Tudor House is a fine example of a close-studded timber framed building, reflecting the unknown builder’s wealth. The original friary which gave the street its name was just outside the city walls, through Friars Gate at the end of Union Street.
The timber building was probably erected between 1500-1550, although stones in the two cellars under the house possibly date back to the thirteenth century. One fireplace lintel on the ground floor is a fine, recycled Medieval carved beam. In later years the building was divided into separate dwellings, each owned and used by different tradespeople. 17th century inventories show that some of these people were well-off, but later centuries saw the area become relatively poor.
Tudor House has been a home and a workshop for weaver clothiers, carpenters, a baker and a 17th century solicitor’s widow. Some of the weaver clothiers who lived there brewed ale as a side-line in the late 1500s, and for about five hundred years part of the building was used for brewing. It was known as The Cross Keys tavern from at least the 1700s. Later uses of the house included a hairdresser’s and a chipshop.
Tudor House’s appearance today is the result of sensitive restoration and amalgamation of three main properties by Richard Cadbury in the early 1900s. The front of the house has a jettied timber frame on the left (“jetty” describing the overhanging first floor which “juts” out from the face of the building), and a three storey brick building on the right. In addition, the timber framed building itself it was divided into three dwellings when Cadbury bought it; two were to the left of the present entrance and one to the right. Cadbury was a grandson of the founder of the chocolate firm. With a tea room and restaurant upstairs, the “Tudor Coffee House” supplied food at a reasonable price to the poor people of this area. In 1921 it was purchased by the Worcester Corporation for use as a school clinic and dentist’s. During the Second World War, the building was used as an Air Raid Warden’s Post and Billeting Office. It became the Museum of Local Life in the 1970s, was closed in the 1990s and reopened by a group of dedicated volunteers.