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Episode 17: Worcestershire

Where is Worcestershire?

In our seventeenth episode, we referred to loads of interesting Worcestershire-based things - and promised links and photos, so here they are:

Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire sauce is a fermented condiment made from a base of vinegar and flavored with anchovies, molasses, tamarind, onion, garlic, and other seasonings. The flavor is savory and sweet with a distinct tang provided by the vinegar.

Worcestershire sauce has a distinct flavor, yet it can be challenging to identify its complex list of ingredients simply by the taste. Enjoyed for generations, it was developed in 1835 by two chemists from Worcester named Lea and Perrins. Worcestershire sauce is a kitchen staple used for marinades and as a condiment. It also serves as a key ingredient in bloody mary mix.

Worcester Black Pears

The iconic Worcester Black Pear appears today in places such as the city coat of arms, the County Council crest and the cricket and rugby club badges, whilst an image of the pear blossom was borne as a badge by the Worcestershire Yeomanry Cavalry until 1956. The earliest reference to any pear associated with a crest is in relation to the Worcestershire Bowmen, depicting a pear tree laden with fruit on their banners at the battle of Agincourt in 1415.

Tradition has it that during the visit of Queen Elizabeth I to Worcester in 1575 she saw a pear tree laden with black pears, which had been moved from the gardens at White Ladies and re-planted in her honour by the gate through which the queen was to enter the city. Noticing the tree Elizabeth is said to have directed the city to add three pears to its coat of arms.

The Battle of Powick Bridge

A substantial cavalry skirmish fought at a bridge across the river Teme near Worcester which confirmed the superiority of the royalist horse at the start of the Civil War.

The battle of Powick Bridge should probably be better described as a skirmish, but its wider military impact far outweighed its scale and direct strategic importance. At Powick the well led, well trained and highly committed royalist cavalry of Prince Rupert, the most charismatic of the King's commanders, were pitted against well equipped put far less effective cavalry under Nathaniel Fiennes.

In the open fields of Wick, between the suburbs of Worcester and Powick bridge, the parlaimentarians were routed, fleeing back across the bridge. Many of the parliamentarian cavalry did not stop until they had reached the main army many miles to the south. Powick was a major propaganda victory for the royalists and a serious warning for the parliamentarians.

The Battle of Worcester

The last major battle of the Civil Wars in England which saw the destruction of an Anglo-Scottish royalist force in the fields south and east of Worcester by the New Model Army.

The Battle of Worcester, the last battle of the Civil Wars, was fought on 3rd September 1651; nine years earlier the first substantial action of the war had taken place barely two miles to the south of the city, at Powick Bridge. Whereas that first skirmish had been a dramatic success for Prince Rupert's Royalist cavalry, by 1651 it was Parliament's New Model Army that was the dominant military force.

The battle of Worcester destroyed the final hopes of the Royalists regaining power by military force. Charles II was forced into exile and the long and bitter Civil War was over, appropriately ending where it had begun. This was Cromwell's last great victory in battle and it secured his dominant position, political as well as military, contributing to his appointment in 1653 as Lord Protector.

Henwick Holy Well

The Holy Well at Henwick was an exceptional fine spring, which in medieval times had been piped to the Cathedral, and which the Prior had used in the baths which he erected for the use of the monks on Holywell Hill, in return for the transference of St. John's tolls to the Worcester Bailiff in 1461. The water was credited with possessing curative properties for the eyes, and extensively used for that purpose. The lead pipes which conveyed the water to the Cathedral were pulled up by the Parliamentary troops during the siege of Worcester and used as bullets.

Later, a celebrated Porter Brewery in Hylton Road, used the water and acquired a great reputation by it in the Midlands. The brewery was destroyed by fire in 1791. The water was regarded as the purest in Worcester, and sold at 1/2d a can. Yet despite its fame, the well was despoiled in the 1870's and the well bricked up. During the 18th century, the house nearby was used as a public pleasure house where 'tea-parties' and public breakfasts took place, and was well patronised during the weeks of the music festivals and race meetings.

Hanbury Hall

A country retreat in the heart of Worcestershire. The house and garden, originally a stage-set for summer parties, offer a glimpse into life at the turn of the 18th century. The original formal gardens, designed by George London, have been faithfully re-created. They complement the relaxed later gardens, with orangery, orchards and walled garden.

From the Norman Conquest onwards, the Hanbury Estate was within the boundaries of the Royal Forest of Feckenham. When Feckenham’s royal status was lost in 1629, local families bought up land to increase their own estates – including the Vernon family, who began building the hall in 1701. As the estate passed down through the family, the hall and garden evolved with changing fashions, and now present an impressive 18th-century country retreat.

Hartlebury Castle

First given to Bishop Aelhun in 855AD, Hartlebury Castle was the home of the Bishops of Worcester from 855 to 2007. Three of its bishops became saints, two were burned at the stake for their faith, one became the Pope who refused Henry the VIII his divorce and another was present at the execution of Mary Queen of Scots.

When first owned by the Bishops of Worcester, the site at Hartlebury was referred to as a ‘manor’. It officially became a Castle in 1268, when Bishop Giffard was given permission to fortify the site. The fortifications remained for nearly four centuries, until they were destroyed in 1648 at the end of the Civil War ensuring that it was never defendable again. When the Castle was restored in 1675 by Bishop Fleetwood, there was no longer any need for a fortified castle and so the beautiful country mansion that you see before you was created. In more recent centuries, the Castle also became known as the Bishop’s Palace, the official name given to a Bishop’s residence.

