FORMER Mayor of Worcester Jeff Carpenter has produced a lively new publication about the city’s magnificent Guildhall.

Mr Carpenter, who served for 27 years on Worcester City Council, ending up an alderman, was always one of its more prosaic and entertaining speakers.

Totally in character, he injects his History of Worcester Guildhall with colourful tales

of actors performing “theatricals” in the building in 1585 and  stuffing bladders of pig’s blood beneath their clothes to give a more realistic effect when they were “stabbed”.

Then there were the days when the retiring chief of the city’s police force had first to go to the Guildhall and hand over his boots over to the mayor. Something which never happened to him during his 1984/85 year in office.

He said: “I have always been interested in the Guildhall because it is such an outstanding building. In British terms, there is no finer Guildhall of the 18th century.

"Also I have always wanted to do something as a tribute to my dad and this is it.”

The Guildhall which exists today at the Cathedral end of Worcester High Street is not the original version.

The first was a much smaller building, overburdened from the start by the demands put on its use. Everyone wanted to squeeze in, from traders and local officials to the burgesses, who were the earliest city councillors and a mean bunch.

Mr Carpenter observes of his predecessors: “The burgesses were keen to exploit every ounce of their power, like their control over the banks of the river Severn. Punitive tolls were ruthlessly imposed on vessels passing through the city, even to the extent of dropping rocks on those reluctant to pay up!”

The ramshackle building was eventually replaced in 1717 by one described as “a building as splendid as any of the eighteenth century in England.”

The major benefactor was Lord Somers, who, according to Mr Carpenter, was “England’s leading constitutional lawyer and a local boy made good”.

It was first and foremost a court of law and accommodated two assize courts, civil and criminal courts. Entry was through a door wide enough for two judges, the criminal judge and the civil judge, criminals and civilians to pass through “with no loss of dignity”.

The far end of the Lower Hall also served as the local fire station and each member of the city corporation was required to donate a fire bucket, all of them hung on the south wall.

Over the years, the Guildhall’s use gradually shifted from legal to local government and today, of course, it is where the city council holds its regular meetings and is the hub for city officials.

Mr Carpenter added: “To this day the Guildhall remains as our finest building after the Cathedral and citizens are justly proud of the structure and its part in Worcester life and history.”

The booklet will soon be available from the Guildhall “for a nominal fee”, according to Mr Carpenter, with proceeds donated to the Mayor’s Charity.