Enclosed by the Malvern Hills and the Cotswolds, Worcestershire (abbreviated Worcs) is a county in the West Midlands of England. The cathedral city of Worcester is its county town.
The area is known for its piquant Worcestershire sauce condiment – which fuels Bloody Mary cocktails around the globe. It’s also claimed that the county inspired ‘The Shire’ in Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
The county shares borders with Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, West Midlands, Warwickshire, and Gloucestershire. It’s divided into six districts: Worcester, Wychavon, Malvern Hills (an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), Wyre Forest – and Redditch and Bromsgrove (which are satellite towns of Birmingham). These districts contain towns like Stourport-on-Severn, Droitwich, Evesham, Kidderminster, and Malvern, one of the first English spa towns due to the supposed purity if its water.
During The Middle Ages, the county's economy was based on the wool trade. Many of its forests – such as Feckenham Forest, Horewell Forest and Malvern Chase – were royal hunting grounds. Later on, Fruit farming and hop cultivation became the county’s trademark agricultural activities.
The northeast of Worcestershire is partly industrial; the rest of it’s mostly rural with undulating hills. Two major rivers flow through it: the Avon and the Severn (the UK’s longest river). The county's coat of arms features a pear tree dangling the now-rare Worcester Black Pear. ‘Worcestershire Monkey’ is a popular Morris folk dance. The county is also home to the world's oldest continually published newspaper: the Berrow's Journal (established in 1690).
Road: Worcestershire's location in the heart of England makes it supremely accessible. It has excellent road links to major motorways like the M5, M6, M40, M42, and M50.
Rail: Worcestershire has many major train stations throughout the county with regular mainline services to and from London, Birmingham, and the north and southwest of England. The main operators are London Midland, Chiltern Trains, and First Great Western.
Air: Birmingham International Airport is approximately 40 minutes away.
Coach: The various coach operators that travel to Worcestershire include National Express and MegaBus.
Bus: First Buses and Traveline serve regional bus routes within the county.
The Guardian analysed the prospect of moving to Evesham in Worcestershire. The newspaper called it “a delightful little town” distinguished by its vegetable patches and riverside gardens. It also mentioned the town’s “pleasant historic centre, on a hill above the lovely Avon. Pretty abbey ruins. The Cotswolds and Bredon Hill both 10 minutes away.” The fact that a local bypass “saves it from traffic cholesterol” was also noted.
So what about the available property there? “The old, quite genteel centre has rows of period property (including Georgian), especially to the north and, across the Avon, north of Port Street (I like Burford Road's townhouses and terraces). Fanciest suburbs are Greenhill in the north, west between Elm Road and the Broadway Road, and Hampton.”
Where you live can impact on your quality of life. Data analysts’ uSwitch's ‘Best Places to Live in The UK Quality of Life Index’ recently placed Worcestershire in the top quarter of the country. Worcestershire has good employment rates, a good work life balance, serviceable broadband speeds and lower-than-average food costs. House prices were seen as fairly expensive, though.
Worcestershire presents a mixture of old and new, represented in its shopping scene. You can shop until you drop on the high street or visit Worcester's independent boutiques for some unique gifts. Crowngate Shopping Centre offers a mixture of stores including House of Fraser, Debenhams, The Body Shop, Boots, Primark and New Look.
Worcester also hosts many markets – and across the county there are antique shops and arts and crafts retailers, such as Hartigan Arts in Malvern. You can also purchase local produce grown on the fertile plains of the rivers meandering through Worcestershire. Asparagus, plums and apples are particular favourites. Of the many local farm shops, Becketts have been farming in Wythall for over 76 years. Hopley's Farm Shop provides fresh seasonal produce from across the region, including plants from Bill White Nurseries, locally sourced meat, dairy products and beverages.
The Bronte Porcelain Company in Malvern has gained a reputation as a major manufacturer of fine-bone china, which is known for its exceptional quality and detail. And shopping at Jinney Ring Craft Centre takes you into a collection of gorgeous 200-year-old barns converted into 12 craft studio workshops, a falconry centre, farmhouse restaurant, craft gallery and gift shop.
Sport: The largest and most successful football club in the county is Kidderminster Harriers. New Road is home to Worcestershire County Cricket Club (across the River Severn from Worcester Cathedral). Worcester Warriors are the county's primary rugby union team, playing at the Sixways Stadium, the county’s largest.
Family: Go Ape! High Wire Forest Adventure in the Wyre Forest is available for older children. There’s the drive-through safari at West Midland Safari & Leisure Park in Bewdley. All Things Wild in Evesham offers an all-weather family attraction for visitors of all ages. Severn Expeditions Day Boat Hire lets you enjoy the secluded joys of the River Severn in a self-driven motorboat. You can visit the animals at Little Owl Farm Park in Dunhampton. The gardens at Arley Arboretum present a Worcestershire wonderland of rare trees and child-friendly attractions.
Cultural: Worcestershire is a vibrant centre of arts and culture, offering everything from local crafts centres to nights out at the theatre. The Malvern Theatre often hosts first-run shows; the Artrix Theatre in Bromsgrove also boasts a varied events calendar. The Shindig rural touring theatre programme gets into every corner of the county. Classical composer Sir Edward Elgar was born in Broadheath; his house is now the Elgar Birthplace Museum.Brockhampton Estate is a 14th-century moated National Trust Property.
Events: There’s the National Vintage Fishing Tackle Fair at The Kingsley Sports Centre. You can take a garden tour and lunch at Hogarths Stone Manor Hotel. See both young and old musicians at the Worcester Music Festival or listen to folk, jazz and blues at festivals in Upton. The county’s most famous event is the Three Choirs Festival in August – one of the world's oldest classical choral music festivals. The county's market towns host a number of food and drink festivals.