I’d Rather be a Pear than a Bear – Worcester

Woolly says – After a busy couple of weeks or packing, unpacking, going back to my adopted country and changing jobs I was exhausted, but with the two women both free for a day out I mammothed up to the challenge of keeping them in check for an outing.  It had come to my attention that although Jo and Zoe had spent hundreds of hours in Worcester city, they had only investigated the home of cricket and had paid little or no attention to the wonderful place itself, today was the day to rectify that.

Very true, Zoe as a keen cricket watcher and player in her youth and as a dedicated pear had spent many hours at New Road but little in the streets of Worcester itself.

Woolly says – No I have no idea on the pear angle, but pears do make a nice snacket, but I did know that we needed to get a move on if we were to actually get there!  One bus and two trains later left us in the centre of the city with amazing architecture everywhere, from the traditional black and white Tudor buildings to the Georgian and Victorian facades there was enough to give me neck strain from looking upwards. As I trotted along the streets, I kept my trunk firmly centred towards the cathedral which was difficult to lose as it towered above the other buildings.

Worcester is served by the River Severn and was the final battle place of the English Civil War in 1651, where Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army defeated King Charles II’s Royalists. Worcester is known as the home of Royal Worcester Porcelain (a treat for later in the day), composer Edward Elgar (whose hits include the Enigma Variations and the Pomp and Circumstance Marches)

and Lea & Perrins, makers of traditional Worcestershire sauce, which is a much needed condiment for Jo’s cooking. Surrounded by tree’s it was difficult to get a good view of the cathedral and it wasn’t until I stepped inside that I realised how immense it was.

Worcester Cathedral, is an Anglican cathedral, its official name is the Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Mary the Virgin of Worcester. The present cathedral was built between 1084 and 1504, and represents every style of English architecture from Norman to Perpendicular Gothic. It is famous for its Norman crypt and unique chapter house, as well as its unusual Transitional Gothic bays, woodwork and the central tower.

It was huge completely dwarfing myself and Zoe let alone our small friend. Taking it all in would take a while.

Woolly says – The structure was incredible and as I wandered onwards, I found huge numbers of memorial and graves, featuring noblemen and women, knights of years gone by as well as Royalty.  The alter was a beautiful affair with the exception of the lovely but incredibly modern art work featuring at the front which somehow seemed out of place with its surroundings. 

The tomb of King John, born on Christmas Eve in 1166, he began his reign in 1199 in control of a vast empire which stretched from Gascony in the south of France through large regions of France to England, areas in Wales and some parts of Ireland. Most famous for agreeing to the Magna Carta, he died in October 1216, and his tomb was placed in the cathedral. The effigy on John’s tomb is unique, it is a life-like image of him and is the oldest royal effigy in England dating from 1232. It was splendid.

To the right of the alter was the final resting place of Prince Arthur the older brother of Henry VIII, who died of a mysterious illness when he was 15.  The carvings were wonderful and the area one of peace for the Prince to rest in.

Behind the alter we found ourselves in a small side chapel with many memorials for those that had served in the armed forces, the flags hanging above the plagues to remember the fallen.

The ceilings artwork was a sight to behold with infinite details to gaze at.  My small campion took to his back to better appreciate the wonders above our heads.

Woolly says – A set of steps took us down into the crypt which having been completely whitewashed lacked the sense of history that the rest of the building held.

Making our way back into the sunlight I found myself with a lovely view of the River Severn and several hundred swans, having admired the view for a few minutes I turned to see that the females were rather excited about a bench, I trotted over to see what was causing the stir.

The side of the bench had the Worcestershire pears and the shield for the city on it, the local known name for Worcestershire cricket club is the Pears, whilst nearby Warwickshire are known as the Bears, hence the saying, ‘I’d rather be a Pear than a Bear’ to show your support for Worcester.

Woolly says – So no snack pears just lots of boring cricket!  Heading back inside of the immense building I passed by a few more knights before finding myself in the cloisters.

Intricate stained glass and wonderful arches led us into the garden area which made for a peaceful and beautiful place to sit for a while.

The chapter house didn’t have a great deal to see or comment on and actually looked very update for a building of its’ age.

Feeling that we had seen everything the lovely cathedral had to offer we set off to find the next destination of the day. As you might realise we find a lot of interesting things on our travel and it always fascinates us to find well known British items which have included Stuart Crystal (Stourbridge based glass company) in Zagreb, Wedgewood in a number of countries and most strangely Royal Worcester in Hyderabad, India (https://www.travelblog.org/Asia/India/Maharashtra/blog-1009224.html), sadly we were unable to take pictures of this find but our memories were vivid so it seemed a great idea to go back to where the beautiful pieces had been originally made.

Royal Worcester was established in 1751 and is believed to be one of the oldest t remaining English porcelain brands still in existence today. Part of the Portmeirion Group since 2009, Royal Worcester remains in the luxury tableware and giftware market, although production in Worcester itself has ended. Technically, the Worcester Royal Porcelain Co. Ltd. (known as Royal Worcester) was formed in 1862, and although the company had a royal warrant from 1788, wares produced before that time, as well as those produced at two other factories in Worcester, are known as Worcester porcelain.

The lady at reception was most helpful as she handed us our audio guides and pointed us towards one of their crowning pieces, that had been shown at the Chicago World Fair in the 1800’s, it was nearly as big as Jo and I had to wonder how they had transported it there and back in one piece.

Maybe not to our taste in design but an incredible piece of work.

Woolly says – the museum tour took us into the early days of production with short but well written information boards. Heavily influenced by China and Japan the willow pattern predominated the display cases before we were given the opportunity to read about how the table ware was made, decorated and fired, the minute detail of the painting was incredible.

Cases showing items made for Nelson and many of the Kings and Queens of the country were sights to behold.

As we moved into the Victorian era of production the vases, plates and statues became much more floral and flamboyant in design, we stood staring at one vase which was incredible in the workmanship but not something any of us would want on the mantlepiece!

Sorry to say that although the work was amazing there wasn’t’ anything to meet our plain and simple tastes.

Huge vases which had been part of the Great Exhibition in London would have needed several gardens to fill them up not to mention quite a few gallons of water.

As we moved into the 20th century area designs seemed to have centred towards animals and statues by the hundreds, these were the ones that we had seen in India although their collection was a lot smaller which was strange.

Having seen all that was on offer we made our way out passing a number of Royal Warrants including the current one signed by Her Majesty, long may they continue to provide for them.

With my paws starting to flag and my tummy giving out danger warnings of starvation we decided to look for lunch on our way to the next place of interest.  The Tudor House was actually only minutes away and my stomach put up a fight as to going inside or eating, my legs ignored the violent protests and headed towards the door which appeared to be shut.

As he pushed his trunk harder and harder against the black doorway, I barely had the heart to tell him that our ability to find closed places had once again returned.

Woolly says – I told her to check the opening times, you just can’t get the carers these days…… anyone interested in the position of PA please apply within!

With his trunk firmly out of place we wandered through the lovely streets admiring the buildings once again having agreed that he could choose the lunch destination, I just hoped that my purse could afford his choice!