The Tewkesbury Historical Society

Welcome to our local History Society website

Cross House
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THS formed in 1991 to research and add to our knowledge of the history of the town of Tewkesbury. The Society meets monthly, on the third Thursday, at 7.45pm in the Methodist Church at The Cross. Society Meetings are open to non-members and speakers talk on aspects of history. 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.
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Woodard Award 2024

Woodard Award 2024
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Named after the late Bob Woodard, it is awarded each year for an article published in the annual Bulletin of the Society which is deemed by independent judges to have contributed significantly, by the quality of its research and the clarity of its communication, to increasing the knowledge of the history of Tewkesbury and District. The award is a silver bowl with the names of winners inscribed upon it and a medal for the winner to keep.
The winner for 2024 is Joanne Raywood for her article Two Views of the Severn Ham. Joanne is pictured with the independent judges who choose the winner, historians, Steven Blake and David Aldred.

May Meeting - THS Annual General Meeting

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Our AGM was held on Thursday, 23rd May. Business was followed by a talk from Georgia Smith, Tewkesbury Borough Council's High Street Heritage Action Zone Programme Manager who gave a very informative update on the progress of the project. [This was a change to the previously advertised talk by John Dixon.]

34th Season - Programme of Talks

The schedule of talks for our thirty-third season is set out below.
At the Methodist Church at The Cross, all are welcome - entrance fee for THS Members is £3.00 and for visitors is £5 (includes tea/coffee/biscuits after the talks). 

19 Sep 2024    Richard Sermon - The Leather Bottle: Cecil Sharp (1859-1924) and his Tewkesbury folk song collection
17 Oct 2024    Simon Reeve - Making the Invisible, Visible: The Story of the Old Baptist Chapel, a 17th Century Baptist Meeting House
21 Nov 2024   Andrew Mellor - Cider Making in Gloucestershire - from Fox Whelps to Firkins!
23 Jan 2025     Social - For Members, Friends & Guests
20 Feb 2025    Carol Davies - Workhouse Songs
20 Mar 2025   Andrew Chapman - Imagining History: the case for Historical Fiction
24 Apr 2025    Steve Goodchild - The Battle of Tewkesbury newly r-examined
22 May 2025   AGM followed by John Dixon - John Moore's Rogues

April 2024 Meeting

Michael Trott
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At our meeting on 18th April, Michael Trott, the author of several books, including, The Elgar Society, 1951-2001 and Hubert Parry: A Life in Photographs, gave a very knowledgeable and well-received  talk on his latest book, Ann Greening, the Mother of Edward Elgar. A video of the talk can be viewed on our YouTube Channel
You can read a review by John Dixon of Michael's book by clicking on 'Read More'.
John Dixon

Prior's Park Plaque

Tourist Plaque
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We have added to our Plaques Section the tourist sign that is now in place at Prior's Park, which commemorates Queen Margaret's Camp at the Battle of Tewkesbury, 

GLHA Local History Day

Gloucestershire Local History Association Local History Day, ‘Gloucestershire Life Stories’, Saturday July 27th 2024. At the Graze building at Hartpury University, Gloucester GL19 3BE. Ample free parking available in the main car park. Tickets £12 to include refreshments on arrival and a buffet lunch. Booking essential, click on Read More for full details and booking form. Any queries, email Vicki Walker walkeravsj@aol.com

80th Anniversary of D-Day

The members of Tewkesbury Branch of The Royal British Legion wish to extend an invitation to members of the Tewkesbury Historical Society to attend a service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving for the above anniversary.
This will be held at Tewkesbury Methodist Church on Sunday 9th June commencing at 3pm, with any attendees requested to be seated in the church by 2.45pm.
The service will be followed by a short Act of Remembrance at The Cross War Memorial to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice during Operation Overlord.
To assist with seating at the church, could any attendees please email me as soon as possible.

Rod Gurney, Honorary Vice-Chairman, Tewkesbury Branch, The Royal British Legion.

Queen Margaret's Camp

Formal unveiling of the new tourist sign in Manor Place 17th May - click on PDF for full details.

Bishops Walk Plaque

Plaque Unveiling
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On the 28th March 2024, a plaque was formally unveiled opposite Tesco exit on the wall of the Sue Ryder shop. The plaque was a joint venture by THS and The Tewkesbury Civic Society and commemorates the history of the Upper High Street shopping centre. Click on the 'Read More' link to view the plaque and read further details. 

Photograph left to right: John Dixon (THS), Angela Devereux (John Moore Society), Maureen Turland (Civic Society), Alan Purkiss (Civic Society). 

March 2024 Meeting

David Elder
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At our meeting on 21st March David Elder gave an absorbing talk on some of the people and places that feature in his book Secret Tewkesbury

Bulletin 33

Bulletin 33 (2024)
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Our latest annual Bulletin magazine is now available to purchase - use this Link for methods of purchase.
Click on Read More to see the Forewords which give details about the articles.

