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Worcestershire
Worcestershire flag.svg
Flag
Arms of Worcestershire County Council.svg
Coat of arms
Worcestershire within England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Constituent country England
Region West Midlands
Established 1 April 1998
Established by Local Government Commission for England
Preceded by Hereford and Worcester
Origin Ancient
Time zone UTC±00:00 (Greenwich Mean Time)
 • Summer (DST) UTC+01:00 (British Summer Time)
Members of Parliament
Ceremonial county
Lord Lieutenant Lt Col Patrick Holcroft
High Sheriff Edward Holloway (2019–2020)
Area 1,741 km2 (672 sq mi)
 • Ranked 34th of 48
Population (2005 est.) 555,900
 • Ranked 38th of 48
Density 319/km2 (830/sq mi)
Ethnicity
  • 92.4% White British
  • 3.4% White Other
  • 2.4% Asian
  • 0.4% Black
  • 1.4% Other/Mixed
Non-metropolitan county
County council Worcestershire County Council
Executive Conservative
Admin HQ Worcester
Area 1,741 km2 (672 sq mi)
 • Ranked of 26
Population 555,900
 • Ranked 22nd of 26
Density 319/km2 (830/sq mi)
ISO 3166-2 GB-WOR
ONS code 47
GSS code E10000034
ITL UKG12
Districts
Worcestershire numbered districts.svg
Districts of Worcestershire
Districts
  1. Worcester
  2. Malvern Hills
  3. Wyre Forest
  4. Bromsgrove
  5. Redditch
  6. Wychavon

Worcestershire ( wuus-TƏR-shər -sheer; written abbreviation: Worcs) is a county in the West Midlands of England. The area that is now Worcestershire was absorbed into the unified Kingdom of England in 927, at which time it was constituted as a county (see History of Worcestershire). Over the centuries the county borders have been modified, but it was not until 1844 that substantial changes were made. This culminated with the abolition of Worcestershire in 1974 with its northern area becoming part of the West Midlands and the rest part of the county of Hereford and Worcester. However, in 1998 the county of Hereford and Worcester was abolished and Worcestershire was reconstituted without the northern area, which was ceded to the West Midlands.

Location

The county borders Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, West Midlands, Warwickshire, and Gloucestershire. To the west, the county is bordered by the Malvern Hills and the spa town of Malvern. The south of the county is bordered by Gloucestershire and the northern edge of the Cotswolds; to the east is Warwickshire. Two major rivers flow through the county: the Severn and the Avon.

History

Old Powick Bridge over the River Teme - geograph.org.uk - 795873
The Battle of Powick Bridge on the River Teme on 23 September 1642 began the English Civil War.

Worcestershire was the heartland of the early English kingdom of the Hwicce. It was absorbed by the Kingdom of Mercia during the 7th century and became part of the unified Kingdom of England in 927. It was a separate ealdormanship briefly in the 10th century before forming part of the Earldom of Mercia in the 11th century. In the years leading up to the Norman conquest, the Church, supported by the cathedral, Evesham Abbey, Pershore Abbey, Malvern Priory, and other religious houses, increasingly dominated the county.

The last known Anglo-Saxon sheriff of the county was Cyneweard of Laughern, and the first Norman sheriff was Urse d'Abetot who built the castle of Worcester and seized much church land.

On 4 August 1265, Simon de Montfort was killed in the Battle of Evesham in Worcestershire.

In 1642, the Battle of Powick Bridge was the first major skirmish of the English Civil War, and the Battle of Worcester in 1651 effectively ended the civil war.

During the Middle Ages, much of the county's economy was based on the wool trade. Many areas of its dense forests, such as Feckenham Forest, Horewell Forest and Malvern Chase, were royal hunting grounds subject to forest law.

In the 19th century, Worcester was a centre for the manufacture of gloves; the town of Kidderminster became a centre for carpet manufacture, and Redditch specialised in the manufacture of needles, springs and hooks. Droitwich Spa, situated on large deposits of salt, was a centre of salt production from Roman times, with one of the principal Roman roads running through the town. These old industries have since declined, to be replaced by other, more varied light industry. The county is also home to the world's oldest continually published newspaper, the Berrow's Journal, established in 1690. Malvern was one of the centres of the 19th century rise in English spa towns due to Malvern water being believed to be very pure, containing "nothing at all".

