The Droitwich Arts Network Blog

Charter Day 2015 based on my Photographs

By Rhys Jones

In 1215, King John arrived near Wyche on horseback, but 800 years later he arrived in rather more comfort by narrow boat. I was granted an audience with the King to take his photo as he boarded the long boat, and I was invited to travel with the royal party. Photos show the King, Queen, and Royal party laughing and joking, not realising that some of the people of Droitwich would be hostile.

Anticipating the arrival of the King, monks and local dignitaries assembled at St Andrew’s Church and paraded to the canal, passing crowds who were mostly unaware of what was happening. When the King arrived, negotiations soon started regarding the fees to be paid by local businesses to the King. Some of the locals showed their hostility. One in particular, risked having his head cut off in public but was spared at the last minute.

800 Years Celebration of King John’s Droitwich Royal Charter

Droitwich Salt Slaves

serf -1By Alan Davey

In 1215 slavery had nearly disappeared in England. This was due to the attitude of the church, who ruled people’s minds in the 13th century. The bishop of Worcester banned the exporting of slaves and so did William the Conqueror at the port of Bristol. The Norman’s feudal system did not need slavery; it had serfdom.

In spite of this, Droitwich, then known as Wich, was an unusual place. It had a concentration of unskilled workers working around the clock in shifts, cutting wood, feeding furnaces, continually stirring salt out of boiling brine, and transporting the salt by packhorse. It was a densely populated industrial centre of workers performing difficult and dangerous tasks night and day in a very dirty and smokey environment – a rare thing in England at that time. Due to the poor condition of the roads, salt manufacture in Wich could only be achieved during the summer months. In those days, salt was essential for preserving food; without it folk would starve during the winter.