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Worcestershire ( , ; written abbreviation: Worcs) is a county in the West Midlands of . The area that is now Worcestershire was absorbed into the unified Kingdom of England in 927, at which time it was constituted as a county (see History of Worcestershire).

Over the centuries the county borders have been modified, but it was not until 1844 that substantial changes were made. Worcestershire was abolished as part of local government reforms in 1974, with its northern area becoming part of the West Midlands and the rest part of the county of Hereford and Worcester. In 1998 the county of Hereford and Worcester was abolished and Worcestershire was reconstituted, again without the West Midlands area.

The county borders to the west, to the north-west, only just to the north, West Midlands to the north and north-east, to the east and to the south. The western border with Herefordshire includes a stretch along the top of the . At the southern border with Gloucestershire, Worcestershire meets the northern edge of the . Two major rivers flow through the county: the and the Avon.

The geographical area now known as Worcestershire was first populated at least 700,000 years ago. The area became predominantly agricultural in the Bronze Age, leading to population growth and more evidence of settlement. By the Iron Age, hill forts dominated the landscape. Settlement of these swiftly ended with the Roman occupation of Britain.

The Roman period saw establishment of the villa system in the Cotswolds and Vale of Evesham. (Salinae) was probably the most important settlement in the county in this period, due to its product of salt. There is also evidence for Roman settlement and industrial activity around Worcester and King's Norton.

Anglo-Saxon Worcestershire
The area which became Worcestershire formed the heartland of the kingdom of the . It was absorbed by the Kingdom of Mercia during the 7th century and became part of the unified Kingdom of England in 927. Worcestershire was established as an administrative and defensive unit in the early tenth century.Brooks N, Cubitt C (1996). "St. Oswald of Worcester - Life and Influence". The administrative landscape of the Diocese of Worcester in the tenth century. p147 Its purpose was to take into account and defend the estates within the northern area of the historic See of Worcester, held by the Episcopus Hwicciorum and Worcester Priory, along with the Abbots of , Westminster and .
(2022). 9780300112986, Yale University Press.
The shires and its sub-divisions known as hundreds, formed a framework for administering the resources of each ' outlying estates. It was a separate briefly in the 10th century before forming part of the Earldom of Mercia in the 11th century. The last known Sheriff of Worcestershire was Cyneweard of Laughern.

Norman Conquest
During the , much of the county's economy was based on the wool trade. Many areas of its dense forests, such as , and , were subject to forest law.

After the Norman conquest of England; the noted in 1086 that in seven of the twelve hundreds covering Worcestershire, the Crown had no authority. The Crown's authority was replaced by the Bishop of Worcester and the Abbots at Pershore, Westminster and Evesham.Tinti F.(2010) Sustaining Belief: The Church of Worcester from c.870 to c.1100

William the Conqueror gave to his allies and friends and captured from the Anglo-Saxons. Despite the Norman Conquest, the rest of the county was still held by the Abbeys of Pershore and Evesham, the Bishop of Worcester and Priory.

The first Norman Sheriff Urse d'Abetot, built the castle of Worcester and seized much church land, some of which became part of the Crown's hundreds in Worcestershire.Laird, "A Topographical and Historical Description of the County of Worcester" c. 1814; British History Online: The hundred of Halfshire: Introduction and map, Pages 1-4. A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1913. and was in dispute with the Bishop of Worcester over the rights of the sheriff.Brooks "Introduction" St Wulfstan and His World p. 3; Williams "Cunning of the Dove" St Wulfstan and His World pp. 33–35

Bishop Wulfstan was the last Anglo-Saxon bishop in England, and remained in post until his death in 1095. Under his tenure Worcester Cathedral began major reconstruction, and he opposed political interventions against William and the Normans. He was later made a saint.

High Medieval
During Henry III's disputes and wars with his Barons, in 1263 Worcester's Jewish residents were attacked by a baronial force led by Robert Earl Ferrers and Henry de Montfort. Most were killed. The massacre in Worcester was part of a wider campaign by the De Montforts and their allies in the run-up to the Second Barons' War, aimed at undermining Henry III. Worcestershire was the site of the Battle of Evesham in which Simon de Montfort was killed on 4 August 1265. A few years later, in 1275, the Jews that were still living in Worcester were forced to move to , as they were expelled from all towns under the jurisdiction of the queen mother.

