|ounty of west central England. Herefordshire and Worcestershire
existed as counties until 1974, when they were amalgamated to form the county of Hereford
and Worcester; in 1998 this county was divided back into Worcestershire and Herefordshire,
which regained their pre -1974 boundaries.
Worcestershire County Council
- Worcester City Council
- Bromsgrove District Council
|owns and cities
||Worcester (administrative headquarters), Bewdley, Bromsgrove, Evesham,
Kidderminster, Pershore, Stourport, Tenbury Wells, Upton
||1640 sq. km / 1,020 sq. miles
is bounded to the north by West Midlands, Staffordshire, and Shropshire; to the west by
Herefordshire; to the Southwest by Gloucestershire; and to the east by Warwickshire. The
surface of Worcestershire varies, the south and Southwest being hilly, while through the
centre run the river valleys, with the Lickey Hills and the Clent Hills in the north. The
North Cotswold Hills and Bredon Hill lie along the Southeast border of the county.
Worcestershire is well wooded and contains the two ancient forests of Wyre and Malvern
Chase. Canals connect the Severn with the Midland canal system. Rivers include the Severn
with tributaries Stour, Teme, and the Avon (running through the fertile Vale of Evesham)
Worcestershire's natural features include the famous Malvern Hills in the Southwest with
it's highest peak being the Worcester Beacon which is 425 m / 1,395 feet above sea level.
The River Severn (Welsh
The Severn rises on the slopes of Plynlimon, in Ceredigion, west Wales, and flows east and
then south, finally forming a long estuary leading into the Bristol Channel; length 336 km
/ 208 miles. The Severn is navigable for 290 km / 180 miles, up to Welshpool (Trallwng) on
the Welsh border. The principal towns on its course are Shrewsbury, Worcester, and
Gloucester. England and South Wales are linked by two road bridges and a railway tunnel
crossing the Severn.
A remarkable feature of the river is a tidal wave known as the `Severn Bore´ that
flows for some miles upstream and can reach a height of 2 m / 6 ft.
The Severn is connected with the rivers Trent and Mersey via the Staffordshire and
Worcestershire Canal, and with the canal network around Birmingham via the Worcester and
Birmingham Canal, which joins the Severn at Worcester.
||Agriculture: cereals (oats, wheat), fruit (apples, pears), hops,
vegetables ; cider; much of the county is under cultivation, a large part being devoted to
permanent pasture, notably for Hereford cattle
Industries: carpets (Kidderminster), chemicals, engineering, food processing, needles and
fishing tackle (Redditch), porcelain (Worcester), salt
||Richard Baxter, Samuel Butler (author of Hudibras), Sir Edward Elgar, A E Housman, William Langland
(author of the Vision of Piers Plowman), Francis Brett Young and John Masefield.
Industrial town and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands, 14 km / 9 miles northwest
of Birmingham. Formerly an important centre for coalmining and iron-smelting at the heart
of the industrial Black Country, Dudley now manufactures clothing, glass, and light
The Black Country Museum
illustrates the area's industrial heritage and includes reconstructed period buildings.
There are ruins of a Norman castle, with a zoo in the grounds, and Dudley has a cricket
Dudley was an important industrial centre from medieval times, with abundant coal,
ironstone, limestone, and refractory clay. Coalmining existed in the late 13th century, and the coalmining
and iron-smelting industries expanded in the 17th century. The hand-wrought rail trade
flourished in the early 16th century, and the manufacture of glass and bricks began in the
early 17th century. Heavy engineering was established later. Dudley's limestone quarries
were closed in the 1920s. The success of the Merry Hill shopping centre, built on the site
of an old steelworks at Brierley Hill, has triggered a decline in the town centre.
Broadway, a village known as 'The Painted Lady of the Cotswolds is
full of honey coloured stone cottages.
Spa town on the east side of the Malvern Hills, which extend for about 16 km / 10 miles
and have their high point in Worcester Beacon 425 m / 1,395 ft. The Malvern Festival
1929-39, associated with the playwright G B Shaw and the composer Edward Elgar, was
revived 1977. Elgar lived and is buried here.
Market town on the River Avon, on the fringe of the Cotswolds, 24 km / 15 miles southeast
of Worcester. Fruit and vegetables are grown in the fertile Vale of Evesham.
At the Battle of Evesham, 4 August 1265, during the Barons' Wars, Prince Edward (the
future Edward I) defeated Simon de Montfort, who was killed.
A Benedictine abbey was founded here in 701. Its detached Perpendicular bell tower, built
in the 16th century, is 33 m / 108 ft high and contains a clock with chimes and 12 bells.
