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Tewkesbury Abbey

The misericords and history of Tewkesbury Abbey,

St Mary the Virgin.

Tewkesbury Abbey has sixteen, 14th century misericords.

Click to launch a description of the misericords of St Mary the Virgin, Tewkesbury.


Please click on the thumbnails for larger images.

History of the Abbey of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.

There has been a foundation at Tewkesbury since at least 715 AD, although nothing of this foundation can now be found. During the 10th century Tewkesbury became a priory, subordinate to the Benedictine abbey at Cranbourne.  In 1087, William the Conqueror gave the manor of Tewkesbury to his cousin, Robert Fitzhamon, who, with Giraldus, Abbot of Cranbourne, founded the present abbey in 1092. Building of the present Abbey church did not start until 1102, employing Caen stone imported from Normandy and floated up the Severn.

After the Battle of Tewkesbury in the Wars of the Roses on 4 May 1471, some of the defeated Lancastrians sought sanctuary in the abbey, but the victorious Yorkists, led by King Edward IV, forced their way into the abbey, and the resulting bloodshed caused the building to be closed for a month until it could be purified and re-consecrated.

The sixteen misericords, which date from the 14th century, probably originally had another eight or nine misericords, judging from the fixed seats replacing several of those on the south side of the choir.  Although the majority of the existing misericords have good central sections, most of the supporters have been, to a greater or lesser extent, damaged.

After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the people of Tewkesbury saved the abbey from destruction in 1539: Insisting it was their parish church, which they had the right to keep, they bought it from King Henry VIII for the value of its bells and lead roof which would have been salvaged and melted down, leaving the structure a roofless ruin. The price came to £453.

The bells merited their own free-standing belltower, an unusual feature in English sites. After the Dissolution, the bell-tower was used as the gaol for the borough until it was demolished in the late 18th century.

The central stone tower was originally topped with a wooden spire, which collapsed in 1559 and was never rebuilt. Some restoration undertaken in the 19th century under Sir Gilbert Scott included the rood screen that replaced the one removed when the Abbey became a parish church.

Flood waters, from the nearby River Severn, reached inside the Abbey in severe floods in 1760, and again on 23 July 2007.

The Official Tewkesbury Abbey website.

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14th century medieval misericords misericord misericorde misericordes Miserere Misereres choir stalls Woodcarving woodwork mercy seats pity seats Tewkesbury abbey Gloucester TewkesburyDS1.3.jpg
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14th century medieval misericords misericord misericorde misericordes Miserere Misereres choir stalls Woodcarving woodwork mercy seats pity seats Tewkesbury abbey Gloucester TewkesburyDS1.6.jpg
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14th century medieval misericords misericord misericorde misericordes Miserere Misereres choir stalls Woodcarving woodwork mercy seats pity seats Tewkesbury abbey Gloucester Tewkesburyn1.2.jpg
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14th century medieval misericords misericord misericorde misericordes Miserere Misereres choir stalls Woodcarving woodwork mercy seats pity seats Tewkesbury abbey Gloucester Tewkesburyn1.9.jpg
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14th century medieval misericords misericord misericorde misericordes Miserere Misereres choir stalls Woodcarving woodwork mercy seats pity seats Tewkesbury abbey Gloucester Tewkesburyn9.7.jpg
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