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A chronicle of the history of the City of Worcester and the County of Worcestershire

History of Worcester & Worcestershire

Articles

The White Ladies

The White Ladies

The present house incorporates fragments of the Cistercian Nunnery called White Ladies, founded by Bishop Cantelupe, the friend of Simon de Mountfort, in 1250. Bishop Gifford, Cantelupe's successor, added to the endowment's and gave land bought from the de Flagge family. Some accounts say that Alice Flagge  entered the Convent and brought to the Nunnery lands leading up to Perdiswell, part of which, after 700 years, is still called Flagge Meadow. The Nunnery was further endowed by 53 acres of land ................


H. H Lines, Landscape Painter

H. H Lines, Landscape Painter

H.H.Lines was a landscape painter and a draughtsman of singular merit, ranking among the 'Worcester School' as second only to B W Leader. Among his works in the possession of the city are the line-and-wash drawings of the cathedral and monastic buildings which were being destroyed in the mid-19th century. With modern day research Worcester had others artists who became Royal Academy painters including the Thomas Hales Sanders who followed a line of family artists including John Sanders who in 1603, painted the portrait of Shakespeare who was an aquaintance of  the Bard and also was related by marriage to John Heminges who was born at Droitwich on the 25 Nov 1566, actor and Shakespeare's fellow-player. (This is an long ongoing research project which will be added to this site on completion).......


The Execution of Father John Wall

The Execution of Father John Wall

For several centuries the public gallows for Worcestershire stood at Red Hill on a piece of wasteland, but long since enclosed by the Sebrights. It is still possible to place the site of execution, for two ancient roads crossed here and these roads are now very narrow footpaths. The one, the old London Road, runs up the hill at the back of the houses; the other goes from north to south, crossing the traffic roundabout, and has a sign marked 'Footpath to Upper Battenhall'. Like many other ancient roads, it has been used as a marker, or boundary of property, and so has remained.


Mrs Henry Wood

Mrs Henry Wood

 

The story of Mrs. Henry Wood is one of the great success stories of the 19th century. She was born during the great frost of 1814 and a century later 6,000,000 copies of her books had been sold (not counting pirate copies and her huge contribution to magazines).

She was born Ellen Price at 18 Sidbury (called Danesbury House but rebuilt in 1889). Her father was Thomas Price, one of the largest glove manufacturies, who lived near other glovers in Sidbury (Burlingham was at 23 and Dent at 26). Up to the age of seven, she was brought up in her home of her grandmother, but when the latter died she went to live with her father at St. Mary's Terrace, London Road. She was married in Whittington Church to the head of a large banking firm in India and left Worcester, only returning some years later to consult Henry Douglas Carden, the great Worcester surgeon. She suffered from spinal trouble and used a reclining chair to write. Just before her death, she was writing 'Oswald Cray ' and broke down in health as soon as it was finished........  


The old Talbot

The old Talbot

Before 1835 the parish of St.Michael's was out of the city boundaries and jurisdiction. Both the Talbot and the Hare and Hounds in College Street were widely used for country business, all the amenities of the town but officially beyond its limits.....


Bishop Gore

Bishop Gore

Facing the Tewkesbury Road is the Loch Ryan Hotel, a fine late18th-century house that was once the residence of Bishop Gore, Bishop of Worcester from 1902 - 1905. He was the first Bishop of the 20th century and a socialist who refused to live in Hartlebury Castle, preferring to live in closer contact with his people. 


The Cameron Family

The Cameron Family

The Commandery has been home to many notable families including the Camerons. Dr. Cameron, the celebrated Worcester physician and his wife (Anne Ingram) lived in part of it in the latter half of the 18th century. Their eldest son, Rev C.R.Cameron, married Lucy Littleton Butt who, like her sister Mrs. Sherwood, wrote books for children, and numbered among admirers the great Dr. Arnold of Rugby School who quoted from them in his sermons......  


The Commandery

The Commandery

It was founded by Bishop Wulstan at the end of the 11th century for a master, four brethren and a chaplain. The establishment was at once religious and charitable, one of the houses outside the walls (like Oswald's) which catered for the reception of wayfarers who arrived after the city gates had closed at night and who otherwise would have had to sleep in the open. It was never connected with the Templars as some have thought, and the name, Commandery, probably derived from the title of a former lay superior.

 


St Peter's Parish Workhouse

St Peter's Parish Workhouse

In 1746 a parish workhouse was set up in an old half-timbered building in St. Peter's Street. It existed well into the 20th century. Parish records show the kind of treatment the less fortunate met. In 1739, for instance; Leonard Darke was to have 'the badche put on his sleeve before the churchwarden relieves him or his wife', a reference to the enforced practise of wearing a large 'P' badge on the arm to show a person was in receipt of parish assistance.....


