Bell's Cathedrals: The Abbey Church of Tewkesbury - with some Account of the Priory Church of Deerhurst Gloucestershire
by H. J. L. J. Masse
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- Transcriber's Note: Inconsistent hyphenation in the original document has been preserved. Obvious typographical errors have been corrected. For a complete list, please see the end of this document. The carat character marks the letter following as superscript. For example: 15^o Diacritical marks found in some of the Latin text are not available in Latin-1 and ASCII. These are presented in square brackets as follows: Macron ā Tilde ã. -

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BY H.J.L.J. MASSE, M.A. Author of "Gloucester Cathedral" "Mont S. Michel," "Chartres," etc.



First published, April, 1900. Reprinted with corrections, 1901, 1906.


My heartiest thanks are here expressed to all who have helped me in any way during the compiling of this book—to Sir Charles Isham, of Lamport, for allowing me the use of his Registrum Theokusburiae for several months, and for permission to reproduce two pages from it; to Mr. J.T. Micklethwaite for permission to make use of his paper on Saxon Churches published in the Journal of the Archaeological Institute, and to the Institute for leave to reproduce the three blocks of Deerhurst; to Mr. W.H. St. John Hope for several suggestions; to Mr. A.H. Hughes, of Llandudno, Dr. Oscar Clark, and Mr. R.W. Dugdale, of Gloucester, for so liberally supplementing my own store of photographs; to Mr. S. Browett, of Tewkesbury, for the loan of the wood block on page 17; and, lastly, to Mr. W.G. Bannister, the sacristan of the Abbey, who placed his thorough knowledge of the building, its records, and its heraldry, together with the whole of his valuable MS. notes on these points, unreservedly at my disposal.




I. History of the Foundation and Fabric of the Abbey Church, and Some Account of its Benefactors 3

II. The Exterior 29 North Porch 30 The Tower 30 The West Front 32 The South Side 34 The Cloisters 34 The Lady Chapel 37

III. The Interior 39 The Nave 39 The Roof and its Bosses 42 The Font 43 The Lectern 44 The Pulpit 44 The Screen 45 The Great West Window 46 The Aisles 47 North Aisle and its Windows 47 South Aisle and its Windows 49 North Transept 51 Interior of the Tower 53 St. James' Chapel 55 Early English Lady Chapel 57 St. Margaret's Chapel 58 St. Edmund's Chapel 60 The Clarence Vault 62 St. Faith's Chapel 63 The Vestry 65 South Transept 68 The Choir 71 Altar 74 Sedilia 75 Tiles 76 Windows of the Choir 76 De Clares 77 Despenser Graves 81 The Tombs and Chantries—Warwick Chapel 83 Founder's Chapel 88 The Despenser Monument 90 Trinity Chapel 91 Tombs in the Ambulatory 93 Abbot Wakeman's Tomb 95 Abbot Cheltenham's Tomb 95 Abbot John's Tomb 96 Abbot Alan's Tomb 97 The Organs 97 Specification of the Grove Organ 98 Church Plate 100 Church Registers 100 Arms of the Abbey 101 Old Tiles 101 Abbots of Tewkesbury 101 Dimensions of the Abbey 132


The Priory Church 105

Exterior—Tower 108 Interior—The Nave 108 The South Aisle 111 The North Aisle 112 The Font 114 The Choir 115

The Monastic Buildings 121

The Saxon Chapel 123

Index 127


PAGE Tewkesbury Abbey, from the East Frontispiece

Arms of the Abbey Title

The Abbey, from the North-west 2

Tewkesbury Abbey in 1840, by Rev. J.L. Petit 3

Page from the "Registrum Theokusburiae" 5

Richard Beauchamp, first husband of Isabelle Despenser, and his Armorial Connexions, from the "Registrum Theokusburiae" 11

The Detached Bell-tower, demolished in 1817 17

The West End in 1840, by Rev. J.L. Petit 19

The Choir before 1864, from an old photograph 22

The Nave before 1864, from an old photograph 23

The Abbey Gate 25

Tile showing the Arms of Fitz-Hamon and the Abbey impaled 27

Tewkesbury Abbey, from the North 28

The Abbey, from the South 31

The Cloister Doorway 35

The Nave, from the West End 40

Masons' Marks 41

The North Choir Aisle, looking West, showing the back of the Despenser Monument 52

Interior of the Tower above the Vaulting 54

Wall Arcade in Early English Chapel 57

The Ambulatory, looking towards St. Margaret's Chapel 59

The North Choir Aisle and St. Edmund's Chapel 61

The Vestry Door, South Choir Aisle 66

The Apsidal Chapel, South Transept 68

The Choir, looking West 72

Rib-centres in the Choir Vault 73

The Sedilia 75

The Warwick Chapel 85

Chantry of the Founder, Fitz-Hamon 89

The Despenser Monument 90

The Trinity Chapel 92

The "Wakeman Cenotaph" 94

The South Choir Aisle, looking West 96


Deerhurst Priory Church, from the South 104

Interior, looking West 110

Font 114

Plan of Deerhurst Priory Church before the Conquest, by J.T. Micklethwaite, F.S.A., from "The Archaeological Journal" 118

The Tower, from "The Archaeological Journal" 119

Fourteenth Century Window 122

The Saxon Chapel 123

Dedication Stone 124

Plan of Saxon Chapel 124

Dedication Slab of an Altar 124

Chancel Arch in the Saxon Chapel 125

PLAN of Deerhurst Priory and its Domestic Buildings as now existing 129

PLAN of Tewkesbury Abbey 130




Tradition, originating in the desire to account for the name of the town, would assign the foundation of a cell or chapel to Theoc, or in Latin form Theocus, in or about 655. In support of this theory Camden and others assert that it was called in Anglo-Saxon times Theocsburg or Theotisbyrg. Others would derive the name from the Greek "Theotokos," as the Church is dedicated to St. Mary, and others again refer us back to a very early name, Etocisceu—Latinised as Etocessa. In Domesday Book the town is called Teodechesberie, and throughout the Chronicles of the Abbey is called Theokusburia.

The Chronicles of the Abbey tell us that the first monastery at Tewkesbury was built by two Saxon nobles, Oddo and Doddo, in or about the year 715, a time when Mercia was flourishing under Ethelred, and later, under Kenred and Ethelbald. It was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and endowed with the manor of Stanway and other lands for the support of the Benedictine monks who, under a Prior, were there installed. Oddo and Doddo died soon afterwards, and were buried in the abbey church of Pershore.

Much has been written about these mythical founders, and confusion in the minds of the chroniclers, and in those of subsequent writers too, has been caused by the similarity between the names of Oddo and Doddo, and Odda and Dodda. It is stated in the old Tewkesbury Chronicle that Oddo and Doddo were brothers, who in 715 founded a small cell at Tewkesbury, and that Doddo built a church at Deerhurst to show his love for a brother who had died some time before. They seem to have been two noble dukes, members of an illustrious family and renowned for their great virtue. Oddo is said to have become a monk, and after his death to have been buried at Pershore Abbey.

As Mr. Butterworth points out in his book on Deerhurst, this seems to be a travesty of what actually happened. There were in the eleventh century two brothers, Odda and AElfric, with probably a third brother, Dodda, who were related to Edward the Confessor, and were, besides, his friends and followers. Charters are extant bearing their signatures and names, and covering the period 1015-1051. It is this Odda who caused to be built the "aula regia" at Deerhurst in memory of his brother AElfric, with a stone[1] bearing an inscription of which a copy is now in the Saxon Chapel at Deerhurst. This Odda, with his brother, was buried at Pershore. Odda's existence at this time is further confirmed by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (edited by Ingram), which states that Odda was in 1051 made Earl over Devonshire, Somerset, Dorset, and the Welsh. The same chronicle says that Odda was also called Agelwin. Florence of Worcester says that he was also called Ethelwin.

It is perhaps easy to see how a chronicler writing 250 years later, should be led to assume that Oddo and Doddo were identical with Odda and Dodda. Sir Charles Isham's "Registrum Theokusburiae" gives a full-page illustration of this "par nobile fratrum," as Dr. Hayman calls them, in which they are termed "duo duces Marciorum et primi fundatores Theokusburiae" i.e., two Earls of the Marches and first founders of Tewkesbury. Each knight is in armour, and bears in his hand a model of a church. Both are supporting a shield (affixed to a pomegranate tree) bearing the arms of the Abbey, which the blazoning on their own coats repeats.

According to the chronicle, Hugh, a great Earl of the Mercians, caused the body of Berthric or Brictric, King of Wessex, to be buried in the chapel of St. Faith in the church at Tewkesbury, in 799 or 800, and Hugh himself was buried at Tewkesbury in 812. Of this fact confirmation is given by Leland, who said that Hugh's tomb was there in his time, on the north side of the nave.

The Priory suffered terribly at the hands of the invading Danes—in fact, it was in the centre of the theatre of war in which, under Alfred, the decisive struggle was fought to an end at Boddington Field, where a spot called the Barrow still marks the site. In consequence of the continued ravages the Priory was so reduced in 980 that it became a cell dependent on the Abbey at Cranbourn, in Dorset, a Benedictine foundation of which Haylward de Meaux, Hayward Snow, or Hayward de Meawe as the Isham MS. Chronicle spells it, was the founder and patron. He and his wife Algiva are depicted in that MS. as sitting on a mound with a cruciform building in their hands. The church has a lofty embattled tower surmounted with a spire. Hayward fell at Essendune in 1016, and was buried at Cranbourn. Tewkesbury Priory continued to be dependent on Cranbourn for about one hundred years.

