If you get tired of glowing Cotswold villages of stone (is that possible?) you can take a trip to Tewkesbury to see Tudor houses slanting in to each other over cute shops and restaurants, and soak in the amazing Tewkesbury Abbey.
Do you ever have one of those moments when you realize that a word you’ve been saying actually has a meaning aside from a succession of sounds? Yeah, that was me in Tewkesbury. About half way through our walk in the Abbey, I suddenly realized: “Wait — Tewkesbury-Tewkesbury? THE Tewkesbury? Like, bloody meadow, Queen Margaret, the Sunne in Splendoure, the young Duke of Gloucester before he became Richard III, the cowardly and disloyal Lord Wenlock, the brutal death of Prince Edward, the betrayal of sanctuary, the beheading of poor Somerset, that Tewkesbury? Holy Crap!” Now when you go to Tewkesbury, you can be prepared.
(Oh, that wasn’t enough preparation? Okay, for a bit of imagined history, read Penman’s The Sunne in Splendoure, and Pargeter’s Brothers of Gwynedd, and Gregory’s Cousins’ War series. Or pick up any more serious reference about the War of the Roses. Or come back in the second week of July, and visit the Tewkesbury medieval festival, where the battle is recreated, including heads paraded on pikes.)
The Abbey was smaller than I expected, until I really looked at that tower — this is a solid, firm-foundation kind of place, in a Norman style. Those Normans did not mess around with their stonework.
But let’s walk inside the Abbey.
Some dramatic sunlight. And yes, those columns are as massive as they look.
View back from the choir screen. Maybe this will help.
After walking through the Abbey, step outside and see the His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester saluting a parade of returning soldiers. I can’t guarantee that this happens every day in Tewkesbury.
Expat tip #253: when going in to a tea room or pub, always ask if there is a garden. We had a tea in this quiet spot, a seemingly secluded oasis but just steps from the Abbey. Also, is that Beyonce?
The tourist information center recommended a visit to the Wednesday market. The whole scene reminded me of episodes of Fake Britain I see while on the gym treadmill, leaving me inexplicably tired and worried about mercury poisoning. Not recommended.
A walk past the nationally-famous Roses Theatre. Some good stuff going on up there this summer.
The red and white rose are still part of Tewkesbury present — here seen in the window of the AD 1471 delicatessen.
Tewkesbury is a small town and easy to absorb in a day. One thing we missed was the recommended water tour, but the cozy lunch at Theoc House made up for it. (Recommended by someone at the Roses Theatre — yay.) I’ve marked my calendar for the medieval festival in July — see you there?