Droitwich was known in Roman times as
Salinae and salt was extracted by them, however the origins of salt
extraction in the area go back to prehistoric times, the brine is
10 times stronger than seawater and can only be compared with that
in the dead sea.
It was not until the early 19th century that the benefits of
flotation in brine were fully appreciated and brine baths built
, John Corbett turned Droitwich into a fashionable spa, he was
a salt king and a member of parliament and promoted Droitwich as
a health resort.
An ideal starting point for visitors is the Heritage Centre in
Victoria Square, this centre houses a small but very interesting
museum which includes items from the Roman past, the history of
of more recent times its connection with radio broadcasting with
a display of equipment used.
The original Brine Baths have long since closed, but a new brine bath (part of the Droitwich Spa private hospital) opened to the public for relaxation and hydrotherapy. But this too is now closed for financial reasons (December 2008). No date is yet known for it to reopen.
The Raven Hotel has a considerable historical past, this
ancient building (much of it timber framed) is in St. Andrews
Street and was built during the reign of Elizabeth I, however
the central part of the building is much older and was once
known as the Manor of Wyche. It was the birthplace of St.
Richard de Wyche in 1197, saint and bishop of Chichester,
he was a friend of the homeless and adopted as patron saint of the
Guild of Coachmen of Milan - presumably because he drove
carts on his family farm. He was canonized by Urban
IV in a Franciscan church at Viterbo in 1262, he died at the age
of 56 in Dover and his celebrated feast day is the 3rd of April.
A little further along St. Andrews Street is St. Andrews
Church, built of stone in the Norman and early English and
decorated styles. In 1928 its bell tower had to be removed because
of subsidence making it unsafe. Amongst many interesting parts
of the church is the chapel dedicated to St. Richard, here the
old bells can be seen and with the exception of 2 are inscribed
- it was said that at one time his relics were contained here.
It is interesting to examine the south aisle arch, here visitors
will observe that this is supported on the south side of the arch
by a crowned head, shoulders and arms of Henry III and on the other
side there is speculation of who this represents, is it a female
head or an ecclesiastic? perhaps the then Bishop of Worcester.
The Font is of the Jacobean period and at one time was situated
in St. Richards chapel later to be moved to the sanctuary and then
on to its present position.
There are many monuments to be seen, of these the most
imposing is the one erected on the south pier of the chancel
to the memory of Captain Coningsby Norbury R.N., who was
with Admiral Benbow in the West Indies and was an envoy from
King George I to the court of Morocco - he died in 1734.
This stately home can be reached by taking the B4090
and following the signposts, the hall is now managed by the National
Trust but originally the seat of Sir George Vernon bart.D.L.,J.P.
Built in 1701 it stands in wooded parkland with a 20 acre garden
and a recreated 18th century crown green bowling green on which
it is possible for visitors to play during normal
opening months which are March to October - for details
of the varying opening hours telephone - 01527 821214.
There is a Tea -room which serves light lunches and a picnic area
in the car park.
The Jinney Ring Craft Centre, Hanbury,
signposted off the B4090
This is a collection of 200 year old barns which have been
tastefully converted into 12 craft studios , a restaurant , craft
gallery and gift shop all set in beautiful landscaped gardens, they
were established in 1980 and have been a popular attraction to visitors
Open all year Tuesday to Saturday 1030 - 1700,
Sunday 1100 - 1700.
John Corbett has a lasting memorial in the area, it was he who
built the Chateau Impney as a home for his French wife, it is said
that on its completion that she refused to live there.
The Chateau is now a hotel and stands beside the A38 just a mile
from Droitwich town, its Louis 14th style and spacious gardens
have attracted many visitors including T.V companies, for
many years the nightly Soap - Crossroads used the entrance area
as a set.
The chateau was built in 1875 and 3000 men were employed
in its construction which included landscaping of the grounds to
include waterfalls, fountains and tropical gardens.
Travelling further on the A38 towards Bromsgrove to Wychbold
it is possible for visitors to spend many hours at Webbs of Wychbold
with its 50 acres of gardening , leisure and pleasure. It
has a large amount of gardening requisites on sale besides a gift
shop and a restaurant, Webbs have been trading since the middle
of the 19th century , the business was founded by Edward Webb who
was then an agricultural seedsman trading from Wordsley Nr.Stourbridge,
Webbs were appointed seedsmen to Queen Victoria and have been to
every Monarch since.
Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings - Stoke Heath,
Continuing on the A38 towards Bromsgrove the museum is signposted,
and is sited near the B4091 road.
The open air museum opened in 1967 and has historic buildings
700 years. These have been rescued and rebuilt on this picturesque
site, the buildings include a 17th century Cock Pit, a Victorian
Mission church, a Windmill and a 1946 Prefab.
There is a Restaurant , picnic area , and shop amongst other attractions.
Opening times March to November , as times vary telephone 01527
831363 for further information.
Church of the Sacred
Heart and St. Catherine of Alexandria
This beautiful church can be reached by taking the A38 from Droitwich
towards Worcester and is only a short journey from the town, to
the rear of the church there is adequate car parking available.
Upon entry into the church it is possible to use the timed lighting
system to enable visitors to see the superb mosaics which cover
the walls and are considered to be superior to any other
than Westminster Cathedral. There are scenes depicting St. Richard receiving
the popes blessing and of the life of our lady, there are a number
of fine sculptures positioned about the church.
For those who appreciate fine art or the tranquillity of the
surroundings, this church is well worth a visit.
The Oddingley Murders
Continuing towards Worcester on the A38 some 3 miles from Droitwich
the village of Oddingley and the hamlet of Dunhamstead are signposted
near the public house Cop Cut Elm at Martin Hussingtree and
by following this road Oddingley can be reached.
very little of the village, just a few scattered houses and the
church of St. James,
however, this small community was very much in the news in 1806
when the peace was shattered by the murder of the Rector, the
Reverend G. Parker, known as a hard and an uncompromising man he
was a stickler for rules and extracted every morsel when collecting
His murderer was a Richard Hemming a carpenter of Droitwich who
was hired by three local farmers, Clewes, Banks and Barnett and
a farrier named James Taylor to do the deed.
The rector was shot whilst he was driving a herd of cows down
a lane, Hemming had hidden in the hedgerow and fired the fatal
shot from that position, he immediately fled the scene and was
never seen alive again, an extensive search was made and it was
assumed that he had escaped from the country.
In 1830 during the building of a barn at Netherwood farm,
human remains were found and were identified as being those of
Richard Hemming. The identification was made by finding a carpenters
rule in the mans pocket and it transpired that on the night of
the murder Hemming was enticed out of his hiding place in the barn
by the promise of food by his employers for the deed done, whereupon
Clewes, Banks, Barnett and Taylor set on him clubbing him to death.
was done in order that he could not implicate them in the murder
of the Rector. Following the discovery of the body an inquest was
held at the Talbot Inn, Barbourne Worcester.
By this time Taylor himself had died and the others could
not be charged because the principal was dead so they were found
to be not guilty. Upon their return to the village the church bells
were rung and there was much rejoicing.
On the border of Oddingley is the hamlet of Dunhamstead,
it was at the local pub The Fir Tree Inn that Thomas Clewes
became landlord and hence the reason for the naming of the
bar The Murderers Bar. In here is a display of prints and newspaper
cuttings that describe the events of the time.
The pub has a restaurant and also serve food.