Hayward's son, Earl Algar, inherited the patronage of Cranbourn and Tewkesbury, and on his death it passed to his son Berthric, or, according to the Isham MS., Britricus Meawe. This Britric, while on an embassy in Flanders, refused the hand of the Earl's daughter Matilda, who was subsequently the wife of William Duke of Normandy, the conqueror of England. When the lady became Queen of England she had Britric's manors confiscated, and he died in prison at Winchester. Thus Tewkesbury passed into the hands of the Normans.

At the time of the Domesday Survey the priory was possessed of 24-1/2 hides (or 3,000 acres) of land, which in Edward the Confessor's reign had been valued at L1 per hide.

In 1087 William Rufus bestowed the honour of Gloucester, together with the patronage of the Priory of Tewkesbury, upon his second cousin once removed, Robert Fitz-Hamon, or, to give him his full titles as recorded in the Charters, "Sir Robert Fitz-Hamon, Earl of Corboile, Baron of Thorigny and Granville, Lord of Gloucester, Bristol, Tewkesbury and Cardiff, Conqueror of Wales, near kinsman of the King, and General of his Highness' army in France."

Robert Fitz-Hamon is the reputed founder of the present structure, but the credit of the founding, or rather refounding, is due to Giraldus, Abbot of Cranbourn. Like Abbot Serlo of Gloucester fame, he had originally come over from De Brienne, in Normandy, the ancestral home of the De Clare family, and a town closely connected with Tewkesbury at a later date. Giraldus had been chaplain to Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester, and subsequently to Walkelyn, Bishop of Winchester. He was appointed Abbot of Cranbourn by William Rufus, who acted on the advice of Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, and St. Osmund, Bishop of Salisbury. Giraldus then secured the assistance of Fitz-Hamon, and the munificent endowments of the latter supplied the means for building the noble foundation at Tewkesbury. Fitz-Hamon is said to have been inspired by a wish to make atonement for the wanton destruction of Bayeux Cathedral by Henry I.

By the year 1102 Giraldus and the members of St. Bartholomew's Abbey at Cranbourn removed to Tewkesbury, which was by that time ready to receive them; and the establishment at Cranbourn, under the rule of a Prior and two monks, became in its turn (after 120 years) a cell dependent on the new Abbey of Tewkesbury. After a few years Giraldus, "having neither the inclination nor the ability to satiate the King's avarice (Henry I.) with gifts," was obliged to leave Tewkesbury and returned to Winchester, where he died in 1110.

Fitz-Hamon had died in 1107 from the effects of a wound received at the siege of Falaise, and was buried temporarily in the Chapter House, which stood on the south side of the building.

In 1123 the Abbey was complete, and was consecrated on November 20th, with much ceremony, by Theulf, Bishop of Worcester, assisted by the Bishops of Llandaff, Hereford, Dublin, and another whose name is unknown.

The main part of the church, as it now stands, is usually assigned to about 1123, and substantially is as strong now as it was then.

In the following year, 1124, Abbot Robert died, and soon afterwards Theulf, the old Bishop of Worcester, also passed away.

Of Fitz-Hamon's four daughters two became abbesses, another was married to the Earl of Brittany, and Mabel was given to Robert, one of the many illegitimate sons of Henry I. She seems to have been a business-like lady, and to have hesitated at the proposed union with a nameless lord, unless a title could be made to go with him. As Robert of Gloucester writes:

"The Kyng understood that the mayde seyde non outrage And that Gloucestre was chief of hyre eritage. 'Damozel,' he seyde, 'thy lord shall have a name For hym and for hys eyrs, fayr wyth out blame, For Robert of Gloucestre hys name shall be and is: For he shall be Erl of Gloucestre and his eyres, I wis.'"

This Robert Fitzroy, thus made the first Earl of Gloucester, was a great benefactor to the Abbey. To him are due the completion of the church and the greater part of the tower. According to Leland, the stone was brought over from Caen, but some seems to have been local stone from Prestbury and Cheltenham. He was as prominent in the arts of peace as he was afterwards in those of war, inheriting his taste for the former from his scholarly father. It is to him that the chronicler William of Malmesbury dedicated his work.

Robert Fitzroy died in Gloucester in 1147, but was buried at St. James' Priory, Bristol, another foundation which was indebted to his munificence. His successor was William Fitzcount, the second Earl of Gloucester.

In 1178 the monastery was partly burnt down, the church fortunately suffering but little. There are some slight traces of fire on the exterior walls of the south and west faces of the tower, and on the interior of the south transept. The Annals of Winton say, "Combusta est et redacta in pulverem Ecclesia de Theokesberia"—an untenable hypothesis; but the Tewkesbury Chronicles merely mention that the monastery and the offices were destroyed. John, Earl of Cornwall, better known as King John, was entertained in the monastery soon afterwards, so that the damage cannot have been quite so overwhelming as the Winchester Chronicles allege it to have been. The fire might have been much more serious than it was, and it seems that only the fact of the wind being north-east saved the church. Judging by the marks of calcination on the outside of the tower, and the chief arch of the south transept, the roof must have been seriously damaged, and the roof of the cloister walk abutting on to the south aisle must have been completely burned. In all probability the group of roofing next to the south transept was destroyed.

William Fitzcount, dying in 1183, after a long and successful life, was buried at Keynsham, a magnificent abbey built by him in memory of a son who died young. Earl William's other children were girls, and the lordship of Gloucester was vested in Henry II. for some years. In 1189 the Abbey lands were granted by Richard I. to his brother John (who was afterwards king, 1199 to 1215), the first husband of Isabella, third daughter of William Fitzcount. Being divorced from John after his accession in 1199, she married Geoffrey de Mandeville, Earl of Essex, who paid 20,000 marks for the honour of Gloucester and the possessions of the Lady Isabel.

The earldom of Gloucester finally passed in 1221 to Amice—sister of the Lady Isabella—great granddaughter of Fitz-Hamon the founder, who had married Richard de Clare, Earl of Hertford. This Richard de Clare was the ancestor of the Tewkesbury De Clares, a family which held the honour of Tewkesbury for nearly a century.

His son, Gilbert de Clare, married Isabelle de Marechal. His name, as also that of his father, is among the signatories of Magna Charta, and he was a strenuous supporter of the barons against the King. Though he died in Brittany, his body was brought home and buried in Tewkesbury, at the foot of the steps leading up to the high altar. In a few months' time his widow, Isabelle, married Richard, Earl of Cornwall, brother of King Henry III. At her death she wished to be buried next to Gilbert de Clare, but as her husband objected to this, she bequeathed her heart to the Abbey, and this was duly interred in Gilbert de Clare's grave. As the Register quaintly says in its rhyming hexameters—

"Postrema voce legavit cor comitissa Pars melior toto fuit huc pro corpore missa Haec se divisit dominum recolendo priorem Huc cor quod misit verum testatur amorem His simul ecclesiae sanctae suffragia prosint Ut simul in requie caelesti cum Domino sint."

Gilbert de Clare bequeathed to the Abbey the manor called Mythe, on the hill just outside the town, and Isabelle also left to it many relics, besides vestments, and much valuable church furniture.

On the death of Gilbert de Clare, his son Richard became a ward of the King. Marrying Margaret de Burgh, a daughter of the great Earl of Kent, without permission, he incurred the royal displeasure, and was eventually forced to divorce his young wife in favour of the lady chosen for him. He supported the barons against the King, with whom he had never been in agreement. In 1262 he died, and was buried in the Abbey. One of his wife's sisters married Robert Bruce, competitor for the Scottish Crown and grandfather of King Robert Bruce.

His son Gilbert the second, Rufus or Rubens, i.e. Red, is another well-known figure. Like his father, he at first supported the barons, but soon after the battle of Lewes he took the King's side, and fought for him at Evesham. Again from pique he deserted him, returning to his allegiance once more in 1270. He was buried in the Abbey in 1295.

Gilbert de Clare the third, who was born at Tewkesbury in 1291, was perhaps the most famous of the De Clares. Whilst he was still in early manhood, he was twice chosen by Edward II. to serve as Regent of England in his absence, once even before he had attained full age. His promising career was cut short at Bannockburn in 1314, and the last of the De Clares was buried in the Choir in 1314, his widow being placed later by his side.

The lordship of Tewkesbury then passed from the De Clares, who had held it for ninety years, to Eleanor, Gilbert's eldest sister. By her marriage in 1321 to Hugh le Despenser, the lordship came into the hands of the Despensers. This Hugh the younger, or Hugo Secundus as the Register calls him, was too faithful a supporter of Edward II., and he paid for his fidelity with his life in 1326, having been hanged, drawn, and quartered in Hereford about three weeks after his aged father had suffered a similar fate at Bristol. His remains were collected and buried in the tomb at the back of the sedilia, where Abbot John's tomb was placed at a later date.

The next lord of Tewkesbury was Hugh, the son of Hugh the younger and Eleanor de Clare. His tomb is to be seen on the north side of the high altar, with his effigy upon it, together with that of his wife, the Lady Elizabeth, who, though thrice married, preferred to be buried with him. She retained the manor of Tewkesbury after her marriage to Sir Guy de Brien, and on her death in 1359 it passed to her nephew, Edward le Despenser.

