Visit Worcester and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Worcester, Worcestershire. The ancient cathedral city of Worcester lies in the centre of its county. Although built on both sides of the Severn the principal part of the city has grown over the centuries on the steeper eastern bank. This was in order to avoid the flooding which frequently was a greater menace than the many marauding armies the district has known: Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Danes and the Welsh all contributed to a turbulent history. The fertility of the surrounding Severn valley was always sufficient to make Worcester a coveted prize. The Civil War inflicted terrible damage. Worcester was the first city to declare for the King and the last to surrender in 1646. In 1651 Cromwell's “crowning mercy” was the final battle at Worcester when Charles II was completely defeated and had to flee for his life. Modern Worcester is at the hub of radiating main roads and the M5 skirts it. Road-building has meant the loss of much that was old, beautiful and even great.
The first cathedral church at Worcester was built by St Oswald who later became Archbishop of York and a friend of St Dunstan, who considerably influenced him. He attached a community of Benedictine monks to the church in about 961. Some 80 years later the church was almost destroyed by the Danes. In 1062 Wulfstan, Prior of Worcester, was made bishop. This English prelate submitted to William after Harold's death and was not therefore replaced by a Norman. He started work on the present cathedral in the year 1084. The crypt, one of the most inspiring parts of this very beautiful cathedral, is to all practical purposes exactly as St Wulfstan (or Wulfstan) built it. The interior of the cathedral blends different styles harmoniously. The two west bays of the nave are fine Transitional work with both round and pointed arches. In the early part of the 13th century the master mason engaged on the building of Lincoln Cathedral started work on his design for the choir. Building went on unabated for more than 100 years in the Early English style. The visitor today sees a forest of slender pillars supporting a high vaulted roof. In the centre of the exquisite chancel, in front of the high altar, is the tomb of King John. He was buried here in the cathedral between the shrines of St Wulfstan and St Oswald by his own wish, expressed in his will which has been preserved. On the south side of the chancel is the tomb of Henry VII's eldest son, Prince Arthur, who died at the age of 15 in 1502. The tomb is contained in a Perpendicular chantry chapel of delicate Stonework. The arches of the Lady Chapel behind the high altar are perhaps among the most beautifully proportioned 13th-century work to be found in the country. The cathedral library above the south aisle of the nave contains some leaves of a copy of a Mercian Gospel written in the 8th century.
The cathedral has suffered a great deal from restorers. Between 1857 and 1874 practically the whole of the surface of the exterior was completely restored including a number of windows.
A l3th-century gateway opens out on to College Green, virtually all that the cathedral has in the way of a precinct. It leads on to the cloisters, the King's School and the chapter house as well as the ruins of the old Guesten Hall - the guest-house the monks built in 1320. The cloisters are mostly 14th-century but have Norman outer walls. East of the cloisters is a very early Norman passageway known as the Slype in which are a number of stones reputed to have formed part of Oswald's original Anglo-Saxon church. They are certainly the oldest stones in the cathedral. The Norman chapter house was built probably about the year 1120. It was the first to be built in this country with a single central pillar supporting a vaulted roof. More than any other, the view from College Green of the monastery ruins, the magnificent cathedral, the watergate and the ferryways all conveys an impression of monastic Worcester. Just to the west of the gateway, which is also called the Edgar Tower, is the deanery, an early l8th-century house with a particularly beautiful pedimented doorway. Just outside St Peter's Gate is the 15th-century Commandery, on the site of the Hospital of St Wultstan founded in 1085. It is timber-framed with a most impressive great hail which has a lofty open roof and is divided into five bays. It has some good l5th-century stained glass. The magnificent Elizabethan staircase leads to upper rooms, one of which has fine l6th-century wall paintings of various religious subjects.
The river below the cathedral is crossed by a fine stone bridge built by John Gwynn between 1771 and 1780. It was later enlarged.
Worcester's other great claim to fame is the Royal Worcester Porcelain Works, whose ware
ranks with some of the world's greatest. It all started with a Worcester citizen, Dr Wall, anxious to restore the prosperity of the city after the decline of the cloth trade. He worked on a substitute for china clay which, up to that time, had not been found anywhere in these islands. By 1751 he was able to open a porcelain factory in the city which not only copied Chinese and Japanese porcelains, and Sèvres, Dresden and Meissen ware, but attracted gifted designers who achieved originality and attracted the patronage of the great. Dr Wall died in 1766 but the royal seal of approval was given by King George III some 12 years later. There were difficult days ahead but in the early l860s the Worcester Royal Porcelain Co. was formed to maintain the exquisite craftsmanship which had been the hallmark of the 18th century.
Worcester's other still flourishing industry is that of glove-making. Worcester Sauce really is made in Worcester, from the receipe of an early Governor of Bengal, Sir Marcus Sandys, who lived in the county.
Outstanding among the many important parish churches of the city is St Helen's, built on the site of an early church in honour of the mother of Constantine and considered the mother church of the city. it is now used as the County Record Office. The 245-ft spire of St Andrew's still stands, though the church has been demolished. Across the river is St John's in Bedwardine with a beautiful late 12th-century north arcade. Built of red sandstone and set among trees, it is one of the most attractive churches in the city.
The Roman Catholic church in Sansome Place was built in 1829 on the site of an earlier chapel used by James II. It was much embellished in the 1880s and is a place of musical pilgrimage: Sir Edward Elgar was organist here like his father before him.
Nearby towns: Alcester, Bromyard, Droitwich, Evesham, Ledbury, Malvern, Pershore, Redditch, Stourport-on-Severn, Upton upon Severn
Nearby villages: Bransford, Broughton Hackett, Callow End, Collets Green, Golden Valley, Hallow, Kempsey, Lower Broadheath, Powick, Upton Snodsbury
Have you decided to visit Worcester or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Worcester bed and breakfast (a Worcester B&B or Worcester b and b)
- a Worcester guesthouse
- a Worcester hotel (or motel)
- a Worcester self-catering establishment, or
- other Worcester accommodation