When we traveled to England, our family stayed near the Cotswolds with the plan to take some easy day trips to explore the local towns and villages. One of the places we had our eyes on was Tewkesbury. a medieval market town.
The day we went it happened to rain, but this was England and we pressed on to have a lovely time all of the same. We started out our day by touring the Tewkesbury Abbey. This Abbey was consecrated in the year 1121 and is one of the best examples of Norman architecture in the area that you could hope to see.
We travel in the company of multiple children and while it can’t be said that they thrill in looking at architecture, they can still show respect for the facility and for other people who may be present. Our family spent about 45 minutes here, looking at the artifacts, pointing out historical notes of interest and drinking in the beauty of it all.
Historical items of note:
– After the Reformation, some Protestants believed that churches should be free of graven images and ornate designs which they felt distracted from true worship. (I’m stating their case very simply.) Many churches were demolished or destroyed in some way in response to a desire to separate themselves from the Roman Catholic Church. The Tewkesbury Abbey fell prey to this ideology and suffered damage as a result. Amid excavations of the area, several pieces of the original Abby were found and are on display.
– There is a brass plate on the floor in the centre of the sanctuary which marks the grave of Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, the son of King Henry VI, who was killed in the Battle of Tewkesbury. Edward of Westminster wasthe only Prince of Wales ever to die in battle. He was seventeen years old.
– The Abbey is in possession of a 17th-century organ, known as the Milton Organ. It was originally made for Magdalen College, Oxford, by Robert Dallam. After the English Civil War it was removed to the chapel of Hampton Court Palace, where the poet Milton may have played it. It came to Tewkesbury in 1737.
– The Abbey is famous for its collection of Medieval stained glass.
We should note that there is a tea room on site for your refreshment. Public toilets are also available.
Leaving the Abbey, we headed on foot into the town and made a stop at the John Moore Museum. The museum is located in a row of timber-framed buildings, offering you a glimpse inside two of them. The John Moore Museum building features a Natural History collection featuring plants and animals which can be found in the area.
There are three floors to explore and we tasked our children with reading the signage and pointing out four interesting facts per floor. You should note that the square footage of the house, despite being three stories tall, is quite limited. There is a fair amount to be seen but you’ll need to be creative in coming up with activities to keep your kids engaged with the exhibits.
We probably spent roughly 45 minutes exploring before heading two doors down to “The Merchant’s House” which we found to be quite fascinating. The Merchant’s house is a two story building, refurbished to show what a 15th century dwelling and shop would have looked like.
The Merchant’s House is an absolute “Don’t miss!” in our book. You are offered an audio tour of the house which we declined as as group because some of our children were just too small to stand still for the length of the audio lecture. We did, however, give our oldest (then age 8) the audio guide so that he could learn one or two things about each of the rooms and play the tour guide to the rest of the family.
Some of the stairs leading up to the second floor are original and it’s pretty incredible to walk up them. We wouldn’t want to live there but it’s fun to see what life was like before a 1,001 building codes were in place!
After The Merchant House we took a walk through the town of Tewkesbury, stopping in at little shops of interest to our family. (How can you visit England without stopping in every bookshop you see? How?)
We brought a picnic lunch to enjoy and therefore can’t recommend any of the local eating establishments. However, we can suggest enjoying a lunch in Victoria Pleasure Gardens which is a local riverside park. It is a beautiful and peaceful setting.
Due to the rain we shortened our stay a bit, but did enjoy the sights and sounds of this charming town all the same in between breaks in the clouds. If you are looking for stops in the Cotswolds, put Tewkesbury on your list!