Worcester

Extract from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of England, 1831.
Transcribed by Mel Lockie, © Copyright 2010
Lewis Topographical Dictionaries

WORCESTER, a city and county (of itself), having exclusive jurisdiction, locally in the county of Worcester, of which it is the capital, 111 miles (N.W. by W.) from London, containing, according to the last census, 17,023 inhabitants, which number has since increased to about 20,000. This place, which is unquestionably of great antiquity, is, under the name of Caer Guorangon, enumerated by Nennius in his catalogue of cities belonging to the Britons, by whom, from the advantages of its situation near a fordable part of the river Severn, and on the confines of a thick forest, it was selected, as a place of strength and security. On the expulsion of that people by the Romans, it was, with other British towns, retained by the conquerors; and if not one of their principal stations, as some (judging from the Roman roads in the vicinity appearing to concentrate here) have supposed, it was very probably one of those fortresses which the praetor Ostorius erected on the banks of the Severn, to secure his conquests on that side of the river.

It again, on the departure of the Romans from Britain, came into the possession of its ancient inhabitants, from whom it was taken, in 628, by Penda, King of Mercia, whose son Wulfhere, on his accession to the throne of that kingdom, appointed Osric his viceroy over the province of Huiccia, including the counties of Worcester and Gloucester, with part of Warwickshire, and forming a portion of the kingdom of Mercia. Osric, either repairing the Roman fortress, or erecting another in this city, which by the Saxons was called Wigornaceastre, made it his residence, and fortified it as a frontier against the Britons, who had retreated into the territories on the other side of the Severn.

Sexulf, Bishop of Mercia, founded here the first Christian church within his diocese, which he dedicated to St. Peter; and in the reign of Ethelred that monarch having resolved to divide the kingdom of Mercia into five separate dioceses, Osric prevailed upon him to establish one of them at Wigornaceastre, the metropolis of his province; and, in 679, Bosel was consecrated first bishop, by the style of Episcopus Huicdorum, and invested with full authority to preside over the ecclesiastical affairs of the province of Huiccia, or Wiccia.

From the death of Osric nothing is recorded, either of the province or of the city, till the time of Offa, in one of whose charters Uhtred, a Wiccian prince, is styled Regulus et Dux propria gentis Huicciorum (ruler and duke of his own people the Huiccii), and his brother Aldred is described as Subregulus Wigornia cimtatis, lieutenant of the city of Worcester, by license of King Offa. After the union of the kingdoms of the Octarchy, Alfred the Great appointed Duke Ethelred, a Mercian prince, to whom he gave his daughter Elfleda in marriage, to the government of Mercia; and in 894, Ethelred and Elfleda rebuilt the city, which had been destroyed by the Danes. Soon after this, Wærfred, Bishop of Worcester, desirous of defending the city and the cathedral from the future attacks of these rapacious invaders, obtained from Ethelred a grant of one moiety of the royal dues, with which he repaired the ancient seat of the Huiccian viceroys, and erected several fortresses around the cathedral, of which the only one now remaining is Edgar's tower.

In 1041, a tax imposed by Hardicanute excited an insurrection of the citizens, who having seized the collectors, after endeavouring to shelter themselves in Edgar's tower, and put them to death, the king, to punish this outrage, sent an army to Worcester, and the inhabitants abandoning the city, retired to the river island Bevere, in which they fortified themselves, determined to hold out to the last extremity. The forces of Hardicanute having plundered and set fire to the city, attacked the inhabitants in their place of refuge, but were so vigorously repulsed, that, after repeated fruitless attempts to dislodge them, the general was compelled to grant honourable terms of capitulation, and the inhabitants returned to their city, and repaired it.

Soon after the Conquest, a royal castle was erected here, of which Urso d'Abitot, who accompanied the Conqueror into England, was appointed constable, and made sheriff of the county. He extended the buildings of the castle, and, to the great annoyance of the monks, infringed upon the site of the cathedral, the outer ward of which occupied what is now the College Green. In 1074, Roger, Earl of Hereford, Ralph de Guader, Earl of East Anglia, and other powerful barons entered into a conspiracy against William, and invited aid from Denmark; but their design having been discovered, they were obliged to enter the field before the expected succour arrived; and Bishop Wulstan, Urso d'Abitot, and Agelwy, abbot of Evesham, assisted by Walter de Lacey, assembled a body of troops to guard the passes of the Severn, intercepted their progress, and terminated the rebellion.

The inhabitants, in 1088, having embraced the cause of William Rufus, the reigning monarch, Bernard de Neumarche, Lord of Brecknock; Osborn Fitz-Richard, Roger de Lacey, Ralph de Mortimer, and other partizans of his elder brother Robert, assembled a large force, and assaulted the city. On this occasion Bishop Wulstan armed his tenants, and retiring into the castle, with the citizens and their wives and children, animated the garrison to a resolute defence. The assailants set fire to the suburbs; but more intent upon plunder than prudent in securing their ground, they spread themselves over the open country, for the sake of pillage; and the garrison taking advantage of the opportunity, sallied from the castle, and advancing upon them suddenly, while in the act of ravaging the bishop's lands at Wick, captured or killed five hundred men, and put the rest to flight.

