know very little about the early history of the Commandery. Tradition
has it that the building was founded as a hospital around 1085 by
Saint Wulfstan, then Bishop of Worcester. However the hospital was
built around a much earlier Saxon chapel dedicated to Saint Gudwal
- which was located to the North of the present building
Although all traces of this chapel have gone from the area, it must
have been a considerable structure, today all that remains are the
base pillars of three nave columns placed on the lawn outside and
some medieval glass re-used in the Great Hall windows.
The building attributed to Saint Wulfstan was a monastic institution
designed to act as a hospital. It seems to have been established
with the needs of travellers in mind. Its location, just outside
the city walls beside the Sidbury gate, put it at the junction of
the main roads from London, Bath and Bristol. Here it could provide
travellers with aid should they arrive after the closing of the
gates at night
serving its original function for nearly 500 years, the hospital
was among the last monastic institutions to be dissolved by Henry
VIII in 1540. From this date onwards the Commandery was to fulfill
a number of vastly varied roles that would see it the focus of national
events during the Civil War through to quieter times as a family
home. The building itself would undergo a range of improvements,
repairs and re-buildings throughout its history as each successive
owner sought to make their stamp on the place.
Throughout its life therefore, the Commandery has been a living
building, changing to reflect the needs placed on it by functions
as diverse as home, military headquarters, factory and college.
the Commandery still adapts itself to the needs of the age whilst
retaining the fabric of its history for future generations. Above
all the building is one that is held in great affection by the people
of Worcester and all those who have come into contact with it.
City Council has been awarded £985,000 by the Heritage Lottery
Fund to conduct a complete refurbishment of the building, displays
and garden area. Click here for further
information about this exciting new project.
News ] [ Commandery Background ]