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Visiting the Tewkesbury Medieval Festival, Gloucestershire

Tewkesbury Medieval Festival

If there’s one thing as a family that unites us, it’s an interest in history. It may well stem from an old Sunday evening routine that consisted of a bath, a McDonalds, and watching Time Team while I nit combed their hair….

Anyway, we’ve seen adverts for the Tewkesbury Medieval Festival here and there for a few years and casually said we ought to go to that. Well, this year, as we didn’t have a holiday planned, we decided to book an air bnb nearby and make sure we actually went this time!

Tewksbury Medieval festival

The festival lasts all weekend, so we spent Saturday morning wandering Tewkesbury High Street and admiring the old wattle and daub architecture. There were several vintage shops that drew us in, and the best book shop ever!

Tewkesbury wattle and daub buildings

Vintage bookshop in Tewkesbury

We also looked around the old Abbey church, which is beautiful – well worth looking in on. We gave Loki a rest in its grounds under the shade of an oak tree. I’ve honestly never heard so many people say ‘Look at the size of his paws’ in one day. Honestly, I think it was about thirty to forty times!

Tewkesbury Abbey church

Tewkesbury Abbey church

We then moved the car from a town car park to the official field parking. We could have easily walked from there to the town if we’d realised it was so close. Anyway, the walk from there to the Medieval Fair was however, a lot further than we expected, and poor Loki was tired out by the time we actually arrived. It was an hour until the battle reenactment and already the crowds were heavy with people making their way to the field, so we thought we may as well find a place to sit to give him a rest.

  • Visitor tips: The Tewkesbury Medieval Festival is a free event, but you will need £5 cash for the parking. It is about a fifteen minute walk from the car park, so if you have small children, you may need that buggy. Also factor that time into your schedule if you want to make it for the battle.
  • Get there even earlier than an hour in advance if you want a good spot, and sit as near to the commentary tower as you can get for the best view of the action. There is a roped area for people sitting down only, so take a picnic blanket to mark the spot for your family or group, and then if you’re bored waiting; take in turns to go off and see other things while the others bagsy your place! Or bring a game or book to read to pass the time.

Tewksbury Medieval festivalTewksbury Medieval festival

Tewksbury Medieval festivalThe event is a major one for re-enactors – they come from all around Europe as well as from the UK, so we expected a good show for the big War of the Roses battle that actually took place on the same field as the one we sat and watched. There were hundreds of them, and just the sight of that was amazing. However, it was very slow to get going and a lot of children (and adults) were getting bored and restless for the first half an hour. If you’re only mildly interested in seeing the battle reenacted, then you could probably turn up half an hour late and take the spot of the people who have got bored and left at that point! We enjoyed ourselves and the battle was good, but you had to be nearer the middle of the field at the front to see well enough and understand what was happening.

visiting Tewksbury Medieval festival

 

There was a very good and much needed commentary explaining exactly what was going on and who was there on the battlefield. It is quite strange that all this did actually take place in the very spot we were. I don’t believe they could, but it would be nice to think that all those soldiers who were part of it six hundred years ago, know that they are commemorated and remembered in this way!

  • Visitor tips: You’ll need suncream even on a cloudy day, and luckily for us the clouds did come over because for a while Loki, our black dog was really overheating in the sun and we were trying to shade him with an umbrella. There isn’t any shade for watching the battle, so you might want to bring a parasol for the wait, and you could go to nearer the back if you still need it when it all kicks off.
  • The guns and canons are noisy! This is probably obvious if you think about it, but it took us by surprise! Fortunately our dog, once he looks at us for reassurance, isn’t bothered by fireworks, but if yours is, then best to leave them at home. And you might want those ear defenders you can get for young children and babies too.

tips for visiting Tewksbury Medieval festival

Afterwards, we walked slowly past some of the living history camps and into the field the other side of the road where the rest of the festival was taking place. I hadn’t realised the time, and actually only ended up with less than half an hour to see any of the stalls. Never mind, we knew we were coming back the next day.

On Sunday morning there is a big parade through the High Street. We got caught in the road closures, but R cleverly guided us through the residential back roads to get to the festival carpark. (There are no signposts for this, so be prepared!) We waited near the entrance of the festival to see the parade, and it wasn’t what we expected at all – we thought it was going to be all the soldiers and other re-enactors marching along, but it turned out to be more of a community medieval themed carnival, with the local primary schools, brownie and cub groups, and church groups and that sort of thing, all doing their bit with costumes and some amazing giant puppets and other contraptions. This was fun to see once, but to be honest, if we go again I’ll miss that bit out and look around the stalls instead while they’re less crowded.

Tewkesbury medieval festival parade

And yes, the crowds were the problem when we reached that part of the festival. As I was carrying around a heavy bag with both my photography camera and it’s long lens and my vlogging camera inside; plus a tote bag with Loki’s towels, water, picnic blanket and parasol, it was difficult to comfortably browse. Plus it was very hot, and Chris and I took in turns in looking after Loki, which added to the time needed. A second day of constant attention was too much for him, and he let us know by barking (and sometimes growling) that he’d had enough. I don’t blame him either, it really was a continuous barrage of people coming over and talking to us about him and wanting to give him a stroke. I know you don’t see Neapolitan Mastiffs often, but it was a bit ridiculous!

I really liked the way the stalls were done. All the proper re-enactment and authentic stalls were at the front, and then there were some modern craft and market stalls at the back. This was my haul: Ten hand-forged iron S hooks; an iron pair of scissors (to look good for Instagram photos next to cut flowers!); and hand-made knife for Chris (which I’ll save for Christmas); six metres of purple velvet to upholster our new van (a blog post about that coming soon); a metre of greeny gold velvet that I bought the first day to test its quality; a large piece of faux leather to make J a pair of gauntlets; three metres of grey linen to make something for myself; and an authentic second-hand (but looks new) medieval style blue linen dress ready for the next similar event we go to!

J had the best purchase though – she bought herself a proper archery bow and a few arrows. She just wants to have fun firing them in the field!

There were a lot of leather goods; pewter and horn crockery and authentic weaponry. It was really fun looking around, and I’m sure I’ll think of things I wish I’d bought while I had the chance! It was a really enjoyable weekend, and I’d definitely recommend the visit to Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire to see the Medieval Festival.

Ps. There’ll be a YouTube video of our few days visiting Tewkesbury, Gloucester and the surrounding area coming soon to my YouTube channel!

visiting Tewkesbury

My sightseeing camera equipment:

 

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