This compact market town on the northern cusp of the Cotswolds was once controlled by the third largest abbey in England.
Almost 500 years after Evesham Abbey was suppressed, its legacy survives at an Almonry (now a museum), two local churches, a tithe barn and in the remnants of the abbey church tower.
Evesham rests by a meander on the River Avon, which is a picture-perfect backdrop to picnics and can be crossed on an old-fashioned cable ferry.
In July there’s a festival on the river with illuminated boats, light-hearted races and a fireworks display.
The wider Vale of Evesham has a tradition for fruit growing and is a joy to behold in spring when some 3,000 acres of orchards burst into bloom.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Evesham:
1. Almonry Museum
Evesham Abbey’s 14th-century almonry (place where alms were handed out) is the unforgettable setting for the town’s museum.
In 12 rooms you can find out about historical events like the Battle of Evesham (1265) during the Second Barons’ War.
There are treasures from an Anglo-Saxon burial, pieces of clothing from the 1700s, displays of local agriculture down the centuries and galleries recalling life in Evesham during the two world wars.
Other exhibitions delve into topics like palaeontology and archaeology on a more general level.
The garden is a treat too, and has a cannon captured during the Battle of Sebastopol (1855) in the Crimean War.
2. Abbey Park
The grounds of Evesham Abbey are a joy, especially if you’re in town with smaller children.
In summer there’s a water play fountain to complement the park’s generous playground.
For a moment of peace you can wander along the lime avenue next to the Avon and pause by the lily pool and the many ornamental flower beds.
There are boat trips on the river for £5 (adult) in summer and in the evenings the avenue is particularly romantic in lights.
Something to sniff out in the park is the memorial to Simon de Montfort, leader of the Barons’ rebellion and a parliamentary reformer, who was killed at the Battle of Evesham.
He was originally buried under the abbey church’s altar, and in 1965 a replacement stone memorial was brought from France to mark his grave.
3. Evesham Abbey Tower
The building itself suffered a fate that was echoed across England in the 16th century when it was torn down during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII. In its heyday this Benedictine community was one of the richest in the country, and the original site covered more than 8,300 square metres.
All that remains today of the abbey church is the Perpendicular Gothic bell tower, erected not long before the abbey was dissolved.
This three-storey structure is in good condition, with rows of blind trefoil arches and pinnacles adorned with crockets on the roof.
4. St Lawrence’s Church
The second of a trio of enthralling religious buildings in the centre Evesham is a defunct church founded in the 12th century by the monks of Evesham Abbey.
The monument has had a difficult history, losing its vicar in the mid-17th century and then its roof at the turn of the 19th century.
In the 1830s the church was repaired, and a north aisle was built to match the 15th-century south aisle.
As we see it now, St Lawrence’s is mostly Perpendicular Gothic from the 1400s, with 19th-century Gothic Revival flourishes that shine through in the wonderful stained glass windows.
The last services took place in the 1970s and the church is now used as a concert venue for its wonderful acoustics.
5. Blossom Trail
If you find yourself around Evesham in early spring you have to take some time exploring in the surrounding Vale of Evesham.
This landscape has an abundance of fruit trees, producing plums, apples, cherries and pears.
There are around 3,000 acres of orchards in the Vale of Evesham alone, and the blossom trail adds up to 45 miles in all.
The dates can change, but around April you can head out along country lanes and main roads as these trees burst into flower in a spectacle of white and pink.
The plums and damson flowers are the first to come into bloom, followed by the pears, cherries and apples.
6. Evesham Vale Light Railway
One way to enjoy the Evesham Vale’s pastoral countryside without straying far from the town is to visit to the Valley.
Since 2002, this has been the site of the Evesham Vale Light Railway, a 15-inch line more than a mile in length.
You’ll ride in a semi-open coach or a refined saloon carriage, pulled by one of five steam or diesel locomotives.
It’s an activity also worth timing for spring, as the line has a long section through an apple orchard and gives you the chance to get off halfway through (at Evesham Vale Station) for a walk and picnic.
7. Regal Cinema
Not a typical movie theatre, the Regal Cinema is an Art Deco marvel designed by Hurley Robinson in 1932 and now a Grade II-listed monument.
The building came through a restoration in the 2000s, reopening as a performing arts centre for the whole community.
So while you can watch Hollywood blockbusters and new independent films, the Regal Cinema also has a programme of comedy, live music and more.
If you need ideas for kids you can catch designated family screenings on weekends and weekday mornings during the school holidays.
The bar/restaurant is at the back of the auditorium and even offers table service during the movie, while there are giant “love seats” and blankets if you feel chilly.
8. The Valley
Site of the light railway, the Valley is an attraction that almost defies description.
