The biggest Medieval Festival in the whole of Europe is set take place over the weekend of 12th-14th May 2013, in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.
The last, and probably the bloodiest battle in the War of the Roses, Tewkesbury stood at the turning point of English history – and next year’s re-enactment will be the 30th consecutive occasion that the medieval market town will be transformed for an entire weekend into a ‘living history landscape’.
The battle is now re-created every year on part of the site of the original battlefield, just outside the town. Started by a small group of friends as a one-off event, it has grown over the years to become the largest and most popular medieval gathering of its kind in Europe – as well as one of the biggest in the world.
Around 2,000 re-enactors will take part in the battle, many of them living in full medieval style for an entire weekend. As well as being given guided tours through this makeshift village, visitors to the town will also be treated to the sights, sounds and smells of medieval England through a whole range of markets, demonstrations and re-enactments.
But you can visit any time of year
As well as being able to visit the 30th anniversary of the Medieval Festival itself in May, visitors to Tewkesbury can find plenty of evidence of the battle in various locations across the town at any time of the year.
The battlefield is easily accessed, and there are self-guided trails and interpretation panels to explain more fully what happened during the course of the fateful day, almost 550 years ago.
Tewkesbury Abbey offers more than 900 years of history – with a chilling past of so much blood being spilled within it on that day, that it needed not only to be closed for several days afterwards to be thoroughly cleaned, but also re-consecrated before any church services could be held in there again.
And The Hat Shop – one of Tewkesbury’s most historic buildings, closed for 14 years, and then saved from demolition – is now the town’s Tourist Information Centre, as well as a ‘hub’ for all of the town’s future events, walks, talks and tours.
Standing in a prominent position in the town centre, and close to where a new memorial for the Battle of Tewkesbury will be erected in 2013, this black-and-white half-timbered building has absorbed several centuries of the town’s history and heritage. And much of that is now brought vividly back to life through a series of special displays and interactive exhibitions.