MENU

Historical Studies Articles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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

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

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

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

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.