Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for WORCESTER

WORCESTER-popularly Wooster-a city and a district in Worcestershire, and a diocese partly also in Warwickshire, Herefordshire, and Oxfordshire. The city stands on Ryknield-street, and on the river Severn, at a convergence of railways, and at the terminus of the Worcester and Birmingham canal, 29 miles N of Gloucester, and 111 by road, but 138 by railway, WNW of London; has railway communication with all parts of the kingdom; and commands seaward navigation by the Severn, and extensive inland navigation by both river and canal.

History.—The city dates from the times of the ancient Britons, and was called by them Caer-Guoraugon. It was occupied by the Romans; may possibly have been their Branogena; and has yielded many Roman relics. It became the Wigaerne, or Warrior's Lodge, of the Saxons; and was designated by them Wegenacestre, Weorganeceaster, or Weogornaceaster,-a name after wards corrupted into Worcester. It was taken by Penda of Mercia in 628; was made the capital of the Saxon Wiccast; was desolated or destroyed by the Danes; was rebuilt, in 894, by Ethelred; was burnt, in 1041, by Hardicanute, for resisting danegelt; was given, by William the Conqueror, to Urso D'Abitot; was then an important place with a mint: was defended, in 1088, by Bishop Wolstan against Bernard Newmarch and Roger de Lacy; acquired from D'Abitot, about 1090, a wall with six gates, and a strong castle, few remains of which now exist; was burnt in 1113 and 1133; was visited, in 1129, by Henry I., to keep Christmas; was visited, in 1139, by Stephen, and plundered, in the same year, by the Empress Maud's forces; was, in the next year, seized by these forces, and burnt by Stephen; was assailed again, in 1151, by Stephen; was taken, in 1157, by Henry II.; was the meeting-place of a parliament in 1159; was burnt again in 1202; was repeatedly taken and retaken in the time of King John; was visited by that king in 1207 and 1214, and , at his own request, became his burial-place; was visited, in 1218, 1232, 1234, and 1241, by Henry III.; was taken, in 1263, by the Barons, who next year brought the king a prisoner to it; was made, in 1265, the headquarters of Prince Edward, whence he marched to the battlefield of Evesham; and was visited by that prince, as Edward I., in ten different years,-in one of which he met Llewelyn at it, in another kept Christmas in it, in another held a parliament at it, in another was accompanied by Queen Eleanor. The city was plundered, in 1401, by Owen Glendower, but rescued by Henry IV.; was visited by that king again in 1407,-by Henry VI., in 1459,-by Edward IV., in 1471; was inundated by the Severn in 1489; was occupied by Henry VII. in 1485; was more famous than any other English town for cloth-making in the time of Henry VIII.; was visited by Elizabeth in 1575 and 1585; was ravaged by the plague in 1637; and was fortified by the royalists in 1642, taken by the parliamentarians in 1643, reoccupied by the royalists in 1644, visited by the King himself in 1645, and retaken by the parliamentarians, after a siege of 4 months, in 1646. Charles II., at the head of the Scotch army, entered it in 1651; fortified it: was crowned in it; was besieged in it by Cromwell; was defeated, on 3 Sept., in the desperate battle of Worcester, fought at Perry Wood; and made a narrow personal escape after his defeat. The city, from its great loyalty to the two Charleses, took the appellation of the "faithful city;'' and it was the first corporate town in which a mayor proclaimed Charles II. at the Restoration. James II. visited it in 1687; George III. in 1788; the Prince Regent in 1807. William of Worcester, William Bottoner, Lord Somers, Judge Berkeley, the Romish writer Dr. Smith, the theologians Bristow and W. Smith, the alchemist Kelly, the antiquary Dr. Thomas, the architect White, the quaker Bradley, and the scholar W. Price were natives.

