The Alleyways in Tewkesbury began to appear in the 17th Century. They were created due to a increased demand in housing. They were built at right angles to the street and as the original plots were very narrow, the lack of floor space was compensated for in height. The alleyways acted as drains and rubbish dumps and were the only source of air for many households. These dirty living conditions reached a peak in the 19th Century when cholera and diptheria were rife. Originally, there were around 90 Alleyways in Tewkesbury but today only 30 remain. Many are named after the families who used to live there.
The Severn Ham is a really lovely place to walk. The watermeadow is surrounded by the River Severn and The Mill Avon. The name derives from the Saxon word Ham or Hamm meaning 'meadow in the bend of a river' 'water meadow' or 'flood plain'. The Ham was once owned by the Abbey, then for many centuries by the local landed and political elite. It is now owned by theTown Council and managed by them as a Nature reserve. We started our walk by the Abbey Mill at the end of Mill Street and followed the path across to the Weir. Looking back on Tewkesbury, you can get some great views of the town and Abbey. Follow the river back around in a clockwise direction & you will reach the start of your walk.
The Old Baptist Chapel originated as a family dwelling. The building was adapted into a place of worship in the belief that religion should be centred on the family and home as opposed to the monumental churches. This chapedl is believed to be one of the first small Baptist Chapels in Southern England and was in use as a chapel until 1805. The Burial Ground at the rear of the Chapel contains some interesting grave stones - one in particular John Hart who died on January 22nd 1800, he was a sixth desendant from William Shakespeare.
You can buy a helpful little guide to the history of the Chapel from the Tourist Information Centre.
The foundations of the Mill are believed to date to the late 12th Century when the River Avon was diverted into the town to power the corn mill of the Benedictine Monastery. The present building is late 18th Century and was in use as a Mill until 1933.
This row of houses was buildt in the late 15th century for the Benedictine Monastery as a commercial ventureand consisted of shops which were opened to the street by lowering their shutters to act as counters. The John Moore Museum and the Merchant's House are situated within this row. John Moore was a local author of books on the area ('portrait of Elmbury') and also a broadcaster. The museum contains a natural history collection which honours his work. The John Moore museum was closed during my visit. Check the website below for up to date opening hours.
The Royal Hop Pole was once a great coaching inn. Today it is owned by JD Wetherspoon and provides great value food, drink and accomodation. The reception area was once a large double gated coach driveway giving access to the yard and stables. The Royal Arms are shown on top of the portico as Queen Mary stayed here in 1930. Another claim to fame is that Mr Pickwick (The Pickwick papers by Charles Dickens) dined here and had a thoroughly enjoyable time.
This quirky listed building has been restored to its' former glory. From the outside you can see the beadles had, an example of an early 19th Century trade sign, used in the times before most people could read. Today, Out of the Hat is the home of the Tourist Information, here you can buy a great town trail, gifts and maps of the area.
During my visit to the Abbey, they were offering tours of the bell tower and roof top. The climb to the top was a bit strenuous but we did stop on the way for an interesting talk on the Abbey bells. The views from the top of the tower were stunning, we could see for miles around.
Contact the Abbey for more information about the roof top tours.
Tewkesbury Abbey was founded in 1087 and consecrated in 1121. Inside you will find some massive Norman Pillars; the central Norman tower is said to be the finest in the World. The Abbey has many interesting tombs and chantries of the medievan banonage, some of whom were great benefactors of the Abbey. There are also some great lattice work ceilings and misericors to seek out and admire. During the dissolution of the monastries, the local community saved the Abbey from the clutches of Henry VIII - they bought it off him for £453.00! My visit at the begining of December 2011 coincided with a Christmas fayre which was held inside the Cathedral. It is a great time to visit & also pick up some unusual christmas presents at the local craft stalls.
Don't miss the cross in the stonework of the North Porch, this was etched in October 1121 for the consecration of the Abbey.
A rare old, old Norman Abbey that was untouched by the destruction carried out by King Henry VIII's men. Lovely reddish stone
We were lucky the day we visited. A wonderful choral group was staging a week long festival (MUSICA DEO SACRA) and we stayed to hear a Mass. The service reflected the Anglo-Catholic style of devotion, the current persuasion of this parish.
It is a truly lovely (and impressive) building.
Dating from 1121, the Abbey was originally the church for a Benedictine monastery. Henry Vlll dissolved the monastery but, luckily, the townspeople bought the abbey church from him (for 453GBP) and so it still remains.
Inside, you'll find exquisite Medieval architectural twiddles, chantry chapels, Medieval stained glass, tombs and really beautiful roof bosses (the big bits of circular carved wood used to tie roof beams together). I have photos on my Tewkesbury travelogues.
Entrance to the abbey is free (although they do ask for a donation of 3GBP) and opening times can be found on the website below.
One word of warning: you must buy a photography permit from the shop before you take photos. It's a way of raising money towards the upkeep of this superb building and, at 2GBP, it is excellent value!
Robert FitzHamon founded this abbey in 1087. The church was consecrated in 1102. During the 15th century War of the Roses, a group of defeated Lancastrian soldiers took refuge here, only to be massacred by the Yorkists. The monastery was dissolved in 1540.
This is one of the finest examples of Norman church architecture. It's the second-largest parish church in the country (larger than many cathedrals), with the tallest Norman church tower in the country. Conservation work continues.
This is a silk printing workshop, which has been running for over 30 years and is open to the public. You can walk through the print shop, dye room and past the sewing area, watching the craftspeople, including printers, dyers and colourists, at work on each stage of the production process, creating beautiful hand printed silk scarves, shirts, ties etc.
Information boards, in the main print room, describe the techniques being used and explain all the processes you will see, from making a screen to packing the finished item, but most of the people working were happy to describe to me what they were doing, as they worked. There is also some helpful information, on the procedures they use, listed as "student notes" on their website, which is worth reading before you go, if you want to understand the process before your visit.
There is a shop selling some of the beautiful items they have made and a cafe serving drinks and snacks.
Just wandering around the town is interesting; there are so many beautiful historic buildings, most of which are extremely well maintained. The website listed suggests an itinerary called "Tewkesbury Heritage Trail", which provides background information on the buildings you'll see and a useful map, if you want to do this in a more formal way.
Kingfisher Ferries runs a Summer service from Tewkesbury to Twyning Fleet Inn, daily from Easter to the end of September.
The staff on the boat will point out any sights of historical interest, as you pass them whilst in town, but for most of the trip you will be travelling through the lovely countryside for which Gloucestershire is so well known.
When the boat arrives at Twyning Fleet Inn you can remain on it and return or get down for a meal or drink in the gardens sloping towards the riverbank.