In the latest column by Discover History's Paul Harding on Worcestershire's past, he tells how Queen Elizabeth 1 visited the city - and why that meant a clean-up operation for local residents.

Queen Elizabeth I visited Worcester in the summer of 1575.

This was a period when the City was at its peak in trade and commerce. A City that stood on the important banks of the River Severn.

Worcester was making a vast amount of money from the Wool trade at the time. If you look at the occupations of people during this period, most people were carders, spinners, weavers, dyers and fullers. All occupations linked to this work.

When you walk along Friar Street you will find a brilliant example of a merchant's house - Grey Friars. This property is now in the care of the National Trust.

Further down the street you will find a row of humble homes, belonging to some weavers. We now call this row - the Tudor House Heritage Centre.

Life for the city traders revolved around the magnificent timber framed Guildhall.

It was in this building, where the preparations for the visit were made. They are well recorded in the Chamber Order Book 1540-1601.

This book is one of many treasures held by the excellent Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service, based in the Hive.

The Governing men of the city were often referred to as the 48, and the more senior the 24.

These men planned the visit and created an itemised bill too. It was led by the High Bailiff Mr Christopher Dighton. The post of Mayor and the city council did not exist at this time.

The City gates were to be decorated with cloth of a ‘decent color’, the Royal Arms to sit over them.

The citizens were given 10 days to clean up the streets outside of their properties and smarten up their homes.

They were told to ‘kepe cleane their Soyles’ and remove their ‘Dunghills or Myskyns.’

The dung hills was there as a result of throwing your chamber pot contents into the street every morning for 365 days of the year.

Homes had to be painted in ‘comely colors’ too.

The traditional black and white houses we see today were a Victorian idea!

The city would have looked bright, colourful, rich, clean and sweet smelling for Her Majesty.

The Queen travelled from Hartlebury Castle and arrived at White Ladies (now part of RGS Worcester) on August 13.

Despite heavy rain, she declined the carriage and opted to ride on horseback into the city, so her subjects would see her.

She was met at the top of Salt Lane (Castle Street) by the city dignitaries dressed in their finery, and processed through the Fore Gate, past cheering crowds.

She addressed the city from a stage on the ‘Grasse Crosse’ (The Cross).

Perhaps it was from here that she saw the pear trees and gave the city a new coat of arms showing three Black Pears? The story is legendary, but evidence of this event has still not been found.

Speeches were made and a gift of a Silver cup and a fine purse of 40 gold Sovereigns were handed over.

Similar pageantry took place on a stage built outside St Helens Church.

For seven days she stayed at Bishops Palace and travelled the county, attended services at the Cathedral, hunted, feasted and re-founded the Trinity Alms Houses.

This was probably the moment when the Queen made a speech from the building we now call Queen Elizabeth House. 


* The award-winning Worcesterbased Discover History offers a range of educational services to bring history to life, including reenactments, tours and school visits. See for more.