The beautiful medieval church of Powick, just south of Worcester, has a surprisingly violent history! The nearby Powick Bridge has the distinction of being the site of both the first and last skirmishes of the English Civil War and the fields between the church and river were the site of fighting during the Battle of Worcester. The church is pockmarked with musket ball holes and Oliver Cromwell himself used the top of the tower to survey progress in battle. We are working with the church to develop plans for visitor interpretation and an education programme to be run in partnership with Worcester Cathedral. Worcester is rich in Civil War history and its museums tell the story of the battles and armies, but the church wants to tell a different part of the story. We will be exploring not only the impact of the fighting on the local people of Powick whose village and lands were occupied alternately by both sides as the tide of the war ebbed and flowed, but the role and importance of the church and religion in the conflict. What was it like to live in Powick in the 1640s and 1650s? Where did their allegiances lie (or was it all about simple survival)?
If funding for the roll-out of the project is secured, we will tell this story using interactive media, video, replicas and direct interpretation of the church fabric itself. This will be housed in sensitively designed displays within the north transept. The story will be set within the context of a display at the west end about the wider and fascinating history of the village, from the medieval lords of the manor to Edward Elgar's playing at dances in the local asylum and the influece of the area on the work of artists like Laura Scott.
This current project is to explore ideas, gauge and foster community support and develop a coherent and exciting plan, but one which is realistic and deliverable beyond the lifetime of the initial project and any funding by the Powick team. Projects of this kind require a careful balance being struck between the primary function and purpose of the building, to be a place to encounter and worship God,and the desire of the church community to open up its building and history and explore new ways to secure its future. Part of the purpose of the project is to draw in people from the local community and build long-term sustainablility for the building, making it a truly community asset which is well supported and maintained to be accessible and open to all.