Historical Studies Articles

Blind Man c.1900

Blind Man c.1900

Blind man reading Braile near the Watergate c.1900

Fair Booths on Pitchcroft abt 1880

Fair booths on Pitchcroft about 1880, showing the elaborate painted canvas fronts and small mechanical organ. An original print found in the loft of the British School marked School Photographic Club



Worcester Pest House Barbourne

Worcester Pest House Barbourne

Worcester Evening News Remembers Article 13th Feb 1993

Stamping out infection took on drastic proportions at Worcester in 1905 when the city council deliberately devastated an historic house .. by setting it ablaze.....

Tunnel Hill, Observatory

Tunnel Hill, Observatory

High up on Tunnel Hill stands a house on the highest part of the road with 'observatory' windows on the top floor. In the 1800's it had a huge telescope fixed in the windows and many tales were told of the power of the instrument:

The Garden Suburb, Tolladine Road

The Garden Suburb, Tolladine Road

In 1913, a Society called the Worcester Tenants Ltd, bought eleven acres of land from Christ Church, Oxford, just off Tolladine Road, on the south side which then, apart from the Railway works, was in completely rural meadows and hills..... 

Brickfields and Richard Spooner

Brickfields and Richard Spooner

Brickfields Estate was the property of Richard Spooner, an eccentric. He was M.P for North Worcestershire, and partner in the Banking house of Attwood and Spooner of Birmingham..

The Water Gate and the Ferry

The Water Gate and the Ferry

The Priory Ferry, or Cathedral Ferry, worked until the mid-20th century. It had originally been established for the convenience both of monks and milk-maids, who would otherwise have had to be taken the circuitous route through the City to the Severn ridge at the bottom of Newport Street, for there was no riverside walk as there is today. 

Changes in the Cathedral Services

Changes in the Cathedral Services

The religious revival that came with church reform brought great changes in public worship. One of the influences for church reform came from the young men of the Oxford Movement, to whom the doctrine and ceremony of the early church were a precious heritage....

Cathedral Bell Stolen

Cathedral Bell Stolen

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


Cages of Birds in Cathedral Pews

Cages of Birds in Cathedral Pews

In Walpole's Lord Orford's letters, there is a note about a Worcester lady, who believing that her dead daughter yet existed and might communicate with her as a singing bird, had cages of birds put with her in her pew in the Cathedral, hoping they might attract her.

The Cathedral Charnel House

The Cathedral Charnel House

Immediately north of the main entrance to the Cathedral, at a site where now the roadway widens before the North Porch, stood the Chapel of the Charnel House.........  

Guesten Hall

Guesten Hall

The ruins in the College Green are part of the Guesten Hall, built in 1320, which formed part of a chain of monastic buildings on the south side of the Cathedral......

Three Incidents at the Old Palace

Three Incidents at the Old Palace

The Council of War - James ll Rebuffs the Bishop - The Bishop Locked Out

The Old Palace, Deansway

The Old Palace, Deansway

Until the year 1842, the Old Palace was the official residence of the Bishop of Worcester. He also had Hartlebury Castle and a London House, but a Royal Commission looking into the Church Revenues with reforming zeal, concluded that the Bishop had no need for two palaces, and reduced his income.

Edgar Tower

Edgar Tower was, until the late 19th century, known as St. Mary's Gate, was the main gate to the royal castle and priory..... 

Eaton's Concise History of Worcester (1829) - Royal Tombs

Eatons Concise History of Worcester, ends the account of the opening of the tomb with this macabre story: 'On the opening of the Tomb of King John in the Cathedral, a gentleman of this city took a hand-full of the skeletons of skins of maggots that were in and about the abdomen of the body and angled with them in the Severn, and absolutely caught a brace of bleak with them'. 

The King's tomb was moved in to a new location in the Cathedral  which in doing so destroyed the very reason for it being there at all. The last restoration in 1874 was done by the Board of Works, who are responsible for all the royal tombs, and insensitively destroyed the remnants of colour that remained and gilded the whole figure, placing on it's head a tin crown.