Sir George Dowty

Event at Pershore Abbey to commemorate Sir George Dowty and will include visiting the newly erected statue of him. Full Details.

February Meeting

Kat Keldeen
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Kat Keldeen of the John Moore Museum gave an excellent and very well received talk on Tasting the Tudors: Food and Drink in the Tudor Period. [This talk was in place of the scheduled talk on the Baptist Chapel, which was cancelled due to unavoidable circumstances]. 
John Dixon

Aspects of Hidden Tewkesbury

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Talk by John Dixon at the Baptist Church, Station Road, Tuesday 20th February 7:00pm.

Dowty Group

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Now available is a booklet charting the hugely successful careers of the three Dowty Group Chairmen.
A.W. Martin - sometime Chairman of the world renowned wood  and stone carvers H.H. Martyn, Gloucester Aircraft and Dowty. Hitherto unpublished material on his life story and his association with businesses of world renown.
Sir George Dowty - his son's thoughts on his father’s amazing career.
Sir Robert Hunt - his daughter's ideas of the reasons for her father’s remarkable life story.
Over 50 pages of riveting history and a fitting sequel to Dowty Days Remembered.
Email Martin Robins on martinrobins@btinternet.com for a copy- £5 posted.

THS Social Evening

The Spread!
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A very successful Social Evening, for members and their guests, took place on 25 January 2024 with a quiz and surprise Burn's Night recitation. The 'bring and share' buffet food and drink supplied by those who attended was outstanding - we even had a haggis quiche!
John Dixon

Joan Smith

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We have learned, sadly, of the death of Mrs. Joan Smith, late of the Maltings, who volunteered to use her secretarial experience to type up information for the Woodard Database. If you search for “Joan Smith” in the database, you will find her work, especially on the Tewkesbury Register. She fell ill with pneumonia in early December and died in Tewkesbury Hospital on 22 January 2024 – her daughter is very impressed with the care she received there and asks that any donation in her honour be made in favour of our Hospital. Her funeral is on Friday, 9 February 2024 at the Willow Chapel, Crematorium, followed, at 14.00, by the Bell Hotel.
I met Joan after her son, David, volunteered to use his computer skills to produce the exhaustive Burial Records, which we maintain on the website and were on the DVD rom which accompanied our History of the Tewkesbury Cemetery.
THS thus passes on our condolences to the family of this reliable volunteer over so many years.

Lionel Perry

Long time member of the Society, Lionel Perry, passed away peacefully after a long illness at Cheltenham General Hospital on Saturday 16th December 2023, aged 86 years.
Dearly loved Husband to Erna, Step-father to Mark and Paulette, Grandfather to Emma and Tom, Brother to Glenys and Uncle to Nicola.
A private cremation will take place followed by a service of thanksgiving at Tewkesbury Abbey on Thursday 11th January 2024 at 2.30pm.
Family flowers only, donations if desired for the Salvation Army and Air Ambulance may be sent c/o B Sweet & Sons Funeral Directors 12a Oldbury Road, Tewkesbury GL20 5LZ. Telephone 01684 293180.

'Image Fees' Scrapped

There's an important development after a recent Court of Appeal ruling and it is Good News for historians and art historians (and art lovers generally). Those of us who've had to pay image fees will know the system relies on museums claiming copyright in their photos - irrespective of whether the art they're photographing is itself in copyright. (In the UK, copyright lasts for 70 years after the death of the artist).

Sir George Dowty

A Statue has been commissioned to honour engineer Sir Georg Dowty who founded the Cheltenham-based Dowty Aviation company.

November 2023 Meeting

Caroline & Andrew Mellor
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At our meeting on 16 November, Andrew Mellor gave a very well received and engaging talk on The Dymock Poets, with recitations from their work by Caroline Mellor.

October 2023 Meeting

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At our meeting on 19 October 2023, Nana Pierre, gave an interesting and informative talk on the background and location of her forthcoming book A Boy Called Silence which is set in West Africa in the 15th century.

Tewkesbury Workhouse

Tewkesbury Workhouse
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In our History pages on this website, we have two articles written by the late Janet Devereux on the subject of the Poor Law and Tewkesbury Workhouse in particular. You can read them via these links: On the parish: Outdoor Relief in the Tewkesbury Union, 1836-1843 (Bulletin 7, 1998); "The Most Harsh and Unkind Friend" Glimpses into Tewkesbury House of Industry c.1832 to 1850 (Bulletin 9, 2000 - winner of the Woodard Award 2001).

