Article on pages 15 - 16 of Dickon Independent issue 85

Hartlebury Castle And Wilden Church - September 8

The day started off foggy and cold. We arrived early and looked round the outside exhibits of a cider mill and various farm and gypsy wagons. One of the farm wagons came from Kempsey.

After eating the delicious Hartlebury Hotpot in the restaurant, we found the sun had come out for the arrival of the others.

Hartlebury Castle (more of a fortified manor than a castle) has been the home of the Bishops of Worcester for over 1000 years, until May 2007 when the present bishop decided to reside in Worcester instead.

The castle came up for sale soon after and a local Preservation Trust was quickly formed to try to acquire the castle from the owners, the Church Commissioners. Their aims are to preserve it for education, the use and enjoyment of everyone and to allow the Hurd Library to remain intact and located at the castle.

The castle houses the County Museum, the State Rooms (the Great Hall, Saloon and the Hurd Library) and the bishops’ former accommodation.In 1255 Bishop Walter de Cantilupe began to fortify the castle with a moat. Bishop Godfrey Giffard obtained a licence to crenellate in 1268. King Edward I stayed at the castle in 1282 on his way to fight the Welsh.

The Great Hall dates from 1390. It has an arch braced roof constructed of timbers taken from the forests of Malvern Chase, a gift from King Richard II.

Then in 1450 Bishop John Carpenter had the gatehouse and drawbridge built, but any remaining bits were removed by Bishop Hurd in 1781. This bishop conducted the service for receiving the body of Richard Beauchamp into his fabulous chapel in Warwick in 1476.

Queen Elizabeth I visited in 1575, when Nicholas Bullingham, Bishop of Worcester, had a special walk made specially for her.

During the Royalists' occupation of the castle from 1642 a mint was set up at the castle to strike coins. A rare half-crown from this mint is now in the County Museum.

The castle then fell into disrepair but after 1675 successive bishops made improvements, and in 1782 Bishop Richard Hurd built his library over the pre-existing Long Gallery.

It contains not only his own books, but collections from Alexander Pope, Ralph Allen, William Warburton and King George III, whose main collection laid the foundation of the British Library.

King George III, a great friend of Bishop Hurd, visited in 1788 and had breakfast with the bishop in the library. Jelly was on the menu!

Our present Queen Elizabeth II visited in 1980.

On display in the museum were examples from a hoard of 219 silver coins struck in the reigns of King Edward l to King Edward IV, the earliest being c.1280 and the latest 1466-67. The hoard was found near Wyre Piddle in Worcestershire in 1967.

Just before 3pm we made the short journey in convoy to All Saints Church, Wilden. Although not of our period this tiny village church is very interesting. It houses some wonderful Arts & Crafts items, including windows by Edward Burne-Jones, fabric hangings and altar frontispiece by William Morris.

We enjoyed tea and cakes while being told the history of this church. Alfred Baldwin, father of Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, had the church built for his work-force at Wilden Ironworks. Alfred had married Louisa MacDonald. Her sister Georgina had married pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones; Agnes had married another painter, Edward Poynter, and Alice married John Lockwood Kipling and became the mother of Rudyard Kipling.

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