Worcester under foot (WUF)

What is “Worcester under foot”?

The Worcester Under Foot project is one that pro-actively encourages involving individuals and communities to find and record the archaeology, history and heritage of the City of Worcester and beyond. How this small city/big town has been an area of key importance since before the Romans, and how people have adapted to changes over time in this hub of activity to where it is going nowadays.

The project will include:

  • Digging up the past
    Dig a test pit in your back garden to see what, if anything, has been left from bygone times.
  • Who lived here first?
    Who lived in your house over the last several hundred years? Do you know of them? What did they do for a living? Do their relatives still live close by?
    By visiting The Hive, for a small fee you will be shown how to investigate old maps, parish records (or shown where to find them), and census records where you can find out.
    We are organising such a visit in the Arboretum and will help others’ find their way into the past too.
  • Images of the past.
    Have you seen photographs of your area in the past? 1900’s perhaps or photographs of artists’ impressions of the area.
    Compare them to now? Why not take a photo from the same place and note the differences? Perhaps as a school or group activity?
    Alternatively, join one of our members (Reynolds, CCAG 2018) who is running a project of photographing some of the more interesting and quirky views of the neighbourhood and landscape.
  • Interested in joining a group of like-minded people? Join SLASH
    Society of Local Amateur Social Historians, or SLASH, is a society being formed to bring together folks interested in community archaeology, heritage, history and landscape to organise and give talks to schools and groups and get them involved as well as recording their stories, anecdotes, pictures, etc.

The Archaeology and Heritage of the Arboretum, Worcester

As a pilot to this project, we are encouraging members of the Arboretum community to find out more about the history and heritage under their feet – a heritage the community and their forebears may well be part of.
Have you considered finding out about why the houses were built? Who lived there first? Why is the road layout as it is? Why do some streets have house numbering different? Why are terraces different from the ones next to them (roof lines, window surrounds, front gardens, ornamental decorations, etc.)? Have you, your relatives or people you know lived here in the past and have pictures and anecdotes of what they remember of the area, the landscape and the community and how it has changed?

Are you a member of the Arboretum Residents’ Association or simply have a passion for this wonderfully supporting community?

Here is your chance to find out and take part in the continuing living history of the Arboretum – and be part of a follow-up to The Arboretum Story (Covins 1989).

Digging up the past

You can help map the archaeology by digging a “test pit” in your garden.  With help and guidance of a local archaeologist, you can discover what remnants of the past are still under your back garden.

A small “test pit” (generally 1 metre by 1 metre by 50cm deep) dug layer by layer in a particular place in your back garden can reveal things dropped or left long ago, adding to the picture of past lives.
Not just digging anywhere or helping you with gardening, we have equipment to help locate service pipes and electricity cables, etc. and we can help site an area that would be a good spot to dig, guide you through safely excavating it, recording it and putting it back.


Who lived here first?

Visit the archive service (1st floor of The Hive) and with the information they have from old census record, maps and parish records, you can find out who lived in your house over the years, what they did for a living, how your local community was built and has changed.

We are organising trips as part of the Arboretum community, to The Hive so for a small fee (charged by the archive services for their time), so they can guide you through how to find out about our house, community, village, etc.
We, on the Arboretum, are lucky to have had the a lot of the work done for us in The Arboretum Story (Covins 1989).


Images of the past

Join with one of our committee member’s (CCAG 2018) projects and photograph more ‘interesting’ aspects of the Arboretum landscape and built environment. 

You may also like to photograph the Canal and life on it (boats, wildlife, bridges, allotments, etc.) or even just the streets of the Arboretum from different angles?


Interested in joining a group of like-minded people? Join SLASH

Why not join our Society for Local Amateur Social Historians (SLASH), whether you want to dig a test-pit in your garden, take photos of your local architecture, talk or write about the community as you, or someone you know, write about anecdotes of the neighbourhood, then why not join this society and compare notes?

With personal contact information kept confidential (unless confirmed otherwise), the project aims to get local communities and groups discover and celebrate their communities and the history that helped build Worcester.
You might also be interested in joining one of the local Archaeological Groups and sharing some of that information about your community?