Arthur, Prince of Wales, the son of Henry Vlll, was as a boy of eleven, betrothed to Catherine of Aragon, of the same age, in a Machievellian attempt to control foreign affairs of state. Two years later, they were married by proxy, the ceremony on Arthur's side taking place in the chapel of Twickenhill Palace at Bewdley on Whit Sunday, 1449. Catherine came to England two years later, and she and Arthur both 15, were married in St. Paul's Cathedral, and went to spend their honeymoon at Ludlow Castle. At the end of two months, on April 2nd, 1502, Arthur died.

The body was embalmed and a great procession brought the young prince to Worcester Cathedral for burial. It was one of the greatest  scenes of pomp and ceremony ever witnessed in our Cathedral, and one of the most moving. The chronicler wrote:

"but to have seene the weepinge when the offringe was done, he had a hard heart that wept not".


The Royal Tombs

Two important royal tombs can be seen in Worcester Cathedral. That of King John, believed to bear the earliest royal effigy taken from life, and that of Prince Arthur, the eldest son of Henry VIII, often said to be the most beautiful tomb of all British Cathedrals.

The Dissolution

On January 16th, 1540, the Priory of Worcester came to an end and after 580 years of occupation by the Prior and monks, the monastic buildings and estates were surrendered into the hands of the King.

The Shrines of Oswald and Wulstan

The shrines of Oswald and Wulstan were the most popular of the Midland religious shrines in the 13th and 14th centuries. The great re-building of the Cathedral in the 13th century, the choir and Lady Chapel, were made possible by the fame of the Saints of Worcester.

Little Pitchcroft Riots, 1818

The croft nearest the City walls (roughly the land cut off by the railway viaduct) was called Little Pitchcroft. It was taken up by the Cattle Market and other buildings, but not before there was considerable violence to stop the loss of what regarded as the citizen's common land.

Soup Kitchens

The years following the wars with Napoleon were times of great distress among the poor. Charitable people opened soup kitchens in Bull Entry and Bank Street. The Bull Entry kitchen was established in 1817, with specially made equipment that made an average 15,000 quarts daily, and it was said could make three times as much if needed. 

The Cathedral and the City

From time immemorial the Prior and the monks of Worcester (the forerunners of the Dean and Chapter) were exempt from municipal authority. This was confirmed  y Henry VI, who in the year 1400, ordained that : 

The Sanctuary at Worcester

The privileges of Sanctuary were granted to the Cathedral in 712. The area of the Sanctuary formed a circuit around the Cathedral, coming up from the river at Water Gate, between College Green and the site of the old Castle (now the King's School) including the north side of Edgar Street (which was called Knoll's End), across Sidbury to Lich Street, running up the south side of that street, and so down between the Bishop's Palace and the Cathedral to the river.

The Beginnings of Worcester

Worcester was the first ford, coming up the Severn, at the head of the tideway which was not unduly affected by the tide, but equally important, there was sharpe rising ground which provided a place of comparative safety for those using the ford.

The Early Cathedrals of Oswald and Wulstan

Oswald became Bishop of Worcester in 961, at the time of the Danish raids, and when Christian life was well nign impossible. He saw the solution in the revival of monastic life, the monasteries being refuge where men could flee from the lawless and sensual world, and from which a Christian by religious discipline could influence the world around.

The Beginnings of Worcester

Worcester was the first ford, coming up the Seven, at the head of the tideway which was not unduly affected by the tide, but equally important, there was sharp rising ground which provided a place of comparative safety for those using the ford. This rising ground which Willis Bund called 'the Tump', is that on which the Kings School, Cathedral and the Old Palace now stand.

Old Worcester - Architectural Notes

Until 18c. the carpenter was most important in the buildings of Worcester, but then gave way to the mason and bricklayer, just putting in parts of roof timbers.

The Plague Pit

Traditionally, the site of the plague pit was on the old sheepmarket in Angel Street, which originally was an orchard belonging to the Dominican Frairy,

The Bubonic Plague at Worcester

The outbreak of the Bubonic Plague in 1637 was as serious for Worcester as the 1665 Plague was for London. The pestilence swept away at least a fifth of the City's population.