In 1113, the greater part of the city was destroyed by fire, which nearly consumed the cathedral and the castle: this calamity is supposed to have been inflicted by the Welch, who at that time had resolved on the entire devastation of the English marches. In the reign of Stephen, William de Beauchamp, constable of the castle, having embraced the cause of Matilda, drew upon him the resentment of that monarch, who deposed him from his government, and appointed in his place Waleran, Count of Meulant, whom he created Earl of Worcester. Matilda, in 1139, having gained several advantages in various parts of the kingdom, and greatly increased the number of her partizans, marched from Gloucester with a considerable force, and arriving before Worcester, laid siege to it; but before her arrival, the inhabitants had deposited every thing valuable in the cathedral, and made the necessary preparations for defending their city: the assailants attacked it on the south side, but being repulsed, they renewed the attack on the north side, and gaining an entrance, set fire to it in several places.

Having succeeded in obtaining possession of the castle, William de Beauchamp was reinstated in his government by Matilda, and his appointment was subsequently confirmed by her son, Henry II. In 1149, Stephen, to punish the inhabitants for the assistance which they had given to his opponent, took the city and burnt it; but the castle having been strengthened with additional fortifications, resisted all his attempts, and Eustace, his son, having subsequently invested it without success, again set fire to the city in revenge. Worcester, which was so frequently the victim, of intestine war and of accidental calamity, was fortified by Hugh de Mortimer against Henry II.; but on the approach of that monarch to invest it, Mortimer having made his submission, received pardon, and the city escaped being damaged. In 1189, it was almost totally destroyed by an accidental conflagration; and in 1202 it again suffered a similar calamity, when the cathedral and adjacent buildings were consumed, but the walls not being demolished, the injury was speedily repaired.

In the contest between King John and the barons, the latter having obtained the aid of Louis, Dauphin of France, the inhabitants adhered to their cause, and opening the gates of the city, received Mareschall, son of the Earl of Pembroke, as governor of the castle for the Dauphin, in 1216; but Ranulph, Earl of Chester, with a body of the royal forces, took that fortress by surprise, and afterwards obtained possession of the city. The inhabitants were made prisoners, and compelled by torture to discover their treasures; the soldiers of the garrison, who had taken sanctuary in the cathedral, were forcibly dragged out; the church and convent were plundered; and a fine of three hundred marks was imposed upon the inhabitants, for the payment of which they were obliged to melt down the precious metals with which the shrine of St. Wulstan was enriched.

In the course of the same year, that king was buried in the cathedral of this city. During this reign, Walter de Beauchamp, who had been appointed governor of the castle, having taken part with the barons, was deposed, and his lands confiscated. In 1217, the outer ward of the castle, which was contiguous to the cathedral, was granted to the monks, for the enlargement of their close, by the Earl of Pembroke, guardian to the young king; since which time the Earls of Worcester have ceased to reside in it; the inner ward, comprising the citadel and keep, was alone kept up as a fortress for the protection of the city. In 1218, Bishop Sylvester obtained from Henry III. the grant of an annual fair for four days, in honour of St. Wulstan, to commence on the festival of St. Barnabas. During the reign of this monarch, a great tournament was celebrated here, in the year 1225, in which all who took part were subsequently excommunicated by Bishop Blois.

A great part of the city, in 1233, was destroyed by an accidental fire, which greatly damaged the buildings of the cathedral. In 1263, Robert Ferrers, Earl of Derby, Peter de Montfort, son of Simon de Montfort, Robert, Earl of Leicester, and others of the confederate barons, laid siege to the city, which they took after several assaults; they spared the church, but plundered the houses of the inhabitants, and put several Jews to death. After the battle of Lewes, in which Henry III. was made prisoner, that monarch was brought by the Earl of Leicester to Worcester, whence, together with his son Prince Edward, he was removed to Hereford castle: the latter, having made his escape, repaired hither, where he assembled an army with which he defeated the earl and the confederate barons in the celebrated battle of Evesham.

In 1299, the street leading to the suburb of St. John's was destroyed by an accidental fire, which also burnt down the wooden bridge over the Severn, which was afterwards replaced with one of stone. The city, in 1401, was plundered and partly burnt by the forces of Owen Glyndwr, in his repeated attacks upon the English frontiers in the reign of Henry IV., against whom he maintained a desultory warfare for a considerable time; but that monarch advancing against him, drove him back into Wales, and retiring after his victory to Worcester, took up his residence in that city, whence, after disbanding his army, hie withdrew privately to London.

In the reign of Edward IV., Queen Margaret, after the defeat of her party at the battle of Tewkesbury, and the subsequent murder of her son, was taken from a convent near that town, into which she had retired the day after the battle, by Lord Stanley, and brought before the king, who was then at Worcester. The Duke of Buckingham, in 1484, having raised an army of Welchmen to oppose the claim of Richard III. to the throne, a sudden inundation of the Severn impeded their progress, and disconcerted the enterprise; and after the battle of Bosworth Field, in which that monarch was slain, Worcester was seized for Henry VII.: several of the partizans of Richard were made prisoners here, and beheaded at the high cross, and a fine of five hundred marks was paid to the king for the redemption of the city.

In 1486, Sir Humphrey Stafford and his brother, Lord Lovell, having escaped from their sanctuary at Colchester, levied a force of three or four thousand men, and laid siege to this city; but on the approach of an army sent against them by the king, under the command of the Duke of Bedford, they raised the siege and dispersed. During the prelacy of Archbishop Whitgift, Sir John Russel and Sir Henry Berkeley came to the sessions here, with a large band of armed followers, to decide by force a quarrel which had arisen between them; but by the vigilance and activity of the bishop, who placed strong guards at the city gates, they were arrested and brought to his palace, when he prevailed upon them to deliver up their arms to his servants, and appeased their animosity. During the destructive pestilence that raged here in 1637, the inhabitants again abandoned the city, and shut themselves up in the island of Severn.

