WORCESTERSHIRE

Worcestershire is an ancient territory that dates as far back as the 7th century. This region was once the centre of an old Anglo-Saxon kingdom, which belonged to the Hwicce people. The area was officially drawn into the Kingdom of England only in the 10th century. From then on, Worcestershire functioned as an important wool trading area. It also served as as royal hunting ground, thanks to the dense forests on its western edge (Malvern Hills). The two major rivers running through the region (the Severn and Avon rivers) also contributed to the area’s economy by bringing in spa resorts in the 19th century. However, much their hype has died down today; leaving Worcestershire to be a peaceful area that boasts pretty pastoral plains, as well as rolling hills which are best explored via the several stunning walking trails.  

 

 


 

 

 

 

 


The grand Witley Court [Worcester Road, +44 190 5726311, www.english-heritage.org.uk/, ad/ch £ 6.30/3.80] residence that you see today was once nothing more than a humble Jacobean brick house. Located just off the town of Worcester, the foundations of this imposing structure was first laid out in the 17th century, by its first owner, Thomas Foley. The Foley family kept Witley Court in their procession, well into the 19th century. The residence was constantly renovated and updated over years, with Baroque interior designing, strong towers and porches in the north and south facades (the work of architect John Nash). In the mid-19th century, Witley Court was sold to the Earl of Dudley, who took on the responsibility of creating a magnificent landscape garden, as well as adding ornate Italianate features to the building’s exterior. Unfortunately, a good chunk of the building was lost to a fire in 1937. What remains today, is the restored version of the originally splendid Witley Court. Nonetheless, the building continues to be considered one of the finest houses in the Midlands regions, welcoming visitors with a beautiful garden that is well decorated with stone sculptures; as well as an ancient parish church that boasts fine paintings.

 


Worcester canalWorcester (pop 94,800, pronounced Wooster) is the capital of the Worcestershire county. A rich history lies behind this bustling city that is currently famous for its renowned Worcestershire sauce. Worcester’s birth dates as far back as the Roman era, when it thrived as an important trading centre. However, the town was only put on the map when it became the site of the last battle of the English Civil War in the 17th century (between the Parliamentarians and the Cavaliers). The final battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Worcester, marked the replacement of the English monarchy with Commonwealth of England. Today, you will find evidence of this rich heritage in the little clusters around town that house classic Tudor and Gregorian residences; as well as the imposing Worcester Cathedral.

Layout
The river Severn bisects Worcester, with the majority of the city lying on its eastern bank. You can arrive at Worcester via train at the Foregate Train station (northern end) or via bus (southwest of the train station).

Sights
Worcester CathedralWorcester is essentially a cathedral city as its skyline, is unquestionably dominated by the majestic Worcester Cathedral [8 College Yard, +44 190 5732900 http://www.worcestercathedral.co.uk/]. Situated along the Severn River, the Worcester Cathedral stands as a testament to the city’s long and tumultuous past.

Normans founded the original Worcester Cathedral in the 11th century. However nothing much remains of this ancient edifice, except for the Norman crypt that lies in the current cathedral, which rightfully dates back to the 12th century. Hence, the Worcester Cathedral features a mesh mash of various architectural styles from the Norman to the Perpendicular Gothic School.

Inside the cathedral you will find crypts belonging to famous names such as King John (the brother of Richard the Lionheart, who was said to have committed treason before taking on the throne himself). You will also find medieval structures such as the chapterhouse that dates back to the 12th century, and the 13th century Lady Chapel. The towering building was also made useful during the Civil War, as King Charles II assigned the Cathedral as a lookout, during the Battle of Worcester. You can ascend the 249-stair tower to catch a panoramic view of the city.  This ancient cathedral is considered to be one of the finest in the region; as it was given the honour of being printed on the £20 note (printed between 1999 and 2007).

The cathedral conducts daily tours [ad/ch £3/Free] that last for about 2 hours taking you through the many interesting features of this structure.

If you would like to find out more about Worcester interesting history, you can pop by the city’s Commandery [+44 190 5361821 http://www.worcestercitymuseums.org.uk/ ad/ch £5.40/2.30]. Located in a well-preserved Tudor building that has rich heritage itself (once King Charless II’s headquarters during the Battle of Worcester), the Commandery presents the important periods in the history of the city.

Worcester is famous for something more than its cathedral and sauce- porcelain-making industry. Worcester’s porcelain-making tradition dates back to 1751, when Dr John Wall started fiddling around with bone china as a hobby. His dedication to the craft quickly earned him a royal warrant in 1789, making him a crockery supplier of Her Royal Highness (HRH). The factory runs a porcelain museum [Severn Street, +44 190 521247 www.worcesterporcelainmuseum.org ad/ch £6/5], as each of the Royal Worcester Porcelain Works’ crockery is considered to be a work of art itself. The museum houses a 10 000-exhibit collection, which include Dr Wall’s pioneer pieces, as well as some of the china that was used by the British royalties. The museum also comes attached with a gift shop, were you can get your hands on one of these fine pieces yourself. The museum also conducts a guided tour that brings visitors through the entire porcelain-making process- from designing to manufacturing. 


Great Malvern (pop 35,500) is an affluent town that lies sprawled on the southwest side of Worcestershire. Ascending beautifully up the Malvern Hills, Great Malvern made its fortunes during the 19th century, when its spring waters called out to the hydrotherapy craze. While the hydrotherapy boom has died down, these natural spring waters are still being capitalized on by the bottled water business. Most of the town’s architecture, which dates from the 18th and 19th centuries (with fine Victorian and Edwardian villas) stand out against the lush green backdrop of the Worcestershire plains. The town also boasts breathtaking hillside views that can be reached on foot via scenic walking trails.

Sights
The Great Malvern Priory [Church St, +44 168 4561020 http://www.greatmalvernpriory.org.uk/] is one of the oldest structures in town. Dating back to the 11th century, the Great Malvern Priory was initially built for just over 30 monks.  Today, this ancient priory makes for a good visit, as it comprises of interesting features such as Norman pillars and a handful of misericords that are decorated with intriguing images of everything from cats and rats, to the mythical basilisk.

The Malvern Museum of Local History [Abbey Road +44 168 4567811 http://www.malvernmuseum.co.uk/ ad/ch £2/50p] stands on the pathway leading from the priory. This small establishment presents the history of the town in various period rooms, such as the medieval room (which takes you through Malvern’s medieval history) and the Staircase gallery (which displays the town’s scientific contributions). The geology of the surrounding hills, as well as the town’s venture into hydrotherapy is also explored in the museum.

Great Malvern’s theatres have long been of interest to the public, thanks to their rich performing arts tradition. As such, it recommended that you pop by the Malvern Theatre [Grange Road, +44 168 4892277 http://www.malvern-theatres.co.uk/] for some dance and drama; or the quaint Theatre of Small Convenience [Edith Walk, +44 168 4568933 http://www.wctheatre.co.uk/] – the world’s smallest theatre that sits only 12 people, as it was converted from a Victorian men’s lavatory.

Hardly anyone leaves Great Malvern without exploring the beautiful Malvern Hills. Home to about 18 peaks (the highest being the Worcester Beacon), as well as more than 70 springs and fountains, Malvern Hills makes for a great hiking destination as it is well connected with more than 100km of walking trails.




Upton-upon-Severn (pop 2,800) is a small parish town that lies along the River Severn, in the Malvern Hills area. It is said that the quaint little town was founded way back in the Middle Ages; however, nothing much remains of this era. Upton-upon-Severn now attracts visitors, mostly due to its reputable music festivals- the spring folk festival and the summer blues and jazz festival.