The Fitzhamon Lecture 24th April 2021

‘Hallowing God’s House in 1121: the consecration of the abbey church at Tewkesbury’
Professor John Harper, by Zoom video conference

Theulf, bishop of Worcester, consecrated the new abbey church at Tewkesbury on 23 October 1121. This lecture explores the likely order and ritual of the rite of dedication of the church on that occasion. Much of the Norman building survives, and there is good knowledge of what was changed in later centuries. That provides one side of the story. The other side can be found in surviving books of the kind that Theulf will have used on this occasion: two pontificals, bishop’s books which contain the rite of dedication of a church and were written in the later eleventh century, have associations with Worcester. Of course, much of the detail has to be imagined – but then the study of the past always requires imagination; nevertheless, it is possible to establish much that happened at the liturgy on that important day.

During the past decade, John Harper’s research has explored the relationship of medieval churches and the liturgy, asking what was the experience of worshipping in a cathedral, monastery or parish church? His current work is focused on the emergence of the highly influential liturgical Use of Salisbury Cathedral in the period 1075–1225. He is emeritus director, The Royal School of Church Music; emeritus professor, Bangor University; and honorary professor, University of Birmingham.

Places are limited so please book early by requesting the video link from

Friends’ Zoom Lecture

Saturday 13th March, 7.30pm

Dr Andy Moir, dendrochronologist, will be speaking about his recent project tree-dating some of the town’s ancient buildings, including the Abbey. Booking is required in order to obtain the Zoom meeting link and details – click here to book by email. This is a free event but donations to the Friends of Tewkesbury Abbey will be welcome. It is hoped that a recording of the talk will be available on this website for a short period afterwards.

Friends’ Zoom lecture

28th November 2020 saw the Friends venture into something new! Not being able to meet together for most of the year, the Friends turned to the virtual world and hosted an online lecture.

The Dean of Hereford, and former Vicar of Tewkesbury Abbey, the Very Revd Michael Tavinor, gave a fully illustrated and entertaining lecture to some 80 ‘virtual attendees’ logging in from around the world. His subject was ‘Tewkesbury and Hereford – Compare and Contrast’ with topics ranging from history, buildings and library to events, local characters and famous visitors.

The lecture was a great success, with many able to attend who are usually unable to travel to Tewkesbury, and so this type of event is sure to feature in future Friends’ programmes. For a short period of time the lecture is available to view on this website – click here!

Further Cancellations

It is disappointing, but not surprising, that under current circumstances it is impossible for the Friends to meet on the first Sunday of July for the customary Friends’ Festival and AGM or to have the now traditional excursion on the following day. Council therefore recently passed a resolution to cancel Friends’ Festival and to postpone the 2020 AGM indefinitely. We very much hope to be able to hold the latter before the end of the year. A mailing to all Friends will be sent out at the beginning of June.

Events Cancelled

We are sorry but the following have been cancelled

  • Friends’ committee meetings
  • Friends’ Council Meeting, 18th April 2020
  • Fitzhamon Lecture, 25th April 2020

If you have pre-purchased tickets for the Fitzhamon Lecture please hold on to them and arrangements will be made for a refund to be made to you when the Abbey Shop re-opens, or they may be exchanged if the lecture is rescheduled for a later date.

The Restoration of Tewkesbury Past

The first Friends’ event of 2020 takes place on Friday 24th January at 7.00pm in the Parish Hall when Mr Simon Lawton, Curator of the John Moore Museum, Tewkesbury, will be speaking on ‘The Restoration of Tewkesbury Past – The Abbey and its Legacy’. Tickets are £7.50, to include refreshments, and are available from the Abbey Shop, or on the door.

Lammas Bread Making

Lammas Bread is traditionally made using the first harvested grain of the season, and on Thursday 1st August a small group of Young Friends gathered in the Touching Souls Tea Room at the Abbey to make Lammas Bread under the direction of tearoom supervisor Margaret Gribble. The flour used came from nearby Stanway Water Mill. Go to the Young Friends page for a photo diary of their work, including a photo of the beautiful finished loaf.

Friends’ Festival 7th July 2019

This year’s Friends’ Festival is just over one week away. Our theme this year is ‘Conservation’ and the speaker after the Annual General Meeting at 2.30pm is The Friends’ Scholar, Ms Ellie March, whose studies are assisting the Abbey in the preparation of a Conservation Management Plan.

The visiting preacher at the 11.00am Sung Eucharist is Revd Tim Marks of Malvern Priory. Do join us for the service, stay on for the bring and share lunch in the parish hall and then what will be a very interesting afternoon. The festival finishes with tea, then Evensong at 5.00pm.

[If the sun is shining why not stay on to be entertained by Tewkesbury Town Band in the grounds of Abbey House? Bring a picnic, there will be a Pimms tent serving refreshments. Tickets are £10 on the gate]. We look forward to welcoming many Friends to this special day.