18th Apr, 2019

Can you help find 800-year-old Droitwich Town Charter?

Droitwich Editorial 5th Feb, 2015 Updated: 17th Oct, 2016

RESIDENTS in Droitwich have their very own mystery to solve after Monday’s meeting to discuss ideas for the forthcoming Charter Day celebration.

Towards the end of the get-together it was announced that, although August 1, 1215, was known as the day the charter was sealed by King John and, although August 1, 2015 was the date chosen for the commemoration, no one knew where the original 800-year-old document was.

Now an appeal has made to find out if anyone has any information about the whereabouts of the 1215 Charter.

The news was announced by Alan Davey, who has been studying the history of Droitwich for the last 29 years.

He showed those gathered a replica of a salt container (briquetate) which one theory suggests could have been used to hold the Charter.

One book suggested the British Museum had possession of the Charter between 1920 and 1940 but, he said, he had asked and had discovered the organisation had handed everything to the National Library.

That was backed up by a book published in 1939 called Fragments of Droitwich History and Development. It was written by local vicar Sterry Cooper.

There is a photograph in that book of a copy of the Droitwich Town Charter that does exist. There is also a framed copy of that picture in the Droitwich Town Council Chamber.

Mr Davey has also approached the National Archives in a bid to obtain a copy of the original roll.

He was told although the organisation did have records of Royal Charters, he would have to spend time searching himself to see if any of the records were useful to him.

That could either be done online, through the National Archives website, done in person by visiting the National Archives site at Kew or research could be paid for – either funding one of the organisation’s staff or by employing an independent researcher to do it.

Organisers of the Charter Day event are hoping at least a copy – maybe even the original Charter – can be found so it can be used as part of the commemorations on August 1.

Mr Davey told The Standard: “There is a possibility there might be someone in the town who knows more about the Charter – maybe even the whereabouts of the original – and if there is, I would urge them to get in touch with the Mayor.”

Anyone with any information should email the mayor at bob.brookes@wychavon.net

HERE is a brief history of the time when the Charter was sealed.

On August 1, 1215, about seven weeks after the Magna Carter was signed, the Droitwich Town Charter was sealed by King John.

Four or five merchants from Wich (as the town was called then) brokered the deal with the King and the town had to pay a rental of £100-a-year (around £100,000 in today’s money) for the ‘right’ to govern itself.

The town was renamed ‘Droitwich’ by King John, adding the (French word for) ‘right’ to Wich.

Other notable occurrences were the imprisoning of Burgess Simon in 1238 and Bailiff Simon Aleyn by Henry III – two occasions when the payment was defaulted and the blessing of the Upwych Brine Pit to make it flow – that was done by Richard de Wych in 1248.

But, probably the most important incident happened in 1290 when the town was destroyed by fire.

St Andrew’s Church was one of the few parts of the town to survive the blaze.

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