Civil War
In 1642, the Battle of Powick Bridge was the first major skirmish of the English Civil War. The county suffered from being on the Royalist front line, as it was subject to heavy taxation and the pressing of men into the Royalist army, which also reduced its productive capacity. The northern part of the county, which was already a centre of iron production, was important for military supplies. Parliamentarian raids and Royalist requisitioning both placed a great strain on the county.

There were tensions from the participation of prominent Catholic recusants in the military and civilian organisation of the county. Combined with the opposition to requisitioning from both sides, bands of formed to keep the war away from their localities.

The Battle of Worcester in 1651 effectively ended the third civil war. There was little enthusiasm or local participation in the mostly Scottish Royalist army, whose defeat was widely welcomed. Nevertheless, Parliamentarian forces ransacked the city of Worcester, causing heavy damage, looting and destruction of property. Around 10,000 mostly Scottish prisoners were sent into forced labour in the New World or fen drainage schemes. The small bands of Scots that fled into Worcestershire's countryside were attacked by local forces and killed.

Nineteenth century
In the 19th century, Worcester was a centre for the manufacture of gloves; the town of became a centre for carpet manufacture, and specialised in the manufacture of needles, springs and hooks. , situated on large deposits of salt, was a centre of from times, with one of the principal running through the town. These old industries have since declined, to be replaced by other, more varied . The county is also home to the world's oldest continually published newspaper, the Berrow's Journal, established in 1690. Malvern was one of the centres of the 19th-century rise in English spa towns due to being believed to be very pure, containing "nothing at all". Bottled Waters of the World . Retrieved 9 August 2009

The 2011 census found the population of Worcestershire to be 566,169, an increase of 4.4% from the 2001 population of 542,107.

Though the total number of people in every ethnic group increased between 2001 and 2011, the White British share of Worcestershire's population decreased from 95.5% to 92.4%, as did the share of White ethnic groups as whole, which went from 97.5% to 95.7%. Worcestershire is still much more ethnically homogeneous than the national average. In 2011, 79.8% of the population of England identified as White British; much lower than Worcestershire's figure of 92.4%.


Local government
Local government in Worcestershire has changed several times since the middle of the 19th century.

Worcestershire contained numerous , which were areas of land cut off from the main geographical area of Worcestershire and completely surrounded by the nearby counties of Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and . The most notable islands were Dudley,Richardson, Eric (2000) The Black Country as Seen through Antique Maps, The Black Country Society Evenlode, A Vision of Britain through Time Evenlode, Worcestershire – Retrieved 7 May 2020 Blockley A Vision of Britain through Time Blockley, Worcestershire – Retrieved 7 August 2014 and the area around Shipston-on-Stour. Worcester Branch of the Birmingham & Midland Society for Genealogy and Heraldry Shipston-upon-Stour – Retrieved 7 May 2020 Herefordshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and had their own exclaves within the main part of Worcestershire at Rochford, Worcester Branch of the Birmingham & Midland Society for Genealogy and Heraldry Rochford, Herefordshire – Retrieved 7 May 2020 Broome, Worcester Branch of the Birmingham & Midland Society for Genealogy and Heraldry Broome, Staffordshire – Retrieved 7 May 2020 Clent,Harbach M, Genealogy UK & Ireland – Retrieved 29 July 2011 Tardebigge (Tutnall and Cobley) A Vision of Britain through Time Tardebigge, Warwickshire – Retrieved 27 May 2020 and respectively. Tardebigge's history outside the county is even more colourful, changing hands from Worcestershire to Staffordshire and Warwickshire, before returning to Worcestershire at differing times over the centuries. Worcester Branch of the Birmingham & Midland Society for Genealogy and Heraldry Tardebigge – Retrieved 7 May 2020 The southern boundary of the county was also complex, with parish boundaries penetrating deep into Gloucestershire and vice versa.

