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.
Facebook Group
YouTube Channel      
                                         Please consider joining the Society.

Annual General Meeting

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the AGM will be held at 7.45pm on Thursday 19 May 2022 at the Methodist Church. Following business, there will be a talk by Georgia Smith of Tewkesbury Borough Council on How Important is the High Street Action Zone?
All welcome, entry is free.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission Tour

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Tewkesbury Cemetery contains a number of Commonwealth War Graves from WWI, WWII and later.
John Dixon has been asked to lead a tour to let you know more about these graves.
It starts at 11.00 on Saturday 28 May 2022 meeting at the Cholera Memorial [picture attached] near the entrance and will last about 90 minutes maximum.
All tours are free and booked through Eventbrite and you can book online via the website: .  
Bookings for tours close two days before the event, on 26 May 2022.
You can park at the Borough Council near the Swimming Pool.

April Meeting

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On Thursday 21 April 2022, David Pegg, gave an interesting and informative talk on his favourite Anglo-Saxon king, King Edgar.

An attempt was made to video the talk but it failed. We do have a video reconstruction of the introduction to the meeting.

March 2022 Meeting

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On Thursday 24 March 2022, Kirstie Bingham, Education Officer at the John Moore Museum, gave a very informative talk on Tudor and Stuart Education - 'Birch, Beer and Bibles'. Kirstie had kindly stepped in after the Dendrology Speaker had to withdraw: he is rebooked for 16 February 2023.

An attempt was made to video the talk but it failed. We do have a video reconstruction of the introduction to the meeting.

Our Late, Notable Ukrainian Resident, Powlo Kostiuk

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We were very pleased when Alan Snarey, aided by his wife Wendy, interviewed Powlo in 2012, and we published an article based on the interview in THS Bulletin 22 (2013). [click here to read]

In February 2022 it is a suitable time to write about a Ukrainian, who lived and worked in our midst for 40 years. I cannot find the actual date, but Powlo died after this interview – he was then aged 86 and had endured a hard – but happy - life as you can read. He was honoured by having a tank named after him and has work at Ashchurch Camp.

John Pocock (1932-2022)

The society is sad to announce the death of John Pocock who was one of the volunteers that help to maintain and update our Woodard Database.

February Meeting

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On Thursday 17 February 2022, Simon Lawton, Curator of the John Moore Museum, gave a very interesting talk on 'Restoration of Abbey Cottages'.

A video of the talk is now available on our YouTube Channel as is an introduction to the talk and meeting by THS President, John Dixon.

History of the Cenotaph

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A short history of the Cenotaph by the Imperial War Museum.
John Dixon

Echoes of April 2021

Nicola Nash, our speaker from zoom days and “War Detective” from the MOD, was featured on local BBC TV news today with the reburial of soldiers killed, but missing in action, after the Battle of Passchendaele, 1917.

Keep up the invaluable work!
John Dixon

Ridley Road

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John Dixon's historical context review of the BBC 1 Sunday Night Drama, Ridley Road [Oct 2021].

Read John Moore's 1962 article 'The Day the Nazis came to Gloucestershire'.
John Dixon & Malachy Cornwell-Kelly

Non-Designated Heritage Assets in Tewkesbury

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We have been approached by Nana Pierre, Heritage Engagement Officer, Tewkesbury Borough Council to help her draw up a list of Non-Designated Heritage Assets.

Non-designated heritage assets are locally-identified ‘buildings, monuments, sites, places, areas or landscapes identified by plan-making bodies as having a degree of heritage significance meriting consideration in planning decisions, but which do not meet the criteria for designated heritage assets’ (PPG). It is important to note that some non-designated heritage assets are equivalent to designated heritage assets in terms of significance.

They do not have the status of listed buildings but might contribute to planning debate about a possible development.

There might be some such asset you feel ought to be added to the list Nana is constructing.

For example: Mythe Tunnel and Remnants of the 1864 Railway Station are not included.

You can see A: here the list of listed buildings in our town compiled by Historic England and Tewkesbury Town Council to check if the asset which interests you has already been ‘listed’.

If you wish to submit an asset via THS then please check the B: Published Criteria

And if you think you can make the case, you have to C: Fulfil the Criteria which is quite demanding of your time and knowledge.

If you wish to go ahead, please submit a draft of your proposal [C] to mozartkelly@btinternet.comfor us to consider.

'Pills, Shocks & Jabs"

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A new book by Peter Cullimore - details here.


6 June is the anniversary of D-Day and the official opening of the new memorial in Normandy.
 A video of the official opening is available at the Normandy Memorial Trust.
You can read John Dixon's article on Tewkesbury's own D-Day hero, Edwin J. Davis.

