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. 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.
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Sir George Dowty

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

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. A video recording of the talk is available to view on our YouTube channel. [This talk was in place of the scheduled talk on the Baptist Chapel, which was cancelled due to unavoidable circumstances]. 

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 Hitherto unpublished material on his life story and his association with businesses of world renown.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.

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.

THS Social Evening

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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!

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.

33rd 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 £2.50 and for visitors is £4 (includes tea/coffee/biscuits after the talks). 

21 Sep 2023    Ally McConnell - Dowty in the Tewkesbury area: Expansion and Decline
19 Oct 2023    Nana Pierre - A Boy Called Silence (Medieval West Africa)
16 Nov 2023   Andrew Mellor - The Dymock Poets
25 Jan 2024     Social - For Members, Friends & Guests
15 Feb 2024    Kirstie Bingham, John Moore Museum - Making the Invisible, Visible: (The Story of the Old 17th Century Baptist Chapel)
21 Mar 2024   David Elder - Secret Tewkesbury (a book to be published in 2024)
18 Apr 2024    Michael Trott - Ann Greening, Mother of Edward Elgar
23 May 2024   AGM followed by John Dixon - John Moore's Rogues

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.

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).
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’.

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!

September 2023 Meeting

Ally McConnell
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At the first meeting of our 33rd Season, on 21 September 2023, archivist, Ally McConnell, gave an engaging talk on Dowty in the Tewkesbury Area: Expansion and Decline. [A video of the talk is available on our YouTube Channel.]
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.

War Graves Week

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The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) will be bringing War Graves Week to Tewkesbury and offering a free tour at Tewkesbury Borough Cemetery on 20 May 2023 at 11.00.
It will give people in Tewkesbury the chance to discover the remarkable stories of the men and women of the Commonwealth forces that died in the First and Second World Wars who are buried in their community. 
More than twenty casualties from the two World Wars and beyond are buried there.
The tours will be led by local resident and THS President, John Dixon, who is a volunteer for the CWGC. 
You can book via www.cwgc.org/wargravesweek 
You can park at the Leisure Centre but only available toilets are on Gloucester Road Car Park. 
The tour leaves at 11.00 from the Cholera Memorial.

20 April 2023 Meeting

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At our 20 April 2023 meeting, Peter Covey-Crump gave an interesting talk on The Biography of an English Merchant in Bengal, the story of Anselm Beaumont who made his fortune working for the East India Company. [A video of the talk is available on our YouTube Channel ]

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


BALH Talks

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

Heritage Hub

Upcoming events at the Heritage Hub.

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.

Visit to the birthplace of Edward Elgar

The Friends of Tewkesbury Abbey trip to The Firs, the birthplace of Sir Edward Elgar, 24 February 2024 - a few tickets left: https://www.friendsoftewkesburyabbey.org.uk/events/

Exploring Tewkesbury's Past

Two free talks to be given by Johanna Roethe of Historic England 29 February 2024 and 7 March 2024. Click on the links on the two dates for booking details. 

Find My Past - Burials Index

Find My Past has recently updated its National Burial Index records. Coverage for Tewkesbury is not comprehensive but does include Baptists 1787-1843 (290 records); Holy Trinity 1839-85 (259 records); Cemetery 1857-1967 (9,159 records).

Remarkable Incidents Relative to Tewkesbury

In 1579 the sickness appeared again, supposed to be the pestilence, which, by the good government of the bailiffs in shutting up the houses, it began and ended in the Swan Inn. – Five persons only dying thereof.


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.

Friends of Glos. Archives Autumn 2023 Newsletter


Gloucesterhire Heritage Hub

July 2023 Newsletter.


BALH Summer 2023 Newsletter


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.

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

Gloucestershire Dendrochronology Project: Tewkesbury


Friends of Gloucester Archives

Winter 2022-2023 Newsletter.

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