Tewkesbury: Tudor hotel & abbey

tewkesbury, gloucestershire, england

Tewkesbury is believed to date to a saxon hermit, who arrived in the 7th century. As the years rolled by, it’s name changed from Theocsbury, to Theoc, to Tewkesbury in the 12th century. For most the town is synonymous with the Battle of Tewkesbury which took place on 4th may 1471, when the house of York secured victory of the lancastrians, on its southern fields. This was one of the most decisive battles in the War of the Roses, which contributed to the end of a turbulent, and violent period in English history.

The Abbey Church of St Mary the Virgin, commonly known as Tewkesbury Abbey, is a former Benedictine monastery. It’s considered to be one of the finest Norman churches in England and has the largest roman tower, in Europe. The building of the abbey required a herculean effort, with imported stone from Normandy, being floated up the severn river.

During the battle of Tewkesbury, a number of defeated Lancastrians sought sanctuary in the abbey. The victorious yorkists forced their way in, and the resulting bloodshed was so great, it caused the building to be closed for a month, until it could be cleansed and re-consecrated. Less than 100 yrs later, it would fall to the people of Tewkesbury to rescue the Abbey from the threat of destruction, during the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539, by paying Henry VIII the sum of £453. The townsfolks made good use of abbey, transforming use of the bell tower into a jail, until it was demolished in the late 18th century.

Established by the pilgrim fathers, the foundations of the old house, which is its original name, were laid in 1540 - with significant additions added in the 17th century. The building has served a variety of functions over the years. From being a private house, a coaching inn, a girl’s school(1841-81), the mayor’s residence (1651), a courthouse and more recently with it’s conversion to a hotel (1926).

The Tudor House claims to be home to many spirits, and not just the alcoholic variety. There’s a grey lady who vanishes at the end of a corridor, a maid who’s fond of tucking you up at night, the ubiquitous black dog, a maid who carelessly fell out of a top floor window and a drummer boy, said to wake guests in the dead of night.