In the parliamentary war, Worcester was the first city that openly declared in favour of the king, and the inhabitants gave admittance to Sir John Byron, at the head of 300 cavaliers, whom they assisted to fortify the city against the parliament. These, being afterwards joined by Lord Coventry with some troops of horse, and expecting further aid from the king, began to act on the defensive; but before the promised succours arrived, Colonel Fiennes, at the head of 1000 dragoons, and accompanied by the train-bands from Oxford, and a detachment of the troops under Lord Say, arrived before the city, and summoned it to surrender. The inhabitants indignantly refusing, he immediately commenced the attack; and a shot having been fired into the city, through a hole made in the gate, the cavaliers sallied out on the parliamentarians, and having killed several of Colonel Fiennes' troops, returned without being pursued.

Prince Rupert, with his brother Prince Maurice, arriving soon after with a considerable body of troops, joined Sir John Byron, and the royalists drew out their forces into Pitchcroft meadow, adjoining the town, to give the enemy battle. A spirited encounter took place, and was kept up for some time, but Prince Rupert perceiving a considerable reinforcement, under the Earl of Essex advancing to the assistance of the parliamentarians withdrew his forces into the city, where the engagement was continued till night, to the great disadvantage of the Prince, who, with a party of his troops, retreated to Hereford in disorder. On the same evening the Earl of Essex arrived, but, for fear of surprise, did not enter the city till the following morning, when the parliamentarian troops were quartered in the cathedral, which they stripped of its ornaments, destroyed the altar, and committed every kind of depredation; having explored the vaults, they found a large store of provisions and supplies which had been sent from Oxford for the king's use, and a considerable quantity of plate.

The mayor and aldermen were taken into custody for having surrendered the city to the cavaliers, and sent under a strong guard to London; and two thousand two hundred pounds' weight of plate was sent off under the same escort. A gallows was erected in the market-place, for the execution of such of the citizens as should be found guilty of having betrayed Col. Feinnes' soldiers to Prince Rupert; and a commission was appointed by authority of the parliament, under which Sir Robert Harlow and Serjeant Wilde were sent down, to secure the city and try the delinquents; and these officers, as a preliminary step, imposed a fine of £5000 on the inhabitants. After having repaired the fortifications, and obtained from the citizens a loan of £3000 for the parliament, the Earl of Essex divided his army, consisting of twenty-four thousand men, into three brigades; two of them he detached in different directions, to intercept the king's forces on their march towards London; and leaving a garrison in the city, he advanced at the head of the third brigade to Shrewsbury, in pursuit of that part of the royal army which was headed by the king in person.

The citizens, after the departure of the earl and his army, still maintained their loyalty, and the corporation passed several resolutions in favour of the royal cause; they elected for mayor and sheriff two ardent royalists, provided additional ordnance and ammunition, strengthened the fortifications, and raised levies of money, which they transmitted for the king's use. These measures again drew upon them the vengeance of the parliament, and in March 1646, Sir William Brereton and Colonels Morgan and Birch appeared before the city, with a force of two thousand five hundred foot and horse, and demanded its surrender; this being peremptorily refused, they drew off their forces at night towards Droitwich, and advanced to assist in the seige of Lichfield.

The citizens sent messengers for instructions to the king, who had escaped from Oxford, and was then at Newark; and in the meantime Gen. Fairfax, who was then at Headington, near Oxford, sent a letter to the governor of Worcester, requiring him to deliver up the city to the parliament, and on his refusal despatched Col. Whalley, with five thousand men, to duce it. The garrison, which consisted of one thousand five hundred men, made a resolute defence, but after having sent various messengers to the king for instructions, and receiving no reply, their ammunition and provisions beginning to fail, and being in hourly expectation of the arrival of Fairfax, with an army of ten thousand foot and five thousand horse, they capitulated on honourable terms, on the 23rd of July.

After a respite of five years, Worcester again became the seat of war; the citizens, still firm in their loyalty to the king, notwithstanding the opposition of the garrison, opened their gates to Charles II., who arrived at the head of a Scottish army of twelve thousand men, attended by the Dukes of Hamilton and Buckingham, and other officers of distinction, on the 22nd of August, 1651; and, after some slight opposition from the garrison, entered in triumph, preceded by the mayor and corporation, by whom, on the following day, he was solemnly proclaimed. On the 28th, Cromwell, at the head of seventeen thousand men, arrived at Red Hill, within one mile of the city, where he fixed his headquarters; and being soon after joined by the forces under Generals Fleetwood, Lambert, and Harrison, his army amounted to thirty thousand men. General Lambert having surprised a detachment of the king's forces ordered to guard the pass of the Severn, approached to besiege the city; and the king having concentrated his forces, advanced with the main body of his army, to give battle to Cromwell; a general engagement now took place, and the parliamentarians were beginning to give way, when a reinforcement arriving from the other side of the Severn, the royal forces were overwhelmed, and compelled to retire into the city in disorder.

A part of the Scottish troops laying down their arms, and the enemy advancing on all sides, every hope of victory was dispelled; Cromwell carried the royal fort by storm, putting all the garrison to the sword, and gained possession of the city: the king, attended only by Lord Wilmot, narrowly escaped by the back entrance of the house in which he was quartered, at the moment Col. Cobbet was entering at the front, to make him prisoner; and mounting a horse which had been prepared for him, rode to Boscobel, where he was hospitably entertained and concealed till he found means of escaping into France. The battle was sustained for some time with desperate valour; the citizens made their last stand at the town hall, but without success, and the city was eventually given up to plunder. Cromwell describes his success upon this occasion as a "crowning mercy"; and, in token of his joy for the victory, he ordered a sixty-gun ship, which soon after launched at Woolwich, to be named the "Worcester".