Site and Structure.—The city occupies a gentle slope on the eastern bank of the Severn; is sheltered, on the E, by a-well-wooded hill; lies open, on all other sides, to the champaign of the valley; and presents a general appearance of neatness and prosperity. The principal streets. are wide, regular, and handsome; the market place is extremely convenient; the houses, for the most part, are built of red brick; and the suburbs comprise a multitude of good recent cottages and villas. Several spacious warehouse s or manufactories, of ornamental character, were erected about 1866. The City and County bank, in the modern Roman style, was built in 1861. A handsome stone bridge, of 5 elliptical arches and 270 feet long, connects the city with the suburb of St. John-Bedwardine; was erected in 1781, at a cost of nearly £30,000; and was improved in 1841, by a widening of it on each side to a total width of 33 feet, and by a widening of the contiguous quays to give it a good effect. An elegant iron viaduct, of two spans, takes across the Malvern and Hereford railway; and was erected about 1862. Extensive alterations, in weirs, locks, and other details, were recently made to improve the local navigation of the Severn. The market house was rebuilt in 1851; and has an elevated roof, open at the sides. The flesh and fish market stands at the end of the market house; and is a large and well-arranged structure, with open-sided roof. The cattle market is at the Butts, covers a space of more than 4 acres, and was opened in 1838. The hop market comprises offices on the basement, and large warehouses in the superstructure. The corn exchange measures interiorly 70 feet by 60½; and was erected in 1848-9, at a cost of £5,000. The music hall was originally designed to be the corn exchange; was built in the same year, at at a cost of £7,000; has a pillared front; measures interiorly 97 feet in length, 40 feet in width, and 40 feet in height; and is lighted from a dome. The public reading and news-rooms occupy premises formerly belonging to the mechanics' institution. The temperance hall is used for public lectures. The theatre was built in 1780. A racquet court is in Sansome-walk. An arboretum, of large extent and much beauty, adjoining Sansome-walk, was formed by a private company in 1850; and was open to the public every Thursday; but was sold in 1866, for about £11,000, to be occupied by eight new streets. The guildhall was built in 1723, at a cost of £3,730; and is a brick structure, in the Italian style, adorned with statues. The shire hall was built in 1835, at a cost of £35,000; is in the Ionic style, with a handsome hexa-style portico; and includes an apartment 90 feet by 40, used occasionally for public meetings and for balls. The judges, lodgings are a large handsome house at the back of the shire hall. The city jail occupied the site of an ancient grey friary; was built in 1824, at a cost of £12,578; had capacity for 40 male and 10 female prisoners; and was taken down in 1868. The county jail was built in 1809, at a cost of £19,000; was enlarged and improved in 1840, at a cost of about £50,000; was reconstructed, on the separate system, in 1856-60, at a cost of £24,000; and has capacity for 258 male and 62 female prisoners. The workhouse stands on Tallow-hill, was built in 1794, and has accominodation for 294 paupers.

