Like Malvern, Matlock or Cheltenham, Tenbury made its most recent history out of its natural resources. The suffix to the town name was added in the 1840s when mineral waters were discovered in the local area, however the history of the town goes back plenty further than this. Chartered in 1249, the town was already well-established, boasting (probably) a motte-and-bailey castle, Castle Tump, that now sits administratively in Shropshire, on the north banks of the Teme. Today, it’s a sleepy West Worcestershire town that clings to its market tradition, its frankly odd Chinese-Gothic pump rooms, and its pretty lovely situation in the quiet, under-appreciated bucolic charms of the Teme valley.
The town is possibly most famous these days for its mistletoe festival in December, which is when we landed. I say festival, we made out a few sprigs here and there in shop windows. I think we missed the druids, which is a shame: I’d like to meet a real-life Getafix. Instead, there were a handful of inhabitants, even on a Saturday lunchtime, poking around the small high street and partaking in disappointing pasties. There are three charity shops. Near the historic Teme bridge is a somewhat ad hoc looking, generic armed forces shop selling furniture and a few clothes. It was very reasonably priced, but with a slightly overbearing, staring staff.
Further down Teme Street is the St Michael Hospice and Sue Ryder. Both were fine, in their way, but we left with no particular bargains. That’s Tenbury, I suppose. It’s fine, it even has its attractive little market area and riverside, and its various traditions and folklores: but there’s nothing particular to recommend it.
Find: Tenbury Wells @ Google Maps
Get there: You could kayak up the Teme I suppose, but as there’s no station you might have to drive.
Consume with: Don’t risk the lukewarm pasties, tempting as they might appear. You’ll be better off with some sort of traditional tea shop of which there are several.
Visit: Those of the industrial-historical bent might enjoy tracking the Leominster Canal which ran past the town.
Overall rating: two pet blankets