The city is pleasantly situated at the base and on the acclivity of elevated ground, rising gently from the east bank of the river Severn, over which is a handsome stone bridge of five elliptical arches, connecting it with the suburb of St. John's, built in 1780, at an expense of £29,843, towards defraying which Henry Crabb Boulton and John Walsh, Esqrs., members for the city, contributed £3000. It consists of several spacious and regular streets, of which the Foregate is a stately and lengthened avenue of handsome well-built houses, terminating with a fine view of St. Nicholas' church. The approaches exhibit rich and beautiful scenery, which, in many parts, is pleasingly diversified and strikingly picturesque.

Bromsgrove Lickley to the north-east, the Malvern hills to the south-west, the Shropshire hills and the Welch mountains in the distance, are forcibly contrasted with the windings of the Severn, the luxuriant vales, orchards, hop-grounds, and fertile meadows, for which the surrounding country is distinguished. The streets are well paved, lighted with gas, and amply supplied with river water by means of a steam-engine, erected on the eastern bank of the Severn, at a place called Little Pitchcroft, in 1810. An act of parliament was obtained, in 1823, for more effectually paving, lighting, and watching the city, under the authority of which several improvements have recently taken place.

A public subscription library was established in Angel-street, in 1790, containing upwards of five thousand volumes: it is now about to be removed to a more eligible situation on the eastern side of the Foregate, near Sansom fields, where a suitable building has been erected by subscription; on the basement story is a large and elegant reading and news-room, over which is an apartment for the library, appropriately fitted up. Two medical societies have been formed, the first in 1796, and the other, to which an extensive and well-assorted library is attached, in 1815; and a society for the encouragement and improvement of native artists has been formed, whose first exhibition of paintings took place in the town hall, in September 1818. The theatre, a neat and appropriate building, erected in 1780, by a tontine subscription, in shares of £50 each, and handsomely fitted up, is opened occasionally; and assemblies and concerts are held in the large room at the town hall. The musical festivals of the choirs of Worcester, Hereford, and Gloucester, take place here in the cathedral, every third year, and are attended by numerous and fashionable audiences: the surplus amount of receipts is appropriated to the benefit of the widows and orphans of the poorer clergy of the associated dioceses.

A society for the promotion of this object was formed, in 1778, under the patronage of Bishop North, whose successors are perpetual presidents; for this purpose the diocese is divided into four districts, to each of which two stewards are appointed. Races take place in August and November; at the former time they continue for three days, and are numerously attended: the course is on Pitchcroft meadow, where a grand stand has been erected, near the margin of the Severn, by which the course is bounded on one side. The manufacture of broad cloth prevailed here to a very great extent in the reign of Henry VIII., at which timethere were three hundred and eighty looms, employing eight thousand persons: on its decline the carpet manufacture was introduced, which, after flourishing for a short time, was transferred to Kidderminster.

The present manufactures are those of porcelain and gloves, for the former of which this city has obtained a degree of reputation unequalled at home, and not surpassed abroad: the Worcester china is equally valued for its fineness and transparency, the elegance of its patterns, and the beauty of its embellishments. This branch of manufacture was established, in 1751, by Dr. Wall and some other proprietors, arid its progress has been rapid and successful: there are at present three manufactories, which contain splendid sew-rooms, visited by persons travelling through Worcester with infinite gratification; from these the principal shops in the metropolis and other great towns are supplied with the most costly of their wares. The glove manufacture is conducted upon a very extensive scale, affording employment to not less than eight thousand persons in the city, exclusively of many thousands in the neighbouring villages: the gloves made are in high estimation, not only in the several parts of England, but in the foreign markets, to which they are exported in great numbers.

The manufacture of lace has been recently established here, and is making rapid progress. A distillery upon a large scale, a rectifying establishment, and a British wine manufactory, are conducted; and extensive iron-foundries have been erected on the banks of the canal and the Severn: a considerable trade is carried on in hops, of which there are extensive plantations in the vicinity. The Worcester and Birmingham canal affords great facility of communication between the latter town and the Severn, and for the conveyance of goods from Manchester and the north of England, through Worcester and the Severn, which is navigable for barges of considerable tonnage, and on the banks of which are commodious quays and spacious warehouses, contributes greatly to promote the trade and commercial prosperity of the city.

The market days are Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday: the fairs are on the Saturday before Palm-Sunday, Saturday in Easter week, August 15th, and September 19th, which is a great fair for hops; a cattle fair is also held on the first Monday in December; and there are markets free of toll on the second Monday in February, and on the first Mondays in May, June, July, and November. The market-place, nearly opposite the town hall in High-street, is a spacious and commodious area, erected in 1804, at an expense of £5050: the entrance is through a handsome arched portal of stone, ornamented with pillars of the Tuscan order, supporting a panelled entablature, on each side of which are smaller entrances; the interior is commodiously arranged for the sale of butchers' meat, fish, poultry, and various other articles, and behind it is the vegetable market. The corn market is held at a place so called, being a spacious area at the eastern end of Silver-street. The hop market is held in a spacious area opposite Berkeley chapel, at the south end of the Foregate: the buildings surrounding this area, formerly used as the city workhouse, have been converted into warehouses and offices, of which the rents are applied by the guardians thereof in aid of the poor rates of the several parishes which contributed to their erection: the sales of hops are very considerable, averaging annually about twenty-five thousand pockets.