Demographics

The 2011 census found the population of Worcestershire to be 566,169, an increase of 4.4% from the 2001 population of 542,107.

Ethnicity

Though the total number of people in every ethnic group increased between 2001 and 2011, the White British share of Worcestershire's population decreased from 95.5% to 92.4%, as did the share of White ethnic groups as whole, which went from 97.5% to 95.7%. Worcestershire is still much more ethnically homogeneous than the national average. In 2011, 79.8% of the population of England identified as White British; much lower than Worcestershire's figure of 92.4%.

Ethnic group 2001
population
2001
%
2011
population
2011
%
White: British 517,747 95.5 522,922 92.4
White: Irish 4,163 0.8 3,480 0.6
White: Irish Traveller/Gypsy 1,165 0.2
White: Other 6,869 1.27 14,491 2.6
White: Total 528,779 97.5 542,058

95.7

Asian or Asian British: Indian 1,640 0.3 3,634 0.6
Asian or Asian British: Pakistani 2,917 0.5 4,984 0.9
Asian or Asian British: Bangladeshi 970 0.2 1,316 0.2
Asian or Asian British: Chinese 1,106 0.2 1,601 0.3
Asian or Asian British: Asian Other 455 0.1 2,206 0.4
Asian or Asian British: Total 7,088 1.3 13,741 2.4
Black or Black British: Caribbean 1,153 0.2 1,275 0.2
Black or Black British: African 332 0.1 767 0.1
Black or Black British: Other 153 0.03 330 0.1
Black or Black British: Total 1,638 0.3 2,372

0.4

Mixed: White and Caribbean 1,704 0.3 3,150 0.6
Mixed: White and African 221 0.04 592 0.1
Mixed: White and Asian Other 1,099 0.2 2,053 0.4
Mixed: Other Mixed 771 0.1 1,250 0.2
British Mixed: Total 3,795 0.7 7,045

1.2

Other: Arab 236 0.04
Other: Any other ethnic group 807 0.1 717 0.1
Other: Total 807 0.1 953

0.2

Total 542,107 100 566,169

100

Physical geography

Worcestershire Beacon
Summit of the Worcestershire Beacon in the Malvern Hills, the county's highest point.

The Malvern Hills, which run from the south of the county into Herefordshire, are made up mainly of volcanic igneous rocks and metamorphic rocks, some of which date from more than 1200 million years ago. They are designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The Worcestershire Beacon, which at 425m is the highest point in the county, lies in this range.

The rest of the county consists of undulating hills and farmland stretching either side of the Severn valley. The Severn is the United Kingdom's longest river and flows through Bewdley, Stourport-on-Severn and Worcester. The River Avon flows through the Worcestershire town on Evesham and joins the Severn at Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.

Several coniferous and deciduous woodlands are located in the north of the county. The Vale of Evesham runs through the south of the county and to its south are the Cotswolds AONB.

Honeybourne station-Geograph-3549213-by-Rob-Newman
Honeybourne railway station on the Cotswold Line and the potential Honeybourne Line.

Culture

Elgar's birthplace
Classical composer Sir Edward Elgar was born in this house in Broadheath, Worcestershire, currently used as the Elgar Birthplace Museum.

The village of Broadheath, about 6 miles (10 km) North-West of the city of Worcester, is the birthplace of the composer Edward Elgar.

It is claimed that the county was the inspiration for The Shire, a region of J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional Middle-earth, described in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien was thought to have named Bilbo Baggins' house "Bag End" after his Aunt Jane's Worcestershire farm. Tolkien wrote of Worcestershire: "Any corner of that county (however fair or squalid) is in an indefinable way 'home' to me, as no other part of the world is."

Worcestershire is one of the three counties associated with the Border Morris style of English folk dancing. Worcestershire Monkey is a popular Border Morris dance, although normally performed as a group of eight, it is sometimes danced en masse with multiple border morris sides performing the dance together.

Towns and villages

Worcester Cathedral - geograph.org.uk - 706524
Due to its Cathedral (pictured), the county town of Worcester is the only settlement in the county with city status.

