Tewkesbury

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Tewkesbury
Tewkesbury Abbey 2011.jpg
Tewkesbury Abbey
Tewkesbury is located in Gloucestershire
Tewkesbury
Tewkesbury
 Tewkesbury shown within Gloucestershire
Population10,704 (2011)
OS grid referenceSO8932
    - London 94 miles (151 km) ESE 
Civil parishTewkesbury
DistrictTewkesbury
Shire countyGloucestershire
RegionSouth West
CountryEngland
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townTEWKESBURY
Postcode districtGL20
Dialling code01684
PoliceGloucestershire
FireGloucestershire
AmbulanceGreat Western
EU ParliamentSouth West England
UK ParliamentTewkesbury
List of places
UK
England
Gloucestershire
 
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Coordinates: 51°59′10″N 2°08′10″W / 51.986°N 2.136°W / 51.986; -2.136

Tewkesbury
Tewkesbury Abbey 2011.jpg
Tewkesbury Abbey
Tewkesbury is located in Gloucestershire
Tewkesbury
Tewkesbury
 Tewkesbury shown within Gloucestershire
Population10,704 (2011)
OS grid referenceSO8932
    - London 94 miles (151 km) ESE 
Civil parishTewkesbury
DistrictTewkesbury
Shire countyGloucestershire
RegionSouth West
CountryEngland
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townTEWKESBURY
Postcode districtGL20
Dialling code01684
PoliceGloucestershire
FireGloucestershire
AmbulanceGreat Western
EU ParliamentSouth West England
UK ParliamentTewkesbury
List of places
UK
England
Gloucestershire

Tewkesbury (/ˈtjksbri/ TYEWKS-bree) is a town and civil parish in Gloucestershire, England. It stands at the confluence of the River Severn and the River Avon, and also minor tributaries the Swilgate and Carrant Brook. It gives its name to the Borough of Tewkesbury, of which the town is the second largest settlement.

The name Tewkesbury comes from Theoc, the name of a Saxon who founded a hermitage there in the 7th century, and in the Old English tongue was called Theocsbury.[1] An albeit erroneous derivation from Theotokos enjoyed currency in the monastic period of the town's history.

Geography[edit]

Nearby places[edit]

It is in a rural environment (out of town) and is in lowland which makes it easier to flood, because of the ham, a plain.

Demography[edit]

At the 2011 UK census the town itself had a population of 10,704. If the neighbouring parishes of Wheatpieces (3,577), Northway (5,080) and Ashchurch Rural (957) are added, the figure rises to 20,318. The Tewkesbury urban area is divided in two by the north-south running M5 motorway, opened in February 1971. However, the town is generally considered as the built-up area to the immediate east and west of the M5 at junction 9, with the town centre, abbey and old town situated to the west. The close proximity of large areas of land that are prone to flooding, as evidenced by the severe floods that struck the region in July 2007, would make further expansion difficult.[citation needed] However, the present Borough of Tewkesbury, created on 1 April 1974, also contains a large portion of rural north Gloucestershire, extending as far as the edges of Gloucester itself and also Cheltenham, and has a present population of 81,943.[2]

Landmarks[edit]

The Tewkesbury War Memorial, locally known as the Cross

The town features many notable Tudor buildings, but its major claim to fame is Tewkesbury Abbey, a fine Norman Abbey, originally part of a monastery, which was saved from the Dissolution of the Monasteries by King Henry VIII after being bought by the townspeople for £453 to use as their parish church.[3] Most of the monastery buildings, as well as the vineyards, were destroyed during this time. The Abbey Mill however still remains, resting upon the Mill Avon, a channel built by the monks. The weir exists to this day, and the channel represents one of the biggest projects in Tewkesbury's history, though the present sluice gate dates only from the 1990s, replacing two installed in the 1930s. The Abbey Mill is also sometimes known as "Abel Fletcher's Mill", but this is simply the name given to it in Dinah Craik's novel John Halifax, Gentleman, whose setting Norton Bury is based on Tewkesbury (see the Tewkesbury in Literature section below).