Worcester was first constituted a city by Wulfhere, the sixth king of Mercia, and additional privileges were granted by Offa and Edgar; the inhabitants were incorporated by Henry I., whose charter was confirmed by Henry II., Richard I., and King John, and afterwards renewed by Henry III., who vested the government in two bailiffs, two aldermen, two chamberlains, twenty-four common council-men, and forty-eight assistants. The charter of incorporation was subsequently confirmed by Edward I Edw. II., Edw. III., Rich. II., Hen. VII., Hen. VIII. and Edw. VI., and remodelled by James I., in 1621, who erected the city into. a county of itself, under the designation of the "City and County of the City of Worcester".

Under this charter the government is vested in a mayor, recorder, sheriff, six aldermen, twenty-four common council-men, and forty-eight capital citizens, with a town clerk, two chamberlains, two coroners, and subordinate officers. The mayor, who is chosen annually on the Monday next after the festival of St. Bartholomew, and the aldermen, are elected from the common council-men generally; and the common council-men, as vacancies occur, are chosen from the forty-eight capital citizens. The mayor, recorder, and aldermen are justices of the peace within the city and county of the city. The freedom is inherited by the eldest sons of freemen, and acquired by servitude or purchase. The corporation hold quarterly courts of session for all offences within the city and county of the city, not capital; and a court of record, every Monday, for the recovery of debts to any amount.

The town hall is a handsome building of brick, with quoins, cornices, and ornaments of stone, consisting of a centre and two slightly projecting wings, surmounted by a close panelled parapet, decorated with urns and statues; in the centre is a statue of Justice, on each side of which are those of Peace and Plenty: the entrance is ornamented with two engaged columns of the composite order, on one side of which is a niche containing a statue of Charles I., and on the other a statue of Charles II.; the pediment over the entrance is ornamented with the city arms. In a niche occupying the central window of the principal story is a fine statue of Queen Anne; above is a circular pediment, in the tympanum of which are the arms of England, supported by angels. The lower room, which is one hundred and ten feet in length, and twenty-five feet broad, is divided into two parts by the Crown bar on the north, and the Nisi Prius court on the south, and is decorated with several suits of ancient armour. On the upper story is the grand council-chamber, of the same dimensions as the lower room, with circular terminations, and divided into three compartments by two screens of columns crossing the room near the ends; it is lighted by numerous lustres, and is appropriately decorated for civic entertainments and for assemblies, which occasionally take place in it; opposite the principal entrance is a full-length portrait of George III., presented by that monarch when he visited the city in 1788, and it is embellished with various architectural ornaments. This edifice being too small and inconvenient, it is intended to apply to parliament during the present session (1831) for permission to erect a new town hall on a more enlarged plan.

The new city gaol and bridewell was built in 1824, at an expense of £12,578. 12. 11; it comprises eight distinct wards, eight day-rooms, eight airing-yards, with separate rooms for male and female debtors, and a chapel, in which divine service is regularly performed; in one of the yards is a tread-wheel, which is-exclusively used for the pumping of water to supply the prison. The county gaol and house of correction was erected in 1809, at an expense of £19,000 it is situated on the north-west side of the town, and comprises twelve wards, with day-rooms, work-rooms, airing-yards, and other requisites: the several departments are connected, by small bridges, with the keeper's house in the centre, in which is also the chapel: there is a tread-mill with three wheels for grinding corn for the use of the prison; and the prisoners are employed in different trades, the produce of which is applied to the support of the prison.

The city first exercised the elective franchise in the 23rd of Edward I., since which time it has regularly returned two members to parliament; the right of election is vested in the freemen not receiving parochial relief, of whom, including those non-resident, the number is about three thousand; the sheriff is the returning officer. The assizes and general quarter sessions and the election of knights of the shire, are held in Worcester, as the county town. Worcester was first erected into a see in the reign of Ethelred, and, in 679, Bosel was consecrated first bishop. The establishment, which was amply endowed by successive Saxon monarchs, consisted of Secular canons till the eighth century, when a convent, dedicated to St. Mary, was founded near the cathedral church of St. Peter, of which Ethelburga was abbess; on her death it was converted into a monastery for monks of the Benedictine order. The disputes which subsequently arose between the Secular clergy and the monks terminated, in 969, by the surrender of the church of St. Peter to the latter, and the church of St. Mary became the cathedral of the diocese. After the Conquest the establishment continued to increase, and flourished till the dissolution, at which time its revenue was valued at £1386. 12. 10. It was refounded by Henry VIII., for a bishop, dean, archdeacon, ten prebendaries, ten minor canons, ten lay clerks, ten choristers, two schoolmasters, forty king's scholars, and other members.

The jurisdiction of the see, with the exception of fifteen parishes and eight chapelries, extends over the whole of the county of Worcester, nearly one-third of the county of Warwick, the parishes of Brome and Clent in the county of Stafford, and the parish of Hales-Owen in the county of Salop. The ancient cathedral church of St Peter, after its surrender to the monastery of St. Mary, was rebuilt by St. Oswald in 983, but being destroyed by Hardicanute in 1041, Bishop Wulstan, in 1084, founded the present cathedral, which was subsequently enlarged and improved by several of his successors.

