Heritage

Tewkesbury and Tewkesbury Medieval Festival

Just outside of the Cotswolds, the Medieval market town of Tewkesbury is a must-visit for its rich history and fabulous architecture. With a 12th Century abbey at its centre and a plethora of medieval buildings and a range of eateries, it’s a great town to wander around – especially if you are staying in the area around the first weekend in July, when the town is host to Europe’s largest Medieval re-enactment. 

Tewkesbury 

With a history dating over a thousand years, Tewkesbury’s rich heritage can be seen throughout the town in the eclectic mix of architecture ranging from Tudor manors to Georgian town houses. The architecture is fascinating, with each street decorated with incredible door knockers, intricately carved doorways and ancient windows. Meander along the wide main street and you’ll spot lots of small, narrow alleyways – the remnants of the 90 or so that once snaked through the town. Make sure to explore these strangely-named nooks, as you never know what you’ll find – anything from a tiny burial site to a 500-year-old Baptist chapel.

Views of Tewkesbury Weir in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire | Boutique Retreats

Things to Do in Tewkesbury

Tewkesbury Heritage Centre 

Set within a restored 17th Century building that once housed a hat shop is Tewkesbury Heritage Centre. An innovative tourist attraction, the centre uses state-of-the-art, portable guides and interactive games to encourage all generations to learn about Tewkesbury’s fascinating history and architectural heritage. From Tewkesbury’s first settlers to the present day, you will be led on a fascinating journey through time.

Markets

An historic market town, Tewkesbury has long been an important centre for traders. Today, this legacy continues with a general market being held in the town every Wednesday and Saturday and a farmers’ market on the second Saturday of every month. Each year, the town also hosts great foodie events including the Tewkesbury Food & Arts Market and the Tewkesbury Food & Drink Festival. Needless to say, it’s a must for flavour chasers. 

Old buildings by the river in Tewkesbury on a sunny day | Boutique Retreats

Boat Trips

A riverside town, Tewkesbury enjoys a beautiful setting overlooking meandering waterways. Not just providing an attractive backdrop for relaxed ambles, but these rivers also offer a novel way to explore the town. For a lovely river cruise, hop aboard the Aqua Patio boat and enjoy 45 minutes of sight-seeing by water. Severn Cruises offer seasonal operating days and also welcome dogs aboard so all the family can join in.  

Victoria Gardens

For a little moment of bucolic tranquillity, head over to Victoria Gardens in Tewkesbury. A small, lovingly maintained garden in the town, this little green space sits on the banks of the River Avon and provides a quiet corner in which to relax for a while. Accessible year-round, it’s particularly inviting in spring and summer when its red rose beds put on a beautiful display and its mature willow trees droop their long stems down to reach the surface of the water. 

Some of the old timber-clad rows of Tudor houses in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire | Boutique Retreats

Tewkesbury Museum

Tewkesbury Museum is an independent museum in the town centre that encourages visitors of all ages to delve into Tewkesbury’s intriguing past. Through a wide range of exhibitions and collections, the museum reveals insights into the area’s history as well as celebrated local figures, including the Antarctic explorer Raymond Priestley. What’s more, the museum also offers an interesting programme of talks throughout the year. 

John Moore Museum

To continue your journey of discovery around Tewkesbury, a trip to John Moor Museum is in order. Spread out across two buildings in a gorgeous row of 15th Century timber-framed buildings, the museum contains a wealth of information. Within the first building you will find an extensive Natural History collection, while in the second building, the Merchant’s House, you will find a fully-restored Tudor shop and home. The John Moore Museum also manages the Old Baptist Chapel & Court – a 15th Century home used as a meeting place for Baptists – believed to be the oldest of its type still in existence.

A beautiful sunset scene over the river in Tewkesbury | Boutique Retreats

Tewkesbury Nature Reserve 

Tewkesbury Nature Reserve is a short walk from the centre of Tewkesbury yet feels a world away from the town. Covering nearly 110 acres, it comprises a mixture of flood meadow and pasture and is woven with waterways that act as life-giving veins of the reserve. Depending on how far you’d like to go, there are lots of walks around the reserve including set trails, from the 1-mile Meadow Walk to the 3.5-mile Swilgate Walk.

The Battle Trail and Tewkesbury Battlefield 

Back in 1471, a famous battle between the Yorkist and Lancastrian armies was fought to the south of Tewkesbury. Little developed since then, the battlefield and some of its most significant areas can still be visited to this day. To retrace the steps of these 500-year-old soldiers, you can follow a waymarked 45-minute walking trail through the battle’s key areas. Keeping you informed as you go, information panels are placed at intervals and detail the significance of respective locations. 

A view of Tewkesbury Abbey | Boutique Retreats

Tewkesbury Abbey

Dominating the town is the awe-inspiring Abbey, celebrated as one of the best examples of Medieval architecture in the whole of Britain. Over 900 years old, it is one of the few monasteries to survive the Reformation and sits proudly in expansive grounds. One of the largest parish churches in England, it also boasts the largest Norman tower in existence – standing at 45 metres high.

The Abbey was central to the denouement of the War of the Roses when Lancastrian men fled to the Abbey for sanctuary. Unfortunately for them the Abbot surrendered them to King Edward, followed swiftly by their beheading in Church Street. Yikes. If you’d like to visit Tewkesbury Abbey, you can enjoy walking around the site independently or join up with a guided tour for added insight. 

Old battle armoury on display during Tewkesbury's Medieval festival | Boutique Retreats

Tewkesbury Medieval Festival

In remembrance of that great battle, a Medieval Festival takes place in May each year with a re-enactment of the battle. Running since 1984, it’s the largest of its kind in Europe attracting participants from all over Europe. The surrounding fields are covered with a Medieval market and people dress in authentic costume (including full armour). 

The battle re-enactment and the trial of the Lancastrians are the highlights of the festival which take place over two days, but there is a host of entertainment such as music, dance and drama, as well as characters wandering around in full garb.  There is lots for children to do too, with period arts and crafts, and lots of shops (or shoppes!) in which to buy goodies.

Feeling inspired? Take a look at our luxury cottages in the Cotswolds here.

 

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