Archive for December 15th, 2016

“Say you have been at Worcester, where England’s sorrows began, and where they are happily ended.” Hugh Peter 1651.

Dating back to Roman times, and a history with links to Neolithic times, Worcester has had a turbulent history with connections to a number of prominent historical figures and historical events taking place in or around the city. Worcester is not only a Cathedral city but is flanked on the  western side by Britain’s longest river; the River Severn. It simply had to be explored!

As mentioned in my previous article I had 3 free days between assignments and therefore an opportunity to explore a new area.  Having spent Tuesday meandering about Preston (article still to come 😉 ) I travelled across counties from Lancashire to Worcestershire and so to Malvern Link.  Wednesday was spent conquering a mountain….okay, I concede…a couple of hills, and Thursday I hopped on a train to the historic Cathedral city of Worcester.

wandering the lanes of Worcester

a day in Worcester – cathedral city

I love a good cathedral and Worcester Cathedral didn’t disappoint.  But, let me start at the beginning.  The day, as with the previous 3 days, was stunning……blue skies, extravagant sunrises, crispy cold frosty mornings with air so fresh it invigorates the soul. Just a short train ride from where I was staying and to my lasting delight we crossed a river and into the city of Worcester. One of those times I wish I’d had my camera in my hand rather than in my pocket as we crossed the river…breath-taking view of the river looking upstream I could see the spire of the cathedral…and a marvellous bridge.

wandering the lanes of Worcester

the view I would have had from the train….

As soon as I alighted from the train I set off towards the river…..what I hadn’t realised is that it was the River Severn….the longest river in Britain at 220 miles from source to sea. I had met this beautiful river a number of times before at various places that I had worked and of course on our trip to Bristol in August. I am also currently working in what is known as the Severn Valley at the base of the Malvern Hills.

wandering the lanes of Worcester

North Hill and Worcester Beacon Hill; part of the Malvern Hills

Enroute to the riverside I passed some really beautiful and amazing architecture and a fascinating modern construction called ‘The Hive’.

wandering the lanes of Worcester

Worcester architecture

En-route I walked past the Worcester race-course and passed beneath the viaduct over which we had trundled on the train.  And then there it was….the beautiful Severn River. This amazing river passes some of Britain’s most historic cities and areas as it travels from the Welsh Mountains through the quintessentially English Shropshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire countryside. I had the opportunity to see it in Preston as well.

wandering the lanes of Worcester

The River Severn runs through Worcester

After exploring the Bromwich Parade and visiting the Swan sanctuary riverbank I made my way back over the bridge and on impulse I decided to visit the Diglis Lock….It was a tad further than I anticipated but a marvellous walk. The Diglis Lock is one of many locks along the Severn as it flows past historic cities, gorgeous cathedrals, cosy pubs, exquisite scenery, and down to the flat-lands of the Severn estuary, and so to the sea.

wandering the lanes of Worcester

the Diglis Bridge and Lock on the River Severn near Worcester

Along it’s length it meets with a number of rivers and canals and you will find boats of just about every shape and size. Famous for its tidal bore, the second highest tide anywhere in the world the Severn is truly a wonder of Britain. I think I may just walk it one day! 😉

wandering the lanes of Worcester

Diglis River Lock

After exploring the riverbank I made my way into the city centre. My first port of call was the Museum of Royal Worcester.

wandering the lanes of Worcester

Museum of Royal Worcester

Oh my word! I can honestly say that the range of imagination in creating these extraordinary piece are art is astounding. Exquisite items that range across the centuries, you will find some of the most intricate patterns and filigree work decorating a most incredible collection as any I have seen in the museums in London. Enchanting! Of course I had to buy myself a piece of china from this world-famous factory; so I bought a mug commemorating The Queen’s 90th Birthday.

From there I made my way back into the city centre, past the Cathedral’s Edgar Tower (once the Priory gate) and back out again to visit The Commandery located next to a canal that leads into the River Severn and just beyond what was once the 12th century Sidbury Gate. The Commandery played a major part in the Civil War and until recently was the only museum dedicated to the Civil War.  To say this building is intriguing, extraordinary and stunning would be an understatement. I could happily have spent the whole day there….which I shall do on my next visit. With 6 layers of history to work through and 35 rooms….you would need a whole day!

wandering the lanes of worcester, the commandery

The Commandery, Worcester

There was so much to take in that my poor brain felt fried. The most astonishing room in the whole complex was the medieval wall paintings in the 1475 Painted Chamber! Breath-taking. That these incredible paintings have survived for over 600 years is a miracle.

wandering the lanes of worcester, the commandery

The 1475 Medieval Chamber – with original wall paintings. Extraordinary!!

From there I made my way through to the city centre once again to Friar Street and so to the Tudor House Museum. For someone who is a Tudor fan….this was right up my alley!! This building too has oodles history. The rooms are beautifully preserved and set up to depict the many layers of that history; from Tudor times to WW2.

wandering the lanes of worcester, tudor house

Built between 1500-1550; Tudor House. Tavern, Tudor home, weavers cottage, Victorian home, and WW2 wardens post.

