Compensation for Worcester’s war damage following the Civil War

House of Commons Journal Volume 7: 9 March 1652

Well-affected at Worcester.

Mr. Sallwey reports from the Committee to whom it was referred to consider of the well-affected Persons who suffered in the late Siege of Worcester, the Matter of Fact concerning the Losses of the well-affected in the City and County of the City of Worcester, and the County of Worcester, by reason of the late War in the City and County aforesaid, in and about the End of August, and the Beginning of September last.

That the Number of the well-affected Persons within the said City, having so suffered, is 266; as they were taken upon Oath, and certified by Jervise Buck Esquire, Wm. Collins, Edward Elvins, Commissioners authorized by this Committee according to Order; and, that the Losses of the said Persons, as they were taken upon Oath, and certified by the Commissioners above-named, amount to the Sum of 18,708l. 19s. 7d.

The Number of the Names of the well-affected Persons inhabiting in the County of Worcester, in several Parishes and Towns adjacent to the said City, having so suffered, is 808: as they were taken upon Oath, and certified by Wm. Jefferis, Jervise Buck, Nicholas Acton, John Lathum, Esquires, Edward Elvins, Wm. Collins, Walter Gyles, Abel Richardson, Andrew Yarranton, Commissioners, authorized as aforesaid: That the Losses of the said Persons, as they were taken upon Oath, and certified by the Commissioners above named, amount to the Sum of 13,121l. 12s. 8d.
The Total of the Losses aforesaid, amounts to the Sum of

£31,830. 12s. 3d.

Ordered, That this Business be re-committed upon the whole Debate.

Ordered, That it be referred to that Committee, to consider how a Sum, not exceeding 10,000l. may be raised out of the Estates of such Persons in the City and County of the City of Worcester, and also in the said County of Worcester, as were Delinquents in the last Action of the King of Scotts, and report the same, with the Names of such Delinquents, to the House.

The humble Petition of Edward Elvyns, Alderman of the City of Worcester, was this Day read; and, upon the Question, referred to that Committee.

The humble Petition of Thomas Wryter of the City of Worcester, Tanner and Maltster, was this Day read; and, upon the Question, referred to that Committee.


House of Commons Journal Volume 5: 17 February 1648

Sale of Worcester Steeple,

An Ordinance for making Sale of the Leaden Steeple in the City of Worcester, and employing the Proceed thereof for re-edifying the Alms Houses destroyed there; and for Repairing of some neighbouring Churches demolished by these Wars; was this Day read; and, upon the Question, passed; and ordered to be sent unto the Lords for their Concurrence.

Tapestry after Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, date unknown

All three museums managed by Museums Worcestershire are accredited; this long-standing scheme is a benchmark of professional museum standards. Reaching and maintaining the standard is also an important measure for many grant funds with drastic consequences for museums that are stripped of the award.

Responsible management of museum collections is central to Museum Accreditation. We are constantly aware that the decisions we make today will affect how curators in the future can care for the objects, partly because we are ourselves responding to the decisions made over the last 183 years of collecting in Worcester.

Last Supper

The decision to bring this tapestry copy of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper into the Worcester City collection is not one we would make today. Sadly the long-ago curator who made the decision left no documentation as to why they did so. With no obvious link to the history of Worcester or Worcestershire, and a limited amount of artistic merit, we class it as of low significance within the fine art collection. As such, it has remained in store for several decades.

The Illustration Beats Explanation exhibition at Worcester City Art Gallery in the autumn of 2015 allowed us an opportunity to display it, alongside other works some of which we struggle to fit into our programme of themed, high-quality exhibitions. As with most museums, we have more collections than we have room to display them and rotating the exhibitions is an important part of the work we do. In the period April to October 2015, we put 121 objects from the collection newly on display.

Our natural inclination as professional curators and the Museums Association’s code of ethics tells us that, once acquired, objects should remain within the collection and continue to be cared for in perpetuity. The process we follow to dispose of any item is long, with many checks and balances, with the final decision being made by the full council of the appropriate local authority. But responsible curatorship means that, occasionally, it is worthwhile to pursue that process particularly when an object is large or includes hazardous materials.

Currently, there are no plans to consider disposal of this tapestry. I’m glad that, instead, we were able to find an opportunity to display it. I’d be interested to know your opinion about what we should and shouldn’t acquire and display – do go ahead and leave a comment below.


