Pocket Britain

An old cathedral city just a few miles away from Wales

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In Western England, just a few miles away from Wales, lies the old cathedral city of Worcester. Because of its convenient position on the river Severn, there has been a settlement here for years and years. In as early as the year 400BC, there was a fort built here, controlling the crossing, and profiting from local trade. During the Roman occupation, the town increased vastly in size, becoming a bustling hive of industry that supplied the entire region with iron, and pottery.
Worcester never grew into one of England's biggest cities, but it always kept a certain level of importance. During World War II, it was chosen as a backup meeting place for Winston Churchill and his war cabinet.
However, the most notable event in the city's history occurred in the 17th century, when it was the scene for the final battle of the English Civil War. Oliver Cromwell and his armies defeated Charles II, and took control of the country. Despite this, during the entire conflict, Worcester and its residents remained loyal to the King, and they helped him escape to France in disguise, after his defeat. Because of this, it became known as "The Faithful City", a phrase which is now incorporated into the city's official coat of arms.
Nowadays, there are still many reminders of Worcester's rich history, such as the Tudor houses on Friar Street, which feature the striking black and white exteriors which were a trademark of the period. Actually, Worcester is known as being a very attractive place, with lots of old buildings, woods, and parks situated within its 30 square kilometres. One of these areas in particular - Perry Wood - is rumoured to be the place where Oliver Cromwell went to sell his soul to the devil!
Of course, looking over these pretty surroundings is the city's most famous and most beautiful building, Worcester Cathedral. It's been the local landmark ever since its completion in 1504, an event which must have sparked relief within every architect in the area. Altogether, its construction had taken a huge 420 years, ever since the Norman crypt was first begun in 1084. The fact that the cathedral was built over such a long period of time means that the finished building displays elements from many different styles, including Norman, and Gothic - giving the structure a unique look.
The cathedral's highlights include its peal of bells, which are among the finest in the world, and its stained glass, which includes an image of a pink giraffe. The story goes that at the time, the artists knew how the animal was shaped - but as they'd never seen one themselves, they had no idea what colour it was!
Aside from the cathedral, there are many other reasons to love the city of Worcester. It is one of the hosts of the "Three Choirs" event, which is the oldest music festival in Europe. It also puts on an annual event of its own - the Worcester Festival, which features music, film, and beer tasting.
And of course, it's impossible to forget that this is the home to the famous "Worcester Sauce", which has been produced here for more than a century.
Visitor Information
Worcester Cathedral is open daily, 7:30am to 6pm. Entry is FREE. Worcester, WR1 2LA. Tel: 01905 732900

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