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Introduction

Tewkesbury Museum contains around 6,000 artefacts, all with a strong link to the history of Tewkesbury and its surrounding area.  Its main permanent displays are based on the following themes:

  • The Tewkesbury Mop Fair and Mr Salt’s model fairground
  • Victorian Tewkesbury, society, work and leisure
  • Roman and Prehistoric Tewkesbury
  • The Battle of Tewkesbury
  • Memories of Ashchurch
  • Sir Raymond Priestley, Antarctic explorer
  • Tewkesbury’s War heroes
  • Tewkesbury’s civic and commercial history

In addition, the museum has extensive collections of archaeology, local photographs and textiles.

Many of our collections and displays may be used as a starting point for research projects for schools and colleges.  We welcome visits from organised groups and have access to volunteer guides who have specialist knowledge related to our collections and many aspects of Tewkesbury History.  We have links with Tewkesbury Library, which houses some of our photographic collection and a substantial local history section, and with Tewkesbury Historical Society, which runs training sessions on genealogy at the Library.  We also have a strong relationship with our landlord, Tewkesbury Town Council and, through them, access to its elegant Council Chamber and art collection.

In order to gain the most from your school visit, please provide us with plenty of notice of your visit.  We would also recommend that, depending on the age of the children, you bring one adult per 4-6 children, so that they may view our collections in small groups.

Although touring our early 17th Century museum building is challenging for visitors with limited mobility, we are working towards being able to improve accessibility for all.  Please let us know in advance if any of your party have special requirements with regard to accessibility and we will do our very best to make your visit a success for all.

Tewkesbury’s Mop Fair and Mr Salt’s model fairground. 

learn about the history of the fairThe museum has recently renovated its model fairground and moved it to a new, bespoke display table on the ground floor.  Visitors can at last see five feature fairground rides operating again for the first time since 1966.  They can experience the fun and excitement of a 1950s mop fair in the streets of Tewkesbury, learning about the history of the fair, the rides and the attractions.  They can also discover the story of Thomas Walker, the Tewkesbury engineer who designed, manufactured and maintained fairground rides.

This display provides a starting point for lessons in creative writing and social history.  Technology teachers too will find it an exciting introduction to design and make projects involving mechanisms.

Victorian Tewkesbury, society, work and leisure

Tewkesbury Victorian lifeInteresting insights into Victorian Tewkesbury can be gained from English writers, such as Charles Dickens and Dinah Craik.  Our Victorian display adds more detail to the picture with a range of artefacts such as toys, tools, trophies and memorabilia.  Visitors can discover what old school desks were like and how the children entertained themselves out on Barton Street during playtime.  They can learn about the industries their ancestors would have worked in and understand how everyday domestic activities like preparing a meal are now so much easier than they used to be.

This display provides a starting point for local history projects, creative writing, product analysis and design.

Roman and prehistoric Tewkesbury

Roman remains at the museumExamples of Tewkesbury Museum’s extensive archaeological collections on display include the bones of Octavia, a young Roman woman.  Find out how much modern science has been able to tell us about the kind of life she lived.  Our many fragments of pottery also have a tale to tell, of prosperous pre-Roman farmer communities and of trade along the River Severn.

These exhibits may provide a starting point for projects related to geography and ancient history.  Students of archaeology may wish to arrange to examine the extensive collections contained in our storerooms in more detail.

The Battle of Tewkesbury

The story of the Battle of TewkesburyThe 4th May, 1471 is a date that almost everybody in Tewkesbury can quote and the battle that took place on fields to the south of the town on that day is represented with exquisite detail in our battle diorama.  Accompanying displays on medieval Tewkesbury, medieval soldiers, heraldry and the story of Tewkesbury’s famous re-enactments provide plenty of inspiration for school projects in history, art and design, while our rail of medieval costumes offers a stimulus for drama and creative writing.

For children at key stage 4, access can be given to an online multiple choice quiz aimed at promoting higher level thinking skills, on the theme of the Wars of the Roses.  There is also a quiz about the display, on a printed sheet, that tests observation and recall.

Memories of Ashchurch (downloads available)

WW2 Tewkesbury social historyDuring the Second World War, Ashchurch was home to both American troops and German Prisoners of War.  This exhibition explores their impact on local people during the war and afterwards, when the Camp became the base for REMY.  The Museum has prepared six downloadable PowerPoint displays for Key Stages 2-3 that look at different aspects of the camp and can be used to develop skills in a wide range of different subjects, including History, English, Geography, Design and Technology and PSHCE.  There is also a wealth of supporting resource material that can be obtained from the museum by request in a digital format, including photographs, newspaper cuttings and transcripts of interviews.

Sir Raymond Priestley, Antarctic explorer

The story of Raymond PriestleyThe Museum’s unique collection of artefacts relating to the life and work of Sir Raymond Priestley is of great interest to students of geology and of history and include notebooks, tools, photographs and even a knitted penguin!  This display would be an excellent starting point for creative writing, history, geography and art projects.

Tewkesbury’s War heroes

Tewkesbury soldiers made significant contributions to both the Boer and First World Wars. Museum displays contain personal items, certificates, photographs and even a fragment of a zeppelin.  These would provide context to project work at key stage 4.

Tewkesbury’s civic and commercial history

Tewkesbury civic weightsTewkesbury has a long history of being a market town and a Borough.  Our displays tell the story of Tewksbury as a bustling commercial and industrial centre, able to keep the peace, to collect tolls and to maintain trading standards.  Visitors can see a copy of the Borough Charter and also a range of official weights and measures, and beadle staves.  Children can try on a councillor’s hat for size and even sit in a magistrate’s chair.

Informal activities for children of all ages

Games at the museumChildren of primary school age and younger enjoy the Museum’s mouse hunt.  Many children return to do it again and again, finding that the mice move around and sometimes multiply! This simple observation activity encourages differentiation between shapes, patterns and colours.  Upstairs, our collection of old-fashioned games helps develop hand-eye coordination.  In addition, we have a small handling collection and opportunities for make-believe games.

Museum talks and walks

The museum runs a very successful programme of talks and guided walks at different times of the year, on a wide variety of themes that are central to the history of Tewkesbury.  Please check our website for further details.  The talks tend to attract an adult audience and the walks attract people of all ages.

Bringing the museum to you

If coming to the museum is difficult for your group, there is a possibility that our speakers and guides can come to you.  Please contact the trustees do discuss this further.

Come and support us

The museum trustees are aware that there is so much we could do to develop further the educational opportunities inherent within our collection, if only we had the people and the time to do it.  We have aspirations for developing a time traveller pack for families and a colouring book to add to our museum shop.  We also want to find ways of making more of our collection more easily accessible to a wider audience.  If you like to help make those aspirations to become a reality, or if you have other ideas of your own, we’d love to talk to you.  Please email us, to arrange a meeting with a trustee.

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