Where have we been? and where is Barney??
It is the end of the school summer holidays and we have visited some fantastic places over the last few weeks! Usually Barney the British History Tours bear comes along but I forgot him, every…single….time! Poor Barney stayed sat of the shelf while we went off on all our adventures. We have found fascinating history in some beautiful parts of the country.
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For the next few weeks I will feature a place each week to tell you about and give you insights into where to go and what to see. I know you love history so I know you will love hearing about these places and will hopefully feel inspired to visit!
This week it's the city of Worcester
Worcester city has a history stretching back to Roman times. It satisfied the requirements of a Roman settlement; a river (the River Severn) for transport links and hills, on which to site important buildings away from the flood plains. Since then Worcester has witnessed many significant turning points in the history of this country. The elder brother of the notorious Henry VIII, Arthur Tudor, is buried in the Cathedral (just think how history could have been different if he had lived to become king instead of his little brother!). The infamous King John, who reluctantly sealed the first Magna Carta at Runnymede in 1215, lies in a tomb not far from Arthur. One of the City's parks is the site of the final battle of the English Civil Wars, you can walk down a street little changed since the middle ages, visit a real Tudor merchant house and see some of the most captivating and vivid medieval paintings at a building which was once a monastic hospital!
There is so much to do in Worcester if you love history and even more if you also enjoy eating, shopping, cricket and racing!
So here are our 5 highlights:
This is hard to reduce down to only 5 but here you go! These places will give you a great, packed day out in Worcester.
Top 5 places to visit in Worcester City
1 - Worcester Cathedral
Come within centimetres of royalty at the tombs of King John (buried 1216) and Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales (buried 1502).John's effigy is the oldest royal effigy in England whilst Arthur's tomb is impressive in design but also for the amount of heraldry on display. Look out for the Tudor Rose, the portcullis of his paternal grandmother Margaret Beaufort (adopted by her family as a representation of their name meaning beautiful castle) and the pomegranate representing his wife, Katherine of Aragon (yes the same one Henry was to go on to marry!) As you look around the tombs you are walking where Elizabeth I walked during her seven day visit to Worcester in 1575.
You can also follow in the footsteps of King Charles II and climb the tower for fantastic views of the city and country side beyond.
If you'd like to know more about Arthur please follow this link to our blog 'The lost Tudor Prince' to find out more.
2 - The Commandery
The hidden gem of Worcester in my opinion!
It was the headquarters of the Royalist army during the final battle of the English Civil Wars and is also know as St Wulfstan's Hospital due to it being a monastic hospital during the medieval period and up to the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII. Medieval history is clearly visible in the form of wall paintings dedicated to the saints to which the afflicted and ill would have prayed. Audio tours, included in the entrance price, give you the option to follow one of six tours to discover all the different history contained in this building, which has also been a Tudor merchant's house, school for the blind and print works.
3 - Greyfriars on Friar Street
As you walk along Friar Street upon which Greyfriars is situated you are walking along a street little changed since the late middle ages.
Greyfriars is a National Trust property and another hidden gem. It is a survivor of medieval Worcester dating from the 1480s. The house was built by Thomas Grene, a merchant who did well as Worcester prospered as a trading centre in the relatively stable years following the end of the Wars of the Roses. He built the house as a display of wealth.
The house is made even more interesting when you learn that a row of terrace houses in the garden was once home to about 50 people! Sadly the houses were not purchased by Worcestershire archaeological society at the same time as Greyfriars and were demolished in 1955.
4 - Tudor House on Friar Street
A little further on from Greyfriars is Tudor House.I highly recommend this place!
See how the last residents, who ran a small tavern from their front room, lived here before it was bought by a member of the Cadbury family who incorporated it into a coffee house. His aim was to provide non-alcoholic drinks and inexpensive meals to people in this street which was, at the time, one of the poorest parts of the city and to keep them away from the temptations of alcohol.
In another room you discover that this building was used as a wardens office during World War 2 and as a place where evacuees came before being assigned to local families. As you follow the route around the house you will learn about Nelson's visit to Worcester and about the cloth trade which brought wealth to the City.
Check the latest opening times before travelling, it is run completely by volunteers and so the opening times are limited.
5 - The Guildhall
The Guildhall is free to enter and is a fantastic example of architecture from 1700s. In the past it has been the seat of justice for the city even housing a prison underneath. It has been visited by royalty and by Churchill who came here in July 1945. Go upstairs to the assembly rooms. Take a camera or sketch pad and record the portraits and ceiling decoration. On the stairs notice the portrait of Diana Ogilvy, Worcester's first lady Mayor, she was Mayor from 1931 - 32.
Find a trail to suit you and go explore!
Each trail is a mini history book as well as a planner, guide and memento all in one!
A new trail is added each month so keep checking back.
Coming up over the next two weeks:
Dartmouth and Dunster.
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Bye for now!
Philippa and the British History Tours team