The Tewkesbury Historical Society

Welcome to our local History Society website

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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. 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.
                                         Please consider joining the Society.

Online Resources Guide

Gloucestershire Libraries have issued a very useful guide to local and family history online resources available during the Covid crisis.   

'The Making of Miss Brown'

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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
2. Then go to Watch Now! ( Please note it will be available for a 24 hour period after registration.

Further information about the play
Cirencester 1883: Like so many dutiful Victorian women, 52-year old Miss Brown lives a mundane life, caring for her sick father. There are bills to be paid, sheets to be washed and, fulfilling one of her father’s duties, daily meteorological readings to be taken. As a devout Quaker she follows ‘the light within’, but, with her passion for astronomy, longs to see the invisible and explore the hidden depths of the universe. While some wing-clipped geese on her neighbour’s farm seem like an accurate metaphor of her life so far, the dark clouds that constantly hug the Cotswold horizon look like a vision perfectly predicting her remaining days. Suddenly, Elizabeth’s life changes, and she needs to decide whether to seek a life of comfortable mediocrity or chase her dream.

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.

THS, however, wishes to remember all those from Tewkesbury who lost their lives in this war but, the ‘silver lining’ may be that we can split the Victory Commemorations in two parts and give more prominence to VJ Day on 15 August 2020 when the public might themselves have been “liberated”.  Thus, VJ Day has always been of secondary importance to the public: this is partly why those who continued after May to fight the Japanese dubbed it the “Forgotten War”.

In this website's World-War-II Section we shall present
  1. Biographies of all those who lost their lives fighting the Germans from the Tewkesbury area [including neighbouring villages]
  2. The context of this war.
This is all based upon an updated version of the 2005 THS Publication “Never has so much been owed…  which is now available digitally.

(First World War biographies and extensive other material can be found in the World War I Section.) 

New: 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)

Bulletin 29

Our latest Bulletin for 2020 is now available for purchase. You can buy at discounted rates by contacting John Dixon on 01684 294262 or purchase via our online Shop.

Ray Base

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The Society is saddened to learn of the death of the husband of former Chairman, Roxy Base.

Herbert Gyngell

New in History - World War II Section: - P.O. Herbert Francis Eric Gyngell, R.N. Killed in action 17 January 1942.

Janet Benson (nee Martin)

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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.

Gloucestershire Dendrochronology Project: Tewkesbury

Tewkesbury Medical Volunteers at Mitton in WWI

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The new book by John Dixon & Linda Kean-Price, Tewkesbury's War Hospitals is available for sale see How to Buy.

Book by John Dixon: 'Tewkesbury's Two Forgotten Railways!'

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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:

November 2019 Meeting

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Ian Boskett at our November meeting where he gave a very entertaining and well received talk on "The Great Train Robbery".

October 2019 Meeting

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Anthony Poulton-Smith at the 17 October 2019 meeting where he delivered alternative views  on some generally accepted historical 'facts'.

Tewkesbury Weather

It is a great talking point but do our impressions agree with statistics? Each month John Dixon will update Rainfall and Temperature Statistics and offer his Monthly Reflections. September 2020 update now available.

THS 29th Season - First Meeting

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The first meeting of our 29th Season was held on Thursday 19 September 2019 at the Methodist Church. Terence Pendry gave a very well received and attended talk entitled All The Queen's Horses. Terry is currently the Stud Groom and Manager to Her Majesty The Queen, at The Royal Mews, Windsor Castle. He has held this position for 25 years after retiring from The Riding Staff, of the Blues and Royals Regiment, Household Cavalry, having started his career as a professional jockey riding mainly on the flat.

Woodard Award 2019

John Dixon, Derek Benson & Steven Blake
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Winner of the 2019 Woodard Award is Derek Benson for his article 'The 1714 Coronation Riot in Tewkesbury'

The article was also runner-up for the GLHA Jerrard Award.

Click on 'READ MORE' below to read the article.

Bryan Jerrard Award

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Each year the county Local History Association [GLHA] makes an award for what the judges believe to be the best published article on an aspect of Gloucestershire’s local history during the preceding year. It is named after Bryan Jerrard, the first chairman of the GLHA. It came to the notice of THS in 2005 when it was won by Sam Eedle and since then we have been nominated 19 times. The most successful THS nominee has been Derek Benson whose first article appeared in 2005 and, in all, he has been nominated eight times. In recent years, in addition to the winner, a runner up has been announced – and it was Derek for his article in THS Bulletin 27 [2018] entitled ‘The 1714 Coronation Riot in Tewkesbury’.
Derek’s article was inspired by a visit to the ‘Secret Garden’ of the Tudor House Hotel where there is a plaque: “This old oak door carries the battle-axe scars inflicted upon it by Jacobite rioters during the Coronation of King George I”. 1714-1715 was a turbulent time in British politics as apparently supporters of Catholics and Protestants competed to ensure that their nominee became successor to Queen Anne [made famous by ‘The Favourite’ film]. This passion was felt in this riot in which the occupier of the house suffered the indignity of losing his wig as well as his windows.
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.

