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.
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.
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.
Click here to go back to the Oracle page.