This Edward le Despenser took part in the battle of Poitiers, and was one of the first Knights of the Garter. On his death at Cardiff in 1375 his body was brought to Tewkesbury, and his effigy is to be seen on the roof of the Trinity Chapel on the south side of the high altar. He was buried close to the presbytery, and his wife was, in 1409, buried next to him.

Thomas le Despenser, the third son of Edward, was for two years only Earl of Gloucester, and being attainted, was executed at Bristol in 1400. No trace remains of his grave at Tewkesbury.

With the death of his son Richard in 1414, the lordship of the Despensers in the male line, after ninety-three years, became extinct.

Once again the Manor of Tewkesbury passed by the female line, and into the distinguished family of the Beauchamps, with whom Richard le Despenser's sister Isabelle was connected by her marriage with Richard Beauchamp, or Ricardus de Bello Campo as the Register calls him when it does not give his name as Becham. He was killed at the siege of Breaux in France in 1421, and his young widow erected the sumptuous chantry chapel known as the Warwick Chapel over his remains. She then, by special papal dispensation, married her cousin, also a Richard Beauchamp, and from henceforth was generally known by her new title, the Countess of Warwick. On her husband's death at Rouen in 1439, she brought his body to England and had it conveyed to the Beauchamp Chapel at Warwick. The widowed countess died in December of the same year, but elected to be buried at Tewkesbury.

Her young son Henry was a favourite of Henry VI., who bestowed most unusual favours upon him, creating him Duke of Warwick and King of the Isle of Wight, and later King of Jersey and Guernsey. The young Duke, who was married to Cicely Neville, died at the age of twenty-one, and was buried in the choir of the Abbey. As he left no children, the manor passed in 1449 to his sister Anne, the wife of Richard Neville the "King-maker." All the "King-maker's" estates were confiscated to the Crown after he fell at Barnet in 1471, but were eventually shared between his two daughters Isabelle and Anne. Isabelle married George, Duke of Clarence, Earl of Warwick and Salisbury, who in 1477, a few days after Isabelle's supposed death by poison at Warwick, was put to death in the Tower. Both were buried at Tewkesbury (vide p. 62).

The young Edward, son of the Duke of Clarence, was imprisoned in the Tower till his execution in 1499.

The Manor of Tewkesbury, as a possession of the Warwicks, passed into the hands of Lord Seymour of Sudeley, the husband of Catharine Parr, until his attainder, when they once more came into the hands of the Crown. James I. sold the manor to the Corporation in 1609. During the present century the lordship of the manor again passed by sale into private hands.

In the chronicles of the Abbey the following facts are recorded:—

In 1218 the dormitory roof fell down upon the monks when they returned from an early service, and Gilbert, a monk, had a thigh broken and his head injured, while the Prior Gunfrey escaped unhurt.

In 1224, Robert Travers, Bishop of Kildelo (i.e. Killaloe), in the winter dedicated two large bells in the tower.

In 1234 the principal gate of the monastery and two stables were burnt down.

In 1237, Hervey de Sipton, the then Prior, pulled down and rebuilt the chapel dedicated to St. Nicholas. Nothing can be said definitely as to its size, owing to the later work done in this part. The chronicle, however, distinctly states that divine service was first held in Prior Sipton's new chapel dedicated to St. Nicholas, on St. Nicholas' Day.[2]

The roof bears the arms of the Clares and Despensers, and this would give the date of the bosses as 1321-1337, i.e., about a century later than the date of the chapel.

The two chapels which are now usually known as those of St. James and St. Nicholas were, at one time, supposed, without authority, to have been the chapter-house of the monastery. They were so described as recently as 1881, in the plan used by the members of the Architectural Association for their excursion to Tewkesbury. For many years they were in use as a grammar school, and were walled off from the rest of the church.

In 1239 a grand altar was dedicated to the honour of the Virgin, "gloriosae Virginis Mariae." This is by some supposed to refer to the present altar-stone of Purbeck marble.

In 1241, Oct. 25, the body of Fitz-Hamon, the founder of the existing fabric, was brought in from the Chapter House and placed on the site of the Founder's Chapel built later.

In 1243 the dormitory, which had been rebuilt (chiefly by Abbot Peter), was re-opened for use.

In 1246 the Prior, Henry de Banbury, built an Early English Chapel, dedicated to St. Eustachius. It seems probable that this was erected on the site of the apsidal Norman chapel, and the space (6 feet) between it and the Early English chapel. The vaulting corbels are all that remain.

In 1259 the Chapter-House was newly paved at the expense of the Convent.

The chronicles, as reprinted in "Annales Monastici" stop short in 1263, and from that time onwards there is a dearth of direct information as to the Abbey and its history.

The choir was altered in the time of Abbot Parker, by Elizabeth, the wife, successively, of Lord Badlesmere, of Hugh Lord Despenser, and Sir Guy de Brien. The original Norman clerestory was taken down and the Norman columns of the choir slightly raised, as will be seen from the choir aisle on the side where the original capitals were left unaltered. At the same time the beautiful series of apsidal chapels was added; stone vaulting took the place of the earlier wooden roofing and the space between the four piers that support the tower was vaulted. This work contains the arms of Sir Guy and of the Montacutes.

1397. The Founder's Chapel was erected by Abbot Parker.

In 1422 Henry VI. granted the patronage of Deerhurst Priory to Tewkesbury. Much litigation followed with Eton College in consequence, but in 1469 the grant was confirmed and carried out by John Carpenter, Bishop of Worcester.

On May 30, 1471, the Abbey, which had been polluted with blood during the battle of Tewkesbury, and had not been available for divine service for a month, was cleansed with special ceremony by the Bishop of Down and Connor, who was acting as suffragan to the Bishop of Worcester and reconsecrated.

At the Dissolution the whole establishment, which, from the lists of what was to be kept and what was to be destroyed, was of considerable size, was seized by the King's Commissioners. The houses and buildings assigned to remain "undefaced" were "The lodging called the New Warke, leading from the gate to the late Abbot's lodging, with buttery, pantry, cellar, kitching, larder, and pastry thereto adjoining; the late Abbot's lodging; the hostery; the great gate entering into the court, with the lodging over the same; the Abbot's stable, bakehouse, brewhouse and slaughter-house, the almery, barn, dairy-house; the great barn next Avon; the malting-house with the garners in the same, the ox-house in the Barton, the Barton-gate and the lodging over the same." At the same time "the Church, with chapels, cloisters, chapter house, misericord; the two dormitories, infirmary with chapels and lodgings within the same; the workhouse, with another house adjoining to the same; the convent kitchen; the library; the old hostery; the chamberer's lodgings; the new hall; the old parlour adjoining to the Abbot's lodging; the cellarer's lodging; the poulter house: the gardner; the almary, and all other houses and lodgings not otherwise reserved," were "deemed to be superfluous" and were committed to the custody of Sir John Whittington.

The eight bells in the tower were estimated at 146 cwt., and were ordered to be melted down, as was also the lead upon the roofs of the choir, the aisles and the chapels annexed, the cloister, chapter house, frater, St. Michael's Chapel, halls, farmery and gatehouse. The weight of lead was estimated at 180 fodders, i.e., about 190 tons.

The jewels naturally were specially reserved to the use of the King's Majesty, and the two mitres garnished with gilt, rugged pearls, and counterfeit stones, and 1,431 ounces of silver and silver-gilt plate were, together with the vestments, ornaments, and everything else of value, taken away.

The public-spirited inhabitants of Tewkesbury, however, meant to preserve their cherished Abbey from destruction if they could compass it, and after petitioning their "most dread victorious sovereign lord," succeeded in doing so for a consideration, viz., the sum of L453. This sum was arrived at by roughly valuing the lead on the roofs at 5d. a square foot, and the bells at something like 2-1/2d. per lb. They had to pay L200 down, L100 the ensuing Easter, and the balance, L153, at Christmas. It was further stipulated that the said parishioners should "bear and find the reparations of the said church perpetually."

The word "church" in this connection seems to be limited to mean that part of the building other than the nave. The nave seems to have been looked upon as belonging, as was the case elsewhere, to the inhabitants of Tewkesbury, for their use, more or less as a parish church. Mr. Hayman says that "parochial worship was enshrined there side by side with the monastic, far in the past, before its re-foundation in the eleventh century.... This parochial constitution survived the great successive shocks of change which altered or cancelled everything else. The change from Saxon to Norman, the havoc of civil war, the concentration of power in the Tudor crown, the Dissolution itself, and the Reformation which followed, all left this as they found it, or left it stronger still. To this constitution alone the noble church was indebted for its preservation. The King could grasp all else from pinnacle to basement, but the nave was the parishioners', and that he could not touch. The result is a church surviving entire and substantially as its vanished patrons and banished brethren left it. Therefore if this church is a monument of baronial and abbatial power long departed, it is yet more so of the strength of the popular principle, and of the vitality of the parochial system which survives."

In the same way the good people of Great Malvern, or Moche Malverne as it was then termed, clubbed together and bought the Priory Church for L200, to serve as their parish church in place of the older parish church, which then, after two hundred and fifty years' use, was in need of repair. Their Lady Chapel, cloisters, dormitories, Chapter House, &c., were rased to the ground, and all that had a market value was sold.