The Abbey is also thought to be the site of the place where the hermit "Theoc" once lived. The great Romanesque arch on the west front is particularly striking, and the stained glass window at this end has recently been restored. The monastery was founded by the Despensers as a family mausoleum, and the Despenser and Neville tombs are stunning examples of small-scale late medieval stonework. The tower is believed to be the largest Norman tower still in existence (though that at Norwich Cathedral is another strong contender). The tower once had a wooden spire which may have taken the total height of the building to as much as 260 feet (79 m), but this was unfortunately blown off in a heavy storm on Easter Monday 1559; the present pinnacles and battlements were added in 1600 to give the tower a more "finished" look. The height to the top of the pinnacles is 148 feet (45 m). The Abbey is thought to be the third largest church in Britain that is not a cathedral (after Westminster Abbey and Beverley Minster). From end to end it measures 331 feet (101 m), though prior to the destruction of the original Lady Chapel (also at the time of the dissolution), the Abbey's total length was 375 feet (114 m). The Abbey is a parish church, still used for daily services, and is believed to be the second-largest parish church in England, again, after Beverley Minster.[4]

The Royal Hop Pole, mentioned in 'The Pickwick papers'

Tewkesbury claims Gloucestershire's oldest public house, the Black Bear, dating from 1308.[5] Other notable buildings are the Royal Hop Pole Hotel in Church Street (which has recently been converted into a part of the Wetherspoons pub chain with the discovery of a former medieval banqueting hall in the structure), mentioned in Charles Dickens' The Pickwick Papers, the Bell Hotel, a large half-timbered structure opposite the Abbey gateway, and the House of the Nodding Gables in the High Street. The historic Abbey Cottages, over 500 years old, were rescued from dereliction in the 1970s; one houses a museum, the others are residential homes and commercial offices. At the Tudor House Hotel in the High Street however, although it is indeed chiefly a Tudor building, the frontage comprises artificial half-timbering attached to a brick-built façade. The local branch of Store Twenty-One (formerly Marks & Spencer and before that Iceland) was once the location of the Swan Hotel, where a balcony still is today and from which local election results were announced[citation needed].

Also notable to the town's architecture is the Old Baptist Chapel (on Church Street) built in about 1655, as one of the earliest examples from that denomination – behind the chapel is a small cemetery for those who were members of the chapel.

Just to the west of the town is Thomas Telford's impressive Mythe Bridge over the River Severn, a cast-iron structure with a 170-foot span, opened in 1826. Tewkesbury's other notable bridge is the stone-built King John's Bridge over the Avon, commissioned by King John in the late 12th century as part of improvements to the main road from Gloucester to Worcester. Original stonework can still be seen on its north side; the bridge was considerably widened in the mid-to-late 1950's to meet modern traffic requirements.

Railways[edit]

Ashchurch for Tewkesbury railway station is one mile from the town centre. It was the last mainline station in Gloucestershire to be reopened, as British Rail was being fragmented into the ill-fated Railtrack at great cost.

The nearby Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway has views of Tewkesbury Abbey en route between Cheltenham Racecourse and Winchcombe.

Road transport[edit]

Tewkesbury is served by the M5 motorway, the A38 trunk road, and also the A46 and A38. Like many conurbations, Tewkesbury has problems with traffic congestion. There are bus connections to the Ashchurch for Tewkesbury railway station.

Culture[edit]

Festivals and fairs[edit]

Tewkesbury Medieval Festival 2007

Cultural references[edit]

Notable people[edit]

Sports and recreation[edit]

Twin town[edit]

Tewkesbury is twinned with Miesbach in Bavaria, Germany.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Toulmin Smith L., ed. 1909, The Itinerary of John Leland, London, IV, 150
  2. ^ Tewkesbury Borough Council – Statistics[dead link]
  3. ^ Tewkesbury Abbey – History[dead link]
  4. ^ Jenkins, Simon (1999). England's Thousand Best Churches. p. 228. 
  5. ^ Pub-explorer.com. Pub-explorer.com.
  6. ^ Tewkesbury Grammar School 1576 – 1972, Paul Fluck, Grenfell Publications 1987
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ Anthea Jones Tewkesbury
  9. ^ "Showmen's Guild of Great Britain Central Office". Showmensguild.co.uk. 
  10. ^ Kohana Request Exception[dead link]

External links[edit]