The Cathedral.—A church, on the site of the cathedral, was built by King Offac in 983; reconstructions of that church, in early Norman architecture, and still partly retained, were built by Bishop Wolstan in 1084; the main body of the cathedral, as it now stands, was dedicated by Bishop Sylvester, in the presence of Henry III., in 1218; additions and alterations, in decorated and later English architecture, were made at subsequent periods; and very extensive restorations, rendered necessary by the weather-worn surface of the exterior and the decays of many parts of the interior, were effected in a series of years up to 1868. These restorations had been carried on for a considerable time before the end of 1864; and they then required still about £14,000 for completion. The pile, in its ground plan, comprises a nave of nine bays, a main transept of two bays, a central tower, a choir of four bays, a choir-transept of two bays, a presbytery of one bay, a Lady chapel of four bays, cloisters of seven panes, a chapter-house, and a N porch. The nave is 180 feet long, 78 feet wide, and 66 feet high; the main transept is 128 feet long, 32 feet wide, and 66 feet high; the central tower is of two stages, crowned by octagonal turrets, and 200 feet high; the choir is 120 feet long, 74 feet wide, and 68 feet high; the choir-transept is 120 feet long and 25 feet wide; the Lady chapel is 60 feet long; the cloisters are 125 feet long and 18 feet wide; the chapter-house is 55 feet in diameter and 45 feet high; a Norman crypt extends under the choir and the choir-transept, and is 45 feet long and 15 feet wide; and the entire pile is 514 feet long. The architecture ranges from early Norman to late perpendicular; and the general appearance, particularly as seen in distance from the Malvern hills, is very beautiful. A chief monument is an altar-tomb of King John, with a life-size crowned figure of the king; and other noticeable monuments are altar-tombs, effigies, or other memorials of Prince Arthur, Lady De Clifford, Sir J. Beauchamp, Sir H. Ellis, Sir G. Ryce, Sir W. Harcourt, Judge Lyttleton, Maud Longspée, Mrs.Digby, and Bishops Johnson, Hough, Giffard, Oswald, Wolstan, Sylvester, Hemenhale, and Thorn-borough. The present episcopal palace is Hartlebury Castle, near Kidderminster. The old episcopal palace stands near the cathedral on a height overlooking the Severn; and is now called the deanery. The cloisters are now inhabited by the cathedral dignitaries. King Edgar's tower, built toward the end of the time of Edward III., stands in College-green, on the S side of the cathedral; and is the finest relic of old times in the city.

Ecclesiastical Affairs.—The livings in the city, or connected with it, are the rectories of St. Albans, All Saints, St. Andrew, St. Clement, St. Helen, St. Martin, St. Nicholas, St. Swithin, and Bedwardine-St. Michael, the vicarages of St. Peter, St. Paul, and Bedwardine-St. John, and the p. curacy of Holy Trinity. The two Bedwardines are separately noticed; and St. Peter is united with Whittington. Value of St. Albans, £74; of All Saints, £150;* of St. Andrew, £165; of St. Clement, £150; of St. Helen, £120;* of St. Martin, £378; of St. Nicholas, £260;* of St. S within , £170;* of St. Peter-with-Whittington, £300;* of Holy Trinity, not reported; of St. Paul, £150. Patron of St. Albans, St. Helen, St. Nicholas, and St. Paul, the Bishop of W.; of All Saints, the Lord Chancellor; of the others, the Dean and Chapter of W. St. Albans' church is very ancient, and was recently restored. All Saints was rebuilt in 1742. St. Andrew's is of the 11th century, greatly altered; and has a tower 90 feet high, with a beautiful slender spire of 1751, rising to a finial height of 245 feet. St Clement's was built in 1823, at a cost of nearly £6,000; and is in the Norman style. St. Helen's is very old. St. Martin's is a brick structure of 1772. St. Nicholas' is in the Doric style; and was improved in 1867, at a cost of £2,000. St. Swithin's was rebuilt in 1736; St. Peter's, in 1838. Holy Trinity church was built in 1865, at a cost of £7,000; and is in the decorated English style. St. Paul's was built in 1837. St. George's belongs to Claines parish; and was built in 1830, at a cost of £5,500. St. Oswald's belongs to St. Oswald's hospital, and was built in 1830. The Watermen's occupies the site of the original St. Clement's, and was erected in memory of the Rev. John Davis. Christ church is Presbyterian; and was built in 1866, at a cost of £5,000. The Independent chapel dates from 1662; and was rebuilt and enlarged in 1859, at a cost of £6,000. One chapel of Lady Huntingdon's connexion is in Bridport; and another in Lowesmoor was built in 1860. One Baptist chapel was built in 1796; another in 1864, the latter at a cost of £4,000. The Quakers' chapel was built in 1701. One Wesleyan chapelis small, another very spacious; and the latter was built in 1796. There are also Primitive Methodist, U. free Methodist, and Brethren's chapels. The Roman Catholic chapel occupies the site of an old one, visited by James I.; and was built in 1828.-A black friary stood near Foregate; a grey friary, near St. Martin's gate; a nunnery, at White Ladies; and a commandery of Knights Hospitallers was founded in the 11th century, and went to the Morrisons and to Cardinal Wolsey.

