MENU
A Tribute to Bill Gwilliam MBE

A Tribute to Bill Gwilliam, MBE

Crime and Legal Articles

The County Gaol

The County Gaol

The County Gaol was built in 1813 in the style of a medieval castle, and because of this, the name of Salt Lane was changed to Castle Street. Mr. Sandy's was the architect, following the principals of John Howard. It contained 90 cells, and was enlarged in 1839 to give 80 extra cells. This was the time of great political agitation, when during the summer, the gaol was excessively crowded with Chartists from Dudley, with cells intended for one containing three.


The City Gaol

The City Gaol

Over the centuries, the City had many prisons. There was the gaol at the east end of St Nicholas Street, a Bridewell at the bottom of Cucken Street (Copenhagan Street) and below the gatehouse of the Foregate were cells which, for a long period, were used as a prison for strangers 


Social power and authority

Social power and authority

Today, the state controls all aspects of the legal system, but in the past there were three distinct legal authorities which controlled rural life. The Judges and the local Justices of the Peace administered the laws of the land; local legal rules and customs

Feckenham Court Leet

Feckenham Court Leet

Ancient manorial customs continued in some places well into the last century. The Evesham Journal of December 1, 1928, reported on Feckenham Court Leet: 'According to the old custom, the jury assembled under the oak tree on the Village Green, where the Steward

Ancient Courts on the Hill Tops

Ancient Courts on the Hill Tops

Way back in the very distant past, long before there was centralized legal administration, justice was administered upon the hill tops, and in some places, ancient stones still stand to mark those special places, and surprisingly, legal customs continued

Michael Grundy writes:

No-one has done more in a lifetime than H.W ("Bill") Gwilliam to chronicle the history of the City of Worcester and County of Worcestershire. Importantly too, his prolific writings on the Faithful City's past have always been in a most readable, fascinating and absorbing form, full of colour and with a liberal sprinkling of humour.

After retiring from a distinguished career in teaching, Bill researched and compiled volume after typewritten volume on the history of the city and county of Worcester, covering a myriad of subjects such as folklore, pubs, crimes, newspapers, transport. rivers and, above all, "People and Places."

Eighteen years ago, when I began producing weekly features on local history for the Worcester Evening News, I received invaluable help from Bill, and I am sure many other local history researchers down the decades will have had cause to be equally grateful for his ready assistance.

Bill has always shown abounding enthusiasm for the extremely eventful and chequered past of Worcester and the county and has been a veritable font of knowledge on his painstakingly researched subject.

Little wonder that the Queen bestowed the MBE on him for services to the public. I know that the Buckingham Palace Investiture where he received the medal from Her Majesty was probably the most memorable day of his life.

Happily, Bill's vast writings are not being allowed to languish in numerous file folders on shelves around a bedroom at his Worcester home.

Two books of his work have already been published - "Old Worcester: People and Places" and "Worcestershire's Hidden Past" and are available in bookshops, having been produced by Halfshire Books.

I understand too that the Worcestershire Record Office has copied several of his volumes for the county archives, and I heartily applaud Pam Hinks for now so patiently making Bill's researches available to an even wider audience via the Internet.

Mike Grundy, Worcestershire Evening News