Tewkesbury Abbey

This grand cathedral-like abbey has sat at the heart of the historic riverside town of Tewkesbury for over 900 years. Its remarkable tower, which dominates the skyline, has been described as one of largest and finest Romanesque towers in the country. As well as being a place of worship, Tewkesbury Abbey is a fascinating place to visit for those who admire historic architecture. 

Work started on the present building in 1102, to house a group of Benedictine monks relocating from Dorset. By the time the Abbey was consecrated in 1121, it was almost completed. The east end of the Abbey was remodelled in the 1400s, during which period the seven, impressive, stained glass windows were installed in the quire. The most recent stained glass windows can be seen in the chapel of St Catherine and St John the Baptist. Their spectacular designs were created to celebrate the 900th anniversary of the monks’ arrival. 

The Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471 was one of the pivotal battles during the War of the Roses. The defeated Edward, Prince of Wales, from the Lancastrian side, was buried in the choir of the Abbey. Although the exact site of his burial is unknown, you will be able to see the commemorative brass plaque on the floor of the choir. 

After the 16th century Dissolution of the Monasteries, the townsfolk of Tewkesbury purchased the Abbey for £453 to be used as their parish church. Its valuables had already been seized and placed into the coffers of Henry VIII.

You will notice the magnificent organ as you walk through the Abbey. Moved from Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1737, it is named the Milton Organ because the poet John Milton allegedly played it at Hampton Court Palace. 

Tewkesbury Abbey’s tower is the largest Norman church tower still in existence. The eight bells present in Medieval times were sold off when the monastery was dissolved. Over time the bells have been recast and grown in number, leaving a ring of twelve bells today. Take a tower tour for magnificent views over the town (please note, these do not run all year round). 

While you’re in Tewkesbury, don’t miss the opportunity to explore this medieval town.  It is one of the few places in the Cotswolds area to see black and white half-timbered buildings. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants within walking distance, as well as delightful opportunities to walk along the Rivers Severn and Avon. 

Tewkesbury Abbey opens for general visiting from 12.30pm to 6pm on Sunday and 9.30 am to 6pm Monday to Saturday. Check their website for opening times and services as these can vary. Donations are gratefully accepted. 

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

Church Street, Tewkesbury GL20 5RZ | 01684 850 959 | www.tewkesburyabbey.org.uk

Images used with the permission of the Vicar and Church Wardens of Tewkesbury Abbey 
Image copyright Sara Chardin

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