Tewkesbury Abbey, with its imposing Norman tower, is a magnificent building, which is often taken to be a cathedral, especially when seen from the motorway. It was founded by the Benedictines, and bought by the town from Henry VIII. It now functions as the parish church, and Simon Jenkins says it is “one of England’s most splendid churches”.
There is a superb collection of black and white timber framed buildings, including the Royal Hop Pole (where Mr. Pickwick stayed, according to Dickens), the 13th century Black Bear, the House of the Nodding Gables, the town museum and a row of tiny 15th century shops.
Hidden away in Old Baptist Chapel Court is one of the oldest nonconformist chapels in England, dating from the1620s. This, like the Abbey, is open to the public.
There are many intriguing side alleys, some of which lead to the beautiful waterfront. King John’s Bridge dates partly from about 1200.
During the Wars of the Roses, the Battle of Tewkesbury was fought in 1471. Queen Margaret, the wife of Henry VI, was defeated by the returning Edward IV, and Edward the Prince of Wales was killed. The Abbey was the scene of some of the fighting. As a result of the battle, Edward IV was restored to the throne.
Mrs Craik set the novel “John Halifax, Gentleman” in Tewkesbury, and the newsreader Anna Ford was born in the town.