About Tewkesbury Battlefield
A definitive battle of the Wars of the Roses, the Battle of Tewkesbury was a resounding defeat for the Lancastrians, which led to 12 years of relative peace in England from 1471 until Edward IV’s unexpected death in 1483.
Tewkesbury Battlefield history
In April 1471, the Lancastrian queen Margaret of Anjou landed with her troops at Weymouth, where they were joined with reinforcements by the Duke of Somerset. They expected that the advance troops, led by the Earl of Warwick, would have made some headway in defeating Edward IV’s army. Warwick had indeed fought with Edward IV at the Battle of Barnet, yet had been defeated and killed in the process.
Edward IV meanwhile was in Windsor, and soon realised that he would have to intercept the Lancastrians before they arrived in Wales. The Lancastrian army detoured to Bristol for supplies, were refused entry to Gloucester by its citizens and so marched north, hoping to cross the river Severn at Tewkesbury.
With Edward’s army in pursuit, Somerset arrived at Tewkesbury and decided to make a stand. He deployed his troops, numbering about 5,000, in an area of pastureland just south of Tewkesbury Abbey flanked by two streams. On arrival, Edward chose to deploy his army of about 4,000 men south of, and parallel with, Somerset’s.
The battle began the morning of 4 May, 1471 and lasted several hours, during which the Lancastrians lost 2,000 men and the Yorkists around 500. Among the Lancastrian dead was the Prince of Wales, son of Margaret of Anjou and Henry VI. With the death of their heir and the imprisonment of both Henry VI (who was later murdered in the Tower of London) and Queen Margaret, the Lancastrians’ hold on the throne of England seemed lost.
Tewkesbury Battlefield today
Today the east side of Tewkesbury Battlefield is now covered by a housing development, yet the western part is accessible by public footpath and serves as agricultural land.
There is a monument to the Battle of Tewkesbury in front of Tewkesbury Abbey where Edward, Prince of Wales is buried, and the Abbey itself is a wonderful historic building well worth a visit. The remains of George, Duke of Clarence (brother of King Edward) and his wife, Isabelle (daughter of the Earl of Warwick) were also brought there for burial.
It is worth noting that, as with many medieval battlefields, there is some controversy about the exact location of the Battle of Tewkesbury, however a marked trail allows visitors to walk some of the locations generally accepted as key sites of the battle.
Getting Tewkesbury Battlefield
Tewkesbury Battlefield is located in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire just west of the M5. A number of buses run to Tewkesbury, with the nearest stop to the site at the Council Offices, a 4-minute walk away. The nearest train station is also Ashchurch for Tewkesbury, a 15-minute drive or 30-minute bus journey to the site.