Other remains of the foundation include the 12th-century gateway, a fine arch, and the
Droitwich, once a Victorian spa, reopened its baths 1985 (the town
lies over a subterranean brine reservoir); Three Choirs Festival at Great Malvern The
greater part of the county was at one time in the hands of the church, and there were no
less than 13 great monastic foundations. Of these there are ruins at Pershore and Evesham,
both dating from the 8th century and the priory church at Malvern, also of the same date;
and ruins at Bordesley and Astley dating from the 13th century. The county is rich in
domestic architecture of the Tudor and Georgian periods, and possesses a number of notable
The magnificent Worcester cathedral dating from 1084 is home to the tomb of King John and
the cathedral overlooks one of the most peaceful and beautiful cricket grounds in the
Cathedral city on the River Severn, and administrative headquarters of the county of
Worcestershire, Industries include the manufacture of shoes, Worcester sauce, and Royal
The cathedral dates from the 13th and 14th centuries. The birthplace of the composer Elgar at nearby Broadheath is a museum. At the
Battle of Worcester in 1651 Oliver Cromwell defeated Charles II.
Worcester was important as early as the 7th century owing to its situation on a ford in
the Severn. The city motto, `Faithful in war and peace´, commemorates the royalist
support given by Worcester during the civil wars. In 1651 Charles II lodged in the city,
and from the cathedral tower watched his forces being routed by Cromwell's troops. Many
royalist soldiers were imprisoned in the cathedral after the battle. Worcester has been an
episcopal see since 680, but its early history is obscure. In 964 St Oswald founded a new
church there for Benedictine monks, and Bishop Wulfstan began rebuilding on a large scale
in 1084. King John is buried between the shrines of Oswald and Wulfstan.
The Cathedral of Christ and St Mary the Virgin includes a Norman crypt, an impressive
geometrical west window, and a Perpendicular cloister with a well-preserved lavatorium and
some carved bosses on the vaulted roof. The circular Norman chapter house and the original
refectory, now used by the King's School, remain. The external length of the cathedral is
126 m/413 ft and the central tower (completed 1364) is 60 m/197 ft high. The exterior was
extensively restored between 1857 and 1874. The building of the Early English choir and
Lady chapel began in 1224, and was effected by bishops De Blois and Cantelupe, whose
effigies are in the chapel. The last important addition to the cathedral was Prince
Arthur's Chantry, with a magnificent Perpendicular screen, erected by Henry VII in memory
of his eldest son. The Three Choirs Festival is held here once every three years.
St Helen's is the oldest church in Worcester, dating back to 680, but rebuilt in the 13th
and 15th centuries.
St Andrew's and St Albans are other medieval ecclesiastical structures, but these three
churches are not now used as places of worship.
The Commandery, formerly called the Hospital of St Wulfstan, was founded by Wulfstan
(1085) for a master, priests, and brethren, under the rule of St Augustine; the present
structure is 15th century. At the battle of Worcester in 1651, the Commandery was the
headquarters of the royal forces under the Duke of Hamilton, and the royal standard was
raised on the hill known as Fort Royal, which at that time was part of the grounds.
Medieval buildings still remain in New Street and Friar Street, the most important being
that built in about 1480 by the Grey Friars. In `King Charles's House´ Charles II is said
to have hidden after his defeat at Worcester. From `Queen Elizabeth's House´, Queen
Elizabeth I, according to tradition, addressed the people when she visited Worcester in
1574. Worcester is rich in Georgian buildings. The Guildhall (1721-23) is the work of
Thomas White, a native of Worcester. The Royal Grammar School dates back to the 13th
century, when it was supported by the merchants of the Trinity Guild; Elizabeth I granted
it a charter in 1561. The Worcester Cathedral King's School was established and endowed
out of the monastic funds by Henry VIII in 1541, and reorganized in 1884. More modern
buildings include the Shire Hall, the Worcester Royal Infirmary, the Victoria Institute,
and Crown Gate, a shopping precinct (1992).
medieval times Worcester was the centre of a prosperous glove trade. The firms of Dent's
and Fownes', founded in the 18th century, carry on this tradition. The Royal Worcester
Porcelain Works was founded in 1751 by `John Wall, doctor of Physic, and William Davis,
Apothecary´; Wall was also connected with Worcester Royal Infirmary, which opened in a
house in Silver Street in 1745. Engineering, including electrical engineering, and mining
are the principal modern industries in Worcester. There are also iron and brass foundries,
pattern shops, and machine and fitting shops. Other industries include printing, and the
manufacture of furniture and agricultural machinery. Berrow's Worcester Journal traces its
history to 1690, and is therefore one of the oldest newspapers in England.
Town situated on
the River Severn, 22 km / 14 miles northwest of Worcester. A stone bridge designed by
Thomas Telford and completed in 1801, crosses the Severn here. The old town is now a
conservation area and a popular tourist centre. The town is often troubled by flooding
from the Severn when rains locally and from the Welsh hills combine to raise the river
level to cover the lanes which run alongside the river.
The former Conservative Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, was born in Bewdley.
Bewdley is an ancient town, and its prosperity dates from the 15th century; until the
Industrial Revolution it was a river port for traffic between the Bristol Channel and the