EVESHAM, a market-town and municipal borough in the Evesham parliamentary division of Worcestershire, England, 107 m. W.N.W. of London by the Great Western railway, and 15 m. S.E. by E. of Worcester, with a station on the Redditch-Ashchurch branch of the Midland railway. Pop. (1901) 7101. It lies on the right (north) bank of the Avon, in the rich and beautiful Vale of Evesham. The district is devoted to market-gardening and orchards, and the trade of the town is mainly agricultural. Evesham is a place of considerable antiquity, a Benedictine house having been founded here by St Egwin in the 8th century. It became a wealthy abbey, but was almost wholly destroyed at the Dissolution. The churchyard, however, is entered by a Norman gateway, and there survives also a magnificent isolated bell-tower dating from 1533, of the best ornate Perpendicular workmanship. The abbey walls surround the churchyard, but almost the only other remnant is a single Decorated arch. Close to the bell-tower, however, are the two parish churches of St Lawrence and of All Saints, the former of the 16th century, the latter containing Early English work, and the ornate chapel of Abbot Lichfield, who erected the bell-tower. Other buildings include an Elizabethan town hall, the grammar school, founded by Abbot Lichfield, and the picturesque almonry. The borough includes the parish of Bengeworth St Peter, on the left bank of the river. Evesham is governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen and 12 councillors. Area, 2265 acres.

Evesham (Homme, Ethomme) grew up around the Benedictine abbey, and had evidently become of some importance as a trading centre in 1055, when Edward the Confessor gave it a market and the privileges of a commercial town. It is uncertain when the town first became a borough, but the Domesday statement that the men paid 20s. may indicate the existence of a more or less organized body of tradesmen. Before 1482 the burgesses were holding the town at a fee farm rent of twenty marks, but the abbot still had practical control of the town, and his steward presided over the court at which the bailiffs were chosen. After the Dissolution the manor with the markets and fairs and other privileges was granted to Sir Philip Hoby, who increased his power over the town by persuading the burgesses to agree that, after they had nominated six candidates for the office of bailiff, the steward of the court instructed by him should indicate the two to be chosen. This privilege was contested by Queen Elizabeth, but when the case was taken before the court of the exchequer it was decided in favour of Sir Philip’s heir, Sir Edward Hoby. In 1604 James I. granted the burgesses their first charter, but in the following year, by a second charter, he incorporated Evesham with the village of Bengeworth, and granted that the borough should be governed by a mayor and seven aldermen, to whom he gave the power of holding markets and fairs and several other privileges which had formerly belonged to the lord of the manor. Evesham received two later charters, but in 1688 that of 1605 was restored and still remains the governing charter of the borough. Evesham returned two members to parliament in 1295 and again in 1337, after which date the privilege lapsed until 1604. Its two members were reduced to one by the act of 1867, and the borough was disfranchised in 1885.

Evesham gave its name to the famous battle, fought on the 4th of August 1265, between the forces of Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, and the royalist army under Prince Edward. After a masterly campaign, in which the prince had succeeded in defeating Leicester in the valleys of the Severn and Usk, and had destroyed the forces of the younger Montfort at Kenilworth before he could effect a junction with the main body, the royalist forces approached Evesham in the morning of the 4th of August in time to intercept Leicester’s march towards Kenilworth. Caught in the bend of the river Avon by the converging columns, and surrounded on all sides, the old earl attempted to cut his way out of the town to the northward. At first the fury of his assault forced back the superior numbers of the prince; but Simon’s Welsh levies melted away and his enemies closed the last avenue of escape. The final struggle took place on Green Hill, a little to the north-west of the town, where the devoted friends of de Montfort formed a ring round their leader, and died with him. The spot is marked with an obelisk.