It is a spacious and venerable pile, in the form of a double cross, with a noble and lofty square tower rising from the centre to the height of two hundred feet: the prevailing style of architecture is the early English, intermixed with portions in the Norman, the decorated, and the later English styles. The tower is a fine composition, enriched with series of canopied niches, in which are statues of kings and bishops, and embellished with sculpture of elegant design. The exterior possesses a simplicity of elegance arising from the loftiness of its elevation and the justness of its proportions the interior is remarkable for the airiness and lightness of its appearance, and, in many parts, for the correctness of its details and the appropriate character of its embellishments. Part of the nave contains specimens of the Norman style, and, in some places, portions in the decorated: it is separated from the aisles by lofty ranges of finely-clustered columns and pointed arches, and lighted by a fine range of clerestory windows, the tracery of which is in the later style: the roof is finely groined, and ornamented with bosses of flowers, antique heads, and other devices.

The choir, to which is an ascent of several steps, is in the early English style; the groining of the roof and the details are in general of very elegant character and in high preservation; the altar-screen is of carved stone, and the pulpit, also of stone and of octagonal form, is richly sculptured with symbols of the Evangelists and devices illustrative of scripture history: the east window, as well as the great west window of the nave, are modern compositions in the later English style; and the bishop's throne and prebendal stalls are richly embellished with tabernacle-work. The Lady chapel, also in the same style, consisting of a nave and aisles, is among the earlier parts of the cathedral, being equally remarkable for the symmetry of its parts and the goodness of its preservation. In the south-eastern transept is the monumental chapel of Prince Arthur, son of Henry VII., in the later style of English architecture, of which it is an elegant specimen, containing his tomb highly enriched with sculpture, emblematical of the union of the houses of York and Lancaster, and other embellishments; adjoining it is the dean's chapel, and to the north the bishop's chapel, with others in various parts of the building.

In the centre of the choir is the tomb of King John; the slab bearing the effigy of that monarch is of a date soon after his decease, but the tomb, which is in the later style, was probably erected at the same time as Prince Arthur's chapel. From a supposition, at that time generally prevailing, that this was only a cenotaph of the monarch, whose remains were interred in the Lady chapel, the Dean and Chapter, in 1797, resolved upon its removal to that spot; but on opening it a stone coffin was found, in which were the remains of the king, in good preservation, but on exposure to the air they mouldered to dust. There are several interesting monuments, among which those of Bishops Hough, Maddox, and Johnson, and of Mrs. Rae, are elegant specimens of sculpture.

To the south of the cathedral are the cloisters, in the later style of English architecture, enclosing a spacious quadrangular area, on the south side of which is the ancient refectory of the monastery, in the decorated style of architecture, with some elegant windows, and a doorway highly enriched, now appropriated to the use of the king's school. On the eastern side is the chapter-house, in which is the library, an ancient building in the form of a decagon, the roof of which, finely groined, is supported on a central column; the windows are of modern insertion, and the walls are ornamented with a series of Norman intersecting arches. The episcopal palace is a modern embattled edifice of brick, decorated with stone, containing several spacious apartments; the drawing-room is ornamented with portraits of George III. and Queen Charlotte, between which is a marble tablet, recording their presentation to the bishop by their Majesties, who, when on a visit to Worcester, took up their abode in the palace.

The city comprises the parishes of St. Alban, All Saints, St. Andrew, St. Clement (partly in the lower division of the hundred of Oswaldslow), St. Helen, St. Martin (partly in the lower division of the hundred of Oswaldslow), St. Nicholas, St. Peter (partly in the lower division of the hundred of Oswaldslow), and St. Swithin, all in the archdeaconry and diocese of Worcester. The living of St. Alban's is a discharged rectory, rated in the king's books at £5, endowed with £200 private benefaction, £800 royal bounty, and £500 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of the Bishop; the church claims no particular architectural notice.

The living of All Saints' is a discharged rectory, rated in the king's books at £13. 12. 4., endowed with £200 private benefaction, and £600 royal bounty, and in the patronage of the Crown: the church is not remarkable for any architectural features of importance. The living of St. Andrew's is a discharged vicarage, rated in the king's books at £10. 5. 10., endowed with £400 royal bounty, and £800 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of the Dean and Chapter. The church has recently undergone extensive reparation; the tower, in 1814, was cased with freestone; it is ninety feet in height, and is surmounted by an octagonal spire, one hundred and fifty-five feet six inches high, regularly and symmetrically diminishing from twenty feet at the base, to only six inches and five-eighths at the top, the height of the tower and spire being two hundred and forty-five feet six inches; the whole is terminated by a Corinthian capital, and surmounted by a gilt weather-cock, and forms one of the most striking ornaments of the city: the spire was erected by Nathaniel Wilkinson, a stone mason of the city.

The living of St. Clement's is a discharged rectory, rated in the king's books at £5. 5., endowed with £800 royal bounty, and £600 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of the Dean and Chapter. The church, a small old structure of stone, stood on the eastern bank of the Severn, although the principal part of the parish was on the western side of that river; but being much decayed, and liable to be flooded by the overflowing of the river, a new church, on ah enlarged scale, was built, which was opened in 1823. It is in the style of a Saxon church, and is situated on the upper road to Henwick, &c., and is computed to accommodate eight hundred and two persons, and in consequence of a grant of £1000 from the Incorporated Society for promoting the building and enlargement of churches and chapels, four hundred and seven seats are free. The whole cost of its erection was near £6000.

