The Commandery

  • 15 Jan 2012
  • Worcester People and Places
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It was founded by Bishop Wulstan at the end of the 17th century, for a master, four brethren and a chaplain. The establishment was at once religious and charitable, and was one of the houses established outside the walls (like Oswald's), catering for the reception of wayfarers who arrived after the City gates were closed at night, and who would have had to sleep in the open, but for the hospitality given by these houses. It was never connected with the Templars, as some have thought, and the name, Commandery, was prbably derived from the title of a former lay superior. It has a fine timbered roof of the time of Henry VII. The hall has a dais for the high table. There is also a screen with a minstrel gallery, a buttery hatch, and an ancient balustraded staircase. Around the ancient parts are Georgian additions, for like the Whiteladies in the Tything, more than one family lived there. In the early 19th century industrial buildings were added alongside the canal, which became a small boot factory owned by Samual Burlingham, the Quaker; and where it is said, the Willis's learned their trade. In the time of Edward II, the Foresters of Feckenham held their court at the Commandery, which suggests that the forest came near to the City, probably Perry Wood was part of it. During the Battle of Worcester, 1651, this place was in the very heat of the battle, and was enclosed in the hurriedly prepared defensive lines which ran from Fort Royal to the Sidbury Gate. The earthworks, bastions and covered way could still be traced in mid-victorian times. In one of the rooms of the Commandery the Duke of Hamilton died of wounds received during the attack on the Parliamentary positions at Perry Wood. His leg was shattered by a cannon shot, and he was brought back to the Commandery. After the Royalist defeat, the Duke was visited by Trappen, Cromwell's own surgeon, who gave him hope of recovery, though the Royalist surgeon wanted to amputate the leg, as this alone would save his life. This the Duke declined. After lingering a few days, the Duke died of exhaustion in the room which is still called the 'Duke of Hamilton's Room'. Tradition has it that body was buried under the floor for a while. The Wylde family held the Commandery from the time of Henry VIII to that of George III. Thomas (the fourth) a Worcester clothier, represented Worcester in Parliament in the 18th century. Canon Robert Wylde, the last of the line, was rector of St.Martin's Church, Worcester.