After the purchase of the church by the good people of Tewkesbury, the nave seems to have been utterly neglected, and only used for purposes of burial and for the occasional performances of stage-plays. Such plays were acted in 1578, 1584, 1585, as is shown by items which appear in the list of "church goods," as "sheepe skins for Christ's garments," "shippe skins for the sinners gear," "eight heads of heare for the Apostles and ten beardes," together with a "face or vizor for the devil."

In 1559, on Easter morning, during divine service, the wooden spire fell down, causing damage to the tower masonry in its fall. This steeple may have been the original one which had been put up by Robert, the first Earl of Gloucester.

In 1576 the two chapels of St. James and St. Nicholas were cut off from the church and turned into a free school.

In 1582 the campanile, which stood on the north side of the church not far from the North Transept, was converted into a House of Correction for half the shire.

In 1593 the Corporation records state that the long roof was taken down, and replaced in the following year. Six years later there is another interesting entry as follows: "The churchwardens after Michaelmas, intending of themselves to build a battlement upon the top of the church tower, offered to do the same without any charge, and for that purpose did set forth three stage-plays, played in the Abbey at Whitsuntide following."

To raise more money they then proposed to hold a Church Ale, but there were difficulties in the way, and the proposal was dropped.

The cost of the battlements was L66. These same churchwardens, with the help of others, "joined in entreating the benevolence of the best disposed of the inhabitants, and thereby finished the free school by glazing the windows, boarding the floors, and making the galleries."

In 1602 the monks' stalls, which had been in the body of the church, were removed into the chancel.

In 1603 "the roof of lead over the chancel was taken down, new framed, laid lower, and covered new," at the expense of the town.

In 1607 a large grey marble slab was discovered buried in the church. It measured 13 feet 8 inches by 3 feet 6 inches, and 7 inches thick. This was placed for some time in the middle of the chancel and was used for a Communion table.

In 1653-54 there is an interesting entry in the churchwardens' accounts: "Item. Paid the ringers 24th December, my Lord Protector being proclaimed that day—who was the Grand Rebel." (The last few words are by a different hand, perhaps that of the other churchwarden.)

In 1661 the west window was blown in, and was rebuilt in 1686.

In 1720 the external re-roofing of the nave was carried out, and the western gable, occupying the space between the two western turrets, disappeared in the process.

By 1720 the "long roof," repaired in 1593, was again in want of repair, and to raise money a brief was granted by Parker, the Lord Chancellor. During the years 1723-26 the work was carried out and finished. Before this, the eaves of the roof overlapped the side walls of the nave.

In 1726 the "old wall at the East end of the Chancel" was taken down, and foundations were dug upon which an altar-piece was to be erected.

About the same time, the marble Communion table, which Mr. Gough called "the finest Communion table in the kingdom," was moved into the nave. It was then cut longitudinally into two pieces, which were used as seats in the porch.

In 1737 the organ now in the choir was erected over the old screen.

A stone altar-piece, Doric in character, with an elliptical pediment, was set up in 1725, the cost being partly met by private subscriptions. It must have struck most people as incongruous, for it was not liked, and in 1848 it was removed.

A flood in 1770 rose to such a height that service could not be held in the church; and the old feoffee book states that "the graves in the church were shocking to behold, for scarce a stone was to be seen that was not removed from its proper situation. Several parts of this venerable building were materially injured, particularly the large pillar next the seats of the Corporation, and the arch over the same."

In January, 1795, it was agreed at a parish meeting that "the church shall be whitewashed as soon as convenient, and other repairs be done ... that shall appear necessary." The part of the church that was in use was re-pewed, galleries were put up in the two transepts, and in the easternmost bay of the aisles of the nave.

During the years 1824-30, the exterior of the tower, probably untouched from the date of its first completion, was repaired, all decayed stones being made good. The windows which had been partially bricked up were opened, and shelving stones inserted instead. One of the pinnacles was entirely rebuilt, and the three others repaired. The turrets on the west front were also restored.

At this time also the transept walls and the roofs were repaired and strengthened. The interior of the church previous to its colour-washing was scraped and cleaned, and the walls and pillars were repaired, pointed, and cemented. All the tombs were cleaned and most of them restored. The greater part of the nave was paved with Painswick stone, and in the rest of the church the gravestones were relaid.

In 1825 the vicar and churchwardens posted to Worcester, that they might inspect the colouring of the Cathedral and other churches there with a view to decorating the Abbey. The committee decided in favour of colour-washing the Abbey, and this was done three years later.

1828. The monuments of Sir Hugh le Despenser and Sir Guy de Brien, being very dilapidated, were extensively repaired. Most of the buttresses and pinnacles were entirely renewed. All this restoration involved the outlay of a considerable amount of money, and if more had been forthcoming more would have been undertaken, such as the restoration of all the tombs and chapels, and the old windows in the choir.

The font in 1828 was removed from the nave and placed in the apsidal chapel in the south transept, from which position it was again removed in 1878.

A final restoration was set on foot in 1864, and Sir Gilbert Scott reported that L15,000 was necessary to make good the dilapidation and decay which extended, in his opinion, from the foundations to the roof. The necessary amount was not forthcoming for several years. Then a new committee was appointed, with Sir Edmund Lechmere as its chairman. In 1875 the restoration began, the choir being undertaken first. For this purpose the church was divided into two parts by means of a hoarding. When the pavement in the choir was removed, the graves there were all carefully examined and their identification verified where possible. Many fragments of historic stonework were found, and these have been grouped together in the south-east chapel, which forms a kind of museum.

After the work in the choir was advanced enough, the nave was undertaken and thoroughly done; the floor was relaid on a foundation of cement, all open graves being filled up.

On September 23, 1879, the building was re-dedicated with a service modelled somewhat on the lines of the original dedication service in 1123.

During the last twenty years little has been done to the fabric. Windows and other decoration have been lavished upon the interior, the money expended amounting to several thousands of pounds, a sum which might have been spent with more benefit to the fabric, upon purchasing the precincts, and on repairing the timber-work which supports the roof.

Interesting though the general question of the "restoration" of ancient buildings is, and interesting though Tewkesbury is as a particular case, this is not the place to go into it, but it may be well to quote from Mackail's "Life of William Morris," vol. i., p. 340, a letter which William Morris wrote to the Athenaeum about the restorations proposed at Tewkesbury.

"My eye just now caught the word 'restoration' in the morning paper, and, on looking closer, I saw that this time it is nothing less than the Minster of Tewkesbury that is to be destroyed by Sir Gilbert Scott. Is it altogether too late to do something to save it—it and whatever else of beautiful and historical is still left us on the sites of the ancient buildings we were once so famous for? Would it not be of some use once for all, and with the least delay possible, to set on foot an association for the purpose of watching over and protecting these relics, which, scanty as they are now become, are still wonderful treasures, all the more priceless in this age of the world, when the newly-invented study of living history is the chief joy of so many of our lives? Your paper has so steadily and courageously opposed itself to these acts of barbarism which the modern architect, parson, and squire call 'restoration,' that it would be waste of words to enlarge here on the ruin that has been wrought by their hands; but, for the saving of what is left, I think I may write a word of encouragement, and say that you by no means stand alone in the matter, and that there are many thoughtful people who would be glad to sacrifice time, money, and comfort in defence of those ancient monuments; besides, though I admit that the architects are, with very few exceptions, hopeless, because interest, habit, and ignorance bind them, and that the clergy are hopeless, because their order, habit, and an ignorance yet grosser, bind them; still there must be many people whose ignorance is accidental rather than inveterate, whose good sense could surely be touched if it were clearly put to them that they were destroying what they, or, more surely still, their sons and sons' sons, would one day fervently long for, and which no wealth or energy could ever buy again for them.

"What I wish for, therefore, is that an association shall be set on foot to keep a watch on old monuments, to protest against all 'restoration' that means more than keeping out wind and weather, and, by all means, literary and other, to awaken a feeling that our ancient buildings are not mere ecclesiastical toys, but sacred monuments of the nation's growth and hope."

The interest of the quotation lies in the fact that the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings was formed, with Morris as its first secretary—a very practical outcome to such a very forcibly expressed letter.

A chance presented itself in 1883 of re-purchasing the Abbey House, a building which stood in its own grounds on lands embracing the site of the whole of the original monastic buildings. Subscriptions poured in, and at the auction, held in the town, the Abbey House Estate was bought for L10,500, and became once more, after 344 years, the property of the church. This estate included the Abbey House, the Abbey Gateway, three cottages, and about nine acres of land. A portion of the latter, viz., that which comprised the Cloister Walk, was added to the churchyard. The Abbey House comprises portions of the infirmary and perhaps of the misericord, which survived destruction at the time of the suppression of the monastery. Part of the original wall remains on the north side, between the gateway and the church. It is a pity that the inscription under the bay window is illegible.

At the sale there was a curious lot (Lot 2) put up for sale, but it was withdrawn, and eventually given to the church. This lot was known as the Vaulted Chamber, and formed a portion of the south aisle of the nave which had been cut off from the rest of the building, and to which access was given by a stone staircase outside the church and a doorway in the wall by the nave.

