CELEBRATING THE PEOPLE OF THE SHIRE
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Peter celebrates just some of the famous people whose lives are entwined with Worcestershire.
For MPs, the recess is a time to do things you don’t usually get time to do in the hectic life of Westminster – it’s certainly not all holiday (although I am taking one) but it is a refreshing change of pace and routine.

One thing I have been doing with my wife is going on quiet evening walks – Hanbury Hall, the Malverns, Croome Park and a lovely route around Ombersley are some of our favourites. On these walks I often think not just about the stunning countryside of Worcestershire, but also about the people associated with our county.

I hope most county people know at least a little about Saints Oswald and Wulstan, King John and Prince Arthur, Edward Elgar, Simon de Montfort, Charles I, Oliver Cromwell and, of course, Messrs Lea & Perrins. These eminent figures’ lives were shaped by their experience of Worcestershire and our lives were influenced in very different ways by them.

But there are so many more. One of the Pilgrim Fathers, Edward Winslow, came from Droitwich. People know about H.F.S. Morgan, creator of the Morgan cars, but did you know that William Morris, creator of the legendary Morris motor car was born in Worcester? Novelist Henry Fielding is said to have used Upton-upon-Severn as the inspiration for Tom Jones. J. R. R. Tolkein’s relatives still live in the Evesham area – in the original Shire - and C. S. Lewis’s Narnian gas lamps are straight from Malvern.

Poet A. E. Housman was born and educated in the county. Playwright George Bernard Shaw’s regular visits to Malvern led to the establishment of its prestigious theatre. Sir Rowland Hill, inventor of the postage stamp, came from Kidderminster. Evelyn Waugh was inspired by Madresfield to write “Brideshead Revisited”. Robin Hood’s sidekick, Little John, might even have come from Kempsey.

More recent names with strong Worcestershire connections include novelists Fay Weldon and Barbara Cartland, actress Vanessa Redgrave, singer and broadcaster Toyah Wilcox, scourge of the politicians Jeremy Paxman, actor Rik Mayall, quiz-master Chris Tarrant, comedian Alistair McGowan, violinist Nigel Kennedy, motor champion Nigel Mansell and Olympic rowing champion Zac Purchase.

There are many more names I could have included - Woodbine Willie and PG Wodehouse are just two. Do you have a favourite Worcestershire person? Please tell me if you do. I’d love to build a full list of the People of the Shire.

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