Sunday, January 23, 8270

School of Worcester Composer (b. c. 1270)

School of Worcester (b. c. 1270) - Alleluia Psallat (1300)

Worcester is a city and county town of Worcestershire, in the West Midlands of England. Worcester is situated some 30 miles (48 km) southwest of Birmingham and 29 miles (47 km) north of Gloucester, and has an estimated population of 94,300 people. The River Severn runs through the middle of the city, overlooked by the 12th century Anglican Worcester Cathedral.

Occupation of the site of Worcester can be dated back to neolithic times, a village surrounded by defensive ramparts having been founded on the eastern bank of the River Severn here in around 400 BC. The position, which commanded a ford on the river, was in the 1st century used by the Romans to establish what may at first have been a fort on the military route from Glevum (Gloucester) to Viroconium (Wroxeter) but which soon developed -- as the frontier of the empire was pushed westwards -- into an industrial town with its own pottery kilns and iron-smelting plants.

Roman Worcester (which may have been the Vertis mentioned in the 7th century Ravenna Cosmography) was a thriving trading and manufacturing centre for some three hundred years, though by the time of the Roman withdrawal from Britain in 407 it had dwindled considerably in size and is not recorded again until the mid-7th century when documents mention the Anglo-Saxon settlement. The fact that Worcester was chosen at this time—in preference to both the much larger Gloucester and the royal centre of Winchcombe—to be the Episcopal See of a new diocese covering the area suggests that there was a well established, and powerful, British Christian community living on the site when it fell into English hands.

The town was almost destroyed in 1041 after a rebellion against the punitive taxation of Harthacanute. The town was attacked several times (in 1139, 1150 and 1151) during "The Anarchy", i.e. civil war between King Stephen and Empress Matilda, daughter of Henry I. This is the background to the well-researched historical novel The Virgin in the Ice, part of Ellis Peters' "Cadfael" series, which begins with the words:

"It was early in November of 1139 that the tide of civil war, lately so sluggish and inactive, rose suddenly to wash over the city of Worcester, wash away half of its lifestock, property and women, and send all those of its inhabitants who could get away in time scurrying for their lives northwards away from the marauders". (These are mentioned as having arrived from Gloucester, leaving a long lasting legacy of bitterness between the two cities.)

By late medieval times the population had grown to around 10,000 as the manufacture of cloth started to become a large local industry. The town was designated a county corporate, giving it autonomy from local government.


Worcester Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral in Worcester, England;

situated on a bank overlooking the River Severn. Its official name is The Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Cathedral was founded in 680 with Bishop Bosel as its head. The first cathedral was built in this period but nothing now remains of it. The existing crypt of the cathedral dates from the 10th century and the time of St Oswald, bishop of Worcester. The current cathedral dates from the 12th and 13th centuries.

Monks and nuns had been present at the Cathedral since the 7th century. The monastery became Benedictine in the second half of the 10th century (one author gives the time range 974-7, another considers 969 more likely). There is an important connection to Fleury as Oswald, bishop of Worcester 961-92, being prior at the same time, was professed at Fleury and introduced the monastric rule of Fleury to Worcester.

The former monastic library of Worcester contained a considerable number of manuscripts which are, among other libraries, now scattered over Cambridge, London (British Library), Oxford Bodleian, and the Cathedral library at Worcester of today.

The Cathedral has the distinction of containing the tomb of King John in its chancel. Before his death in Newark in 1216, John had requested to be buried at Worcester. He is buried between the shrines of St Wulstan and St Oswald (now destroyed).

The cathedral has a memorial, Prince Arthur's Chantry, to the young prince Arthur Tudor, who is buried here. Arthur's younger brother and next in line for the throne was Henry VIII. Worcester Cathedral was doubtless spared destruction by Henry VIII during the English Reformation because of his brother's Chantry in the cathedral.

Edward Elgar spent the majority of his life in Worcestershire. The first performance of his Enigma Variations took place at the cathedral during the 1899 Three Choirs Festival.