Philippa Tinsley, Senior Curator, Museums Worcestershire

WW1 Trench Cello

WW1 cello web (c) Museums WorcestershireOne of the most poignant artefacts from the Worcestershire collections is this World War One cello.

It was handmade at the Western Front using a petrol can, a pick axe handle and the skill of its maker R.P. Quelch. It must have given a moment of entertainment to his fellow troops at a horrible time.

Mr Quelch returned safely from the war, settled in Pershore, and went on to have a successful career with the Great Western Railway.

The cello was donated to the museum, after his death at the age of 94, by Mr Quelch’s son-in-law. Although we know others were made, this is the only one we have found that has survived.

Miner with Yellow Helmet by Sidney Nolan

Sidney Nolan, Miner with Yellow Helmet, © Sidney Nolan Trust. All Rights Reserved, 2015
Sidney Nolan, Miner with Yellow Helmet, 1973, screen Ptiny, Worcester City Collection © Sidney Nolan Trust. All Rights Reserved, 2015

In March 1972 Sidney Nolan, the Australian painter, travelled with his wife Cynthia and a small film crew to Mount Tom Price where iron ore was being mined out of the ancient Archaean granite and greenstone geological sediments and volcanics of the Hamersley Range in North West Australia. His intention was to make a film of what he termed ‘Kelly Country’ as typical of the landscape of mythical folk hero, Ned Kelly the subject of a lifelong theme for the artist from the 1940s.  The Miner series of paintings based on his trip to the Hamersley mountain range led to the production of a set of screen prints on the same subject from which Miner with Yellow Helmet was printed in 1973.

The print in the Worcester City museum collection focuses on both the head of the anonymous and archetypal miner in his chrome yellow helmet against the darkening mountain range under a stormy sky.  The head is set in the centre of the print with the sides of two mountains rising from a gorge that runs immediately above the head and which is illuminated by burning rock and a veil of glowing smoke coming from the location of the Tom Price Mine. In this setting the miner becomes a Promethean figure, in the service of Vulcan the Roman God of Fire and Craftsmen. The miner appears to have become fused into this wild and fiery world in which his face acts as a glowing yellow mask reflecting the light of the fire and colour of the iron rich red earth which seems to emanate from his staring eyes and down turned mouth, like a classical actor in a Greek Tragedy.  The only living colour appears in green highlights from the bush scrubland and foothills of the mountain sides that flank the central ragged profile of the head that is virtually disintegrating into the descending darkness of the stormy night in which the miner acts as both beacon and warning.

Written by volunteer collections researcher, Deborah Keaveney.

College Street route


College Street, Worcester is currently undergoing a transformation. But this isn’t the first time!

This plan from the Worcester City museum collection drawn by Christopher Hubbold in 1794 shows the planned route of the first College Street when it cut through the dense streets between the cathedral and the city’s high street and markets. The extract from a 1829 guidebook to Worcester below describes the views seen taking this new street.


Christopher Hubbold, the draftsman who created this plan, was recorded in 1794 as living at 34 New Street, Worcester and we know he was a subscriber to Valentine Green’s book City and Suburbs of Worcester 1796. He died in 1809.

College Street, meanwhile, underwent some transformation in the 1840s and then again, most famously, in the 1960s with the construction of Worcester’s ring road.


A Concise History and Description of the City and Cathedral of Worcester by Thomas Eaton, 1829 

The traveller reaches the flat ground on which the city stands and will observe on the left the road to Bath and Bristol. Passing this corner he is in what is now called Sidbury and in a short time comes in sight of Edgar’s Tower showing one entrance to the College precincts.

Going directly forward he leaves Friar Street on the right and proceeds up towards the gate of the College church yard leading to the principal entrance of the cathedral. One whole side of the cathedral is here open to view with the exception of the north eastern corner which is concealed by the unsightly obstruction of St Michael’s Church and other buildings. The view of the cathedral is however from this point the most advantageous that can be obtained nearly the whole length being visible.

At the top of College Street commences the High Street turning to the right is Leech Street and opposite on the left at about fifty yards from the street the entrance and principal front of the bishop’s palace presents itself to view.

Worcester Racing Gold Cup and Steeple Chase

Winners of the Worcester Gold Cup, value 100 guineas, the principal race at the Worcester Summer Race Meeting. It was first run in 1812 and discontinued after the 1839 meeting.

