Worcester is to celebrate its 400th birthday with a series of exhibitions, performances and guided tours on 2 October, Charter Day.

2021 marks the 400th anniversary of the Charter of King James I incorporating the CIty and establishing the post of Mayor. The 1621 Charter marked a momentous occasion in the development of the city. On 2 October 1621, James I put his seal to the Charter that granted Worcester the rights and constitution that established the basis of the modern governance of the city and county of Worcester. 

The actual Charter will be on public display at Worcester Guildhall for the first time in 400 years.

Other celebratory events will take place at Worcester Guildhall, The Commandery, Worcester Cathedral and across the city. These include:

Charter Day Celebration at The Guildhall
This free event will include the public display of, and short reading from, the King James I Charter; a performance of the 400 Years of Worcester in 45 minutes play; commissioned art displays exhibition new work from local artists Michelle Flint and Christine Harmer; stands from local history and heritage societies; and tours of the Guildhall. There will also be opportunity to take a guided tour from the Guildhall through Worcester highlighting the historic houses and buildings associated with the founders of the 1621 Charter.

Timed, free, activities include:

  • 10am & 2.30pm - Discover History Charter Tour - meet in the Guildhall Courtyard. Each tour lasts one hour.
  • 11 to 11.45am - 400 Years of Worcester in 45 mins - performance in the Guildhall Assembly Room.
  • 11.45am & 1.30pm - Guildhall Tour - meet in the Lower Assembly Hall at the Guildhall. Each tour lasts 45mins.

Celebrations continue with:

Charter Day Celebration at The Commandery
To celebrate Charter Day visitors to The Commandery will be able to have a go at making a Charter and seal for their own house, class or town on some aged paper. What rules and principles will visitors set for their town? What powers will they give to the people of the town? Normal Commandery admissions prices apply.  

Charter Day Anniversary Concert, Worcester Cathedral
From 7.30pm Worcester Cathedral will present Elgar’s Organ Sonata and music by Thomas Tomkins, Cathedral organist in 1621, performed by Simon Johnson of St Paul’s Cathedral. For information and booking visit worcestercathedral.co.uk

Charter 400: Explorations of Worcester History through Four Centuries
Following the events and activities on Charter Day, this one-day conference takes place on Saturday 9 October and is open to everyone. The City of Worcester's long and important history is examined by historians and archaeologists based at the University of Worcester. Talks range from Cromwell to wartime evacuees, women in politics to the porcelain industry. This event is free however booking is required via: worcestershire.gov.uk

Further events will take place throughout the remainder of the year, for more information visit: visitworcester.co.uk/charter-400