The City Charter

  • 16 Jan 2012
  • Historical Studies
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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, granted to the new Worcester District Council the status of a City and a Borough.
A royal charter, strictly speaking, is the instrument under the great seal, given by the Soverign in the presence of witnesses. The charters of the borough were, in effect, its title deeds - the documentary evidence for its existence, and the warranty for its actions. Until the Municipal Corporation Act, 1835, imposed a regular pattern throughout the country, each borough had its own constitution revealed in its charters, and it was to these that the Town Clerk would turn when considering the validity of any suggested action. So important could revoke or alte what his or her predecessors had granted, had their charter inspected and confirmed at the beginning of a new reign.
Since 1836 a charter has only been needed to found a borough or grant an existing borough purely prestige privileges, such as the status of a City, or the style of Lord Mayor to its chief citizen. However, long before 1836, the Act of Parliament was replacing the royal charter as the means of granting fresh responsibilities.