Worcestershire County Council came into existence following the Local Government Act 1888 and covered the historic traditional county, except for two designated at Dudley and Worcester. HM Government Legislation Local Government Act 1888 – Retrieved 7 May 2020

Birmingham's continuous expansion has been a major cause of Worcestershire's fluid boundary changes and associated housing issues. A Vision of Britain through Time Birmingham Municipal Borough/County Borough, Warwickshire – Retrieved 7 May 2020 The district of , which had originally constituted the most northerly part of the parish of King's Norton, was the first area of the county to be added to the County Borough of Birmingham, on 1 October 1891. This was followed by Quinton Urban District, which was ceded to Birmingham in November 1909, and then by the of Yardley and the greater part of the Urban District of King's Norton and Northfield, which were absorbed into Birmingham under the Greater Birmingham Scheme on 9 November 1911. British History Online A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 7: The City of Birmingham – Retrieved 27 May 2020 Thus these areas were transferred from Worcestershire to Warwickshire. Dudley's historical status within the Diocese of Worcester and through its aristocratic links ensured that the exclave was governed on a largely autonomous basis. British History Online The hundred of Halfshire: Introduction and map - Retrieved 7 May 2020; Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), clxv, 192.; Worcester was designated a , and thus became separate from the rest of Worcestershire.

1926 boundary changes
In 1926, Dudley County Borough council purchased several square miles of land to the north of the town centre, mostly in (), including . This was to build the , a large new on which construction began in 1929. The boundaries of Worcestershire were altered to include all of the proposed new housing estate in Dudley.

During the Local Government reorganisation of April 1966, Dudley expanded beyond its historical boundaries and took in the bulk of ,Staffordshire County Council Staffordshire Place Guide – Sedgley – Retrieved 7 May 2020 and the south of as well as a small section of .Staffordshire County Council Staffordshire Place Guide – Amblecote – Retrieved 7 May 2020 The Local Government Act redefined its status and the County Borough of Dudley became part of Staffordshire, the county of which all of these areas had been part. At the same time, Worcestershire gained a new named Warley, which was an amalgamation of Oldbury Urban District, Rowley Regis Urban District, the County Borough of Smethwick and parts of Dudley and .; West Midlands Order 1965, S.I. 1965, no. 2139, pp. 5-7, 85-6, 120, 122-3. During this reorganisation, the area of the administrative county grew only where took in the majority of Amblecote Urban DistrictHM Government Legislation – The West Midland Counties Order 1965 from Staffordshire and the designation of Redditch in 1964 as a . This in turn saw expansion into the area in and around the villages of and in Warwickshire. The Redditch New Town designation coincided with a considerable programme of social and private house building in , Worcester, Bromsgrove, Kidderminster and along the Birmingham boundary at , and . HM Government Legislation Town Development Act 1952 – Retrieved 15 August 2014 Frankley parish was later split into two: and the area around Bartley Reservoir transferred from Bromsgrove District to Birmingham in April 1995; but the small village of Frankley remained in Worcestershire and became a new under the same name.

From 1974, the central and southern parts of the county were amalgamated with Herefordshire and with Worcester County Borough to form a single non-metropolitan county of Hereford and Worcester.Local Government in England: Government Proposals for Reorganisation (Cmnd. 4584) Circular 8/71 map The County Boroughs of Dudley and Warley, along with Stourbridge and Halesowen, were incorporated into the new West Midlands Metropolitan county. H.M. Government Local Government Act 1972 – Retrieved 7 May 2020; Hansard 1803–2005 Local Government (West Midlands Order) Debate – Retrieved 7 May 2020 The West Midlands County Council existed for only a few years before abolition in April 1986, although the West Midlands still exists as a ceremonial county. HM Government Legislation Local Government Act 1985 – Retrieved 7 May 2020

In the 1990s UK local government reform, the county of Hereford & Worcester was abolished, and the non-metropolitan county or of Worcestershire regained its historic border with Herefordshire. HM Government Legislation The Hereford and Worcester (Structural, Boundary and Electoral Changes) Order 1996 – Retrieved 7 May 2020 The recreated County of Worcestershire came into existence on 1 April 1998 as an administrative and ceremonial county, although this excluded the towns of Dudley, Halesowen, Oldbury and Stourbridge (which remained part of the West Midlands). Parliamentary Business – Retrieved 7 May 2020 Worcestershire County Council was reformed, although some services are shared with the newly formed Herefordshire Council, Https://" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"> Final Recommendations for the Future Local Government of Hereford and Worcester. December 1994 – Retrieved 16 May 2013 including waste management and the youth offending service.

