years or so. As part of the festival, a re-enactment of the battle is performed and this is a great opportunity for anyone who is interested in history or enjoys a great spectacle.
Battle re-enactors from around the world descend in their thousands to re-create this pivotal battle using authentic historical weapons and clothing. This is a free entrance event and very popular. Cooks Green Cottage is ideally located if you are intending on visiting or taking part in the festival, but we recommend booking well ahead of time as accommodation in the area tends to get full.
A small Gloucestershire market town, Tewkesbury stands at the confluence of the rivers Avon and Severn. The parish church was once a magnificent Abbey, which is the second biggest in the UK. Tewkesbury is blessed with many well-preserved medieval buildings. Each summer, colourful banners replicating those carried in the Battle of Tewkesbury decorate the town centre. History lovers will enjoy imagining these historical buildings as they were during the battle and the ravages of war.
History of the Battle of Tewkesbury
The name War of the Roses was because the houses of Lancaster and York are represented by the symbol of a red rose and white rose respectively, part of the standards and banners that were carried to war.
The ruling monarch Henry IV suffered a mental breakdown and had bouts of insanity, which his wife the Queen Margaret of Anjou was at great pains to hide from the public domain. Margaret tried to rule on behalf of her husband, challenged at every turn by the Duke of York brother of Henry IV, banished from court to rule Ireland. In these turbulent times, she also had to keep a strong hold on lands in France under English occupation. Margaret had a son Edward who she was determined to put on the throne and this motivated her to rally troops. She had fought many battles with the house of York to preserve Henry on the throne. She was a tenacious, fearless woman and would ride out and observe the battles. Exiled to France Margaret waited until Prince Edward was eighteen, and returned to England determined to reclaim the throne for him.
She landed at Weymouth from where she attempted to travel to Wales where Jasper Tudor a staunch Lancastrian supporter and ally of the Queen were waiting with reinforcements for her army. In their attempt to cross the river Severn into Wales, Margaret’s army travelled to the City of Gloucester where they found the city gates were locked against them on the orders of King Edward. They headed towards Tewkesbury hoping to cross the Severn at Upton on Severn only to find that Edward’s army was closing on them fast so they had no choice but to stand and fight.
The battle was fought on difficult terrain with the Lancastrians overcome by the York cannon and arrows. Outnumbered and dying in their hundreds, the Lancastrians were defeated with many more slain when retreating through a river that traversed the battlefield. This piece of land is still known as Bloody Meadow today
Margaret left the scene and took refuge at Little Malvern in a priory with some of her entourage of ladies. The young Prince Edward was killed during the battle or shortly afterwards but his body was not quartered as a traitor and permission was granted for him to be buried as a royal in Tewkesbury Abbey. Prince Edward’s resting place may be found in the choir of the Abbey by a brass plaque. The ceiling above depicts the Sun in Splendour – the Yorkist badge.
If you want to visit the Medieval Festival, then book with us today and enjoy the charms of our beautiful holiday cottage while you step back in history and enjoy this historical area.