Harvington Hall

Harvington’s imposing moat and artificial island can be traced back to the 13th-century, making them even older than the bulk of the 14th-century building work that still, amazingly, survives behind a layer of brick. Visitors will be interested to learn that the Hall’s centre block was most probably the “solar” of a typical H-shaped timber-framed building. But there is more to the Hall than its physical foundations.

Priest hides, more commonly known as priest holes, were secret hiding places built within the house for a priest to hide, sometimes for over a week! Harvington has the country’s finest collection of hides, seven in total. Some are basic in design, others are some of the most ingenious in the country.

Osebury Rock

Osebury Rock (also known as Oseberrow or Rosebury) is a cliff on the River Teme near Lulsley in Worcestershire, England where fragmentary rocks of the Haffield Breccia layer are revealed. Its woodland and vegetation include some restricted varieties including the large-leaved lime and narrow-leaved bitter-cress. It was registered as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1990.[1]

The place is traditionally associated with fairies and Bate's Bush was said to be haunted. Bate's Bush was a maple tree at the nearby crossroads which was said to have sprung from a stake used to impale the body of a suicide.

Charlton House

Charlton House, three miles from Evesham, was formerly the property of the Dineley family, and saw the commencement of the bitter family feud between Sir John Dineley Goodere and his brother, Capt Samuel Goodere, which culminated when Sir John was strangled aboard Capt. Goodere's ship, the Ruby, in Bristol Roads,1741.

Tradition affirms that Sir John's ghost frequented Charlton House until it was found necessary that something should be done. Accordingly, twelve clergymen were invited to the mansion, and when the ghost appeared each one began to chant and pray separately, and it is sadi that the ghost mastered each one until the telth, that divine was able to overcome the spectre and lay him in a barrel of wine, which was securely bricked up in a corner of the cellar. Years later, about 1900 the cellar was thoroughly overhauled and greatly enlarged - but the ghost has never been heard of since.

Drakelow Tunnels

Drakelow Tunnels are a former Top Secret underground military complex beneath Kingsford Country Park north of Kidderminster, Worcestershire. The tunnels were built between 1941-1942 as a Shadow Factory for the Rover car company. Parts for aircraft engines were machined in the 3.5 miles of tunnels throughout WWII. After WWII the tunnels began producing parts for tank engines until 1958 when the tunnels were handed over to the Ministry of Supply, and later Ministry of Works.

In 1961 the British Government converted half of the tunnels into a top secret facility, designated: Regional Seat of Goverment 9 (R.S.G. 9). Drakelow, along with 12 other facilities scattered across the U.K. formed a national network of highly classified Nuclear Bunkers, that the British Goverment would operate the country from, in the event of Nuclear War.

In 1980, Drakelow was re-designated: Regional Government Headquarters 9.2 (R.G.H.Q. 9.2). The tunnels were also upgraded and Blast Doors and Air Locks installed to bring the complex upto full Nuclear Bunker status. Through out the 1980's Drakelow operated under complete secracy until the end of the Cold War in 1990. In 1993, the Ministry of Defence deemed the facility surplus to requirements, and the entire complex was decommissioned and sold.

Raggedstone Hill

Raggedstone Hill is situated on the range of Malvern Hills that runs approximately 13 kilometres (8 mi) north-south along the Herefordshire-Worcestershire border. Raggedstone Hill lies close to the borders of Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. It has an elevation of 254 metres (833 ft). The northern flank of the hill lies on the southern side of the Hollybush pass, from where its summit is a brisk 15–20 minutes steep walk from the nearby Hollybush car park.

According to legend, the hill's shadow casts misfortune upon whomever it falls.

The Shadow of the Ragged Stone Hill is a 19th-century novel by Charles F. Grindrod concerning a monk of Little Malvern Priory. He has been made a monk against his will, and his main object in life is to avenge his father's murder of his mother, a deed incited by false accusations made against his mother by a "wicked knight". The monk disguises himself in borrowed armour, attends a tournament and there kills the knight. Later, he breaks his vow of chastity by marrying a woman who he has rescued from the advances of a "lascivious knight", and is then falsely accused of killing her father in a duel. He is condemned to crawl to the summit of Ragged Stone Hill once a day as punishment. When the monk can no longer bear the punishment he curses the hill and anyone on whom the shadow of the hill should fall.

Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings

The Museum is spread over 19 acres of beautiful Worcestershire countryside and includes a wildflower meadow, period gardens, a traditional cider and perry orchard as well as the collection of historic buildings.

In 1967 Avoncroft Museum was opened to the public following the rescue and reconstruction of a medieval merchant’s house from Bromsgrove, and soon became England’s first open-air museum. Then, as now, our priority was to retain historic buildings in their original location. Over five decades, Avoncroft Museum has continued to rescue structures where this had not been achievable and the museum now displays and cares for over twenty five historic buildings that range in date from Worcester Cathedral’s fourteenth century Guesten Hall roof to a post second world war prefab from Birmingham, covering over 700 years of Midlands history.

Avoncroft Museum cares for a collection of over 14,000 objects that reflect the lives of the people who constructed, worked or lived within our buildings and structures. The majority of objects date to the 19th and 20th centuries and range from everyday domestic items to agricultural, industrial and commercial articles. Among our special collections is the National Collection of Telephone Kiosks.

Worcestershire Monkey

Worcestershire Monkey is a famous signature dance which has become a popular Border Morris dance worldwide. The dance was devised by Martin Hallett of Wicket Brood and is danced to the music Weasels Revenge composed by Jan Hurst also of Wicket Brood. Worcestershire Monkey is a dance for eight people with influences from Pershore in Worcestershire while the Monkey Hey is from an old Iffy Morris dance called Chinese Monkey.

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