IN the early hours of December 17, 1896 the earth moved for a young servant girl in a house in Ombersley Road, Worcester. At 5.30 in the morning she was jolted from her sleep to find her bed heaving and assumed there was a man beneath it.

Fortunately for the girl there wasn’t. Neither had Father Christmas come a week early. It was just an earth quake. Certainly not a common occurrence in this neck of the woods and an event worthy of headlines in the local papers, which trumpeted: “Severe Shock of Earthquake”

They reported: “People were awakened by a loud rumbling noise, accompanied by disturbance of the ground so that houses were shaking, windows rattling, beds rolling, and general alarm occasioned. Fortunately, there was no injury to life or limb, and no damage of a serious nature, but numerous incidents were reported, some of a humorous description.

“At Claines the bells were set ringing, as also was the case at a residence in Droitwich Road; and the clock at All Saints Church was stopped. Tiles were shaken off the roofs of several houses, and a chimney was thrown down in Ombersley Road. A maid servant awakening to find her bed heaving concluded that a man was underneath it; and another servant was nearly frightened into a fit by her terror at the rolling of her bed.

“At the Falcon Inn, Broad Street, a barrel of stout rolled right across the room in which it was lying on its side. One citizen was heard to declare that the ‘osculation was terrific’”.

Here are a few more happenings in December over the years according to the Worcester History and Heritage Calendar.

December 1, 1139: The Siege of Worcester ends. According to the Chronicles of John of Worcester, a copy of which is in the Cathedral Library, an army from Gloucester under Miles Constable of Gloucester on behalf of the Earl of Gloucester, the illegitimate son of former King Henry I, began an attack on Worcester in November 1139. The first attempt on the south side near the Castle was repulsed. But the attackers then broke through on the north side and set fire to houses and “an enormous booty of chattels from the city and of oxen sheep beats and horses were carried off. Many were taken prisoner in the streets and led away into wretched captivity”.

However Waleran, Earl of Worcester, came to the rescue. He went to Sudeley in Gloucestershire on November 30 “with a force of soldiers where he rendered evil for evil and seized and carried off booty of men with their goods and cattle”. He returned to Worcester the next day, December 1, and lifted the siege.

December 3, 1919: Chinese born Djang Djin Sung became the last man to be hanged at Worcester when he was executed at the County Jail in Castle Street for murdering fellow countryman Zee Ming Wu. The victim’s mutilated body had been found in Warley Woods, just 100 yards inside the old Worcestershire border with Birmingham on June 23, 1919.

Sung was later arrested in London and accused of hitting Wu with a hammer. The jury took just 10 minutes to return a guilty verdict at the court case in the Shirehall the following year. At the subsequent appeal it was put that Sung had only witnessed the murder and supplied the weapon, stolen from his employers. This was dismissed on the grounds that he knew the purpose of the visit to Warley Woods and was thus complicit in the murder.

December 4, 1674: George Fox, the controversial Quaker preacher, was arrested in Worcester. According to his own Journal, the movement produced a “new society which was most happily called The Society of Friends”. Groups of worshippers met in plain unadorned buildings and sat down together in silence with complete confidence that the Spirit would be a real presence among them and that Christ would be the Head of their assembly. An arrest warrant for Fox was issued for “conduct prejudicial to the public peace”. Detained in Worcester he was then taken to London where Judge Hale eventually ordered him to be freed “by proclamation”. Fox was therefore imprisoned for a year for nothing.

December 14, 1984: Maggs Day Centre opens in Worcester. It was founded in memory of a homeless man who died after spending a number of years sleeping on the streets. As a result of his death a group of local churches got together and formed an action group which led to a day centre being set up for the homeless of Worcester at the former St Albans church in Deansway.

Since then the day centre has gone from strength to strength, providing an invaluable service to help the homeless and socially isolated. With support from the local community and local and national charities, Maggs continues to offer these services and help to those in need.

December 15, 1898: The founding of Worcester City Golf Club, later to become Tolladine Golf Club. The long history of this accessible little golf club not far from the city centre came to a dismal end in August 2006 when bulldozers moved onto the course off Tolladine Road. The club had actually closed on May 14 after debts spiralled out of control to more than £125,000 and in July firefighters were called to the fairway after the clubhouse was targeted in a suspected arson attack.

Sandwiched between Newtown and Tolladine roads the course had been subjected to frequent vandalism. When the end came one former member said: “During my years I have seen how the club has prospered, having a waiting list for members, to its present demise. I'm saddened by the impact it will have on the local community and by the vandalism that has been a major drain on resources. It helped drive members away and contributed to the collapse of the club. When the course was damaged, members couldn't play properly and went elsewhere."

December 21, 1991: A unique Grand Sculling Challenge took place on the River Severn arranged by Worcester Rowing Club between American Joseph Michels, president of the Oxford University Boat Club, and Max Justicz from Worcestershire, president of the Cambridge University Boat Club. They raced each other in a novel two mile figure of eight on the swollen river with Sir Adrian Cadbury as umpire. Justicz was 26 seconds faster at the finish in 13 minutes 26 seconds. Unfortunately it was a better result for Justicz than the University Boat Race on the Thames the following spring, which Cambridge narrowly lost. The Worcester race and the related regatta for crews from six other boat clubs in the county was part of an appeal for funds for the new WRC boathouse.