History of a building, 1500s – 2000s Note that the present-day house is made up of three separate houses, all originating in the 1500s: numbers 38, 40 and 42 Friar St.
The jettied timber-framed building (40-42) was built between 1500-1550 by a wealthy Worcester citizen.
The adjoining part-brick building (38), also dating originally from the same era, was a charity property granted by Henry VIII to Stourbridge Grammar School in the 1540s.
From the earliest days, the buildings were divided into a number of dwellings, each occupied by different tradesmen, mostly connected with the clothing trade, such as weavers, spinners, and dyers.
In the early 1600s no. 42 was owned by the Cotterill family.
In 1591, no. 40 had been let to Harry Wheeler, a weaver with two looms, who lived there until his death in 1615. Mention is already made of a Tavern on the premises in an inventory taken after his death.
A clothier, William Welfare, lived in no. 40 in the second half of the century and he is recorded as running a tavern on the site in 1654.
No. 38 was described as being lived in by “a gentleman” in 1615, but by the 1660s was occupied by “a pauper” according to the Hearth Tax Returns.
Over the centuries Tudor House continued to be both home and workplace to a variety of trades, including weavers, cloth makers, tailors, bakers and a painter.
No. 40 continued to be used as a brew house and Tavern. In 1763 it was recorded as being called “The Cross Keys”, belonging to George Bird, a weaver, probably as a way of supplementing his income.
The picture shows The Cross Keys as it was in 1909, shortly before it closed.
Throughout the 1800s the woollen cloth trade continued to diminish and the weavers and other clothiers were gradually replaced by different craftsmen and retailers. Friar Street now consisted mainly of small shops of various kinds.
This plan of Tudor House in 1855 shows it with a huge bowling alley at the rear!
Many of the old buildings were being altered or replaced, and the Street was becoming less desirable, especially when The Greyfriars Friary, more or less opposite Tudor House, was demolished and the City Gaol was built on the site in 1822 housing up to 30 prisoners. By the mid 1860s it was no longer needed and demolition took place again to make way for Laslett’s Almshouses.
At the start of the century Richard Cadbury bought no. 42 and started renovating it. When the Tavern at no. 40 closed in 1909 he bought that too, and used the combined buildings as a confectionery shop with a restaurant upstairs, known as the “Tudor Coffee House”.
By 1920 the coffee house had closed and the house was bought by Worcester Corporation for education offices, the school clinic and dentist’s.
During the Second World War no. 38 was used as an Air Raid Warden’s Post and Billeting Office.
1971: Tudor House became a Museum. In 1995 the name was changed to “The Museum of Local Life”.
2003: The Museum, although extremely popular, closed its doors to the public following Council cut-backs.
2004: the ground floor of 40 and 42 opened as a Heritage Centre, with a coffee room and gift shop, all run by volunteers, to help raise funds to save the building from being sold.
2006: all the museum exhibits had been removed, and the charitable trust WHAT took over the running of the whole of Tudor House as a Heritage and Education Centre, still run entirely by volunteers.
Today we are hopeful that Tudor House will continue to thrive. We still rely on raising income from events, education days, and from the shop and donations.
Thank you for your support.