The Tewkesbury Historical Society
Welcome to our local History Society websiteMethodist Church at The Cross. Society Meetings are open to non-members and speakers talk on aspects of history. In addition, THS publish books and an annual Bulletin of Research, to which contributions are invited. Members have the option of accessing online the Society's extensive Woodard Database of Local History data.
Next Season's TalksOur programme of talks for 2021-2022 has been established and is on our Meetings Page.
Woodard Award 2021Woodard Award 2021 has been awarded to Karl Freeman for his article Great Balls of Fire (the Story of Tewkesbury Mustard). The award was made at our 'Zoom' AGM.
Annual General MeetingClick here to view the video. [First couple of minutes has some comedic value as we get to grips with the technology!]
Alderton SaxonsJulia Woodman.
The Duke of Edinburgh's Links With Tewkesbury
'Zoom' Meeting 22 April 2021Nicola Nash gave a talk on Recovering the Remains of Lost Soldiers from World War One. A video of the talk is available on YouTube.
Results of recent Tree-Ring Dating for Tewkesbury BuildingsGloucestershire Dendrochronology Project. A fascinating talk was given on the 13th of March which can viewed on the Friends of Tewkesbury Abbey website. This extremely accurate process can give dates down to the season and since green wood was preferred by medieval builders, we can be fairly sure that the year they were cut down was the year (perhaps the next) when the wood was used to construct the timber frames and roofs.
Wars of the Roses stampsRoyal Mail selected Tewkesbury for their alternative first day cover postmark for the new stamps issued in May celebrating the key battles of The Wars of the Roses: https://shop.royalmail.com/special-stamp-issues/the-wars-of-the-roses/the-wars-of-the-roses-first-day-cover-with-tewkesbury-postmark
1832 Cholera Epidemic in Tewkesbury
One of our members, Dr Peter Raggatt, who is a retired NHS Clinical Biochemist at Addenbrookes Hospital and Lecturer in Cambridge University School, was moved to research and write an article about this epidemic with its comparisons with the present pandemic. [see attached PDF above]
It links in with previous research on Cholera in Tewkesbury.
Such was the impact of these two epidemics on the town that a monument was commissioned which now resides in the Cemetery, adjacent to the ‘Cholera Pit’ where many victims received a mass night burial [see attached].
Although John Snow, clean water for the Mythe Waterworks and improved housing conditions have ensured that 1849 was the last appearance of cholera, the brutality which occurred in World War II Japanese POW camps caused the death of several Tewkesbury soldiers of cholera in 1943-44. Here is a biography of one of them, Frederick Key.
Smallpox was another medical curse of the18-19th centuries but by the late 19thC vaccinations were made compulsory and a significant number of people in Tewkesbury became anti-vaccination. For more on this familiar tale, see Martin Holt's award winning article.
History is always so topical!
Zoom Meeting 25 February 2021
I was very sad to learn of the death, on 13 February, of my valued collaborator, Tony Skelsey. He invited me to work with him in writing the History of Tewkesbury’s Municipal Cemetery. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole project - it will endure as a testimony to his ability and respect for this understated local institution.
He was by training an engineer and he worked for many years for the Borough Council. We shall often use the maps he drew, especially of the moorings on the Mill Avon. He was also an expert on the drainage system beneath the Cemetery.
His other interest was in military research of soldiers in the Napoleonic period and he worked with Roxy Base as his proof-reader for the articles he wrote for learned magazines.
I am sure that everyone, who met him and worked with him, appreciated that he was a real gentleman.
I shall attend his funeral at Worcester Crematorium at 16.00 hours on 11 March 2021.
Stone Stiles Project
Tewkesbury Medical Volunteers at Mitton in WWI
Cemetery and Burials database for TewkesburyOver the years we have collated information from the various burial grounds in the town and now is the time to release a one-stop location for all of them on this site. The new Burials Database in our Research section tries to do this. There is also an accompanying history and guide to finding the resting place of persons buried in the town. There are currently an impressive 18,564 records. For the decades 1841 to 1881 we can also link to the Census Database (not guaranteed they are same people)
An Upsetting Discovery in our Cemeteryhere to read the full story. If anyone can add any more information, please contact us. [ John Dixon firstname.lastname@example.org ]
"Anchor University" Lectures
'The Making of Miss Brown'
Message from David Elder, author of joint THS Publication, Literary Tewkesbury
One of the projects I've been doing during these strange times is to write and produce a film version of a play about the life of Elizabeth Brown (1830-99) who was an accomplished amateur astronomer who lived in Cirencester.The 30-minute film is called ‘The Making of Miss Brown’. It is viewable online for £3 from the Stroud Theatre Festival 2020 web site. To access it:
1. Please set up a simple account at http://stfonline.co.uk.
2. Then go to Watch Now! (https://stfonline.co.uk/watch-now/). Please note it will be available for a 24 hour period after registration.