[Photograph: At the GLHA Local History Day on 11 May when the awards were presented. Bryan Jerrard, Derek Benson, Louise Ryland-Epton, the Jerrard Award winner for her article Cirencester Workhouse under the Old Poor Law published in 'Transactions of the Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society' 135 (2017)]

Wheatsheaf Inn

New article on the Wheatsheaf Inn, now Cornell Books in the High Street. 
John Dixon

Tewkesbury's Own D-Day Hero

Read about Tewkesbury's own D-Day hero, Edwin Davis. Written by John Dixon in 2005/6 about the only military victim from Tewkesbury that we then knew about.

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.
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As ‘Poor as a Church Mouse’? Assessing Wealth from the Ambiguous Source of Probate Inventories in 17th Century Tewkesbury

New article by our past Woodard Award winner and Jerrard Award shortlisted Member, Dr. Karen Banks.

Through the Magic Door

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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

Margaret Day

The Society is sad to announce that our Life Member, Margaret Day, died peacefully at home on Saturday 27 April 2019. Dearly loved wife to Cliff, much loved mother to Paul and Peter and Grandma to Lucy and Amy. Our thoughts are with her family at this difficult time.

April Meeting

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THS President John Dixon, with Richard Chatham who gave a talk on his Chatham and Bishop families of Tewkesbury and district.

Gloucestershire Local History Association

The Gloucestershire Local History Association includes representatives from many local history societies in the county, the county archives and local studies centres, and meets quarterly to discuss matters relating to local history in Gloucestershire. Details of events organised by the Association and member organisations may be found on their website:

GLHA Website

Friends of Glos. Archives

FOGA Spring 2017 Newsletter

Archives & Friends
Digital Magazine (PDF)

Tewkesbury Christmas Lights Lottery

Click 'Read More' for details.

March Meeting

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A very successful and enjoyable meeting on 21st March where 'The Boaters' Craft Group' presented Canal Ladies: The Lives of the Narrow Boat Women, their Children and their Crafts. We also launched our latest Bulletin along with a reprint of John Dixon's in demand Railways book.

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.

Victoria County History

This newsletter contains information on the latest additions to Gloucestershire material in the series and details of forthcoming meetings.

THS February Meeting

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John Reid with Helen Carver at our February meeting. John gave an illustrated talk on "Funerary Monuments: Gloucestershire's Hidden Gems of World Class Sculpture". 

A Noble Band of Heroes

Review by John Moore Society Add to Cart

The 1914-1915 Medal unveils the Rowley Family

The discovery of this medal on 'ebay' and its subsequent purchase by local enthusiasts for presentation to the Town’s Museum unveils some important aspects of World War I.

November Meeting

John Dixon & Peter Dawson
John Dixon & Peter Dawson

THS Life President, John Dixon, with Peter Dawson who gave an interesting and well attended talk on 'Burgage Plots in Medieval Towns' at our 15 November meeting.

Woodard Award Winner 2018

John Dixon and Barbara Jones
John Dixon and Barbara Jones

Winners of 2018 Woodard Award are John Dixon and Barbara Jones for their jointly written article 'From Howell's to Hollams [and on to Canada]!'

The article was also shortlisted for the GLHA Jerrard Award

Next Events:
19  Nov2020Thursday7:45pm
THS - On Top of the Tide - River Photographs [John Talbot & John Dixon] (virtual meeting via 'Zoom')
28  Jan2021Thursday7:30pm
THS - Social for members & their Guests (venue & topic to be decided)

Remarkable Incidents Relative to Tewkesbury

On the 2nd of July, 1655, Henry Saule bought at this market, thirteen bushels of good wheat at 17d. per bushel, and the same day paid 22d. for barley. This is a circumstance so very remarkable, that an instance of the kind was never heard of before, nor probably will never occur again.

Gloucestershire Dendrochronology Project: Tewkesbury

"Anchor University" Lectures

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The talks have been cancelled until further notice due to Coronavirus situation.

We have had to come to the inevitable decision as the "professor and students" of the Anchor University mainly fall out of bounds by age - but, ever the optimistic, I hope only to postpone.  I send best wishes for your health over the next few weeks...  John

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