Charter 400

The Charter Festival 1621 – 2021  – a celebration of our city

The 1621 Charter marked a momentous occasion in the development of Worcester 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. Although many of the rights existed since 1189 (Richard Charter) this Charter is widely recognised as ‘creating’ the city of Worcester.

The government of the city was entrusted to a Mayor, “six lawfull and discreet citizens” as Aldermen, a Sheriff and two Chamberlains, a body of twenty four including the Mayor and Aldermen and a body of forty eight including the two chamberlains.

The actual Charter is held by Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service at The Hive. A precis of the Charter can be found here. The Charter will be on display for public viewing throughout the year, locations will be revealed soon.

The Worcester Charter of 1621 is a short film showing the Charter and explaining the significance to Worcester.

The 400th anniversary in 2021 will celebrate Worcester’s rich heritage and culture and will also provide an opportunity to promote, encourage, enthuse, revitalise and boost local businesses which have been negatively impacted by the pandemic.

Walking Tours

Discover History have developed a new heritage walking tour that will look at how the city was governed, the privileges it received in 1621 and the personal story of Edward Hurdman, the first Mayor of the city. The tour will run throughout the year following all appropriate safety guidance and places can be booked by calling 07949 222137 or emailing

Self-Led Walks

St Peters Heritage Trail
Organised by St Peter the Great County Parish Council. A leisurely two hour stroll encompassing 15 key location points, which reference the people and places which have shaped St Peter’s Parish, from the early 1600’s to the present day. The trail follows established Parish pedways including, parks, play areas, picnic spots and pubs. Start point: St Peters Village Hall, WR5 3TA (next to Tesco). Self-led, via leaflet or Facebook – St Peters Festival, at each key point the physical route is signposted with QR codes for more detailed information.


The list of events and activities will grow as the momentum builds throughout the year. Plans so far include:


From June 21st till 17th September: Essay Competition.
Here is your chance to do some research and find out why the Charter matters – and what difference it has made to the running of the city since 1621. There are three categories to enter:
Children aged 8-12 (School Years 3-7), prize is £100-worth of book tokens; Young people aged 13-18:
(School Years 8-13) prize is £250-worth of book tokens; Open competition for age 16+ cheque prize worth £500. Please email,  stating the category you wish to enter for a registration form. Good luck!

From mid September till the end of the year: The King James I Charter will be on public display for the first time in the Guildhall foyer.


Saturday 2nd: 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 – 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.
Councillor Adrian Gregson Interview

Saturday 2nd: Charter Day Celebration at The Commandery
Have a go at making a Charter and seal for your own house, class or town on some aged paper. What rules and principles would you set for the people who visit? What powers would you give to people? Then add your very own seal to make it official! Normal Commandery admission applies.

Saturday 2nd: Anniversary Concert, Worcester Cathedral, from 19:30. Elgar’s Organ Sonata and music by Thomas Tomkins, Cathedral organist in 1621, performed by Simon Johnson of St Paul’s Cathedral. For information 

Saturday 9th: Charter 400: Explorations of Worcester History through Four Centuries
The City of Worcester’s long and important history is examined in this one day conference by historians and archaeologists based at the University of Worcester.
Talks range from Cromwell to wartime evacuees, women in politics to the porcelain industry.
10.30am-2.45pm at the Hive. Free event however please reserve a seat here

Date and location to be confirmed: Tree Planting Event
Volunteer opportunity to plant 400 mixed broad leaved saplings to mark the anniversary year. If you are interested in taking part please email


Tuesday 9th: Bite Size Talk: The Founders of the City Museum at Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum. 1.30pm 2:00pm. For information


Thursday 2nd: Worcester Victorian Fayre Community Carol Service. Special recognition will be given to the anniversary year in the Service. Worcester Cathedral 4.30pm – 5.00pm.

Tuesday 14th: Bite Size Talk: Worcestershire Top Treasure Finds at Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum. 1.30pm 2:00pm. For information

Get involved

There will be many opportunities to get involved over the coming months. We’ll be posting events and activities on this page. If you’d like to find out more, feel free to get in touch.