Further information about the play
Winner of 2020 Woodard Award
VE & VJ Days 75: a Virtual Commemoration
Even though the government moved the May Day Bank Holiday away from the usual Monday so we could commemorate VE75 on 8 May, all public commemorations are now impossible.
- Biographies of all those who lost their lives fighting the Germans from the Tewkesbury area [including neighbouring villages]
- The context of this war.
Janet Benson (nee Martin)
We regret to announce that our secretary, Janet Benson, passed away on December 28th. This news is something of a shock to us all, even though Janet had been bravely fighting a long illness. She had been our secretary for many years and will be sadly missed by all her friends here in the Society.
Book by John Dixon: 'Tewkesbury's Two Forgotten Railways!'
With the support of THS, John Dixon has published his labour of love – Tewkesbury’s Two Forgotten Railways! – along with a reissue of Roger Butwell's 2011 commemoration dvd.
Although THS has now sold out, digital copies are available from the 'Shop'.
Review Railways Dec 2019
Dear John As a birthday present, Cathy gave me a copy of "Tewkesbury's two Forgotten Railways!" earlier this week. I have not been able to put it down (except when forced to the sink to do the washing up). I have to tell you that it is quite wonderful, really well written and evidently the product of much and exemplary research. Rarely have I enjoyed an historical document so much. I have often wondered why I have never seen a photo of a steam engine crossing the high street, but now I have and I understand why I haven't (if you see what I mean). Best wishes Spencer
Also reviewed by David Aldred and Andrew Reekes:
Two large scale maps of Tewkesbury from 1811 and 1880We are proud to present two maps on our site using new zoom and pan technology.
We have the 1811 Enclosure Map of Tewkesbury and the huge 1:500 scale map of Tewkesbury created in the 1880s, both full of amazing detail. Use your mouse wheel to zoom and left mouse to drag.
Bryan Jerrard Award
Derek has revealed that nothing is as simple in history as we would like it to be and he explains thoroughly all the issues surrounding it. Suffice it to say that Baron Tewkesbury was the winner and reigned - reasonably happily ever after - as King George I!
THS Bulletin 27 is available from Alison’s Bookshop in the High Street.
Through the Magic Door
Through the Magic Door is a 244-page illustrated biography by Colin Davison of local author Moray Williams. She was a prolific author of the children's classics Gobbolino, The Little Wooden Horse and many others. She lived for much of her life at Teddington Hands - where she wrote and illustrated The Good Little Christmas Tree, and then at Beckford and Kemerton. The biography tells of an exceptional life and how many of her stories were drawn from an extraordinary childhood with her identical twin sister at an isolated, tumble-down mansion in the woods. Ursula was also a very talented artist and the book includes many illustrations, a large number of them her own. The biography had endorsements from fan Nick Park, creator of Wallace & Gromit, friend Anne Wood, creator of Teletubbies, and Ursula's illustrator Shirley Hughes.
If anyone would like a signed copy, they are available from the author at £6 each, of which £1 would go to THS. Colin can be contacted on email@example.com
Even more Census DataWe are pleased to announce that the Tewkesbury Census Data for 1841 to 1891 has doubled in size. We now have 37,608 people spread over 9,575 property records. Take a look here.
Remarkable Incidents Relative to Tewkesbury
On the 2d of April, 1745, a large bound up Avon, going too near the fall of water (called Stanchard) was taken down by the rapidity of the stream, but received very little damage, and was not sunk.
Home movie courtesy of Kevin Nickson [poor quality video].
A Trip on the Mill Avon in the 1960s
Currently closed due to Covid-19 Lockdown. Click here for their latest news.
Tewkesbury Historical Pageant of 1931.
Account of 1931 Pageant
Find My Past
Find My Past is currently providing free access to their records. THS would like to research Tewkesbury people appearing in their Prison Records. If you are interested in helping with this, email John Dixon on firstname.lastname@example.org who will provide details of how to go about it.