The former Hereford and Worcester districts of Redditch, Worcester, Bromsgrove, and Wyre Forest were retained with little or no change. However the and Malvern Hills districts straddled the historic border, so a new Malvern Hills district was constituted which straddled the pre-April 1974 county boundary to the west, south-west and north-west. The remaining parts of the former Hereford and Worcester district of Leominster, returned to Herefordshire.

Summary of main changes
These settlements were historically part of the county as noted above, that now fall under the counties of and West Midlands.

Physical geography
The , which run from the south of the county into Herefordshire, are made up mainly of and , some of which date from more than 1,200 million years ago. They are designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The Worcestershire Beacon, which at is the highest point in the county, lies in this range.
(2022). 9781849532396, Summersdale.

The rest of the county consists of undulating hills and farmland stretching either side of the valley. The Severn is the United Kingdom's longest river and flows through , Stourport-on-Severn and Worcester. The River Avon flows through the Worcestershire town on and joins the Severn at , .

Several coniferous and deciduous woodlands are located in the north of the county. The Vale of Evesham runs through the south of the county and to its south are the AONB.

Green belt
Worcestershire contains a broad expanse of green belt area, widening to over in places. It is part of the larger belt surrounding the West Midlands county, and first drawn up from the 1950s. All of the county's districts other than Malvern Hills contain some portion of the belt.

The largest and most successful football club in the county is Kidderminster Harriers. Founded in 1877 as a running club and doubling as a rugby club from 1880, the football club was founded in 1886. In 1987, the club won the for the first time, and seven years later reached the fifth round of the , also winning the GM Vauxhall Conference title in 1994 but being denied Football League status as their Aggborough Stadium did not meet capacity requirements. However, when the club next won the Conference title six years later, their stadium had been upgraded and promotion was granted, giving the county its first (and thus far only) Football League members. However, the club's Football League membership was short-lived, as Harriers were relegated back to the Conference in 2005 after just five years in the Football League, and have yet to reclaim their status.

The county is also represented by Alvechurch, Bromsgrove Sporting and Redditch United of the Southern Premier League, and Worcester City of the Midland Football League.

The county is home to Worcestershire County Cricket Club, traditionally the first stop on any touring national side's schedule in England. Formed officially in 1865, the Club initially played in Boughton Park, before moving to its current New Road ground, which today can host 5,500 spectators, in 1895. The club has won five County Championships in its history, most recently in 1989.

Worcester Rugby Football Club, the Worcester Warriors, are the county's largest and most successful Rugby Union team, having been promoted to the Premiership in 2004. The Warriors were relegated to the in 2010 but rebounded back to the Premiership in 2011. Worcester Warriors play at the on the outskirts of Worcester, holding over 12,000 spectators, thus making it the largest stadium in the county. Sixways has hosted the final of the LV Cup on three occasions.

The village of Broadheath, about northwest of the city of Worcester, is the birthplace of the composer .

It is claimed that the county was the inspiration for , a region of J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional , described in and The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien was thought to have named ' house "Bag End" after his Aunt Jane's Worcestershire farm. Tolkien wrote of Worcestershire, "Any corner of that county (however fair or squalid) is in an indefinable way 'home' to me, as no other part of the world is." Humphrey, C. 1977 New York: Ballantine Books.