Very few traces of the old monastic buildings are to be found, for when the neighbouring ground has been levelled at various times large quantities of stone have been dug up from the old foundations, and utilised partly in constructing boundary walls, partly in repairs to the building. The Abbey Gateway, which is well worth inspection, is Perpendicular work, and is in surprisingly good repair, mainly owing to the fact that for many years it was in private hands. It stands very solid and square, and looks formidable with its battlements, but the view through the open doorway is very fine—the foliage on the trees beyond showing up the stonework. The work in the arches is good, and the gargoyles are worthy of notice. The gateway was restored in 1849-50, and the gates are of about the same date.

In the cloister there are traces at the west of the outer parlour of the monks, and the size of the cloisters is clearly seen to have been eighty feet.

Of the place of this glorious Abbey in our own English history much might be written, and in fact it has been a difficult task to steer a course which, while avoiding too much history, should show that the history is there. In all the great events of history down to the end of the fifteenth century Tewkesbury Abbey has its place, and like the Abbey of St. Peter at Westminster and the Cathedrals at Canterbury and at Winchester, is in every respect a representative structure. "It represents all the greatest influences in our social development, it directly embodies in its memories both the Crown, at the time when the Crown was a primum mobile in politics, and all the estates of the realm. It shows the Church as the keystone in which the various thrusts of those contending masses met and balanced each other. It exhibits in the Church patron the official link between things spiritual and temporal. Its great lay potentates, Saxon or Norman, either deduce their lineage from royal blood, or at once mix their own with it, and renew again and again their touch of royalty by fresh inter-marriages until the pedigree is absorbed into that of the reigning or rival sovereign. The House, after blazoning a leading name, often the leading name of each successive period, after scoring repeated Plantagenet affinities, at length shares the internecine havoc of the York and Lancaster factions, and its last scions which survived that havoc are cut off on the scaffold for the crime of being too near the throne. But the almost princely rank of these founders, patrons, and benefactors is their least claim to historical remembrance. They are always to be found grouped in the very focus where the light of history falls strongest, men of the foremost mark for high trust and safe counsel for foreign strife, or civil broil" (Hayman).

Thus in the four centuries after the Conquest we find Fitz-Hamon, the second founder, connected by marriage with the great Norman soldier. In the civil wars of Stephen, Robert Earl of Gloucester and Lord of Tewkesbury, and his half-sister, Maud or Matilda, played the parts we know so well. Again, Gilbert de Clare, who is buried in the Abbey, was one of the chief signatories of Magna Charta. The last of the three Gilberts de Clare fell at Bannockburn in 1314, at the age of twenty-three. The heiress of the latter married a Despenser, a family closely connected with Tewkesbury, two prominent members of which, viz., the favoured ministers of Edward II., will be remembered as by-words in history. Sir Guy de Brien, the valiant standard-bearer of Edward III., was the second husband of the widow of the fifth Lord Despenser, and, with her, helped to rebuild the choir, in the ambulatory of which his splendid monument is still to be seen. The Despensers in turn passed away, the last heiress marrying in succession two cousins, each named Richard Beauchamp. Of her second marriage were born two children—a son, who married the sister of Warwick the king-maker, and a daughter, who became the wife of the Earl of Warwick himself. The king-maker's two daughters were unfortunate in their husbands, one of them having been married to the luckless Duke of Clarence, and the other to the young Prince Edward, who fell in 1471 at the battle of Tewkesbury. Of these noble patrons of the Abbey from the first Tewkesbury De Clare to the time of the ill-fated Duke of Clarence, all save two, i.e., the second Richard Beauchamp and the great king-maker, Richard Neville, who are both buried at Warwick, found their last resting-place in Tewkesbury.


[1] The original stone is in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford.

[2] Mr. Blunt, in his "Tewkesbury and its Associations," assigns the northernmost chapel to St. James, and the one between it and the choir aisle to St. Nicholas, but in his plan he reverses them. The plan in the Builder of December, 1894, follows Mr. Blunt's plan in so naming the two chapels. Some have thought the present Northern Chapel to be that dedicated to St. Eustachius.



One of the most characteristic views of the exterior is to be got from the iron gates which give admission to the churchyard. The view thus obtained presents to us, with the exception of the windows and the pinnacles on the tower, features almost entirely Norman.

As it is impossible to make a complete circuit of the church, it is as well to begin at the north transept. Here a wall will be found projecting from the north-east corner, of which the western face is in a very dilapidated condition. This wall contains a good Early English pointed arch, which is now filled up with stonework and contains a modern window. At the sides of the arch are Purbeck marble shafts with a central shaft of the same, which divides it into two subordinate arches, with an opening in the spandril between them. The base of the dividing shaft is a block of marble, curiously carved, representing four cats playing round the column. Each of the cats has in its mouth the tail of the cat immediately in front.

On each side are the remains of a smaller recessed arch, and the only portion of the north wall which is still standing contains one bay of a trefoil-headed arcading which formerly was carried round the walls of this chapel.

On the north wall of the transept the four bays of the vaulted roof are discernible, and a fine Early English doorway in the wall (lately restored) used to give admission to the main building. Originally, when the church was perfect, this was an open arch. At the last restoration a wall was built up inside, so that the arch might be left clear. This chapel can hardly have been the one mentioned on p. 13, which was dedicated to St. Eustachius, and was consecrated in 1246 by Prior Henry de Banbury. It is much more likely to have been the nave of the Early English Lady Chapel, of which the enclosed chapel to the east was the choir. Bristol Cathedral has its elder Lady Chapel in a similar position, though it was no doubt originally quite detached from the main building. The corner buttress at the north-west angle of the north transept was erected about the year 1720, and there is a corresponding support to the south transept at its south-west angle.

The clerestory on this north side of the nave has a Norman arcade, supported on short shafts, which extends from the tower to the west front. The insertion of the later windows, which presumably were enlarged when the nave was vaulted, has destroyed the regularity of the arcading.

A flying buttress of very slight proportions will be seen on the north side between the north transept and the north porch.

North Porch.—For a porch of Norman construction this is of unusual dimensions, measuring 24 feet by 20 feet and 39 feet high. It is extremely simple in character inside and out. The roof is a plain barrel vault of stone.

Both the internal and the external doorway have a circular arch composed of a series of mouldings supported by shafting, just as in the arch of the great west window.

Over the outside door of the porch stood an image of the Virgin Mary with the infant Christ, typical of the Incarnation, but it has suffered much at the hands of would-be zealots. Over the porch is a room or parvise, very difficult of access and badly lighted.

This north porch was in all probability built on to the church soon after the completion of the rest of the Norman building, and this may account for the difficult means of access.

Between the porch and the west end there are traces of some earlier building, abutting on to the north wall of the church.

The iron gates at the main entrance to the churchyard near the "Bell Hotel" were formerly mounted in the external doorway of the porch. They were given to the church by Lord Gage in 1750.

The Tower.—This is generally considered to be one of the finest and most perfect Norman towers in existence. Its massive size (each side measuring 46 feet) takes off from its actual height. It stands well, and is impressive from its proportions and the simplicity of its ornament. It is 132 feet high from the ground to the battlements inclusive, and 148 to the top of the pinnacles. The pinnacles and battlements were added in 1660, as the inscription on the north-west pinnacle testifies. They were restored in 1825.

As to what was there before 1660 one can only conjecture, but it had been undoubtedly damaged by the fall of the wooden spire covered with lead, which event occurred on Easter Day, 1559.

From whichever point of the compass it be studied, there is ever a different charm displayed, and the charm varies according to the light that plays upon the time-honoured handiwork of the Norman builders. The tower looks equally well from the north-west end of the churchyard, seen through the trees, from the extreme west, and from the open ground to the south-east, where the eye can also take in the graceful battlementing of the choir. Perhaps the best view of the tower and the building generally is that obtainable from the Gloucester road, just as one turns the last corner coming into Tewkesbury.

The tower is supported by four piers, which, as will be seen from an inspection of the plan, are very massive. The two easternmost piers are in plan very similar to the two corresponding piers in Gloucester Cathedral.

There are two windows in each side of the lower storey or base, immediately over the roofs of the nave and transepts, and between the windows is the stone ridge or wall-plate which indicates the pitch of the earlier roof. On three sides of the tower the dripstone is almost perfect.

The next stage or storey has an arcade with two lights in each side of the tower. The third stage has a narrower intersecting arcade of great beauty and delicacy, with a curious effect produced by the warm colouring of some of the stones.[3]

In the topmost stage there is another range of arcades and columns.

The West Front.—The chief feature in this front is the noble recessed arch, 65 feet high and 34 feet wide. There are seven columns on each side of the arch, one being partially concealed by the masonry of the Debased Perpendicular window which was inserted originally to give light to the nave. Portions of the seventh shaft have been, however, exposed for inspection.

There is one slight defect in this unique west front as it now is, viz., that apart from the window, the arch is on too large a scale for the size of the front, or, as Dean Spence puts it (he himself is quoting from some other writer), "As this noble arch stands at present, it is extremely beautiful in itself, but it has an incomplete appearance, seeming to want a raison d'etre, and being too large a jewel for its setting."[4] Exactly the same may be said of the window, though its excessive size will not be felt so much from the outside as from the inside of the church, where the low vaulting of the nave further accentuates the excessive size of the window.

