Tenbury Wells is sited at an important crossing point over the fast flowing River Teme, there has been a settlement here since at least Anglo-Saxon times and probably before. Tenbury was recorded in the Domesday Book as Tamedeberie, the word meaning a fortified site on the River Teme. The only remaining sign of fortification is an earth mound in a field near the river known as Castle Tump. Although legend has King Caractacus, who fought the Romans in AD51, being buried there, it is more likely the remains of a wooden fort. It’s somewhat odd position is explained by the fact that until the sixteenth century, the Teme used to flow in a large loop or meander around Castle Tump, so that it defended the ford across the river which led from an extension of Church Lane towards the Rose and Crown in Burford.
Tenbury officially became a Market Town in 1249 when King Henry III granted a Charter to Roger de Clifford to hold a weekly market. The seal and a replica of the charter are on display in Tenbury Museum.
Presumably the markets must have been a success, because in 1305, permission, which again had to be sought from the King, was given to build a bridge over the Teme. This is thought to have been at or close to the present location, because at about this time, Teme Street and the burgage plots on either side, were laid out, and it has remained to this day Tenbury’s main street.
The River Teme has always been prone to periodic flooding, sometimes quite severely, and the bridge has been rebuilt several times. During clearing the river to improve the flow in recent years near Newnham Bridge, two enormous timber beams were pulled out and are thought to have been washed down from one of the original bridges. These are on display at Avoncroft Museum. In 1580, a major flood caused the Teme to permanently change course cutting out the loop around Castle Tump. Another in 1770, demolished much of the nave of St Mary’s Church.
In 1839 mineral waters were discovered in a well being dug to find clean drinking water, and after investigation a small bathhouse was built to take advantage of them. Records suggest that both the roads and the accommodation were too poor to attract many visitors. However the coming of the railway transformed travel, and in 1861 the Pump Rooms were built, and the town was renamed Tenbury Wells.