Find the Crusader
In the North aisle of Worcester Cathedral lie three very early (1240) unidentified tombs; two men and a woman. Beautiful in themselves, and lying beneath some superb 13th century carvings, the knight is particularly interesting. His crossed legs are a sign that he was a Crusader; he fought in battles in the Middle East.
How strange, and terrifying, the eastern world must have seemed to an English Medieval knight.
Worcester was the site of the last battle of the English Civil War, in 1651. Oliver Cromwell had already defeated King Charles I, who was later tried for treason and beheaded. Here, Cromwell took on King Charles II. The Commandery was the headquarters of the Royalist army. In the end, Charles II was also defeated, and went into exile.
The building's early history is somewhat vague. It was originally built as part of a monastery about 1085, and according to local tradition served as its hospital. Once, a Saxon chapel was next to the north side. It's now a museum of the Civil War. Currently undergoing refurbishment, it should be on anyone's list of places to visit.
Royal Worcester Porcelain
Fine china and porcelain have been made here since 1751. A pottery tour includes a museum, showroom and bargain seconds shop but you can just go to one of the 4 Royal Worcester china shops or another large shopping area containing a number of franchise shops mostly selling up market prestige tourist items.
August 2005 Sadly most production has now ceased in Worcester and by the end of 2005 will have ceased completely as Royal Worcester Porcelain can now produce its china and porcelain cheaper abroad.
........bored, where can I go (within reasonable driving distance) for the afternoon & take photos for VT pages?
Answer: Worcester. And yes, should have been before and yes, it's really a very pleasant place with lots to look at from an historical point of view. Probably should have stayed longer, really, but the wind was bitter (yes, it's an English May) and even those youngsters ecposing the usual amount of flesh had a slightly blue-ish tinge. So: park at the Park & Ride (v. good, see tips) then a quick-ish whizz round the middle of the city (pasty eaten on-the-hoof providing sustenance).
Thus a wander round a rather large shopping area (all the usual suspects, plus some rather unusual shops........which makes a change). A wander up New Street and Friar Street with some superb examples of half-timbered houses, then an exploration of the cathedral itself (see travelogue). The latter was as interesting as all old English cathedrals are; stuffed full of interesting tombs from the 13th century onwards, an Elgar memorial, King John (he of 'Magna Carta' fame) and Prince Arthur (the one who was married to Catherine of Aragon before Henry Vlll), lovely cloisters and a spartan, but beautiful, Chapter House. A very airy cathedral this, with a feeling of space and light which is unusual.
There are some truly horrible 60's/70's buildings, inevitably...........English planning permission then was entirely without sympathy for the environment..........and rather a lot of overt Victorian pride as demonstrated in the twiddly and imposing brick-built edifices (which do have their own charms). But it melds together, and the local people seemed happy enough with their city.
Didn't have time to visit the river, though know it's very pretty. And didn't, if truly honest, really explore the city (which stayed loyal to the Royalist cause throughout the English Civil War)...........just got a flavour of it. Interesting mix of accents; half the people seemed to have typical West Midlands/ Brummie, the other half very obviously rurally-based 'burring'.........'urbs in rure', perhaps?
A pleasant place to visit, some very interesting bits, a good base for exploring the area (the Malverns...wonderful, Stratford not too far, lots of beautiful countryside on the Welsh borders). Worth another look sometime, I think.