Definitions of History

'History is then distillation of rumor' Carlyle 'History is philosophy by examble'. Herodotus 'History is just one damn thing after another'. AJP Taylor. 'History gives us a peep into lost ages, and helps us share past deeds with Worcestershire men

Worcester City Regalia

Before the advent of powder and shot the mace was the yeoman's weapon of attack and defence, It was a heavy-headed club or staff, sometimes studdied with metal, and was the principal weapon of close combat

The Use of Pears in the City and County Arms

City records going back to between 1460 and 1490 (Ballard's Book) mentions 'six pears sable'. A deed of 1569 bears a seal with three black pears; an Elizabethan grant of 1575 is stated to have been made of the use of three black pears for the City Arms.

The State Sword

The State Sword of Worcester is thirty three and a quarterinches in length, and the cross guard sixteen and a half inches.

The Sword Bearer of the City of Worcester

The Sword Bearer, with his magnificent feathered Cap of Maintenance, is a splendid sight in the annual prcession to the Cathedral made by the Mayor and Corporation.

Sir George Vernon

Sir George Vernon, the last of the Vernons of Hanbury Hall, was an unconventional character. He left the Hall and £66,000 to his farm foreman's daughter, Ruth Powick, whom he had taken as his mistress

John Baskerville, Printer and Atheist

John Baskerville, Printer and Atheist was born at Sion Hill, Wolverly in 1706. He was a confirmed atheist, yet he printed the most beautiful Bibles

Sir John Dineley, 'the Poor Knight of Windsor'

The baronetcy passed to the Captain's two sons in succession, and did them no good. The elder died insane, and the younger became eccentric,

The Dineley Family and the 'Ruby' Tragedy

The Dineleys of Peopleton, near Worcester, produced in the 18th century some notable and strange characters. Thomas Dineley, early in the last century, was a traveller and artist.

Tunnel Hill Observatory

High up on Tunnel Hill stands a house on the highest part of the road with 'observatory' windows on the top floor. In the 1880s it had a huge telescope fixed in the windows and many tales were told of the power of the instrument:

Lavender House

Lavender House, a pleasant late 18th century residence, was a stucco building with an ornamental wrought iron balcony, overlooking Barbourne Brook. It has only recently been destroyed.

The Old Waterworks

At the top of Pitchcroft stood the old, ivy clad tower of the 18th century waterworks. It was really an elevated water tank on the top of the tower, to which water from the Severn was pumped by a waterwheel

The City Charter

Worcester has eighteen charters in its possession, including two granted by our present monach, Queen Elizabeth 11, which, after the reorganisation of local government in 1974,

Mrs Sherwood and the Black Library

Mrs .Sherwood who kept a school at Lower Wick, was the daughter of the Rev. George Butt, Rector of Stanford and vicar of Clifton-on- Teme from 1771 onwards. In early Victorian days she was the most celebrated author of children's books.

Lady Emily Foley

Lady Emily Foley was the widow of Squire Foley of Stoke Edith, and Lady of the Manor of Great Malvern, the daughter of  a Duke, and a lady of quite the old type.

Worcester Mayor Elopes with a Girl of 18

Worcester Mayors have on occasions been involved with scandal and corruption, but normally in the fields of politics or business - but William Winsmore, who became Mayor of Worcester in 1739, was concerned in a melodrama on truly traditional lines

A Seventeenth Century 'Blue Stocking'

Lady Dorothy Pakington was one of the most notable of Worcestershire ladies, and the reputed author of a celebrated work entitled 'The Whole Duty of Man'.

Horse Shoes Rent Paid for 700 years

William of Evesham who died in 1351, bought a smithy and some land in the Strand, London  (where now stands Australia House), from Thomas of Waltham Cross,

A E Housman and 'The Shropshire Lad'

Many have asked why Houseman, who was Worcestershire born and bred, wrote 'A Shropshire Lad'. Bishop Barnes of Birmingham once asked A.E.H why he called that famous book of poems, 'A Shropshire Lad', when he lived at Catshill, near the Lickey Hills, Shropshire.