As was the case at Gloucester, larger western towers were originally contemplated to contain the bells, and there are indications of this in the rough stonework in the clerestory on the south side, evidently designed to carry a tower 22 feet square. The towers in the west front at Southwell are an example of this design carried out. When it was decided to build smaller towers, the bell tower or campanile (which is shown on p. 17) was built. Later again the lantern or open part of the interior of the tower was vaulted over (vide p. 74), and the bells were hung in the great central tower. The campanile was then diverted to other uses. In later times it was used as a prison for several years, but having become structurally unsafe, was demolished in 1817.

It would be interesting to know the original scheme of windows in this west front. There is a trace of the original Norman doorway inside the present doorway, and it is supposed that the original window was either a large round window, with possibly one or two tiers of round-headed lights below. Later, a larger window, probably of fourteenth century work, was inserted, which lasted till it was blown into the church in 1661. The present window, which was built in 1686, may probably have been an attempt to follow the lines of the previous window. At either side of the large arch is a Decorated window of two lights.

The stonework of the towers, above the point where the arch springs, is decorated with a Norman arcading in two tiers. They are finished by two partly Norman turrets, with later pinnacles and spires.

The South Side.—This side has a blank appearance owing to the total disappearance of the claustral and conventual buildings, all of which were "deemed to be superfluous." There are traces on the south wall of the "outer parlour," and there is blocked up into it a doorway from the west end of the south aisle of the nave. Traces are there, too, of Norman work on the wall, which prove that the Norman cloisters were of the same extent and size as those of Perpendicular times.

The Cloisters.—These were of two periods of Perpendicular work, and though smaller than those at Gloucester (80 feet as compared with 148 feet) seem to have been enriched with panelling and arcading in every way as fine, judging from the stone which shows the spring of the arches near the cloister door.

The doorway from the cloister to the south aisle is a beautiful piece of fifteenth century work. It consists of a low pointed arch, struck from two centres, in the hollow moulding of which are canopies. Below are pedestals for figures. At the top the arch is embattled, and above it are niches, seven in all, with pedestals and canopies, richly ornamented and carved. On either side, over the canopy is an angel bearing a plain shield. This doorway was filled with stonework up to 1892, and had been so filled for many years, but has since undergone restoration of a very careful kind. The oak door is new, and is an example of very florid work executed with the great mechanical precision which now characterises modern wood-carving. One bay of the cloister has been vaulted to protect the doorway; and the wall arcade has been restored, at the expense of the Freemasons of the county.

On the south front of the south transept there are to be seen traces of a building of the same width, through which there were means of communication with the church. The wall of this south transept has been considerably strengthened since the Dissolution.

Separated from the south transept by a slype or passage, was the Chapter House, of which nothing is known beyond the fact that it was repaved in 1259, and destroyed at the Dissolution with other buildings on this side. Over the Chapter House there was a dormitory, also with an entrance to the church. This entrance has been walled up. There were stairs giving access to a room built over the apsidal chapel in the south transept, and also to the transept itself.

To the east of the south transept a very good view of the choir and its chapels is to be obtained. The westernmost chapel is the Norman apsidal chapel, and here the original Norman work comes to an end as far as the exterior is concerned.

The Norman arcading on the east and west walls will be noticed, but it has been lately restored.

The chapel (marked Vestry in the plan) has an upper chamber with two commonplace modern windows in it, the mullions having been destroyed. There is a massive buttress attached to the wall of this chapel, much larger than any of the other exterior buttresses. It is quite hollow, and is entered from the interior of the chapel, which is now used as the clergy vestry.

The windows of the choir are elaborately decorated with a crocketed gable.

The east end of the church[5] and the exterior of the chapels on the north side of the church are in private gardens, which unfortunately extend up to the very wall of the church, and prevent access.

The actual east end now consists of an arch which was formerly the entrance to the destroyed Lady Chapel, of which nothing remains but the modern masonry in the arch, now walled up, and containing a modern window of three lights; and above this is the original west wall above the vestibule of the Lady Chapel, with a restored window of four lights.

The parapet of open work which runs round the summit of the apse is another beautiful feature of the exterior of the eastern part of the church. It seems to be formed of stalks from a thorn tree intertwining in such a way as to form triangular openings. This parapet or coronet is as much like lacework as it is possible for stonework to be, and gives to the building a peculiarly delicate and subtle finish.

A very good exterior view of this east end can be obtained from the battlement of St. Faith's Chapel. The pitch of the roof and the character of the mouldings can thus be seen.

The Lady Chapel.—Nothing is left but the partly concealed mouldings of the arch in the east wall of the ambulatory of the choir. On the outside of the east end may be seen portions of the lofty vaulting—just where it sprang from the walls—which would indicate that the masonry was very beautiful and delicate work.

Much uncertainty exists as to the size of the Lady Chapel, though traces of the foundations have been found for some distance to the eastward of the present building. Unfortunately the ground in which the foundations are hidden is private property, and the chance of a thorough investigation of the site very remote. Traditionally, the Lady Chapel is said to have been 100 feet long, or about a third of the length of the building. There is no documentary evidence to support this tradition, and in the absence of such confirmation Mr. Blunt supposes that there was no large Lady Chapel,[6] but that a chapel somewhat similar to those still surviving, and specifically referred to as "Capella Beatae Mariae Ecclesiae Conventualis," was destroyed not long before the Dissolution for the purpose of making room for a larger and more splendid chapel. This chapel, Mr. Blunt adds, was never completed, the plans of the builders being upset by the general dissolution of the monasteries.

The Capella Ecclesiae Conventualis above mentioned would rather imply the existence of another Capella Mariae to which the parishioners had ordinary access, and this reference to it tends to strengthen the theory that on the north side of the north transept there was a detached Lady Chapel as at Bristol.

On the other hand, the orders of Henry VIII.'s Commissioners expressly mention the Lady Chapel as a part of the building to be pulled down, as being superfluous. This is a matter of exact history, and we have either to accept the conclusion that the Commissioners ordered the chapel to be destroyed, and that it was done, or else that they ordered the destruction of a building which did not exist. To support the former alternative we have the tradition, and it is nothing more, that the Lady Chapel was destroyed because of the delay of the good people of Tewkesbury in buying the choir.


[3] Some of the stone in the tower is undoubtedly Caen stone, brought from Normandy for the work.

[4] Mr. W. St. John Hope suggests that there was to be one central western tower, within which this arch would not look out of place.

[5] A good view of the north-east end at close quarters can be obtained from the Abbey Tea Gardens.

[6] There are records of interments in the Lady Chapel: William Lord de la Zouch of Mortimer in 1335, another Lord de la Zouch in 1371, and the widow of the latter in 1408. In 1472 the Bishop of Worcester appropriated the church of Little Compton to the Convent of Tewkesbury to augment the salaries of the priests officiating in the chapel of the Virgin Mary there.




The Norman nave bears a close resemblance to that at Gloucester, and has the distinguishing feature of the simple cylindrical columns. These massive piers are found at the Priory Church at Great Malvern, and also at Pershore; but those at Gloucester and Tewkesbury are considerably larger than the others.[7] At Tewkesbury the nave is particularly impressive from the height of the piers, and from the severely formal character of the arches supported by them. The simplicity of the nave as a whole has led some to ascribe the building of it to a date earlier than that of the nave at Gloucester; but if the received accounts go for anything, the building of the two fabrics was contemporaneous. Pershore, Gloucester, and Tewkesbury are by some considered to have been the production of one master-builder. If this be so, it is a matter of regret that his name has not come down to our time.

At Gloucester and at Tewkesbury many of the stones bear on their faces the interesting devices incised by the Norman masons. These marks are in many cases the same, but there are some found at Gloucester which are not found at Tewkesbury, and vice versa. One small point may be noticed which may perhaps interest a few, viz., that the same workman set out and worked at the first few courses of the stone work of the staircases, and then was followed by others, possibly less intelligent, but capable of following the indicated plan. A monk named Alfred was the "Master of the Work," and it would be interesting to know if the stones marked A are marked with his mark.

The nave here was being built in all probability while the great Flambard was busy with Durham (1105-1130), and very soon after he had finished his labours at Twynham or Christchurch, Hants. Gloucester is generally assigned to Serlo, 1089 to 1100, and Norwich was begun in 1096.

Above the arches of the nave are small double round-headed openings into a very narrow triforium walk, which is vaulted, as at Gloucester, with a quadrantal arch.

There is another peculiarity, too, here, in that the vaulting of the roof springs from corbels which rest directly on the capitals of the piers. As a result of this the roof looks low and heavy.

The triforium openings, which are divided by small shafts, similar in character to those in the tower chamber, are 5 feet 6 inches high and 4 feet 10 inches wide. The passage is 26 inches wide and 6-1/2 to 7 feet high.

The two western bays of the triforium are not alike. On the north the openings correspond to those in the other bays, and are not contracted to correspond with the narrowed arch below; whereas on the south side they are so contracted. By this means the square angle of the western pier was continued to the roof. On the north side the western pier ends abruptly at the capital of the respond.

The clerestory windows are partly concealed by the vaulting. Of course the original windows were much smaller, and were removed and the space enlarged when the re-roofing was done in the fourteenth century.

The Roof.—Originally, no doubt, as at Peterborough, where it remains, the inner roof was a flat panelled ceiling of wood, supported by a moulded framing. Whether the wooden roof decayed or was destroyed by fire, it was found necessary in the early part of the fourteenth century to re-roof the nave, and the present vaulting was then constructed. Beautiful though it is architecturally, it has the effect of dwarfing the nave, as it springs directly from the tops of the piers in the nave. In character it is a simple pointed vaulting, and the ribs at their many points of intersection are lavishly decorated with bosses.

