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13 November 2014

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The Guildhall in Worcester

The Guildhall in Worcester

The Guildhall

The ostentatious Guildhall is a throwback to a time when councils weren't afraid to make a really bold statement when putting up a civic building. Kings, chandeliers, wood paneling and Oliver Cromwell pinned by his ears – this building has them all.

Go to the stages of the walk

Even a person who has spent the whole of their life in Worcester can probably stand outside the Guildhall and find something they haven't seen before.

Perhaps for this reason the designers set it back from the High Street, allowing the chance for people to take in its rich façade.

The railings that separate it from the street are suitably ornate – with the city's crest in ironwork mirroring the one above the main doorway.

Worcester Guildhall

Worcester Guildhall

On either side of this doorway are statues of two Kings, Charles I and Charles II, as if to emphasise the Worcester's boastful claim to be '‘the faithful  city'.

Charles I holds a church in his left hand, while Charles II (who barely escaped with his life after the battle of Worcester) holds an orb.

In between the two kings, at the top of the doorway, is a head pinned up by his ears.

Popularly this is said to be Oliver Cromwell, though if it is, the sculptor had no idea what the Lord Protector of England actually looked like.

It's easier to miss the third monarch on the outside of the Guildhall, as Queen Anne's statue is much higher up the building, above the main doorway.

The current building replaced a medieval timber-framed building, and was build in 1721, following the design of Thomas White, a local architect who'd been a pupil of Sir Christopher Wren.

The inside of the Guildhall also lives up to the promise of its exterior – all paneled walls and paintings of civic dignitaries.

On either side of the staircase leading to the first floor are boards listing the Freemen of the city – starting with Lord Nelson, in 1702.

There's also an unusual war memorial on the ground floor of the Guildhall: its three bays list the names of every citizen of Worcester who saw active service during WWI

There are 4,981 names on its panels, 741 of which have a gold cross beside them, signifying that the person was killed.

Spare a thought for the Ashburner family – all three men who served in the Great war were killed.

There's also an unusual collection of 48 leather buckets on the wall around the minstrel's gallery.

These were bought in 1729 to fight fires.

On the first floor is another ornate room, complete with panelled ceiling and chandeliers, which has a small stage for concerts and public meetings.

If you're hungry after the walk, you can also get anything from a cup of tea to a full roast meal at the Guildhall.

last updated: 26/02/2009 at 15:17
created: 26/02/2009

You are in: Hereford and Worcester > Places > Places Stories > The Guildhall

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