A visitor's guide to Worcester
PUBLISHED: 15:53 17 April 2019 | UPDATED: 15:53 17 April 2019
We've assembled a brief guide to help you to get the most from your visit to Worcester, sponsored by Stanbrook Abbey
Stanbrook Abbey | 01905 832940 | handpickedhotels.co.uk/stanbrookabbey
Food, festivals and the fate of the English monarchy – Worcester has played a key part in all three over the centuries. Built along the River Severn, the city of Worcester has a fine 12th century cathedral, the resting place of a medieval monarch and Tudor prince, and has a fascinating and intriguing history. TripAdvisor named the city one of the five most cultural in the UK in 2017 – no surprise given that Worcester hosts the internationally acclaimed Three Choirs Festival once every three years. It next comes to the city in 2020, when you can expect global talent to provide choral music of unparalleled quality. The city also holds a separate music festival featuring rock, indie and pop artists from across the world, and in 2018 held its first history month with talks, tours and ceremonies marking pivotal events in the city's heritage.
Most noted for... Royal Worcester porcelain, which is celebrated worldwide by fine diners, collectors and aficionados. Porcelain production started in Worcester 1751 after Dr John Wall cracked the secret formulae for its pre-fired paste, previously a secret guarded by Chinese makers. Visit the refurbished Museum of Royal Worcester in Severn Street, with its 10,000-plus objects ranging from decorative and delicate, to practical and pretty.
While you're here...try a splash of Worcestershire Sauce, made famous by 19th century Worcester chemists John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins. The Lea & Perrins recipe is kept under lock and key, but we do know it is matured for 18 months, then blended and bottled in Midland Road, Worcester.
But try not to... venture into Perry Wood alone – legend has it that this is the place where Civil War leader Oliver Cromwell met and made a pact with the Devil.
Game of Thrones and Gunpowder actor and heart throb Kit Harington attended Chantry High School and Worcester Sixth Form College. Other notable connections include composer Sir Edward Elgar, who was born in Lower Broadheath, where you'll find the Edward Elgar Birthplace Museum in what was once the family cottage. The critically acclaimed indie band Peace, who are due to play Leeds Festival in August 2019, formed in Worcester.
Visit King John's tomb – his reign saw endless turmoil but he left the world the Magna Carta. King John made a deathbed request to be buried at Worcester cathedral. Widely acknowledged as one of England's loveliest, the 12th century Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary rises from alongside the River Severn. It has fine medieval cloisters, a 10th century crypt and chapter house, and magnificent Victorian stained glass. For a small fee you can climb the 235 steps to the top of the tower (01905 732900) and take in the views across the city to the Malvern Hills. Or overlook the nearby Pitchcroft racecourse, where there has been horseracing since 1718.
Worcester Woods Country Park
Take a woodland or meadow trail through Worcester's beautiful country park and enjoy the acres of wildflowers, birdsong and carpets of bluebells, according to the season. The woodland trail is buggy and wheelchair friendly, with no gates or styles. Or let your children loose in the play area and enjoy a seasonal locally sourced lunch or fairtrade coffee stop at the Orchard Café.
Move here for...
And get: A refurbished and updated imposing six-bedroom Edwardian semi-detached house, within walking distance of both Worcester's railway stations, its galleries, museums and cathedral quarter.
Eat at: Saffrons Bistro
Why? Bright, laid-back and refreshingly unpretentious, this bistro has been serving homemade local food in an informal environment since 1995.
Drink at: The Farriers Arms
Why? Renowned for its real ales, hearty food and occasional music nights, this 17th century pub in Fish Street has traditional community charm.
Stay at: The Pear Tree Inn and Country Hotel
Why? You can't visit Worcester without coming across a reference to pears, and this country inn hotel has glorious landscaped gardens and lakes, just fifteen minutes' drive from the city centre, with easy access to the M5 motorway.