Tewkesbury Abbey, in the centre of the Medieval market town of Tewkesbury, is a perfect stop on a summer day out in Gloucestershire. Tewkesbury which is notable for its Tudor buildings actually dates back to seventh century Saxon England. The Norman Tewkesbury Abbey was saved by Henry VIII when other monasteries suffered from the Tudor king’s Dissolution of the Monasteries. Tewkesbury Abbey (originally a Benedictine Monastery) was bought by the people of the town for £483 to be used as their Parish Church.
The Parish Church of Saint Mary the Virgin (as Tewkesbury Abbey is officially known) is the second largest Parish Church. We recently looked into the smallest church in England’s smallest church in our post on St Beuno’s Church in Culbone, Exmoor). The largest parish church is England is The Holy Trinity Church in Kingston-upon-Hull – another historical British church.
Pevsner, the architectural historian, remarked on Tewkesbury Abbey as “probably the largest and finest Romanesque tower in England”. The abbey was founded in 1087, though building didn’t start until 1102, with completion and consecration in 1121. Tewkesbury Abbey was later restored by no less than Sir George Gilbert Scott, the architect of the Midland Grand Hotel – today the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, in front of St. Pancras Train station in London.
Ashchurch Train Station is a short bus ride from Tewkesbury if you plan to travel by train. By road, Tewkesbury is just off the M5. In the summer you can take a pleasant boat trip from Gloucester, along the River Severn. The dock in Tewkesbury is only a few moments’ walk from Tewkesbury Abbey. There are guided tours of the abbey, including the tower throughout the year. For information on visiting Tewkesbury Abbey and service times, see the Abbey’s website.
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