Worcestershire is one of the three counties associated with the style of English folk dancing. Worcestershire Monkey is a popular Border Morris dance; although normally performed as a group of eight, it is sometimes danced en masse with multiple Border Morris sides performing the dance together. Worcestershire Monkey , Wicket Brood website

Worcestershire appeared as one of the main settings in the DreamWorks Animation animated film Shrek the Third. The director Chris Miller said they chose Worcestershire because it is always being mispronounced. "It just made us laugh. Plus we love the sauce, it's hugely popular in the States." The film make multiple references to the real Worcestershire in the film, even commenting on the famous Worcestershire Sauce.

Worcestershire has a long history in radio broadcasting. The county is home to the Droitwich Transmitting Station near , currently broadcasting BBC Radio 5 Live and commercial radio services - and on and BBC Radio 4 on . The site is the location of the British Broadcasting Corporation's most powerful long-wave transmitter, which during World War II, coded messages read during normal programme broadcasts, were received by the French Resistance. BBC Feature Retrieved 7 May 2020 BBC Engineering Droitwich Calling (Archive) - Retrieved 7 May 2020 Lying close to the county's north western border is the Woofferton Transmitting Station, which was used during the to broadcast the Voice of America's transmissions into the countries of Europe. These sets of transmitters are still in use today.

In 1939, the BBC bought the historic Wood Norton site near Evesham, and equipped the premises with a dozen temporary studios. These were to be used in the event of an evacuation of the BBC's operations in London and other urban areas. By 1940; Wood Norton was one of the largest broadcasting centres in Europe with an average output of 1,300 radio programmes a week.Pawley, E. (1972), Cutmore, N. (Ed.), Laven, P (Ed.) History of the BBC - Wood Norton The were also based at Wood Norton, where linguists, many of them foreign nationals, were hired to listen in to broadcasts from Europe until they were relocated to in early 1943. The move was made to release space at Wood Norton so that it could become the BBC's main broadcasting centre, should London have to be evacuated because of the threat from Nazi Germany's . The site was also prepared for use during the Cold War, as an emergency broadcast centre. Subterranea Britannica Wood Norton - Retrieved 7 May 2020 The site is still in use for the BBC's engineering and technical training.

Local and regional radio
BBC Hereford & Worcester and Free Radio (formerly Wyvern FM) broadcast to both Herefordshire and Worcestershire on analogue and digital radio platforms, Ofcom BBC Hereford & Worcester licence - Retrieved 7 May 2020; Ofcom Free Radio (Hereford/Worcester) - Retrieved 7 May 2020 whilst Greatest Hits Radio (formerly known as Signal 107) broadcasts to Kidderminster, Stourport-on-Severn, Bewdley and Droitwich. Ofcom Signal 107 - Retrieved 7 May 2020 A community radio station - , is licensed to serve the Worcester area. Ofcom Youthcomm Radio - Retrieved 7 May 2020 Meanwhile, Capital Mid-Counties (formerly known as Touch FM), Sunshine Radio and Like Radio, broadcast to the county on and/or DAB Digital Radio.; Radio Today Global confirms Capital FM to replace Quidem stations - Retrieved 7 May 2020 Historically; West Midlands-based radio stations such as BBC Radio WM, and Beacon Radio have considered parts of Worcestershire as their broadcast areas.Allen, D.P. (2011) Independent Local Radio (ILR) in the West Midlands, 1972-1984: a comparative study of BRMB Radio and Beacon Radio.- Retrieved 7 May 2020 However Wyvern FM, Beacon Radio, BRMB along with Mercia FM are now known collectively as 'Free Radio' and under the same ownership. Bauer Media Free Radio Brand Retrieved 7 May 2020 Other regional stations, such as Heart and Smooth Radio also cover the county.