Annual General Meeting

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Our Annual General Meeting was held via 'Zoom' on Thursday 20 May 2021. After AGM business, Roger Butwell presented home movies of Tewkesbury, which  included the Queen's visit in 1971 and the last train to Tewkesbury in 1961. Click here to view the video. [First couple of minutes has some comedic value as we get to grips with the technology!]

Woodard Award 2021

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The Woodard 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. 
John Dixon

The Duke of Edinburgh's Links With Tewkesbury

In response to the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh, John Dixon has compiled the attached on Prince Philip's links with Tewkesbury.

Also, here is a link to an article on his visit to Tewkesbury Museum in 2006.

Alderton Saxons

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The village of Alderton is looking to purchase an acre of land which has suggestions of Saxon remains. As we are considering planting trees in the area we are wondering how to investigate any historical remains. Thank you for any advice you can give - contact Julia Woodman.

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!

UK Census

With the 2021 Census held on 21 March you may be interested in a short guide to previous census returns - click on the PDF to read and click here to access our searchable transcriptions of past census returns for Tewkesbury. 

Stone Stiles Project

Attached is a PDF detailing a project being run by Peter Wilson. If you would like to get involved, contact Peter via this email

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.

Click here for BALH review of the book.

This is a recording of a Zoom Presentation made recently to Tewkesbury Civic Society. [Sadly co-author Linda does not do "zoom"] It gives an idea what might be found in this book. An ideal Historical Present!


With the vaccinations against Covid in progress, it is interesting to look back towards a big controversy at the end of the 19th Century, when a number of people were taken to court for refusing to accept vaccination against small-pox for their children. Will history repeat itself?

Martin Holt researched and wrote this article, "Irresponsible and Self Seeking Faddists" for THS Bulletin 13 [2004] whilst he was a trainee history PGCE student at Tewkesbury School.  As a result, he was given an award by the British Association of Local History.

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)

An Upsetting Discovery in our Cemetery

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I was sent this photograph; the wording on the gravestone shocked my correspondent and she asked me to explain the full story. It is very tragic but we benefit from its legacy today. Click here to read the full story of the Dudleys. If anyone can add any more information, please contact us. [ John Dixon ]

Bletchley Girls

Lou Beckett, a  Gloucestershire playwright, has written a radio play, Bletchley Girls, based on a true story about two women codebreakers at Bletchley Park. It recently featured as part of the virtual Gloucester History Festival.
The play is made up of three 30-minute episodes and can be accessed free via Lou’s website (click on the Performances tab) or on Spotify (search Radio Plays Bletchley Girls) and other podcasts.
The website also has a fascinating 45-minute interview with Tony Comer, GCHQ historian, who advised on the play, and an on-line programme that summarises the historical accuracy of the play.
Bletchley Park Museum has created codebreaking workshops for children aged 11-14 to accompany the play.

'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.

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.) 

Ray Base

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

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.

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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Herbert Gyngell

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

Bryan Jerrard Award 2019

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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. It is named after Bryan Jerrard, the first chairman of the GLHA. In 2005 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. Derek is runner up in 2019 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”.
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)]
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.

Friends of Glos. Archives

FOGA Spring 2017 Newsletter

Archives & Friends
Digital Magazine (PDF)

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.

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.

Next Events:
19  May2022Thursday7:45pm
THS - Annual General Meeting
28  May2022Saturday10:00am
Richard III Society Study Day

GLHA Summer Afternoon

Will be held in Cheltenham 25 June. Details and booking form here.

Meetings Videos

At the February meeting, a talk on 'Restoration of Abbey Cottages' was given. A video of the talk is now available on our YouTube Channel as is an introduction to the talk and videos of earlier talks.

Bulletin 31

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Bulletin 31 (2022) is now available for purchase.
Click here for a preview.  
Details of How To Buy or go straight to our 'Shop' .

BALH Jan/Feb 2022 Newsletter

Click this link to read.

Remarkable Incidents Relative to Tewkesbury

In 1602, the monks’ stalls, which were formerly situated in the body of the church, were removed into the chancel; as appears by an old book belonging to the church-warden.

Victoria County History Newsletter January 2022

Photography Competition

The British Association for Local History (BALH) are running a competition for Local History Photographer of the Year - details here.

Healings Mill

The Victorian Society has announced the top ten buildings worthy of saving. Healings Mill is on the list - full details here.

Gloucestershire Dendrochronology Project: Tewkesbury

1921 Census

The 1921 census will be published on FindMyPast on 6 January 2022.

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.

Next Season's Talks

Our programme of talks for 2021-2022 has been established and is on our Meetings Page.

The Winter of 1962-63

Article from THS Bulletin 3 (1994).

A Trip on the Mill Avon in the 1960s

Home movie courtesy of Kevin Nickson [poor quality video]. 

'True Blue Farm'

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

Black Sal

'Black Sal' or 'Old Black Shuck' - made famous in John Moore's books. 

William Thomas Clarke

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

Print Version