Worcester People and Places

Edgar Tower


Category: Worcester People and Places
Edgar Tower was, until the late 19th century, known as St.Mary's Gate, and was the main gate to the royal castle and priory. After the disastrous fire of 1202, when the City and Cathedral were burnt, John ordered the Sheriff of Worcester to obtain wood and stone of the best quality to rebuild the gatehouse. The massive wooden gates are those put there by order of King John, and are still mostly original.

The steps at the top of Edgar Street were known as St.Mary's Steps. between the steps and the Tower was an old inn, the Coach and Horses. The name was changed to Edgar Tower because there was for centuries the figure of King Edgar, who was crowned by Oswald in 973, seated with legs crossed, looking down on all who passed through the gate. The figure eventually crumbled to dust, but in the restoration of 1910 an exact copy was made, and with other notable people of the past, the old niches on the face of the Tower were filled with terra-cotta figures designed by R.F.Wells of Chelsea. The Dean and Chapter first put up the figure of Edgar, and others, including Stanley Baldwin, paid for the rest. They represent Bishop Bosel, the first Bishop; Winsin, the first Prior, King Ethelred; sub-king Osric;Duke Ethelred; Ethelfleda; and Florence of Worcester. Earlier, Thomas White did a bust which was placed over the gateway.

Mrs.Henry Wood immortalised the gatekeeper of the mid-19th century, Old Jenkins, in her book 'The Channings'. He was nicknamed 'Jack Ketch' by the boys of the college.


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