In 2007 the Office of Communications (Ofcom) awarded a DAB Digital Radio multiplex licence for Herefordshire & Worcestershire to Ltd. Ofcom Ofcom awards new local digital radio multiplex licence for Herefordshire and Worcestershire - Retrieved 7 May 2020 MuxCo proposed new stations and a digital radio platform for Wyvern FM, Sunshine Radio and BBC Hereford & Worcester, who were initially licensed to broadcast on VHF/FM and/or . MuxCo eventually launched in December 2013 following changes in legislation through the Digital Economy Act 2010, HM Government Digital Economy Act - Section 35 - Retrieved 7 May 2020 and utilises existing transmitter locations at Great Malvern, and Bromsgrove. Ofcom Herefordshire and Worcestershire DAB Multiplex Ownership - Retrieved 7 May 2020 The multiplex continues to uses the same transmission sites, albeit with an additional transmitter at Kidderminster Ofcom Herefordshire and Worcestershire - Retrieved 7 May 2020 and broadcasts a combination of local and national services. MuxCo Digital Broadcast Radio Predicted On-Air Coverage Herefordshire & Worcestershire Block 12A Local DAB Multiplex - Retrieved 7 May 2020 In 2008, MXR, who owned and operated the West Midlands regional DAB multiplex licence, improved coverage of DAB Digital Radio across other parts of the county to include Worcester and Malvern. This regional multiplex closed on 27 August 2013, partially replaced by 's Birmingham DAB Multiplex, who opened new transmitters at and Headless Cross. Ofcom Digital Broadcast Radio Predicted On-Air Coverage Birmingham Block 11C Local DAB Multiplex - retrieved 7 May 2020 Ofcom has earmarked two potential 'Small Scale DAB' digital radio multiplexes within Worcestershire Ofcom under new licensing guidelines Licensing small-scale DAB New powers and duties proposed by government under new licensing guidelines - Retrieved 8 May 2020 - one at Worcester, and the other within Bromsgrove, Kidderminster and Redditch. Ofcom Statement licensing Small-Scale DAB - Retrieved 6 May 2020 The legal framework for the potential new multiplexes come under 'The Small-Scale Radio Multiplex and Community Digital Radio Order 2019'. HM Government The Small-scale Radio Multiplex and Community Digital Radio Order 2019 - Contents - Retrieved 8 May 2020; HM Government The Small-scale Radio Multiplex and Community Digital Radio Order 2019 - Explanation Guide - Retrieved 8 May 2020

This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Worcestershire at current basic prices published (pp. 240–253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.

Industry and agriculture
Fruit farming and the cultivation of were traditional agricultural activities in much of the county. During the latter half of the 20th century, this has largely declined with the exception southern area of the county around the Vale of Evesham, where orchards are still worked on a commercial scale. Worcester City's coat of arms includes three black pears, representing a now rare local pear variety, the Worcester Black Pear. The county's coat of arms follows this theme, having a pear tree with black pears. The variety known as Worcester Pearmain originates from Worcestershire, and the plum comes from the small Worcestershire town of that name, and is widely grown in that area.

Worcestershire is also famous for a number of its non-agricultural products. The original Worcestershire sauce, a savoury condiment made by Lea and Perrins, is made in Worcester, and the now-closed Royal Porcelain works was based in the city. The town of Malvern is the home of the Morgan traditional .

Worcestershire has a comprehensive school system with over thirty-five independent schools including the , The King's School, Worcester, Malvern St James and . State schools in Worcester, the Wyre Forest District, and the Malvern Hills District are two-tier and whilst Redditch and Bromsgrove have a three-tier system of , and high schools. Several schools in the county provide education including two in the city of Worcester. Several vocational colleges provide GCSE and A-level courses and adult education, such as South Worcestershire College, and an agricultural campus of Warwickshire College in . There is also the University of Worcester, which is located in the city itself and is home to the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit and five other national research centres.

Towns and villages
The and only city is Worcester. The other major settlements are , and . There are also several : Malvern, , , , , , Stourport-on-Severn and Upton-upon-Severn. The village of housed the Bishop of Worcester from the 13th century until 2007.

Places of interest

Local groups
  • Worcestershire Wildlife Trust
  • 29th Regiment of Foot
  • West Midland Bird Club

See also
  • Custos Rotulorum of Worcestershire - List of Keepers of the Rolls
  • Healthcare in Worcestershire
  • High Sheriff of Worcestershire
  • Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire
  • Worcestershire (UK Parliament constituency) - Historical list of MPs for Worcestershire constituency



External links

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