Guesten Hall

  • 17 Mar 2019
  • Historical Studies
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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. It was a notable building, having a roof thought to be unique of its date, and the finest tracery of any windows in Worcester. Inside, on the wall, where the dais used to be, was a large seated figure of our Lord, most imposing even in its mutilated state.

When the Bishop's Palace became the Deanery, the Prior's Lodgings, which since the Reformation had been allotted to the Dean, was demolished. It was then found that the Guesten Hall, which had been in contact with the Lodgings, needed restoration.

In 1854, the architect, George Street, who had connections with Worcester, was brought in to make a series of drawings and, presumably, to advise on the restoration. The Dean and Chapter of that time, however, decided against using the Chapter fund for the purpose, and for a beggarly £1,000, which was the estimated cost of necessary repairs, this ancient hall was destroyed in 1862, to save the expense of it's upkeep. It was a sad comment on the attitude of the Dean and Chapter, in the mid - 19th century, to the buildings in their care. There were many protests at its destruction, both locally and throughout the country, including the Society of Antiquaries, with John Noakes leading the protests locally, but the great Anglican revival was in its infancy, and times and the attitudes of the higher clergy were very different from those of today.

The ancient roof was taken for the new church at Shrub Hill (Holy Trinity) though the pitch was drastically altered and much alteration to the old timbers took place. Now, that the church has been destroyed and the roof has made another journey, to the Museum of Timber Buildings at Avoncroft, near Bromsgrove.

The Guesten Hall at Worcester was the last monastic guest hall to remain, for a little earlier in 1847, the Guesten Hall of Malvern Priory, which stood on the site of the Abbey Hotel, was destroyed.