Opening weekend Saturday 29 July–Sunday 30 July (10.00am – 5.00pm)
One of the most significant periods of Worcester’s history will be brought to life in a new interactive experience opening at The Commandery on Saturday 29 July. Worcester’s Civil War Story will tell tales of treason, treachery and tragedy in the city where the English Civil War began and ended.
Worcester played a defining role in the Civil War. The city witnessed the opening and closing battles, from the initial skirmish at Powick in 1642 to the final clash between Royalists and Parliamentarians in the Battle of Worcester in 1651, during which The Commandery became the Royalist battle headquarters.
The Commandery’s new interactive experience will take visitors back over 350 years into a murky, conflicted 17th century Worcester of fiery debates, the smell of gunpowder and dank city streets.
There will be opportunities to master tactical techniques with the battlefield strategy interactive, try on a soldier’s uniform, uncover the stories of families torn apart by war and come face-to-face with Oliver Cromwell.
Countless characters will be part of the journey; the Presidents’ Rooms will celebrate the visit of future US Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson to Worcester in 1786. Such is Worcester’s importance in the story of democracy that Adams stood on Fort Royal Hill and exclaimed that ‘this is holy ground, much holier than that on which your churches stand. All England should come in Pilgrimage to this Hill, once a Year.’
Civil War City trails will encourage visitors to Worcester to explore further afield and bring together fascinating Civil War stories that have left their marks across the city.
The UK’s oldest re-enactment society The Sealed Knot will be supporting the opening weekend at The Commandery with a living history camp that provides a glimpse into life in the midst of the Civil War, and the August bank holiday weekend will present The Storming of Fort Royal, supported by Worcester Re-enactors.
Repairs, refurbishment and redecoration to the building itself are underway, including repairs to the roof, pest treatment, damp prevention, upgrades to the building’s heating, electrical and fire protection systems, and redecoration in a wide range of rooms.
Worcester City Council has underpinned its significant Civil War history by investing £380,000 into the project, in addition to £96,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and further funding from Worcestershire County Council, Arts Council England, the Friends of Worcester Museums and Art Gallery and Worcestershire Ambassadors.
Chairman of the Battle of Worcester Partnership, Grant Simmonds MBE said: ‘This exciting project will ensure that the people of Worcestershire, as well as those visiting from outside the county, are aware of the significance of the Battle of Worcester. Echoing John Adams’ words from Fort Royal Hill in 1786; let the pilgrimage to Worcester begin!’
Iain Rutherford, Museums General Manager of Museums Worcestershire, added: ‘We are grateful to all our partners who are working with us on The Commandery. We hope that The Commandery project provides fertile ground for the development and growth of Worcester’s tourism economy.’
Image caption: A group from Worcester re-enactors wield muskets and swords in The Commandery gardens.
Worcester’s Civil War Story at The Commandery
Open from Saturday 29 July
Worcester’s Civil War Story evokes the momentous build-up to the Battle of Worcester. Discover a new interactive exhibition at The Commandery, former Royalist battle headquarters in 1651, and experience a pivotal moment in English history. Step into the dramatic debate between Royalist and Parliamentarian beliefs, encounter powerful pieces of the past, imagine daily life as a militia soldier 300 miles from home, and test your strategic skills in the battle room.
The following special events will take place at The Commandery to complement the launch of the exhibition:
Saturday 29–Sunday 30 July (10.00am-5.00pm)
Worcester’s Civil War Story Opening Weekend
Be one of the first to explore Worcester’s Civil War Story at The Commandery, an exciting new experience telling tales of a desperate city under siege. Step through the majestic Commandery gates and meet Royalist soldiers, handle formidable weaponry and see remarkable relics from Worcester’s extraordinary past.
If you pay your Council Tax to Worcester City Council, you can sign up for a special Worcester residents’ year-long ticket for just £5.00 (Please bring your Council Tax bill as proof of residency).
Saturday 26, Sunday 27 and Monday 28 August
10.00am–5.00pm (from 1.30pm Sunday)
The Storming of Fort Royal
Witness a pivotal moment in English history when Royalist troops were attacked and forced to flee into Worcester City as Cromwell’s Parliament forces faced the King’s Men on Fort Royal Hill. Join in with preparations for battle in a living history camp, evoking the sights, sounds and smells that happened in this very place over 350 years ago.