I spent a very happy time wandering from room to room, trying to imagine what it must be like to be a house….it gets to see all those events, feel the lives of the people who lived there and witness major events throughout history.  They have some fantastic artefacts in the museum, all of which lend an air of authenticity to the various periods of the history. I nearly said ‘hello’ to the chap in the helmet!! He looked so lifelike LOL

After that I meandered along Friar Street, a delightful array of houses line the cobbled street with quirky little shops, tearooms and restaurants….along with some of the usual chains. Friar Street is a quaint pastiche of black and white listed buildings, ancient relics of bygone ages with a variety of historical pasts, lend an enchanting air of having stepped back in time.

wandering the lanes of worcester, tudor architecture

fantastic architecture in Friar Street, Worcester

Just across the street from Tudor Museum is Greyfriars….a magnificent house managed by National Trust. I decided to explore later in the day since their website said they were open from 8am-8pm and I wanted to visit the Cathedral. Unfortunately the information was wrong! Oh well. Next time

So now for the cathedral….. On my life bucket list I plan on visiting all the cathedral cities in the UK. I have been to a great number of them already in the last 15 years but there are many still to go, so the opportunity to visiting Worcester Cathedral was a must do! I have a philosophy in life…I may not go this way again, so I make the most of the time I am there!

worcester cathedral, wandering the lanes of worcester

Worcester Cathedral

Founded in 680, Worcester Cathedral started life as a Priory prior (?) to the Reformation. Nothing of the 7th century priory now remains, although remains of the Priory dating from the 12th and 13th centuries can still be seen. The Priory came to an end with King Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, and like many others around the country, the Benedictine monks were removed and replaced by secular canons.

What is now the Cathedral, built between 1084 and 1504, represents every style of English architecture from Norman to Perpendicular Gothic, while the multi-columned Norman crypt of the present-day cathedral dates from the 10th century during the time of St Oswald, Bishop of Worcester. The crypt is amazing!!

worcester cathedral, wandering the lanes of worcester

Worcester Cathedral crypt

Worcester Cathedral is typical of English cathedrals, having both a chapter house and cloisters.

Notably, Worcester Cathedral contains the tomb of King John in its chancel. Before his death in Newark in 1216, John had requested to be buried at Worcester

worcester cathedral, wandering the lanes of worcester

King John’s tomb at Worcester Cathedral

and Prince Arthur’s Chantry, a memorial to the young prince Arthur Tudor, who is buried here. Arthur’s younger brother and next in line for the throne was his brother Henry, who became the notorious Henry VIII.  Worcester Cathedral was spared total destruction by Henry VIII during the English Reformation because of his brother’s Chantry. In 2002, archaeologists used ground-penetrating radar to locate Arthur’s tomb in the cathedral, which is located several feet below the tomb chest that was built several years after his death.

wanering the lanes of worcester, arthur prince of wales chantry

The resting place of Arthur Prince of Wales, son of Henry VII and elder brother of Henry VIII

Something that amazed me totally is how worn the steps leading into the chantry are.

wanering the lanes of worcester, arthur prince of wales chantry

the steps leading into the chantry where Arthur, Prince of Wales is buried

To say that Worcester Cathedral is a real gem would be to understate the beauty of the place. How exciting it was to discover that not only is King John (of 1215 Magna Carta fame) buried here, but also young Arthur Tudor, eldest son of Henry VII and older brother to Henry VIII.  The ceilings are so beautiful, the memorials so astonishing and the crypt so ethereal that you feel like you’ve stumbled into a different realm.

To my sheer delight I also discovered that buried beneath the mosaic floors were the remains of a pilgrim. Not much of him is left to be fair, but how important he must have been to be buried within the walls of the cathedral. At the time of discovery, his shell and staff were uncovered and can be seen in a glass sarcophagus in the crypt.

wanering the lanes of worcester, 15th century pilgrim

The burial place of a 15th century Pilgrim at Worcester Cathedral

I took a quick stroll through the cloisters and popped in at the Chapter House. Two sides of the cloisters were lined with a delightful array of beautifully decorated Christmas trees.

wandering the lanes of worcester, worcester cathedral cloister and chapter house

The Cloisters and The Chapter House of Worcester Cathedral

The sun was setting whilst I meandered through the cathedral so I quickly headed out onto the west lawn for a look at the sunset over the river and also to have a better look at the west facade of the cathedral……it really is quite stunning.

wandering the lanes of worcester, worcester cathedral and the river severn

sunset in Worcester and the River Severn

And then it was time for home, but not without a quick dash through town…I simply had to see the old Tudor architecture by night…..just splendid, it looked positively medieval.

wandering the lanes of worcester, worcester cathedral and the river severn

Worcester by night

I took a quick walk across the bridge to the Swan Sanctuary for one last look at the cathedral from across the River Severn, and finally headed for home.

wandering the lanes of worcester, worcester cathedral and the river severn

Worcester Cathedral looking just magnificent and other-worldly

The swans thought I’d come to feed them!!!  What a brilliant city. I shall have to visit again.





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