Page last updated at 08:47 GMT, Thursday, 13 January 2011
Worcester Guildhall - Georgian splendour in the High St
Worcester Guildhall
Queen Anne stands above the city's crest

Worcester Guildhall is one of the city's most splendid and distinctive Georgian buildings.

The ornate façade is decorated with the statues of two kings and a queen, and has a strange figure pinned by his ears over the main doorway.

Inside are the names of the freemen of the city, including Lord Nelson and Sir Winston Churchill.

There are also many historic objects, including a French throne and the city's first fire buckets.

Kings and Cromwell

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.

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

Stone face from Worcester Guildhall
The mystery figure pinned by his ears over the doorway

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.

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.

Freemen and soldiers

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

Worcester Guildhall
The sword of justice and weather vane atop Worcester Guildhall

The inside of the Guildhall also lives up to the promise of its exterior - all panelled 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, and including Sir Winston Churchill.

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.




SEE ALSO
Throne shipped to French palace
12 Jan 11 |  Hereford & Worcester
The Worcester city that never was
11 Jan 11 |  History
Churchill in Nelson's footsteps
11 Dec 09 |  History

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