We had a good look around Tewkesbury today. As the lock keeper said “An interesting place if you like black & white buildings and narrow alleyways. The main shopping street runs parallel to the river.
I went for a walk yesterday evening
The town does indeed have a large number of Tudor style buildings. Some look very authentic with crooked timber beams that look as if they have been hand shaped with an adze. The timber on others look like they have been machine cut which makes me suspect their age.
We had lunch at The Royal Hop Pole which is a Wetherspoons. When facing it the part on the right dates from the 15th Century and that on the left from the 18th Century. Oh and it’s not the above building which is the Olde Black Bear and claims to be the oldest pub in the town. The pub claims to date back to 1308.
The abbey dates back to the 12th Century and was unsuccessfully used as a sanctuary during the War of the Roses when the army of King Edward IV (House of York – Plantagenet) for the Lancaster Army of Edward, Prince of Wales (Tudor) who’s father King Henry VI had been imprisoned by Edward in the Tower of London. This must be one of the few times in English history when the country simultaneously had two rival kings. The Lancastrian forces from France landed in Weymouth and marched north to join with other loyal troops in Wales.
Upon hearing of their landing King Edward IV set out from London in pursuit. Both armies were marching hard but most of King Edward’s army was mounted whilst the majority of the Lancastrians were on foot. The commander at Gloucester remained loyal to King Edward and refused to allow the Lancastrian forces to cross the bridge over the River Severn, so they continued north hoping to cross near Tewkesbury. The exhausted Lancastrian army stopped just short of for the night allowing King Edward’s army to catch up with them. The Lancastrian army outnumbered Edward’s but they were exhausted and the ground didn’t favour them. They had both the Severn and Avon behind them. Edward’s army was victorious and a number of the defeated senior Lancastrian nobles sought sanctuary in Tewkesbury Abbey. Edward didn’t accept the Abbey had sanctuary status and the nobles inside were dragged out and executed after a quick trial. The Prince of Wales was found in a local wood and summarily executed. The day after Edward returned to London in triumph King Henry IV suddenly died in the tower.
King Edward gave approval for Edward, Prince of Wales to be buried in the abbey. A month after the battle the Abbey was reconsecrated following all the violence which had occurred within it’s grounds.
Work commenced on the construction of the current Abbey in the 12th Century. It would have been destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries (Henry VIII money grab) except the local citizens claimed it was their parish church and purchased it for the assessed scrap value of it’s bells and lead roof.
The square stone tower was topped by a timber spire which collapsed in 1559 and was never rebuilt. It has a stone vault roof with internal and external flying buttresses to take the weight.
It might become slightly frightening if one started to consider how much medieval stone was overhead. The engineers and architects were self taught back then!
Tewkesbury is different to Evesham. Here WW1 ended in 1919.