ON a warm autumn evening 86 years ago, the most glamorous - and vainglorious - episode in Worcestershire’s history came to a spectacular end.

Witley Court, the county’s most magnificent mansion, caught fire. In its day it was the equal of Blenheim and Chatsworth and cocooned in its opulence, Royalty and the highest of society had been entertained on a lavish scale. Flames and smoke roared skywards as firefighters from Worcester, Stourport, Kidderminster and Stourbridge battled to contain the inferno. Locals rushed to help, carrying valuables from the Court and laying them on the expansive lawns.

When the flames were eventually extinguished, the heroic efforts of the fire crews had confined the damage to the east wing and the centre of the building, but Witley Court never recovered from that disastrous night of September 7, 1937.

Today, thanks to the intervention of English Heritage, the ruins of the old mansion are a fascinating place to visit. Its grounds have been much restored, its spectacular showpiece fountains roar skywards again and the stature of the roofless building and a wealth of photographs give some idea of what once was.

The Court’s fateful night is marked in Worcester’s History and Heritage Calendar as an important county event over the centuries and here are some more.

September 3, 1651: The Battle of Worcester between the Parliamentary army of Oliver Cromwell and the Royalists led by King Charles II took place on the river meadows to the south of the city. Cromwell triumphed and the King eventually fled to France. To commemorate the battle site, in 2001 Labour MP Tam Dalyell, a descendant of General Dalyell who led the Royalist supporting Scottish Army in 1651, laid a stone brought from Scotland at Powick Bridge in tribute to the 3,000 Scottish soldiers who died that day.

September 8, 1062: Saint Wulstan, Worcester’s most famous bishop from Anglo Saxon times, is consecrated. Born in 1008, he joined the Benedictine Monastery at Worcester in 1038. As Bishop he founded Malvern Priory and began building works at Worcester and Hereford Cathedrals. He died In 1095 and was buried in Worcester Cathedral. At Easter 1158 King Henry II and his wife Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine came to the Cathedral and placed their crowns on his shrine. Wulstan was canonised a saint on May 14, 1203.

September 9, 1902: Worcester City Football Club is formed. According to Julian Pugh in his 2003 book “The Official History of Worcester City FC “ the two prominent teams to emerge in Worcester in the 1880s were Worcester Rovers and Berwick Rangers. By 1902 Rovers were no longer in existence and on September 9, 1902 at the Paul Pry Inn, The Butts, a new club was proposed, to be called Worcester City. The first match under the name was played on September 20, 1902 at Severn Terrace against Stafford Rangers, but City lost 2-1. The club moved to a permanent base at St. George’s Lane in 1905, after periods at Thorneloe and Flagge Meadow. When this site was sold for development, a proposal to move to Nunnery Way in 1995 failed and now WCFC plays at Claines Lane.

September 15, 2018: Cricketer Basil D’Oliveira is posthumously awarded the Freedom of the City of Worcester. Arguably the most influential cricketer of all time, his presence helped break down barriers in the sport. A talented Cape Coloured schoolboy cricketer in his homeland of South Africa, he was unable to play for its all-white international team because of the country’s apartheid system. D’Oliveira was helped to further his career in England, first in Lancashire League cricket and then in 1964 he joined Worcestershire. He played 44 test matches for England and his inclusion in the 1968-69 MCC touring party to South Africa, dubbed The D’Oliveira Affair, had a massive impact in turning international opinion against the apartheid regime and prompted changes in South African sport and eventually in society. He was appointed a CBE and died in November 2011 aged 80. Or possibly 83, because he was always cagey about his age. At his funeral in Worcester Cathedral, Sir Michael Parkinson gave one of the eulogies.

September 20 1922: The eighth HMS Worcester was completed. A W Class Destroyer she saw service in the Second World War. In October 1939 she began convoy escort duties until May 24, 1940 when she was assigned to Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of Allied Troops from Dunkirk. She made six trips to the French beaches and transported a total of 4,350 troops, suffering damage during an air raid on May 27, 1940. HMS Worcester continued operations until December 23, 1943 when she detonated a mine in the North Sea. This destroyed her stern and she was towed to Great Yarmouth. In April 1944 the destroyer was decommissioned and was sold for scrap in 1946.

September 23, 1970: The foundation stone for Worcester’s municipal Sansome Walk Baths was laid. After decades of not having a decent swimming pool, in the 1970s Worcester suddenly found itself with two. Worcester Citizens Swimming Bath Association, led by Ald Stanley Marshall, opened one at Lower Wick and then the government came up with sufficient cash for Worcester City Council to build one on the site of the old Park’s Outdoor Baths in Sansome Walk. This was finally demolished in 2019 as Worcester now has a large pool as part of the Perdiswell sports and leisure centre complex.