Quinton LHS Day out on 24th March 2016

The first society trip of the year was planned taking the weather into consideration. We tend to miss out on the local places of interest, so the day was planned in and around Kidderminster. The first port of call was the Worcestershire County Museum at Hartlebury.

The original manor of Hartlebury was given to the Bishops of Worcester by King Burgred of West Mercia in 854ad. By the 12th century an unfortified manor house with an accompanying chapel had been established. In 1255 Bishop Cantelupe began to fortify the building by surrounding it with a moat. This process was continued by his successor Bishop Gifford who obtained a license to crennalate, or add battlements to, the building in 1288.

Hartlebury has been used as the primary residence of the Bishops of Worcester since the mid 16th century and during the Civil War the Castle was used as a garrison for 120 of the Kings soldiers, who were housed in the Great Hall. After a two-day siege in 1646 the troops surrendered to Parliamentarian forces. Some parts of the castle were then demolished, others were used to hold Royalist prisoners.

The Bishops returned towards the end of the 17th century and each occupant made efforts to improve what had by then become a Bishop's Palace. The north wing was added, small lodges were built either side of the main entrance gates, the stables and coach house were built and the Saloon was re-furbished.

Over the centuries there have been many royal visitors at Hartlebury including Edward I, Elizabeth I, George III and the present Queen.

Although the Castle continued to be a home to the Bishop some areas of the site were later given other uses. For example the building which had originally been the stable block was used as a college of clergy in the early twentieth century and as a recovery hospital for soldiers during the First World War, it is now used as Visitor Reception.

In 1966 the north wing of the castle opened to the public as the Worcestershire County Museum. The museum aimed to tell the story of the people of Worcestershire and at the heart of the museum collection was the Tickenhill Collection amassed by the Parkers of Bewdley. Today the museum collection covers many periods and themes including horse-drawn vehicles, costume and social history as well as room sets such as the Schoolroom, Laundry and Scullery.

The County Museum is housed in the north wing of the castle, previously the servant's quarters. The middle section, the State Rooms, are open to the public during summer months, and the south wing, home to the Bishop until 2007, will soon be opened up to the public by the Hartlebury Castle Preservation Trust.

Outside you can visit the walled garden, transport gallery, cider mill and nature reserve, exploring over 1000 years of history in one fascinating place.

The Social History Collections aim to document the social and economical history of the city of Worcester and the county of Worcestershire.

Both the Worcester City collection and the Worcestershire County collections have been actively collected since the late 1960s. Items in the collection are mainly donated by local people, and each object is collected not just for its own sake but because of its connection to Worcestershire and its people.

Objects added to the social history collection tell the stories of local events, the development of local industries, trades and crafts, leisure activities, living conditions, social structures, customs and beliefs or local personalities.

Timeline of Events

Worcester County Museum History through the years:


Burghred, King of the West Mercians, gave the land upon which the castle now stands to the Bishop of Worcester.


An unfortified manor house was in existence. This would have included a Great Hall, chapel, solar and domestic buildings.


Bishop Walter de Cantilupe commenced the fortifications by excavating a moat. De Cantilupe was a supporter of Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, in his rebellion against the King.


Bishop Giffard, loyal to the Plantagenet dynasty, obtained a licence to crenellate. He was accused of appropriating some of the goods of the Sacrist to meet expenses for the fortifications. The bastion for the north-west mural tower remains, and the late 18th century ice house probably indicates the position of the north-east tower.


King Edward I stayed at the castle en route to suppress the Welsh revolt. He levied men-at-arms from the Bishop by feudal right.


The Great Hall which, although somewhat altered, remains today was erected by Bishop Wakefield. It has an arch braced roof constructed of timbers taken from forests near Malvern, a gift from King Richard II.


Bishop Carpenter caused a great gatehouse and drawbridge to be built, probably on the east of the castle bailey. This has no connection with the present entrance gatehouses in that position today.

Mid 16th c.

The castle is described as a 'fayre manor Place . . . having ii lytell towers covered with Leade, and the Chamber cauled the Bishop's Chamber also covered with Leade, and there is a Chappell annexed to the said chamber lykewyse covered with Leade, where ys a lyttel bell weying by estimation dimid. hundred Weight. Also there is a mote and a Ponde adjoyning to the said Castell well stored with Fyshe . . .'.

16th-17th c

Hartlebury became the principal residence of the Bishops of Worcester.


During the Civil War, the Commissioners for Array, being pursued, fled to the castle from Ombersley, believing it to be a safer place than Worcester.


The castle was garrisoned for the King by Col. William Sandys with 120 foot soldiers and 20 horses. The fortifications were strengthened and supplies for a twelve month period laid in. The site's importance lay in its proximity to fordings of the River Severn at Larport and Redstone on a main route to Wales. On 16th May 1646 however, after only two days and without a shot being fired, the castle surrendered to the Parliamentary army under Col. Thomas Morgan.