Schools and Institutions.—The cathedral grammar- school was founded by Henry VIII. for 40 poor scholars; is held in the quondam refectory of the cathedral clois- ters; and has two exhibitions at Baliol college, Oxford. Queen Elizabeth's grammar-school was founded in 1561; had Lord Somers and Hudibras Butler for pupils; and was rebuilt, in the Tudor style, at White Ladies, in 1868. Lloyd's charity-school was founded and endowed in 1713, by Bishop Lloyd; and educates and clothes 20 boys and 20 girls. The blue-coat school maintains 10 boys, who are educated in Queen Elizabeth's school. There are eight national schools, three parochial, two British, four denominational, and one industrial. There are also a diocesan training school, and a school of design. The City library was built in 1830, and contains upwards of 13,000 volumes. The City and County library was established in 1836. The Worcestershire museum was built in 1836; and is a two-storied edifice, in the Corinthian style. The infirmary was built in 1770, at a cost of £6,085; and has, at different times, been much enlarged and improved. The ophthalmic institution was rebuilt in 1866. The dispensary was established in 1822. The orphan asylum was built in 1869, at a cost of more than £6,000. St. Oswald's hospital was originally founded for lepers; was rebuilt about 1630: supports 16 men and 12 women; and has an endowed income of £1,681. Ten other alms-house hospitals support or aid about 120 persons, and have aggregately more than £1,000 a year from endowment. There are other benevolent institutions and a number of miscellaneous ones; and the total of endowed charities, including schools, is about £4,381.

Trade.—The city has a head post-office,‡ three receiving post-offices,‡ two r. stations, with telegraph offices, four banking offices, and five chief inns; is a seat of assizes, quarter sessions, and county-courts, a polling place and a place of election; and publishes four weekly newspapers. Markets are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays; a cattle-market on every Saturday; and fairs on the third Monday of Jan., Feb., March, and April, the second Monday of May and July, the first Tuesday of June and Aug., 19 Sept., 8 Oct., the first Monday of Nov., and the second Friday of Dec. Considerable commerce is carried on in corn, hops, cider, and perry; very fine porcelain is largely manufactured; glove-making and leather-dyeing are extensively carried on; some lace-making is done; and there are a very large vinegar-work, a British wine-making establishment, a distillery, breweries, horse-hair manufactories, a large iron foundry, saw-mills, roperies, boat and barge-building, yards, engineering establishments, and three coach factories. Musical festivals are held; races are run; and agriculturaland horticultural shows are maintained.-The city was chartered by Henry I.; is governed, under the new act, by a mayor, 12 aldermen, and 36 councillors: and, since the time of Edward I., has sent two members to parliament. The corporation revenue is about £5,550. The police force, in 1864, comprised 31 men, at an annual cost of £2,295. The crimes committed, in 1864, were 100; the persons apprehended, 76; the known depredators and suspected persons at large, 437; the houses of bad character, 89. The borough boundaries are the same parliamentarily as municipally; and they comprehend the parishes of All Saints, St. Alban, St. Andrew, St. Clement, St. Helen, St. Nicholas, St. Swithin, and Bedwardine St. Michael, the extra-parochial places of Block house and College Precincts, and parts of the parishes of St. Martin, St. Peter, Bedwardine-St. John, and Claines. Real property of All Saints, St. Alban, St. Andrew, St. Clement, St. Helen, St. Martin, St. Nicholas, St. Peter, St. Swithin, and Claines, and of the extra-parochial tract of College Precincts in 1860, £117,842; of which £2,760 were in gasworks. Electors of the city in 1833, 2,366; in 1863, 2,731. Pop. in 1851, 27,528; in 1861, 31,227. Houses, 6,330.

