The town of Tewkesbury has around ten thousand inhabitants today and is a market town. The town dates back to the 7th century when the area was believed founded by a Saxon hermit who named the area. Many monastic buildings dating from the 11th century also exist. Another claim to fame was the flourmill built in 1860 – the largest and most modern in the world.
Tewkesbury has escaped urban renewal thankfully and the visitor can meander through narrow lanes and small alleyways affording an experience of medieval times. Tewkesbury Abbey is the jewel in the crown of Tewkesbury and was founded in the 11th century built from stone transported up the river Severn from Normandy. The tower is the largest surviving Norman tower in existence. 14 meters square, the tower rises 45 meters from the ground. A wooden tower sadly collapsed in 1559 and rose 39 metre above the stone, this must have been an impressive sight, but the wooden edifice was never replaced.
Saturdays and Wednesdays are market days in the town and it is so much fun to wander around and see the goods on offer. There is a tremendous variety of homemade products, crafts, and fresh produce including the famous Tewkesbury mustard, so famous in fact, that Shakespeare refers to it in Henry IV when Falstaff states, “his wit’s as thick as Tewkesbury Mustard”!
Entertainment is in abundance with fairs, festivals, and theatre. There are many historical pubs, which are fascinating in their own right, and they make the perfect backdrop to some of the beer festivals that take place at various times of the year. There is a well-known music festival Musica Deo Sacra Rosesfestival is a great occasion for all the family. It commemorates the famous Battle of Tewkesbury with re-enactments of the battle, live music and other entertainment throughout the day including a medieval rock band in the beer tent, a dragon parade with banners made by local school children, falconry display on the battlefield and much more. When the festival ends for the day, events move to the abbey where a storming takes place followed by re-enactment of the trial and execution of the Lancastrians (just right for gory kids!)
This festival brings a fascinating historical period back to life showing glimpses of medieval life. There is also jousting, living history exhibits, and a medieval market.
Tewkesbury is that wonderful combination of modern town that is steeped in history. This balance allows the visitor to enjoy the history yet also take advantage of modern shopping and dining with all the conveniences you would expect. Considering the town was settled so long ago, there are places that have not changed in hundreds of years, which is quite a remarkable legacy. We hope you enjoy Tewkesbury as much as we do for a day out and we can thoroughly recommend the Medieval Festival if you are visiting with us around that time in July.