The county town and only city is Worcester. The other major settlements, Kidderminster, Bromsgrove and Redditch are satellite towns of Birmingham. There are also several market towns: Malvern, Bewdley, Evesham, Droitwich Spa, Pershore, Tenbury Wells, Stourport-on-Severn and Upton-upon-Severn. The village of Hartlebury housed the Bishop of Worcester from the 13th century until 2007.

For a full list of settlements, see list of places in Worcestershire.

Places of interest

Key
National Trust Owned by the National Trust
English Heritage Owned by English Heritage
Forestry Commission Owned by the Forestry Commission
Country Park A Country Park
Accessible open space An Accessible open space
Museum (free) Museum (free)
Museum Museum (charges entry fee)
Heritage railway Heritage railway
Historic house Historic House

Local groups

Condiments

Economy

This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Worcestershire at current basic prices published (pp. 240–253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.

Year Regional Gross Value Added Agriculture Industry Services
1995 5,047 225 1,623 3,200
2000 6,679 159 2,002 4,518
2003 7,514 182 1,952 5,380

Industry and agriculture

Lea & Perrins worcestershire sauce 150ml
Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce - the invention of two Worcester chemists

Fruit farming and the cultivation of hops were traditional agricultural activities in much of the county. During the latter half of the 20th century, this has largely declined with the exception southern area of the county around the Vale of Evesham, where orchards are still worked on a commercial scale. Worcester City's coat of arms includes three black pears, representing a now rare local pear variety, the Worcester Black Pear. The county's coat of arms follows this theme, having a pear tree with black pears. The apple variety known as Worcester Pearmain originates from Worcestershire, and the Pershore plum comes from the small Worcestershire town of that name, and is widely grown in that area.

Worcestershire is also famous for a number of its non-agricultural products. The original Worcestershire sauce, a savoury condiment made by Lea and Perrins, is made in Worcester, and the now-closed Royal Porcelain works was based in the city. The town of Malvern is the home of the Morgan traditional sports car.

Sport

New Road Worcester - 3 - geograph-891443
New Road is the home of Worcestershire County Cricket Club, across the River Severn from Worcester Cathedral.

The largest and most successful football club in the county is Kidderminster Harriers. Founded in 1877 as a running club and doubling as a rugby club from 1880, the football club was founded in 1886. In 1987, the club won the FA Trophy for the first time, and seven years later reached the fifth round of the FA Cup, also winning the GM Vauxhall Conference title in 1994 but being denied Football League status as their Aggborough Stadium did not meet capacity requirements. However, when the club next won the Conference title six years later, their stadium had been upgraded and promotion was granted, giving the county its first (and thus far only) Football League members. However, the club's Football League membership was short-lived, as Harriers were relegated back to the Conference in 2005 after just five years in the Football League, and have yet to reclaim their status.

The county is also represented by Alvechurch, Bromsgrove Sporting and Redditch United of the Southern Premier League, and Worcester City of the Midland Football League.

The county is home to Worcestershire County Cricket Club, traditionally the first stop on any touring national side's schedule in England. Formed officially in 1865, the Club initially played in Boughton Park, before moving to its current New Road ground, which today can host 5,500 spectators, in 1895. The club has won five County Championships in its history, most recently in 1989.

Worcester Rugby Football Club, the Worcester Warriors, are the county's largest and most successful Rugby Union team, having been promoted to the Premiership in 2004. The Warriors were relegated to the RFU Championship in 2010 but rebounded back to the Premiership in 2011. Worcester Warriors play at the Sixways Stadium on the outskirts of Worcester, holding over 12,000 spectators, thus making it the largest stadium in the county. Sixways has hosted the final of the LV Cup on three occasions.

Education

Worcestershire has a comprehensive school system with over thirty-five independent schools including the RGS Worcester, The King's School, Worcester, Malvern St James and Malvern College. State schools in Worcester, the Wyre Forest District, and the Malvern Hills District are two-tier primary schools and secondary schools whilst Redditch and Bromsgrove have a three-tier system of first, middle and high schools. Several schools in the county provide Sixth-form education including two in the city of Worcester. Several vocational colleges provide GCSE and A-level courses and adult education, such as South Worcestershire College, and an agricultural campus of Warwickshire College in Pershore. There is also the University of Worcester, which is located in the city itself and is home to the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit and five other national research centres.

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