The District.—The registration district or poor-law union differs slightly in boundaries from the city, but is mainly identical with it; and it is divided into three subdistricts, W, N, and S. Acres, 6,699. Poor rates in 1863, £14,297. Pop. in 1851, 27,677; in 1861, 30,969. Houses, 6,267. Marriages in 1866, 327; births, 1,118, -of which 76 were illegitimate; deaths, 822,-of which 364 were at ages under 5 years, and 12 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 2,845; births, 8,709; deaths, 6,779. The places of worship, in 1851, were 18 of the Church of England , with 8,390 sittings; 1 of Independents, with 700 s.; 1 of Baptists, with 696 s.; 1 of Quakers, with 360 s.; 3 of Wesleyans, with 1,362 s.; 1 of Primitive Methodists, with 250 s.; 2 of Lady Huntingdon's Connexion, with 1,465; 1 undefined, with 128 s.; 1 of Roman Catholics, with 429 s.; and 1 of Latter Day Saints, with 200 attendants. The schools were 16 public day-schools, with 2,196 scholars; 50 private day-schools, with 1,077 s.; and 18 Sunday schools, with 3,129 s. .

The Diocese.—The bishopric is said to have been founded about 160. Among the bishops have been Wolstan, Dunstan, and Oswald, who were canonized; Roger, famous for courage; Cantilupe, installed in the presence of three crowned heads; Giffard, Lord Chancellor; Cobham, called the good clerk; Bourchier, who became cardinal; Julius de Medici, who became Pope Clement VII.; Latimer, the martyr; Prideaux the famous Oxford lecturer; Fleetwood who effected the escape of Prince Charles; Sandeys and Whitgift, who became archbishops; Stillingfleet, Hough, and Hurd. One of the dignitaries became a cardinal, and three became archbishops. The cathedral establishment includes the bishop, the dean, four canons, two archdeacons, twenty-four honorary canons, a chancellor, and four minor canons. The income of the bishop is £5,000, and that of each of the archdeacons is £200. The diocese comprehends all Worcestershire except part of Burford deanery, all Warwickshire, part of Mathon-St. James chapelry in Herefordshire, and part of Shenington parish in Oxfordshire; and is divided into the archdeaconries of Worcester and Coventry. Acres, 1,037,451. Pop. in 1861, 857,775. Houses, 177,050. The archdeaconry of Worcester comprises the deanery of Alcester, with 26 livings; the d. of Blockley, with 5; the d. of Bredon, with 8; the d. of Droitwich, with 26; the d. of Evesham, with 14; the d. of Feckenham, with 13; the d. of Kidderminster, with 45; the d. of North Kineton, with 23; the d. of South Kineton, with 18; the d. of Pershore, with 22; the d. of Powick, with 14; the d. of Upton, with 12; the d. of Warwick, with 18; the d. of East Worcester, with 21; and the d. of West Worcester, with 22. The archdeaconry of Coventry comprises the deanery of Atherstone, with 14 livings; the d. of Baginton, with 9; the d. of Birmingham, with 30; the d. of Coleshill, with 9; the d. of Coventry, with 15; the d. of Dassett-Magna, with 11; the d. of Dunchurch, with 11; the d. of Leamington, with 13; the d. of Monks-Kirby, with 13; the d. of Polesworth, with 11; the d. of Rugby, with 10; the d. of Solihull, with 12; the d. of Southam, with 11; and the d. of Sutton-Coldfield, with 18.


(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Administrative units: Worcester Borough/AD_City       Herefordshire AncC       Oxfordshire AncC       Warwickshire AncC       Worcestershire AncC
Place names: CAER GUORAUGON     |     WEGENACESTRE     |     WEOGORNACEASTER     |     WEORGANECEASTER     |     WORCESTER
Place: Worcester

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