Originally the vaulting was painted and gilded, but owing to the idiosyncrasies of those who fancied they were having things done "decently and in order," it was colour-washed in the early part of this century. The present scheme of colour decoration was carried out by Mr. T. Gambier Parry. Its chief merit is that it throws out the bosses in very strong relief. The bosses can be studied with an opera-glass, but it is less fatiguing to examine them with the help of a pocket mirror. There is a tradition that the bosses were carved by a monk who was not held in much esteem by his companions, and was a butt for their gibes and witticisms. Whether this was so or not, he knew how to carve rudely and effectively in stone, and long may his work remain with us. They represent in a highly pictorial manner the life of our Lord. Beginning at the west end, the central bosses depict: (1) The Nativity. (2) The Shepherds rendering homage. (3) The Magi on their journey. (4) The Magi in adoration. (5) The finding of Christ in the Temple. (6) The triumphal entry into Jerusalem. (7) The Last Supper.[8] (8) The Betrayal. (9) The Flagellation. (10) The Crucifixion. (11) The Resurrection. (12) The Ascension. (13) The Day of Pentecost. (14) The Coronation of the Virgin. (15) The Last Judgment.

The other bosses contain angels bearing musical instruments of every known kind, and alternating, more or less regularly, with angels censing and angels bearing emblems of the Passion.

On the south side: (1) Angels with pipe and tambourine. (2) Angels with cymbals and bagpipes. (3) Angels with hurdy-gurdy and harp. (4) Angels with dulcimer and organ. (5 and 6) Angels censing. (7) St. Matthew and St. John with their emblems, a scroll and an eagle. (8) Angel with a violin; others with emblems of the Passion, i.e., posts, spear, and scourges.

On the north side are to be found: (1) Angel with pipe and tabor; another censing. (2) Angel with harp; another censing. (3) Angels with rebec and zither. (4) Angels with tabor and zither. (5 and 6) Angels censing. (7) St. Luke and St. Mark, with their emblems, a winged ox, and a winged lion. (8) Angel with a harp; others with emblems of the Passion, i.e., a crown of thorns, a sponge, a cross, and a scourge.

Mr. Gambier Parry, who personally supervised, where he did not personally execute, the decoration of the roof, termed it "a marvellous specimen of English carving," and says that "together with the cathedrals of Gloucester and Norwich, it combined some of the finest features of mediaeval sculpture." Further he adds that though "fine details must not be looked for, yet it exhibited a vigour of conception and a charm of inspiration which quite atoned for any faults."

At the west end of the building are two half-figures, male and female, like the figure-heads of ships, which serve as corbels for the vaulting of the roof. They have been thought by some to represent Adam and Eve, and by others to represent the founder, Fitz-Hamon, and Sibylla his wife.

The Font (p. 40).—With the exception of the shaft, which has some good hall-flower ornament,[9] and the Purbeck marble base, this is entirely new work, dating only from the restoration carried out 1875-79. Formerly the old font, of which portions remain in the church, stood in the apsidal chapel in the south transept, and the choice of position for the new one is not quite happy. The canopy is very fine work, but the font as a whole is as much too high as the choir screen is too low. It is also placed at far too great a height above the surrounding floor to be comfortable for a party of sponsors, and from its height it interferes with the beautiful vista of the nave as viewed from the outside of the open west door on a fine day in summer. There is no reason for placing the font in this position, and a Baptistery could have well been made in the north-west corner of the nave.

The Lectern, also a gift from Rev. C.W. Grove in memory of his wife, was presented in 1878. Formerly it blocked up the central passage up the nave, but was removed to counterbalance the pulpit.

The Pulpit was given to the church by Mrs. Glynn, of Tewkesbury, in memory of her husband. In style it is Perpendicular. The shape is octagonal, and it is supported by seven shafts of Purbeck marble, springing from a base of the same, polished; the bases and capitals of the octagonal shafts being of stone. Of the seven panels, four are of pierced work, and three are sculptured representing our Lord blessing little children; preaching on the Mount; giving His charge to the Apostle Peter. Below the panels is a brattice of Purbeck marble—from this at the angles rise octagonal columns supporting angels, which again support a canopy of elaborate work. The pulpit rests on a base of Purbeck marble.

The nave must have terminated in the same way as the nave at Gloucester, viz., with an altar and with two side chapels—one in each aisle. In the handbook to Gloucester, page 44, will be found the illustration of the altar and chapels redrawn by Mr. Waller from the drawing given in Browne Willis' "Survey of Gloucester Cathedral," published in 1727. This arrangement no doubt obtained at Tewkesbury, which, like Gloucester, was a Benedictine foundation.

The space thus given up to the altar and chapels is indicated by the step which comes in the nave near the second pillar, counting westward from the western tower piers. In each of these, on the aisle side are to be seen the ascending spiral made by the recently inserted pieces of stone which show the exact position of the staircase that led up to the rood-screen overhead.[10] This step no doubt marks the site of the original western termination of the ritual choir. It seems strange that, after undergoing so many vicissitudes as a whole, the survival of so interesting a point should have been permitted. Gloucester Cathedral was repaved in 1720, and no doubt the corresponding step disappeared in the process in the levelling-up of the nave to a height nearly ten inches higher than the original floor level. This step was restored by Sir Gilbert Scott when the floor of the nave was lowered.

On the face of the pillars here some traces of fresco-painting are in some lights still to be seen.

A screen of most uninteresting work separated the choir from the nave up to the time of the restoration work that was begun in 1875, and upon this stood the organ. In front of the organ was hung a huge and unsightly gas corona, portions of which are still lying in the north transept.

Two bays of either aisle were also disfigured with low galleries, as were also the transepts. These erections, with the screen and the screens across the aisles, have fortunately disappeared. As Bennett wrote, "These additions, however much they may add to the convenience and comfort of those who attend divine service, little harmonise with the general character of the building."

The Screen.—This dates from the restoration of 1892, and was erected in memory of Mrs. Glynn, by Archdeacon Robeson and Mr. E.F. Glynn. The screen is of carved oak, and consists of a central door, with wrought-iron gates, and on either side four openings. At the top, which is seventeen feet above the floor level, is an overhanging cornice with elaborate cresting of carved work on both sides. The cross in the centre is richly ornamented on the stem and the arms. These latter are terminated with paterae, with pierced and carved work. The centre of the cross is composed of a quatrefoil in which is carved the Agnus Dei. Flanking the cross are two figures, one representing St. John, and the other the Virgin Mary. These figures are well carved (by Boulton, of Cheltenham), but, like the cross, look too small on the top of the screen.

The side sections of the screen terminate in ogee arches, elaborately cusped and crocketed, with perpendicular tracery in the spandrils. The separating shafts terminate with pinnacles.

In the central section there are two arches, one being semi-circular with very delicate foliated tracery; the other is an ogee trefoil supported from brackets which take the form of angels.

The lowest stage of the screen is solid panel work and calls for no special mention.

The gates were made by Clarke, of Brackley, and were designed by Mr. J.O. Scott for the donor, Rev. W.R.F. Hepworth. Intricate in their design, and cleverly wrought as they are, they seem slightly incongruous in this wooden screen. The shields bear the correct arms of the Abbey, and round the shields are intertwining iron rods. Scrolls with leaves and other devices are also introduced. Across the top of the gates is a band of square panels with varied design in pierced work, and on the top is an elaborate cresting.

On the inside of the gates, on the shields are the texts, "Serve the Lord with fear."; and "Rejoice unto Him with reverence."

The whole screen looks too low for its position, whether it be viewed from the west end or from the triforium of the choir at the east end. The workmanship will not bear any minute comparison with the loving hand-craftsmanship of mediaeval times; much of it is more skilful as church furniture of a very mechanical kind than beautiful as real carver's work.

The Great West Window dates back, as far as the masonry is concerned, to 1686, and was erected then to replace the window blown in by the wind in 1661. The glass was inserted in 1886 by Rev. C.W. Grove in memory of his wife, and represents various scenes in the life of Christ. In the lowest tier is the Annunciation, with the Nativity in the centre, and the Presentation in the Temple on the right. Above is the Baptism by St. John in the Jordan, the Last Supper in the centre, the Agony in the Garden on the right. In the topmost tier is the Bearing of the Cross, the Crucifixion, and the appearance of our Lord to Mary after the Resurrection. In the head of the window are angels, those in the two side lights on either side being engaged in censing. In the central top light is Christ in Majesty, with angels. The glass is by Hardman.

The Aisles.—The aisles of the nave are very much lower in height than the nave, and the vaulting is simpler in character. There are, however, many fine bosses, and, like those in the nave, they have been treated in a tentative way with colour and gold. As a whole, the effect of decorated bosses standing out in such strong relief from the simple, unadorned stonework is rather spotty and distracting. The arms of the Despenser family are to be found on some of the bosses in the south aisle, and it is to the munificence of that powerful family that the execution of the work is due. The Norman roof of the aisles was a lean-to roof of wood, as is indicated by the half-arch between either aisle and the transept.