In 125 acres of peaceful rural scenery it’s a cross between a country park, a garden centre and a pedestrian mall.
So while you can amble along trails and take picnics, you can also do a spot of shopping at outdoorsy stores like Mountain Warehouse and Barbour.
Blue Diamond Home & Garden is a vast garden centre, while the Boardman Performance Centre is a facility and store for serious bike riders, even measuring your positional biomechanics.
As well as that light railway there’s also a castle-like adventure playground opened in 2015 to celebrate the 750th anniversary of the Battle of Evesham.
9. Hampton Ferry
At the end of Boat Lane to the west of Evesham there’s a pedestrian cable ferry across the Avon.
The ferry is manually operated; after you step onto the vessel the ferryman will pull you to the opposite bank using the cable, which then sinks to the riverbed to allow normal traffic to pass by.
You can reach the ferry on foot in around 15 minutes from Evesham’s Market Square, for a very picturesque country walk.
There’s a pub beside the river so you can take a while to soak up this quaint scene.
The position of the ferry hasn’t changed since the 13th century when it was chosen by the monks of Evesham Abbey to help them reach their vineyard on Clark’s Hill.
10. Evesham Arts Centre
Dating to 1978, the volunteer-run Evesham Arts Centre is attached to Prince Henry’s High School.
During the school day it’s a facility for drama studies, but doubles as a performing arts venue for the whole town.
The auditorium can seat 312, while there’s an exhibition space and a studio theatre for 60 spectators, as well as a licensed bar and cafe.
The programme is loaded with professional and amateur entertainment.
You can come for touring stand-up comedians, plays, musicals, live music, shows for kids and a Christmas pantomime.
There’s also a strong local amateur arts scene, well worth sampling.
11. All Saints’ Church
The last of Evesham’s set of beautiful Medieval religious monuments is the Grade I All Saints’ Church, also founded by the monks of Evesham Abbey.
Today All Saints’ is the town’s parish church, next to the bell tower and sharing a churchyard with St Lawrence’s.
Like its neighbour it was built in the 12th century but later reworked in the surviving Perpendicular style.
Outside, the porch stands out, both for its unusual format and the rich ornamentation of its carved panelling and quatrefoil friezes.
One of the finest fittings is the Perpendicular font, with quatrefoils on an arcaded stem, while the Edwardian chancel gates have a fine Arts and Crafts design.
12. All Things Wild
Fifteen minutes by road, or one stop on the train to Honeybourne, All Things Wild is an animal-themed family attraction with indoor and outdoor fun.
Outside there are life-sized model dinosaurs, a lemur walk-through, wallabies, play areas, farmyard animals, adventure golf, pedal-karts, a land train and diggers than kids can operate.
If the weather caves, All Things Wild has a “dino barn”, reptile room, farmyard animal barn, three indoor soft play areas, an indoor beach, pedal tractors and a lot more besides.
All of the animal habitats are spacious and humane, and for an extra fee kids can take part in experiences like becoming a keeper for a day or feeding meerkats by hand.
13. The Fleece Inn
Also just a brief trip into the Worcestershire countryside, the Fleece Inn is a National Trust pub with a history that can be traced back to the 1400s.
The current half-timbered building is from the 17th century and was in the same family, the Byrds, from that time right up to 1977 when it was bequeathed to the trust.
As well as local ales, ciders and classic pub fare there are also some interesting historical details to look out for.
One is a set of 17th-century pewter ware thought to have belonged Oliver Cromwell, while the inn keeps up the old tradition of chalk circles in front of its hearths to keep witches away.
14. Middle Littleton Tithe Barn
You can get in touch with Medieval life in the Vale of Evesham at this National Trust site in the village of Middle Littleton.
The Tithe Barn here belonged to Evesham Abbey and was built in the 12th or 13th century.
It’s a remarkable building, almost 40 metres long, composed of Cotswold limestone (dressings) and blue lias, with stone tile roof.
Now a Grade I monument, the barn was used to store produce from local farms, collected as a tax by the abbey.
One of the largest and finest in England, it gives you an idea of the power that the abbey wielded in Medieval times.
Part of the same complex is a preserved cider press; given Evesham’s fruit growing tradition it’s fair to say that most of the tithes were paid in apples and pears.
15. Evesham River Boat Festival
In mid-July there’s a festival on the river at Workman Garden, just opposite Abbey Park.
This two-day event has been running for more than 30 years now, and although the programme changes by the year there are a few staples.
One is the themed illuminated flotilla, which takes place after sunset on the final evening and is followed by a fireworks display.
In 2018 there was lots going on, like demonstrations by water rescue dogs, a vintage steamboat rally, a watersports relay and a race for people who built their own rafts.
There’s always live music and food stalls and lots of activities for children.