Celebrate Worcester’s 400th birthday on Charter Day

Events to take place throughout the city.

You can celebrate Worcester’s 400th birthday with exhibitions, performances and guided tours on 2nd October, Charter Day. View the actual Charter sealed by King James I, widely recognised as ‘creating’ the city of Worcester, on public display at Worcester Guildhall for the first time in 400 years.

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the Charter of King James I incorporating the City and establishing the post of Mayor. The 1621 Charter marked a momentous occasion in the development of Worcester City. On 2nd October 1621, James I put his seal to the Charter that granted Worcester the rights and constitution that established the basis of the modern governance of the city and county of Worcester.

Events will take place at Worcester Guildhall, The Commandery, Worcester Cathedral and across the city including
Charter Day Celebration at The Guildhall. This free event will include the public display of, and short reading from, the King James I Charter; a performance of the 400 Years of Worcester in 45 minutes play; commissioned art displays exhibition new work from local artists Michelle Flint and Christine Harmer; stands from local history and heritage societies; and tours of the Guildhall. There will also be opportunity to take a guided tour from the Guildhall through Worcester highlighting the historic houses and buildings associated with the founders of the 1621 Charter.

Timed, free, activities include:
• 10am & 2.30pm – Discover History Charter Tour – meet in the Guildhall Courtyard. Each tour lasts one hour.
• 11 – 11.45am – 400 Years of Worcester in 45 mins – performance in the Guildhall Assembly Room.
• 11.45am & 1.30pm – Guildhall Tour – meet in the Lower Assembly Hall at the Guildhall. Each tour lasts 45mins.

Adrian Gregson, County and Diocesan Archivist and Charter 400 Project Manager said: “In my role as County Archivist I am delighted to be able to bring such a historically significant document as the Charter of King James I out of the archives to be placed on public display, the document belongs to the people of Worcester and it is a fantastic opportunity for people to see it up close. The Charter 400, and in particular Charter Day, are an opportunity for us to really celebrate Worcester’s heritage and safely bring people back together in the heart of the city.”

The current Mayor of Worcester, Cllr Stephen Hodgson will be joined on the day by a descendent of the first ever Mayor of Worcester Edward Hurdman (depicted above), Mrs Heather Jones. Looking ahead to the celebrations Mrs Jones said: “It’s a wonderful honour to be involved in the Charter 400 celebrations and to experience just some of the pride my ancestor Edward Hurdman would have felt as he took on the role of the first Mayor of Worcester. It’s so interesting to see all the historical documents and to imagine what it must have been like 400 years ago here in Worcester.”

At the event at The Guildhall Cllr Stephen Hodgson, Mayor of Worcester will be presented with two Charter Bowls, a present to the city representing 2 silver bowls the first Mayor, Edward Hurdman presented to the City Council in 1635. The original bowls were ‘lost’ in the Civil War and it was felt fitting to commission new bowls for Worcester.

Cllr Stephen Hodgson, Mayor of Worcester commented: “I feel honoured to hold the position of Mayor in what is such a historically significant year for the city of Worcester and the wider County. It will be a privilege to accept, on behalf of the people of Worcester, the two commemorative Charter Bowls. I hope they remain within the city for the next 400 years. The events on 2nd October are a real opportunity for people to understand a little bit more about Worcester – what is was like, it’s place in history and compare this to the city today.”

For details of events on Charter Day and throughout the rest of the year, visit here.