Something for young?

It is important that the story does not end with us as residents’ but be continued with youngsters so why not get them involved in the local Young Archaeologists’ Club (Young Archaeologists’ Club 2010)?

Why not visit the website https://www.yac-uk.org/clubs/worcestershire or email them at wyaclub@gmail.com
http://wyac.co.uk/ is a great site to find out more about joining in as a youngster.

There are also several archaeological groups in and around Worcester including WAS (the Worcester Archaeological Society), NWAG (North Worcester Archaeological Group) and SWAG (South Worcester Archaeological Group).


ARA (2014) The Arboretum Resident’s Association (ARA). [Online] Available from: https://twitter.com/ArboretumRA.
CCAG (2018) CCAG – Chestnut Community Action Group. CCAG Worcester.Community Group November 2018 [Online] Available from: https://ccagworcester.com/.
Covins, F. (1991) The Arboretum Story. Arboretum Residents’ Association.
The Hive (2017) The Hive – Library and community hub. The Hive.2017 [Online] Available from: http://www.thehiveworcester.org/ [Accessed: 4 March 2019].
Worcester Canal Group (2012) Worcester Canal Group. Worcester Canal Group.2012 [Online] Available from: http://www.worcestercanalgroup.org.uk/ [Accessed: 4 March 2019].
Young Archaeologists’ Club (2010) Worcestershire – Archaeology for you.2010 [Online] Available from: http://www.yac-uk.org/clubs/worcestershire [Accessed: 25 June 2019]

Chestnut Community – living histories

The Arboretum and Chestnut Community are a living historical record of the heritage of Worcester.
Each house tells a story (look at the different designs of window surrounds, front doors, emblems on the door heads, etc.) and each resident has added something to the ongoing story of the community.

With The Arboretum Story (Frederick Covins, 1989) came a history of the area’s conception and development. What has happened since?
This is where you can add to The Continuing Arboretum Story (being written now).
Personal histories of those that currently live in, or have lived in, or renting in the area can add to the incredible record of a community close enough to a small city/big town yet distinct from other areas around it and adding to the landscape that surrounds it.

We have residents in their eighties that have lived here all their lives (since the latter end of the period covered by The Arboretum Story), we have volunteer dog-walkers, students, nurses, builders, public servants, chefs, archaeologists, gardeners, teachers, mechanics, etc. all in this area of around 800 houses.
What have they seen change (there is only one shop left on the Arboretum and no pubs).

Worcester …under your feet

An on-going, long-term study of Worcester’s archaeology and heritage for, about and by the local communities that make it up starting with the Arboretum, North Worcester.

Chestnut Community Scrap Map

Inspired by the Cambridge Map Project, this project invites local schools, groups and clubs or organisations to create a map of the Arboretum, Canal and area from recycled paper, twigs, other material, etc.
(Please ensure the materials are safe to handle and it is constructed and stored in a safe environment as the winning entry will be displayed on the website and the creator/creators interviewed)

A scene of Cambridge in a scrap map
A scene of hills and mountains – all from scrap.

The entrants should post a picture of the area mapped (could be a street or a couple of streets or the whole place) with a name and contact number and the winners will be announced in social media and get a prize (to be determined).

Please submit photograph(s) or video of your entry here (email address and group name required)


What on earth is that?

Essentially it is point-to-point photography as you walk round The Arboretum and Chestnut community – then posting it here where we stitch it together to make a film for the YouTube channel.
We can then not only get a ‘snapshot’ of how the Arboretum looks through the year, but over years and how things change.
If you have any historic pictures of in and around the Arboretum that would be good too

Standing around 30 metres (yards) apart you take a photography of the person you are with and them of you at the same time.  The result can be made into a film and posted here.
This can be done as a school-group, or a walker’s group, or a community picnic or by canal tourists (we’d love to have some canal journeys from the Diglis Basin to Droitwich and beyond).

Here's one I made earlier ...
Dominography” by Ian Mackey

To submit your pictures, just fill in this form