During the Royalists' occupation a mint was set up at the castle to strike coins (probably to pay the soldiers and local suppliers). A rare half-crown from this mint s now in the collections of the County Museum.

After some use as a prison for Royalist captives the castle was slighted, then fell into further dereliction, and in 1647 was sold to a Thomas Westrowe for £3,133 6s. 8d.


Bishop Fleetwood began the rebuilding of the castle.


Bishop Lloyd resided in the refurbished castle. The pale of the deer park was repaired


Bishop Hough filled in the southern arm of the moat, improved the gardens and built the stables and coach house.


Bishop Maddox spent £1200 on remodelling the chapel. The work was carried out by Henry Keene, Surveyor of Westminster Abbey. The windows (no longer in situ) were designed by Dr John Wall of Worcester.


Bishop Johnson refurnished the saloon. The eastern facade ground floor windows were 'Gothicised' by the addition of lancet heads.


Bishop Hurd is believed to have removed the last vestiges of the mediaeval keep, which is described as having been to the east of the house. This almost certainly refers to Bishop Carpenter's fortified gatehouse.


Bishop Hurd built his library over the pre-existing Long Gallery.


Hartlebury Castle became the sole residence of the Bishops of Worcester.


A college of Clergy was created by Bishop Yeatman-Biggs and housed in the converted stable block, now the Temporary Exhibition Gallery and administration offices of Worcestershire County Museum.


The north wing of the castle was taken over for the creation of a County Museum.


Worcestershire County Museum opened to the public.


Bishop Selby retired and a decision was made to move the Bishop's residence into Worcester itself. Bishop Selby was the last Bishop of Worcester to live at Hartlebury Castle.


Hartlebury Castle Preservation Trust became the owners of Hartlebury Castle following an award of £5 million by the Heritage Lottery Fund to open the whole site as a visitor attraction.

We moved from here to the Fox Inn at Chaddesley Corbett for a splendid two course carvery lunch, a hostelry that we have visited before.

After lunch we moved on to the Kidderminster Carpet Museum, Stour Vale Mill, Green Street, Kidderminster.

The Carpet Museum Trust was founded in 1981 with the aim of establishing a public museum ... for the exhibition of items of local historical and educational interest and in particular in any way connected with the manufacture of carpets and similar textiles'.

Following the boom years of the 1960's, the carpet industry, for over a century the principal employer in Kidderminster, was beginning to decline.

The entrance to Kidderminster Carpet Museum

As the industry shrank, the Trust began to collect machinery, artefacts, archives and libraries from the numerous firms in the town.

Before long, the Trust had acquired a good collection of machinery, including many items that showed the important stages in the technical development of carpet making as well as a large archive of ledgers, board minutes, deeds, and accounts acquired from many of the companies around the town.

The Trust also acquired a collection of around 3000 carpet designs, many by significant designers such as Charles Voysey, Edouard Glorget and Bernat Klein. The samples of rugs and carpets illustrate most of the types of carpets, the different fibres and dyes, and the changing styles of design The Trust had been founded by Ken Tomkinson, a carpet manufacturer and historian, with three co-trustees - a carpet manufacturer, a solicitor and a representative from Wyre Forest District Council.

After a strong start, the work of the Trust stalled following the death of two of the Founder Trustees. The lack of a suitable museum site and the difficult economic climate facing the carpet industry also didn't help. This situation was further compounded in 1990 when Kidderminster's former museum and gallery buildings were demolished.

An overhead view of the carpet town woven in a carpet

In 1997 the Carpet Museum Trust was revived by a group of local enthusiasts and efforts to create a museum to celebrate the town's valuable carpet industry gained ground. By 2001, the Trust was doing so well that a Friends group was formed to spearhead the fundraising and as a temporary measure, the collections were placed in storage.

Machines from Brinton's past - Albert and Victoria

In 2004 the Trust received its first Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant in order to develop the Carpet Archives Centre to catalogue and make accessible the thousands of items donated to the Trust, as those items that had been rescued.

In 2008, the Carpet Museum Trust was awarded nearly £1.7 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop a new museum to be housed in the former Stour Vale Mill.

Finally, after many years of hard work, The Museum of Carpet - the only museum in the UK dedicated to carpet and carpet making - opened in 2012 and firmly placed Kidderminster on the map of important industrial heritage sites in the UK.

Lord Cobham cuts the ribbon at the official opening

KIDDERMINSTER'S Museum of Carpet has been declared officially open at an emotional ceremony.

The ribbon was cut by a humbled Lord Cobham at noon at Stour Vale Mill, Green Street, bringing to an end a 30-year campaign to bring a carpet museum to the town. It opened to the public on Saturday 20 th October 2012.

Another lovely day visiting local places of interest. The society arrange only 3 or 4 trips each year, the day always includes a lunch somewhere, so if you haven't already tried one, why not look out for the next one which will probably be at the end of June or July, followed by one maybe in September.

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