A very welcome return to the Commandery is in prospect, as Press Genepy is scheduled to take part in “Living History in Worcester” over Valentine’s weekend – 13-14th February 2016.
Over its 950-year history, this historic and beautiful building has played many roles, most famously as King Charles II’s headquarters during the Battle of Worcester in 1651. It has also been a hospital and school, but its last function before becoming a museum was as a printing works. From 1905 to 1973, Littlebury’s ran a successful concern printing train timetables, books of sporting and local interest, and other small works. Some older people in Worcester still recall the firm. The manager lived on site and, at time of writing, one of the rooms is furnished as it was in the 1950s, a boy’s bedroom. When seeing this room, I thought how wonderful it must have been to grow up in such a setting. In fact the daughter of the last manager, Mr Jeff Sharp, confirmed this impression when she was interviewed and her memories recorded by the BBC . She reminisced that some parts of the house were haunted and I’ve heard this too from local re-enactors. Not being ‘sensitive’ I haven’t experienced anything, but to stand in the Great Hall and think that King Charles stood right there…and remembering that it was already old then…the thought of those thousands of souls who have also stood in this spot…is to experience something almost otherworldly. Perhaps it might have pleased some of the ‘shades’ of the past to bring printing back, though of course Littleburys would have used powered metal presses rather than a wooden one like mine. I do wonder how the floors stood it!
During this event I will be returning to a song sheet that I’ve printed before, “The Owl”. The block has been improved and I now have a stock of long “s” to make the text truer to the 17th century. There will also be a chance to encounter Ancient Greeks, ragged Victorians, Edwardian gentry and wartime pubgoers…ghosts though are not guaranteed.
The Commandery, Sidbury, Worcester WR1 2HU