Tewkesbury, Abbey of
TEWKESBURY, ABBEY OF
Former Benedictine monastery at Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, England. There was a monastery on this site at the end of the 8th century. In 980 it became dependent on Cranborne Abbey (Dorset), which staffed it with a Benedictine prior and monks. It was reendowed (1107) by Robert Fitz-hamon, Lord of Gloucester and cousin to
King William II, and the first Norman abbot of Cranborne, Gerald, subsequently transferred there with most of his community. The new abbey was consecrated in 1123. It is second only to westminster in the number of great personages interred within its walls; e.g., the de Clares, Despensers, Beauchamps, and the Nevilles, who held the lordship of Tewkesbury, were buried in the abbey of which they had been generous patrons. The abbey had an insatiable appetite for the appropriation of churches, and its dependencies ultimately included Bristol, Cardiff, Cranborne, Deerhurst, Goldcliff, Llantwit Major, and an almshouse in Tewkesbury. During the episcopal visitations of 1279 and 1378 certain abuses came to light, and Henry Wakefield, Bishop of worces ter, found that the education of the younger monks was neglected and ordered the appointment of a competent teacher (1378). At its suppression in 1540 under King henry viii, 36 monks were pensioned, and the last abbot, John Wakeman, was consecrated bishop of Gloucester, 1541. The abbey church is noted for its unique western arch and the great Norman tower.
Bibliography: The Victoria History of the County of Gloucester, ed. w. page (London 1907–) v.2. m. r. james, Abbeys (Garden City, NY 1926). d. knowles, The Religious Houses of Medieval England (London 1940). d. knowles, The Monastic Order in England, 943–1216 (2d ed. Cambridge, England 1962).
[t. c. crowley]