The fourteenth century windows in the North Aisle were partially blocked up with stonework up to 1825, when they were restored and reglazed. Most of the stained glass was inserted in 1892. The window at the west end is a memorial, inserted in 1869, to Mr. John Terrett and his sister. The subject is the "Adoration by the Magi"; the glass is by Heaton Butler and Bayne. The first window east of the porch represents the "Angel appearing to the Shepherds" and "The Star of Bethlehem," and "The Wise Men before Herod," in the lower part. The second shows "Christ Disputing with the Doctors," and below are "Eli and Samuel," "David and Samuel," and "Saul at the feet of Gamaliel." The third represents the Sermon on the Mount, and below, Christ talking to the Woman at Samaria, Christ with Mary and Martha, and Christ with Nicodemus. The fourth represents the Transfiguration; the fifth gives the triumphal entry into Jerusalem; beneath, Christ is driving out the money-changers from the Temple and weeping over the city; the sixth depicts the removal of Christ from the Cross, and the Entombment.

These windows are more or less attempts to reproduce the style of the old glass in the choir. Four of them contain groups under canopies, with a background of grisaille and a wide border. Owing to the lights being narrower in the fifth the border is omitted, and in the sixth the grisaille work is also omitted. All the windows in the north aisle, with the exception of that in the west wall and that next to it, were presented to the Abbey by Rev. C.W. Grove.

It will be noticed that the windows in the north aisle are slightly longer than those in the south aisle. The curtailment in the latter was due to the fact that the cloisters were built against the outside of the south wall. There is more variety in the tracery of the windows in this north aisle than in those of the south aisle.

In the north aisle near the transept [P][11] is a recessed tomb, much mutilated, with a very graceful arch. On the tomb lies a knight in armour, with his hands clasped and his feet resting upon a lion. The armour is worth noticing, as it is curious. The gorget is of edge-ringed mail, the surcoat is blazoned with a chevron between three leopard's faces. Banded mail, with which the knight is dressed, is rarely met with in monuments, only three other instances being known, viz., Newton Solney, Tolland Royal, and Dodford.

This tomb has usually hitherto been assigned to Lord Wenlock, who was killed by the Duke of Somerset at the fatal battle of Tewkesbury. Against this theory is the fact that the tomb is of much earlier date than that of Lord Wenlock's death, and the fact that Lord Wenlock built a chantry chapel in Luton Church for his wife Elizabeth and himself, to which, according to Leland, he is said to have been removed. The figure is supposed, with considerable probability, to represent Sir John de Burley.

In the north aisle, on a brass plate inserted in a flat stone is a Latin inscription to Amie Wiatt, of Tewkesbury, who died on August 25th, ... Following the inscription is a set of elegiac verses, the initial letters of which form the lady's name.

"A me disce mori, mors est sors omnibus una Mortis ut esca fui mortis ut esca fores. In terram ex terra terrestris massa meabis Et capiet cineres urna parata cinis. Vivere vis coelo, terrenam temnito vitam: Vita piis mors est mors mihi vita piae. Iejunes, vigiles, ores, credasque potenti. Ardua fac: non est mollis ad astra via. Te scriptura vocat, te sermo, ecclesia, mater; Te que vocat Sponsus, Spiritus atque Pater."

A punning epitaph, also acrostic in form, but in English, is to be found in the nave, to one Merrett, a barber chirurgeon, who died in 1669.

"T hough only stone salutes the readers eye, H ere in deep silence precious dust doth lye, O bscurely sleeping in Death's mighty store, M ingled with common earth till time's no more; A gainst Death's stubborn laws who dares repine, S ince so much Merrit did his life resigne.

M urmurs and tears are useless in the grave, E lse he, whole vollies at his tomb might have; R est here in peace, who like a faithful steward R epaired the church, the poor and needy cured. E ternall mansions do attend the just, T o clothe with immortality their dust, T ainted (whilst under ground) with worms and rust."

In the pillar nearest to the north door in the nave is all that remains of the stoup or benitier for the holy water. We may probably attribute the wanton damage it has sustained to one of the zealots who ministered here after the Reformation.

South Aisle.—This aisle has five Early Decorated windows. The western four have three lights each; the other, near to the south transept, has four lights, and the tracery in it is slightly more elaborate.

All the stained-glass windows in this aisle were presented to the church by the Rev. C.W. Grove, in 1888, as a memorial to his wife. The windows are by Hardman.

The first window, i.e., the westernmost, represents Christ walking on the sea; the second represents the cripple at the pool of Bethesda; the third, the raising of the widow's son at Nain; the fourth, the feeding of the five thousand; the fifth, the changing of the water into wine at Cana.

At the west end of the south aisle is a memorial window to Mr. H.P. Moore. This is also by Hardman, and represents the home at Nazareth.

At the easternmost end of this aisle is the door by which access was given the church from the cloisters. The entrance to this door consists of a depressed arch, with a square head over it; the spandrils are pierced with an open quatrefoil. This door stands within the original Norman doorway, which was filled in, and traces of the supporting shaft with its capital may be seen. Above are seven niches, with brackets and canopies of good carved work. Over the canopy on either side is an angel with a plain shield.

At the restoration of the church this doorway was very carefully dealt with at the cost of the then Mayor, Mr. Thomas Collins. Up to the time of the restoration of the church, 1891-92, this doorway had been walled up with many pieces of broken carved work from other parts of the church. The doors were designed by Mr. J. Oldrid Scott, executed locally, and given by the late Mr. Thomas Collins.

To the east of the cloister door [O] is a tomb with a fine crocketed ogee arch, and with an angel bearing a plain shield in place of a finial. On one of the cusps are to be traced the chevrons of the De Clares, and another bears a lion rampant. Beyond the fact that it was the tomb of a relation of the De Clares nothing definite can be said. Some have thought it to be the tomb of Sir Thomas Morley, the husband of Anne, daughter of Edward, Lord Despenser, and widow of Hugh, Lord Hastings, who died in 1417. It may here be noted that a lion rampant, sable, crowned or, are to be found on one of the shields at Lord Despenser's feet in the Isham register. This tomb is generally known as the Duke of Somerset's tomb, but the arms as they exist show no resemblance to the arms he would be entitled to bear, viz., those of the Beauforts.

In the floor of the south aisle is an interesting stone with an inscription in Norman French, in bold Lombardic capitals running round the border:

i.e., "Leger de Parr lies here. May God have mercy on his soul." According to Bennett, this stone had been moved from some other place in the church.

Up to the time of the restoration the extreme western portion of the south aisle was part and parcel of the Abbey House Estate. In 1883, when the estate was put up for sale, the room thus formed in the church was withdrawn from the auction, and soon afterwards was presented by the then owner to the Abbey, to be in future an absolute part of the building. In the south wall near this Abbey chamber is a blocked-up doorway which gave access to the Outer Parlour of the monks.


The whole of the nave, as in most cathedrals, is open to the inspection of the visitor free of any charge; but the choir, the tombs, the chapels and transepts, are reserved, and shown to visitors on payment of a small fee. This fee is payable at the verger's desk at the entrance to the north transept. A further fee is payable by those who wish to photograph in this or in any other part of the building.

North Transept.[12]—The whole of this north transept is taken up with the Grove organ, of which an account is given on p. 98. The dimensions of the transept are 40 feet by 34 feet, and 58 feet in height. For the most part this transept consists of original Norman work, very little altered with the exception of the fourteenth century stone vaulting and the insertion of windows of the same period.

On the north wall of the transept is a tablet, in painted alabaster, to John Roberts. It has been neglected, but it is worth deciphering. It runs: "Here resteth what was mortal of John Roberts of Fiddington, gent. Careful he was to maintain tillage, the maintenance of mankind. He feared God, was faithful to his country, friends, good to the poore and common wealth, just to all men. Who left us Jan. 1631, aged 77." The text is, "For Christ is to mee both in life and in death advantage."

The north side has two small pointed windows with geometrical tracery. Below these are recessed Norman arches. On the floor level the masonry is new, having been built up inside the Early English arch.

On the south side are the backs of the choir stalls. On the west side, in the wall is a large Decorated window containing five lights with flowing tracery. This window was blown into the church in 1819, and then rebuilt.

The eastern wall contains two Norman arches, one of which is merely the continuation of the north aisle, through the transept to the north ambulatory. The other is in the north wall of the transept, and opens into the choir vestry. Over these two arches were formerly two other open arches. One of these, viz., that over the choir vestry, has been walled up, and the other has a circular or rose window. After undergoing repairs the window was glazed by Hardman, in 1892, as a memorial to Mary Anne Moore. The subject is "The adoration of the Lamb." In the central light is the Agnus Dei; while in the other six encircling quatrefoils are angels censing, and representing Blessing, Glory, Honour, Power, Wisdom and Strength. The glass has been designed to give the effect of older glass, and, so far as that is possible, it may claim to be a success.

This rose window occupies the space which originally was the west end of the original Norman triforium of the choir, to which access was given by the staircase in the north-east corner of the transept.

The interior of the tower for more than three centuries was accessible only from the outside of the church, but is now approached by a staircase in the north-east angle of the north transept. After mounting the first flight, which is somewhat worn, the transept vaulting is crossed by a species of bridge, and at the end of this access is given by a narrow doorway to the first floor of the tower, which contains a large room 33 feet square, with a curiously formed floor. This room has some good Norman work on the walls, and when open to the church, as it was originally, it must have been one of the striking features of the interior from below. That it was open originally may be inferred from the plain treatment of the western side, i.e., the side that would not catch the eye of those using the nave and looking eastwards.

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