Thursday, 12 November 2009

Worcester, Worcestershire

Another day trip to Worcestershire, this time to the city of Worcester itself.

The imposing cathedral contains a number of historical highlights including:
  • Chapel for the Worcestershire Regiment,
  • The tomb of the traditional historic baddie King John (boo hiss).
  • Prince Arthur's impressive grave. He was the older brother to the future Henry VIII.
  • 1st Earl of Dudley is buried in the east end of the cathedral.
  • Take a look at undercroft, largely unaltered since it was built.
  • There is a handsome bronze memorial to William, 2nd Duke of Hamilton biog here in the chancel. 
On the 3rd September the Duke was shot in the thigh during an attack on the Parliament guns at Perry Wood to the east of the city.  Hamilton died on the 12th from complications after refusing to have the leg removed by one of Cromwells surgeons. He died in the Commandery which was recently refurbished for £1.5m and now is truly awful. An empty shell. Dreadful. The audio guide will take you on several tours but if museum believes that people will repeatedly return to hear all the guides then I think they are gravely mistaken.

In the city there is an excellent regimental museum located above the town library,Worcestershire Regiment. The 'main' town museum was very disappointing but the regimental museum more than makes up for it. A number of highlights, for me at least, are the lifesize waxworks depicting soldiers from 29th and 36th Regiments, later the 1st and 2nd Battalions, of the Worcestershire Regiment.

You are greeted by the famous 18th C black musicans of the 29th Regiment of Foot, more details here












Further along you'll meet a soldier from the Peninsular Wars here













I was surprised to see numerous mentions of Dudley, the reason turned out that the Earl of Dudley was the Commander of the Yeomanry.
Queen's Own Worcestershire Hussars were involved in the last great charge of the British cavalry at Huj, in November 1917 (more info here).












Earl of Dudley provided all the yeomanry with swords and other equipment to convert the infantry back into cavalry out of his own pocket.

The Yeomanry were last called out in 1842, against some of Dudley's striking miners and iron-workers.
When you consider that the miners were lucky to live in a building like this.











and the Earl of Dudley lived here, Witley Court (the church on the left was his chapel). it, for me, takes the gloss off the glamour of the Yeomanry. To give some balance at least the Earl did build a large hospital in the area.






Back to Worcester, Greyfrairs, a large medieval National Trust property that was thought be be part of the nearby priory (hence the name) but is now known be have been a private merchants home. It is very easy to imagine the soldiers literally running for their lives up this street after the battle of Worcester in 1651.

Local legend has it that Charles ran up this street out the back door of one building as Parliament troops stormed through the front door in a Brian Rix farce style. the building is now a restaurant next to the Swan with Two Nicks pub (very cheap beer). This pub, formerly just 'The Swan', dates as an inn from 1764. The building however, dates at least from 1551. In 1780, it was known as the Little Swan. In 1865, the veterans of the Battle of Waterloo held a fifty years anniversary of the great battle at the inn.

On the same street is the spiral entrance to the modern multi-storey car park which always reminds me of a massive WWII German observation post. I’m a fan of modern architecture (even the concrete stuff) but how anyone managed to get planning permission to build this structure in this particular street baffles me.

Further up Friar Street is the Cardinal Head pub which serves unusual Austrian beers. Nice but expensive way to end a visit to the city.