This week we headed up the M5 to Tewkesbury a small Gloucestershire town close to the river Severn on the western edge of the Cotswolds. The town was the site of a decisive battle in the wars of the Roses. It has a magnificent Norman abbey and a remarkably well preserved old town full of black and white half timbered houses with overhanging upper storeys.
We had been given instructions to meet at the abbey which we interpreted as the tearoom where we found they were serving delicious cakes. After a pitstop we took time to explore the abbey itself. The choir were rehearsing for an event in the three choirs festival which takes place each year between Gloucester Cathedral, Worcester Cathedral and Hereford Cathedral. The abbey was founded by the Benedictines in the 12th century and has a particularly fine Norman tower. Stone was brought over from Caen in Normandy and floated up the Severn. I particularly admired the beautiful painted ceiling. The building survived the reformation as the townspeople were able to buy it for £453.00 and it became the parish church.
The battlefield trail
As befits members of a history walking group we braved the rain to walk the battlefield trail. Although very little evidence of the 1471 battle remains the trail is well illustrated by panels which give details of the fighting and enabled us to see how Prince Edward’s army which was badly equipped was ambushed after charging down the hill. Edward the Prince of Wales was killed and was buried in the abbey. His Mother Margaret who had been watching the battle from a hill managed to escape across the Severn but was captured and taken to London where she was put to death after being paraded through the streets of London in a cage. King Henry VI was killed shortly afterwards and the Lancastrians never regained the throne.
Bill and I had a good lunch at the Hop Pole though not as good as the characters in Charles Dickens novel, the Pickwick papers as we had to drive home.
The old town
After Lunch we explored the short walk along side the canal and admired the old town houses. Tewkesbury claims to be a medieval town but at first looking at all the Tudor half timbered shop fronts I was slightly sceptical. However we could see that behind the facades many of the buildings were medieval. Narrow alley ways stretch behind the shops. There were originally 90 alleyways and 30 still remain. Each summer shops and businesses display colourful handpainted banners. Each one depicts the standard of one of the soldiers known to have fought at the battle of Tewkesbury.
If you want to find out more here is a link to the Tewkesbury visitor site. You can find details of self guided walking tours and also guided tours and museums. The tourist office is situated in a Tudor merchant’s house on the High Street which has been partly restored to show what life would have been like 400 years ago. The John More Museum further down the High Street includes one of the earliest Baptist Churches.
As usual this post will be added to a link party for blogging grandparents. I would also love to hear your comments. Don’t be shy.