St Peter's Church

St Peter's Church

In early times St Peter's church was known as the 'Great' to distinguish it from St Peter the Little which was a chapel at the royal castle of Worcester. By the 1830s it was picturesque but in a ruinous condition; and it was demolished in 1838. A new church was built with the aid of a government grant.... 


The Affray at the Ferry

The Affray at the Ferry

After the dissolution of the priory, the ferry and the boathouse passed with the Severn meadows to the new dean and chapter of the cathedral; and in Elizabethan times were the scene of an affray which became a Star Chamber matter, for strong passions disturbed the peace of the cathedral close in the days of transition from the old order to the new.


Old and new St Michael's churches

Old and new St Michael's churches

The old church of St Michael in Bedwardine, founded in 826, stood very close to the cathedral on the north-east side. Around the church were a number of houses that blocked up the northern facade of the cathedral. St Michael's had a tower and at the west end stood the ancient clochium, or bell tower, of the cathedral with its lofty spire.  


Cathedral Bell Stolen

Cathedral Bell Stolen

In 1863, the Worcestershire Chronicle published the startling announcement that one of the great bells of the cathedral, weighing five hundredweight had recently been stolen. It was not known how or when but it must have been within the last few months......... 


The  Cathedral Library

The Cathedral Library

Over the south aisle of the nave is the cathedral library. It contains rare and valuable books and documents of great age, including King John's will and a book printed by Caxton who set up England's first printing press in 1477. It was not until 1461, in the time of Bishop Carpenter, that a library was erected, and then it was placed in the charnel house; but there were collections of books and manuscripts before that, some certainly kept in the cloisters.......  


The beginnings of Worcester

The beginnings of Worcester

The site of the present city was tidal and swampy, ut the ford by the high ground, where the cathedral now stands, was of great importance, for here was the first sure crossing of the tidal river for many a mile. Sometime before AD655, a small mission church was built within the former Roman enclosure and houses and merchants clustered around. Later, alongside it, was built the first cathedral and in 680 Bosel, a monk from St Hilda's Abbey in Whitby was sent to become the first Bishop of Worcester .......   


The Cathedral and Sidbury - Before Worcester

The Cathedral and Sidbury - Before Worcester

The beginnings of Worcester date from the Bronze Age when, some two thousand years before the birth of Christ, the first settlers arrived; but these were not on the banks of the Severn ut on the high terrace east of the city between Elbury Mount and Crookbarrow Hill. The high ridge still shows circles and squares where once stood early settlements - from Elbury Mount in the north, which retained its defensive terraces until the 1850s, to Crookbarrow in the south, with its steep sides making a defensive mound or lookout, man-made on a natural hill. Cuggan, or Round Hill, at Spetchley commanded the east, and the entrenchments on the precipitous western side of Red Hill (later used by Cromwell).........


St John's Charity School

St John's Charity School

The last of the endowed school's of the City was in 'the township of St. John in Bedwardine', on the west bank of the Severn.It was a combined charity of two ladies who lived in St John's; Milberrow Doelittle in 1719 and Mercy Herbert in 1722.....


The Endowed and Chrity Schools in the City of Worcester

The Endowed and Chrity Schools in the City of Worcester

Worcester has two ancient endowed schools. They were the Cathedral King's School, which was of pre-Reformation foundation and was re-founded in 1541 by Henry VIII, and is still prospering strongly to this day and the Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School. founded in 1561, known as the Worcester Girls Grammar School but sadly closed in more recent times.....


Faith Healer

Faith Healer

Noake tells of an early Victorian faith healer, a labouring man of Stoke Prior, practising the art of healing 'by a charm', cases of thrush in children. He would put his finger into his own mouth and then into the child's, rubbing the gums and mumbling something ending with 'Father, Son and Holy Ghost', then set the child down....


Healing by Charms

Healing by Charms

Belief in charms survived well into the present century, especially for the cure of mysterious troubles that poultices and physic did not seem to touch, such as warts, skin diseases and fits. The charmer blew three times round the head of the patient, made mystic passes with his hands over the part afflicted and repeated an incantation in a low mumbling voice with the express intention that the words should not be understood....


The Village Wise Woman

The Village Wise Woman

Until the coming of the motor-car there were many villages in Worcestershire hidden away among wooded hills where life went on seemingly unchanged, as it had done for centuries. They were insignificant, out-of-the-world little places, inhabited by quaint old-fashioned folk, whose manners and customs were traditional and superstitious........


The King and Queen, and Bambury Stones on Bredon Hill

The King and Queen, and Bambury Stones on Bredon Hill

Long before Christianity, the Celts worshipped at curiously shaped rocks, not in temples, but in the open air, and on hill-tops. These stones were believed to have magical properties, and on Bredon Hill two groups of stones, of great antiquity, were used for religious and super superstitious purposes..........


Folklore in Past Days

Folklore in Past Days

 

                                         

Folklore is the study of beliefs and practices once firmly held. Few now believe in charms, in giants and fairies, but less than a century ago people in lonely places believed in them....