1812   Mr Shaw’s Offa’s Dyke

1813   Mr Munsey’s Meterorina

1814   Sir W Wynn’s Bravo

1815   Hon WB Lygon’s Tozer

1816   Mr Charlton’s Tozer

1817   Sir W Wynn’s Piscator

1818   Mr Charlton’s Indus

1819   Mr West’s Fitz Orville

1820   Lord Stamford’s Comet

1821   Mr L Charlton’s Master Henry

1822   Lord Stamford’s Peter Lely

1823   Mr Mytton’s Euphrates

1824   Mr Mytton’s Comte d’Artois

1825   Mr Mytton’s Euphrates

1826   Mr Myttton’s Longwaist

1827   Sir W Wynn’s May Fly

1828   Mr Mytton’s Euphrates

1829   Sir T Stanley’s May Fly

1830   Mr Davies’s Villager

1831   Mr Beardsworth’s Independence

1832   Mr Griffith’s Thorngrove

1833   Mr Phillips’s Tom Brown

1834   Mr L Day’s Diana

1835   Sir T Stanley’s Intriguer

1836   Mr Haywood’s Lentulus

1837   Mr Speed’s Darling

1838   Mr Speed’s Issac

1839   Mr Tomes’s Isaac

The first steeple chase was run in Worcestershire in 1836 on Powick Hams, through traditional hunting country. From 1844 an annual steeple chase was run at the Worcester racecourse, as shown in the print below from Worcester City Museum’s collection.


Esmeralda, the Gypsy Vardo

EsmeraldaEsmeralda came into the collection from the family of the author Anthony Sampson. Esmeralda was originally built in 1909 and her construction is unusual with having a bow top and side windows. She is also particularly large and we think that the wheels come from a pair of recycled carriage axles.

We believe that Esmeralda was named after Esmeralda Locke, the daughter of well-known Welsh Gypsy family. This girl was something of a free-spirit. She married the town clerk of Bridgnorth when she was young, but ran away with Gypsy Lore Society member Francis Groome. She could not settle with Francis either and left him to pursue a wild, free, wandering Romany life as a dancer and singer.

Esmeralda joined the Worcestershire County Museums’ important collection of Gypsy caravans, or Vardos, in 2008.


1643 Attempted Siege of Worcester

Sir William Waller, Parliamentarian general and the Member of Parliament that first suggested the New Model Army, oversaw the taking of the formally Royalist towns of Portsmouth, Farnham, Winchester and Hereford in late 1642, and early 1643.

In May 1643 he marched towards Worcester. Overnight on May 29th, he had flyers scattered through the streets of Worcester recommending the townspeople overthrow the city governors and come over to his side.

Mercurius AulicusAn account of the events was published in Mercurius Aulicus, an early weekly newspaper with a strong Royalist voice. It’s considered the first English example of popular partisan journalism.

The Worcester City museum collection includes a copy of Mercurius Aulicus from May 1643, from which the following excerpts tell the story of the attempted taking of Worcester by Parliamentary troops:

Sir William sent a Trumpeter to summon in the Towne, but Colonel Sands told him that he was not now at Hereford, and bad him be gone.

The Souldiers and Townesmen are of that brave courage, that if Waller come againe with above twice his number, he cannot fright them.

But above all, the honest brave behaviour of the good women of the Towne is worthy observation, who did not onely encourage their husbands to stand it out bravely, telling them they would die with them in this just cause, but did also themselves run out of the Town (as soon as Waller was gone) and with their owne hands sleighted the worke that had sheltered his Mukseteirs, and the day after very orderly levelled all the ditches in and about the Towne; which (if anything) will make them so famous, that no honest maid of that Corporation shall hereafter want a good husband.

William Waller

Anglo Saxon Sword Chape

In the 18web scabbard (c) Museums Worcestershire30s a heavily rusted Anglo Saxon sword was discovered at Bredon’s Norton by workmen on the Birmingham to Gloucester railway.

Though very fragile, the tip of the sword was still within its chape, the protective metal end of a presumably leather scabbard. The leather had rotted away.

The sword was found alongside spearheads, beads, a knife and iron shield bosses. Weapons like these are relatively rare in Worcestershire and were often buried alongside the bodies of the dead as grave goods.

They were presented to the Museum of the Worcestershire Natural History Society (the founding collections of Worcester City Museum Service) in 1838.

The sword chape is still cared for by Museums Worcestershire. It has been conserved and mounted on an acrylic base to ensure its preservation and stability. 180 years after it was found it is still considered a rarity, the only example in the Worcestershire collections.