The family bought the entire premises
in 1905 and began to make dramatic improvements. The print works
occupied most of the western wing whilst additional sheds and outbuildings
were constructed alongside the canal to form a larger working area.
These contained workshops for compositors and binders plus machine
shops where the printing itself was done.
As general printers the variety of work produced by the company
was wide, everything from Christmas cards to "Exchange and Mart"
magazine. By the middle of the century Littleburys were employing
around 50 people and were also operating their own publishing company.
Through this publishing company they produced a number of guides
to the city of Worcester plus guides to other towns and a variety
The family were considered good employers with many of their staff
staying from apprenticeship to retirement. The family themselves
lived in the eastern wing where Joseph Littlebury began to repair
some of the damage done in previous years. The driveway through
the Great Hall was blocked up and the room restored as closely as
possible to its original state. In 1935, the Painted Chamber was
re-discovered under layers of whitewash and restored by Edith Matley-Moore,
a local expert in medieval wall paintings. Rooms were furnished
in a style considered appropriate to the period of the building
and these were photographed and sold as postcards along with artists
impressions of life in the Commandery in times past. The Great Hall
and other historic rooms were opened to the public at selected times
of the year. Visitors were charged 1 shilling for entry with the
proceeds being donated to Worcester Royal Infirmary.
Other areas of the building were converted to provide a home for
the works manager and his family. There were also two flats for
caretakers, at the front of the building a sweet shop, whose manager
leased a home within the building , whilst in the grounds stood
The Littlebury family continued in residence until 1973 when David
Littlebury, Joseph‚s son, decided to retire and close the business.
The Commandery was sold and all the contents from the historic rooms
to the print works auctioned off, much of the machinery however
was purchased by other printing firms and is still in use today.
In 1973 when David Littlebury decided to sell the Commandery,
Worcester City Council moved to purchase the building in order to
safeguard its future. On its purchase the building was found to
be in need of extensive restoration which took until 1977 to complete.
The restoration touched on many areas of the building, in particular
the western wing where many of the makeshift buildings connected
to Littlebury‚s printing works were demolished. An additional programme
of restoration took place between 1988 and 1990 on the front of
the building where many of the main support timbers had to be completely
In 1977 the Commandery was opened, as a museum, by the 15th Duke
of Hamilton, the descendent of the 2nd Duke who died in the building
from wounds received at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. The original
displays were concerned with the history of the Commandery and life
in Worcester. There were displays of industrial workshops, a large
costume gallery and also an exhibition relating to the English Civil
Wars. After eight years dealing with local history the Commandery
acquired a national focus when it was re-designed as the country‚s
only Civil War Centre, thereby reflecting the important role the
City played in this conflict. Today, as part of the City Council‚s
Museum Service, the Commandery continues to present new displays
to the public whilst at the same time caring for a historic building
which is itself the most important exhibit we have.