Bulletin 32

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The paper copy of this Bulletin is now out of print but a digital PDF copy is available at £2.79 for Members sand £4.79 for Non-Members.
You can purchase online via our 'Shop' or you can order by emailing John Dixon on presidentths@gmail.com paying via BACS (John will supply details). 
Click to view the back cover,  the Contentsthe Foreword.
Hannah McGeary

Aspects of Hidden Tewkesbury

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On Saturday 14th October John Dixon led a fascinating walk around Tewkesbury looking at many points of interest about the town. We had a bigger group than expected which was fantastic, all in all 35 of us joined the walk! We began at the Abbey of course and looked at the old tanneries site, the mill, the old livestock markets in Spring Gardens, where the railway line was situated and much much more. There will soon be photos to view at the museum, which we looked at on the walk of the town's history, details to follow. Highly recommend joining us for the next one!
John Dixon

Jerrard Award

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We were delighted to learn that Sam Eedle, THS Chairman, has been awarded the prestigious county prize by the Gloucestershire Local History Association – and for the second time! This time it was for his article in Bulletin 31, entitled the ‘School Mistress and the Cross’, concerning a Tewkesbury connected war widow, Rose Roberts, nee Jeffery. I commend members to follow my example and read it again – when I edited it, I knew it would be a very strong Jerrard contender. The Chairman, Dr Steven Blake, commended it for fulfilling all five of its criteria for the quality of its research, writing and presentation [by Rick Talbot]. Runner up was Chris Sullivan for ‘Charles Bathurst saves Lydney Dog and finds God’.

John Dixon

The Significant work of a Member's Daughter

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Rose Hogan is known affectionately as "Member No 1" as she was the first member from 1991. Her younger daughter Katherine is ex-Tewkesbury School and has worked for the BBC since University. Her mother tipped me off about her role in broadcasting the Netball World Cup on BBC2 at 17.00 tonight for the final - in which our team is doing well!  Katherine is listed here as "Editor" and I hope I can learn later about her role when she returns to visit her parents.
For that reason only, I have watched one of her programmes and find it much more palatable than Match of the Day!
So ladies [and gentleman!] do give it a watch and judge for yourself!
Well done our Katherine.

Do you have a Water Story to tell?

Researchers in water security and performance arts from University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) are collaborating in a pilot research project with actaTheatre (a community theatre group) and the Roses Theatre. The project aims to capture different people’s stories about their relationships with any aspect of water in Tewkesbury.  They are interested in how we share local water knowledge and the role of the arts in these processes.

They are keen to involve a variety of voices in the workshops. Everyone is welcome. They are hoping for people that can join them for four workshops, with the final workshop as a script reading, where they will invite a wider audience. No expertise in drama/theatre is needed – just a willingness to come and find out more.

Results of recent Tree-Ring Dating for Tewkesbury Buildings

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The results are in!  During 2020 prominent Tewkesbury buildings were surveyed and tested for tree ring dates by Dr Andy Moir and his team at the Gloucestershire 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. 

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!

Cemetery and Burials database for Tewkesbury

Over 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)

Two large scale maps of Tewkesbury from 1811 and 1880

We 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.
Click to view Click to view

Even more Census Data

We 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.

News from previous years


Tudor House Hotel

A comprehensive building assessment has been published by Johanna Roethe of 'Historic England' - click here to read on their website.

Sir George Dowty Statue

Unveiling Of the Dowty statue at its temporary home in Malmsbury.

Remarkable Incidents Relative to Tewkesbury

1895. On 10th August: Regatta most successful ever in three and a half decades; 8256 people paid to see the regatta, athletics, water polo, show jumping, walking the greasy pole, parachute descent - and illegal gaming (dice)!


GLHA Summer Afternoon

At Coleford, Forest of Dean, 30 June 2024.

Gloucester History Festival

Talks take place for 9 days at the iconic Blackfriars Priory from Saturday 14 to Sunday 22 September 2024.

Dowtys

Summer Newsletter of the Sir George Dowty Memorial Committee.

Heritage Hub

Upcoming events at the Heritage Hub.

BALH Talks

Upcoming virtual talks sponsored by the British Association for Local History.

John Dixon

Tewkesbury Weather

It is our great talking point but do our impressions agree with statistics?
Each month I will update the Rainfall and Temperature Statistics and offer my
Monthly Reflection on how the statistics underline or undermine our impressions.

Meetings Videos

Video recordings of talks given at our meetings are often made and can be viewed on our YouTube Channel 

Gloucestershire Dendrochronology Project: Tewkesbury


Monumental Brass Society’s Jonathan Ali Essay Prize

An annual prize of £350 has been instituted by the Monumental Brass Society in memory of Jonathan Ali (1969-2019), a distinguished journalist and member  of the Society. 

Victoria County History

January 2024 Newsletter.

Friends of Glos. Archives Autumn 2023 Newsletter


Gloucesterhire Heritage Hub

July 2023 Newsletter.


BALH Summer 2023 Newsletter


Lionel Walrond

Lionel Walrond, curator of Stroud Museum 1955 to 1990, took many photographs of Gloucestershire. A searchable collection is available on the GlosDocs website

The Winter of 1962-63

Article from THS Bulletin 3 (1994).

'True Blue Farm'

Article on 'True Blue Farm' in Kinsham Worcs. by Joyce Tole-Moir.

William Thomas Clarke

WWI death of soldier born in Tewkesbury but whose family left the town permanently. 

Print Version