Old and New St. Michael's Churches

  • 19 Mar 2019
  • Church Curiosities
  • Back

The old church of St Michael in Bedwardine stood very close to the Cathedral on the north east side. It had been founded in 826, the name Bedwardine meaning 'ground reserved for the supply of the Refectory , a close or field to supply bread'. Around the church were a number of houses which blocked up the northern facade of the Cathedral. It had a tower, and at the west end of St. Michael's stood the ancient clochium or bell tower with its lofty spire.


St Michael's was considered the parish church for the whole of the College precincts, and if any marriages were performed at the Cathedral they were entered in St. Michael's register, and the incumbent received the fees.Marriages were solemnized here between persons belonging to almost every place in the country, a kind of Gretna Green.

Being the church for the Collage Precincts, the church and its burial ground had wide use. It received all the prisoners and debtors who died in the County Gaol, which was part of the old Castle.

The troublous times of the Civil War is shown in the Church records. At the 'coming of the Princes'  (Rupert and Maurice) the church ells were rung, but the Parliamentary Colonel Essex, who arrived in 1642, was only treated to a 'bottle of white wine and sugar at the Talbot'. After the disastrous battle in 1651, the City was plundered, and the records show the losses, and that the sum of two pounds nine shillings and 4 pence was laid out 'for the burial of the Scots that were slain and dyed in our parish, the Pallace , the Colledge ... and divers others that were brought out of ye citty of Worcester and layd in the churchyard'.

In 1660, John Martin, the Worcester bell founder, was employed in casting and hanging the second bell. In 1760, the parsonage house was called the ' Coffee House', and Mrs. Mary Linton was 'to have sole use of the gallery of the church, in her time, to have her scool there, on condition that she be at the expense of a new staircase to the gallery'. 

                                                                                                            St Michael's Church next to Lich Gate

The new church was built in 1839 in the Early English style, with an entrance and frontage in College Street,  and adjoining the old Lich Gate. It had a chancel, nave and aisles, and a small gallery for 200 persons, and windows by Hardman of Birmingham. It was little used, being closed as a church in 1907, and becoming the Diocesan Records Office. The last incumbent was the Rev. R. R. Thursfield who was also the headmaster of the College for the Blind.



(Old English spellings in places)