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You are in: Hereford and Worcester > Features > Stories > The Commandery - your memories wanted

The Commandery in Worcester

The Commandery in Worcester

The Commandery - your memories wanted

It's been a monastic hospital, a merchant’s house, a blind college and a print works. Now The Commandery in Worcester is a museum. We want your memories of this remarkable building.

The Commandery

  • Tradition has it that the building was founded as a hospital around 1085 by Saint Wulstan, then Bishop of Worcester
  • The hospital was amongst the last monastic institutions to be dissolved by Henry VIII in 1540.
  • The building survived the battle of Worcester in 1651, when the area was in the thick of the fighting
  • It has since had many uses including a private home, a college for the blind and a printing works

The search is on for Worcestershire residents who can shed light on a century of change at the Worcester Commandery.

Did you live or work in or near the buildings at any point in the last 100 years?

In 1905, the famous medieval buildings, which had already served as a monastic hospital, merchant’s house and blind college, were bought by the printing firm Littlebury’s.

The company flourished for the next 70 years and had a workforce of around 50 by the middle of the century.

Worcester City Council is trying to piece together the Commandery’s chequered past as part of a major refurbishment supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

 In particular, the project team want to track down anyone with memories or photographs of the Commandery last century.

“We have a very hazy picture of what was going on at the Commandery from 1905 onwards, and are desperate to track down people who remember what it was like and how the rooms were used” said Commandery Manager Amanda Lunt.

“There must be people around who worked at Littlebury’s Printworks and who remember the Littlebury family.

"We also want to hear from anyone involved in the restoration of the buildings and the sale of the Commandery to the City Council in the 1970s.

"Personal memories are a key part of this project, so we hope to get a good response from the public”.

If you can help, please contact Julia Letts on the Oral History Project at the Commandery. Telephone 07789 914772 or email 

Commandery memories

Coralie Bolton

Coralie is also known as Mabel and was 102 on 24th Jan 2005.

She worked at Littlebury’s between 1919 and 1922, where her main job was to make the large printed sheets of paper in book-size pages.

She sat in a room with about 12 other girls. She occasionally took messages to the offices.

Her boss was Mr Petherick, who she describes as gentle.

She is not so complimentary about ‘old Mr Littlebury’ who had a fierce reputation and announced that no one should look at him when he entered the room.

Once a month Mabel worked overtime to produce and deliver railway timetables.

She remembers cycling around Worcester taking them to businesses in the area.

Veronica Prosser (nee Sharp)

Veronica was probably the last baby to be born in the Commandery in 1951.

 She was the daughter of Jeff Sharp, the Print Manager from the late 40s to the sale of Littlebury’s in 1973.

Her and her brother grew up in the Commandery and spent many hours as children exploring every nook and cranny of the buildings.

Their kitchen is now the museum’s staff room; their sitting room and bedrooms are currently offices.

They had several pets including a dog, many mice, and tortoises, which roamed the Commandery gardens.

Veronica had a very happy childhood in the house but admits there were a few dark corners that scared her, and remembers one occasion when she and her mother clearly heard footsteps crossing a room when no one was there.

Jo Mercer

Jo spent much of her childhood in her grandparent’s (Jack and Dolly Mercer) cottage which was inside the Commandery off Wyld’s Lane.

This cottage was knocked down in the 70s and is now part of the lawned area in the Commandery garden.

She remembers her grandfather who was a typesetter at Littlebury’s bringing back broken lead letters and storing them in jars in the cellar, before selling them off for scrap.

She also remembers sticking sticks through a hole in the cottage wall, to trip people up walking along the pavement on Wyld’s Lane.

Her grandmother Dolly was a hairdresser and cut many local ladies’ hair in the back room.

last updated: 12/03/2008 at 10:11
created: 28/01/2005

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