The living of St. Helen's is a discharged rectory, rated in the king's books at £11, endowed with £400 private benefaction, £400 royal bounty, and £600 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of the Bishop. The living of St. Martin's is a rectory, rated in the king's books at £15. 3. 4., and in the patronage of the Dean and Chapter.

The living of St. Nicholas' is a discharged rectory, rated in the king's books at £16. 10. 7., and in the patronage of the Bishop; the church is a uniform modern structure, with a handsome steeple, and, from its situation in the more open part of the town, forms a conspicuous and interesting object in the perspective of the Foregate and Broad-street. The. living of St. Peter's is a vicarage, rated in the king's books at £12. 4. 2., and in the patronage of the Dean and Chapter. The living of St. Swithin's is a discharged rectory, rated in the king's books at £15. 15., endowed with £200 private benefaction, and £400 royal bounty, and in the patronage of the Dean and Chapter. There are places of worship for Baptists, the Society of Friends, those of the late Countess of Huntingdon's connexion, Independents, Wesleyan Methodists, and Roman Catholics.

The royal grammar school connected with the cathedral was founded, at the time of that establishment by Henry VIII., for forty boys, of which number ten are appointed by the dean, and three by each of the prebendaries: the scholars are admitted only for four years, and are required to undergo an examination in the rudiments of Latin, in which, if found deficient, they pay to the head-master £10 for the first year's instruction; they receive annually £2. 6. 8., out of which they have to find a surplice, and to pay £1. 10. per annum to the writing master: there are two exhibitions to Balliol College, Oxford, founded by Dr. Bell, Bishop of Worcester, which are restricted to this diocese.

The free grammar school was founded by Queen Elizabethan 1561, for twelve boys, to the three senior of whom she assigned thirteen shillings and four pence per annum for purchasing books: this school stands the third in claim to six scholarships founded by Sir Thomas Cookes, Bart., founder of Worcester College, Oxford, which lead to the six fellowships in that college by the same founder, as vacancies occur. The Rev. John Meek, in 1665, bequeathed to Magdalene Hall, Oxford, estates then producing £100 per annum for ten scholars from this school. Mr. Joseph Worfield, in 1642, assigned to the corporation certain lands and tenements in the parishes of Powick, Leigh, Wicke, and Bransford, in the county of Worcester, in trust for the maintenance and education of fourteen poor boys of the city, or of those parishes, to be elected from any schools whatever by two able and learned men of the degree of master of arts, appointed by the corporation, and to be sent to either of the Universities for seven years: the income is about £240 per annum, which is appropriated to the payment of £30 each per annum to seven students in the University, who have been selected under the will of the testator.

The free school and Trinity almshouses, under the management of the six masters appointed, by Queen Elizabeth, on establishing the free grammar school, were founded, in 1558, by Mr. Thomas Wilde, who endowed them with land called Little Pitchcroft, and a part of the meadow of Great Pitchcroft, producing, with subsequent donations, an annual income of nearly £300; the school was intended as. preparatory for the free grammar school, and the almshouses for the residence and support, of aged inhabitants of the city: the buildings, situated partly in the parish of St. Nicholas, and partly in that of St. Swithin, consist of a school-room, with a dwelling-house for the master, and twenty-nine apartments for the almspeople, who receive each six shillings per month, and half a ton of coal annually,- there are at present six boys, who are maintained, clothed, and instructed. Schools for the education of sixteen boys and eight girls were founded, in 1713, by Bishop Lloyd, who endowed them with a small estate in the parish of Aston, in this county, producing at present about £80 per annum: in 1782, a house was purchased by subscription, and fitted up as a school-house, with dwellings for the master and mistress.

A British and foreign school is supported by subscription; and there are various Sunday schools. St. Oswald's hospital was founded prior to 1268, and originally endowed for a master, chaplain, and four brethren; at the time of the dissolution it was given to the Dean and Chapter, but had been dispossessed of a considerable portion of the lands with which it was endowed. In 1860, Dr. John Fell, Bishop of Oxford, having been appointed to the mastership, successfully exerted himself for the recovery of its alienated property: a new charter of foundation was obtained in the 15th of Charles II., and almshouses for ten men and a chapel were erected. Thomas Haynes, Esq., in 1681, built rooms for six additional brethren, and added £50 per annum to. its endowment: its present revenue is about £350, which is appropriated. to the support of sixteen aged men and twelve women, who have a weekly allowance of money, gratuitous medical attendance, and other advantages.

The almshouses founded by Mr. Inglethorpe, in 1619, for six aged men and a woman to attend upon them, have an endowment of £53 per annum, and have been rebuilt and enlarged for nine inmates, who receive each two shillings per week. Mr. John Nash, alderman of the city, founded ten almshouses, which he endowed with lands and tenements in Powick and in the parish of St. Martin, for eight aged men, and two aged and unmarried women to wait upon them: the endowment produces at present an income of more than £360 per annum, which is appropriated to seventeen almspeople, who receive each a weekly allowance of five shillings, and an annual supply of clothing and coal. Mr. Michael Wyatt, in 1725, left property in trust to the mayor and corporation, for the erection and endowment of almshouses for six freemen of the city: the premises are neatly built of brick, and comprise six tenements for aged men, who receive each two shillings per week, a supply of coal, and other relief: the annual produce of the endowment is about £40. Berkeley's hospital was founded, in 1692, by Robert Berkeley, Esq., of Spetchley, in the county of Worcester, who endowed it with £6000 from the rents of his lands, in annual sums of £400, for twelve aged men and one aged woman of the city, who receive each £10 per annum in quarterly payments and for the payment of £20 per annum to a chaplain for performing service in the chapel.

