Three Incidents at the Old Palace

  • 17 Mar 2019
  • Historical Studies
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The Council of War

On June 27, 1646, during the great siege of Worcester. Colonel Washington (an ancestor of George) who was the City Governor, held a Council of War in the Great Chamber to consider their position. Things were in a hopeless state for the Royalists. Oxford, the only other garrison, had surrendered, and the great forces released there were marching to join the Parliamentary forces besieging Worcester, Worse still, there was news that the King had surrendered to the Scots.

The citizen members of the Council were for treating, for it was known that reasonable terms would be available, but there were others who insisted on 'no surrender'. Great heat ensued. Washington 'who was a very passionate man' asked "if they would live and die with him on the walls, and fight it out to the last man?". Fitzwilliam  Conyngsby, who had been Governor of Hereford, said they would, and suggest that "all those who were not of the same mind should be thrown over the wall's".

The Bishop and the moderate men tried to reason with Washington to face the military facts - but Washington swore a great oath, and said he would do as he pleased and break off all negotiations and fire a gun himself from the wall's to show that this was done. He went off to do it, but the Bishop and Dr. Warmstrey and others ran after him and stopped him, and at last persuaded him to appoint a committee to study the position - whether to treat or not. The Colonel was not to be persuaded however, and it was another month before the surrender of the City took place.

James ll Rebuffs the Bishop

When James ll was entertained at the Palace in 1687, the Bishop of Worcester, Dr. Thomas, an amiable old man, rose to say grace before the banquet he had provided, but was brusquely stopped and waived down by the King, who announced that he had his own chaplain, a Romanist, to do that. It was a cruel snub to the Bishop in his own palace, and brought the old man to tears, so that he had to be helped out of the room.

The King's curtness and other in-considerations were not unnoticed by those citizens present, and lost much Royalist sympathy.  In the next year, 1688, the City was markedly in favour of the 'Glorious Revolution', which resulted in James being driven from the throne.

The Bishop Locked Out

In 1841, a bizarre incident arose when the new Bishop of Worcester arrived to take possession of his Palace. It was well described in the following newspaper report:

"On Friday last, the most extraordinary occurance took place at Worcester ... Dr. Pepys, the new Bishop, having repaired to the See-house, for the purpose of taking possession, found the gates of the Palace closed against him ... and demanding admission, was told that the Palace was in the possession of another party (the Bailiffs)  and that his Lordship would not be permitted to enter. A crowd of persons witnessed his Lordship's application and denial..... The Bishop persisted in his claim. The party in possession was deaf to all asylum elsewhere. His luggage remained in the street some time, and his Lordship eventually slept at the house of Mr. Foley, a solicitor".

The situation arose from the debts of the previous Bishop (Dr. Carr) who owed around  £100,000. The situation was eventually resolved with the help of William Laslett, who put up the money. It was widely accepted later, that the incident remained so painful to Dr. and Mrs. Pepys, that when it was necessary to give up one of the Bishop's Palaces, they insisted, against the Ecclesiastic Commissioners recommendation, that it was Worcester and not Hartlebury that should be released.


(Further information regarding William Laslett is on this site)