Geary's almshouses, for four aged women, who receive each two shillings and sixpence per week, with a yearly supply of coal, are endowed with about £30 per annum. Shewringe's hospital was founded, in 1702, by Mr. Thomas Shewringe, alderman of the city, who endowed it. with messuages, lands, and tenements, in and near Worcester, producing at present an income of nearly £150 per annum, for six aged women of the parishes of St. Swithin, All Saints, St. Andrew, St. Helen, and St. Clement, and one of the tything of Whistons, with preference to the kindred of the founder; the premises are neatly built of brick, and the inmates receive each a weekly allowance of eight shillings; under the window in each apartment is a stone inscribed with the name of the parish from which, in case of vacancy, the tenant is to be chosen.

Mr. William Jarvies, in 1772, bequeathed property, now producing more than £120 per annum, for the support of three aged freemen and one widow, and for apprenticing boys, of the parish of St. Andrew; the pensioners receive each five shillings per week, and have a tenement free of rent; and, in 1567, Mr. John Walsgrove bequeathed eight almshouses to the poor of this parish, which were subsequently endowed with premises, for keeping them in repair, by his son, and with £4 per annum by his grandson; the houses have been rebuilt at a considerable expense, and contain two apartments for each tenant. Some almshouses, founded by Mr. Steynor, as residences for the poor of the parish, have been taken down, and the rents of some other houses, with which they were endowed, are now divided among eight poor people.

Several benefactions by the family of Lilley were given to the charity school of the parish of St. Nicholas, and for other uses; the produce, about £12 per annum, is distributed annually in clothes, coal, and bread to the poor of this parish, there being no parochial school. There are numerous other charitable bequests and donations, under the control of the corporation and other trustees, for apprenticing poor children, lending money without interest to young tradesmen setting up in business, for various charitable uses, and for distribution among the poor; in addition to which, Worcester is one of the cities partaking of Sir Thomas White's charity.

The city and county infirmary was established in 1770, and is under the regulation of a president and committee, being liberally supported by the nobility and gentry of the surrounding neighbourhood; the building, which occupies an airy and appropriate situation, adjoining the Pitchcroft meadow, was completed at an expense of £6085. 9. 9, raised by subscription: it has two handsome fronts: the internal arrangements are well adapted, and a considerable quantity of garden and pleasure ground is attached to it. An institution for the relief of lying-in women has been established, and is supported by subscription, under the patronage and management of a committee of ladies.

The house of industry, an extensive brick building, occupying an elevated situation to the east of the town, was erected by act of parliament, obtained in 1792, for the accommodation of eight incorporated parishes of the city, the parish of St. Peter not being included; and is under the control of the mayor, for the time being, and a board of twelve directors; the buildings were erected at an expense of £7318, and the purchase of the land belonging to it was £2273. It consists chiefly of a central elevation and two wings, the first one hundred and sixteen feet in length, forty-four in breadth, and forty in height: on the roof of the southern wing is a capacious reservoir, filled with water by a pump in the brewhouse, whence it is distributed by pipes to the baths, and every other part of this extensive and well-arranged establishment. Behind the house are workshops for the men, and an hospital: further backward is a burial-ground, for those who die in the house; and in front is an extensive plot of ground, with a small building used for reading the burial service, in which the general poor of the united parishes are interred. A female penitentiary has been recently established, and is supported by subscription; and a new dispensary is about to be erected.

Among the ancient monastic establishments were, an hospital, bounded in the south-east part of the city, in honour of St. Wulstan, bishop of the see, in 1088, the revenue of which at the dissolution was £79. 12. 6.; the remains of this establishment, which was subsequently denominated the Commandery, and still retains that name, are considerable; a convent of Grey friars, without St. Martin's gate, founded, about the year 1268, by the family of the Beauchamps, Earls of Warwick, the remains of which were for several years used as the city gaol: a convent of Dominican friars, in the west part of the city, the site of which is now covered with buildings; a convent of White nuns of the Benedictine order, which existed at the time of the Conquest, and at the dissolution had a revenue of £53. 13. 7.; the site still bears the name of the White Ladies; a small portion of its ruined chapel is visible, and a farm, about a mile from the city, called the Nunnery, is probably a part of its ancient demesne.

The guild of the Holy Trinity was instituted by Henry IV., and, on its dissolution, was converted into an hospital by Queen Elizabeth. Among the distinguished prelates of the see were, the venerable Dr. Latimer, and Drs. Prideaux, Stillingfleet, and Hurd. Florence and William of Worcester were brethren in the monastery; Nicholas Facio de Duillier, a native of Switzerland, and author of several mathematical and philosophical works, resided here for thirty-three years, and was buried in St. Nicholas church, in 1753; Dr. Thomas, son of Bishop Thomas, and author of a Survey of the Cathedral Church of Worcester and Drs. Mackenzie, Johnstone, and Wall, eminent medical practitioners, were also residents; the last introduced the manufacture of porcelain, and contributed, by an analysis of its medicinal springs, to bring Malvern into repute as a watering-place. Among the eminent natives was Edward Kelly, noted for his knowledge of chemistry and astrology, born in 1555; John, Lord Somers, a celebrated lawyer; and Mr. Thomas White, a distinguished sculptor and architect. Worcester gives the inferior title of marquis to the Duke of Beaufort.

This is a Genealogy Website
URL of this page: http://places.wishful-thinking.org.uk/WOR/Worcester/index.html
Logo by courtesy of the Open Clip Art Library