Worcester is an ancient, historic city with a wealth of important buildings and structures that are a major part not only of the city’s past, but also of its future.  In recent years Worcester Civic Society has placed a significant number of Blue Plaques within the city, identifying the sites of the old city gates and the homes of notable people who have lived here in past times.  Now the Society would like to place further Blue Plaques within the city to identify sites where historic buildings and features once stood such as the City Walls or buildings that have been modernised and are no longer used for their original purpose such as the Vinegar Works.  Worcester Civic Society is very keen to hear from anyone with suggestions of suitable sites for placing informative blue plaques within Worcester city and its parishes.  Please contact Phil Douce, Worcester Civic Society Chairman: Email info@worcestercivicsociety.org.uk  Phone: 07760352086

Press Release August 2018

Worcester Civic Society will be unveiling a Blue Plaque at 6 Mealcheapen Street Worcester in recognition of John Perrins, Master Gunmaker of Worcester and his sons John and Henry Perrins.

This Blue Plaque has been commissioned by the John Perrins Gun Owners Club of Worcestershire.

The dedication of the Blue Plaque will be made by the Mayor of Worcester Councillor Jabba Riaz at 4.00pm on Friday 17th August at 6 Mealcheapen Street followed by refreshments and a display of guns at the Court Room in the Guildhall. All Civic Society Members and members of the John Perrins Gun Owners Club are very welcome to attend.

John Perrins Master Gun Maker of Worcester was a distant cousin of William Henry Perrins of Lea & Perrins Sauce fame.

John Perrins with his sons John & Henry were prestigious provincial gunmakers applying highly skilled precision engineering to gun and pistol making. They created a successful, renowned business in Worcester between 1831-1892.

John Perrins was born in Kidderminster in 1796 and at the age of 12 followed his brother Thomas into the gun trade to serve a 7 year apprenticeship.  We know that by 1820 John Perrins was working as a gunsmith in Faversham Kent, because in November that year at the age of 24 he married Hannah Wellstead in Hastings. His son John was born in 1823 and Edward in 1829. By 1831 John Perrins was established in College Street Worcester and Bentley’s Directory of that year lists him as Gunsmith. By 1840 Bentley’s Directory was describing him as Gunmaker, designing and building guns and pistols in his own name. One of the early examples of his work that survives is a turn-over pocket pistol carried by both ladies and gentlemen for close quarter defence.

His son Henry was born in 1832, son James in 1834 and twins William & Margaret in 1836.With both his business and family growing John Perrins in 1851 moved to 4 St Swithuns Street Worcester.

In 1855 his son John became a partner and the business John Perrins & Son.  From this period  Vaughan Wiltshire presented a six shot pepper-box pistol  to Worcester City Museum where it was on display until recently.

By 1859 John Perrins & son had moved to 6 Mealcheapen Street Worcester . In 1862 John Perrins died aged 66 and his son John inherited the business but unfortunately died from TB in 1866 aged 42. Henry Perrins now took control of the business and advanced it into the “golden age” of British gunmaking. By 1879 the business had expanded into 59 Broad Street where some of the very best provincial sporting guns were made.  

Officers based at Norton Barracks with the Worcestershire Regiment would order quality guns that they would take overseas with them when they were deployed. Sporting guns built by John Perrins & son have been found all over the world. It is worth noting that an 8 bore rifle made by John Perrins & Son in Broad Street Worcester c1890 was sold in an auction in Rock Island, Illinois USA in 2015 for $35,000.

In 1892 Henry Perrins sold the business to his son-in-law Herbert Pollard under whose name the business continued until the 1950s. Henry Perrins died in 1908 at 6 St Georges Square Worcester.

The Perrins & Son Gun Owners Club was founded in 2010 by John Clements Vaughan Wiltshire and Lynn Hennessey. Since then membership now accounts for 84 sporting guns, rifles and pistols all built in Worcester in the 19th century. In addition a further 13 guns have been identified as far afield as South Africa, Northern Canada, Eastern Europe and the Americas.

For more information please look at http://info71508.wix.com/perrinsgunmaker

Press Release May 2018

Worcester Civic Society will be unveiling a blue plaque at 25 Friar Street, Worcester in recognition of Hannah Snell, Britain’s most famous woman soldier.  The ceremony will take place on Monday 21st May 2018 at 12.00 when the plaque will be unveiled by Amanda Houston, the great, great granddaughter of Hannah Snell, and Anthea Abbeyfield Worcester Crown Ladies Probus Group, sponsors of the plaque.  All are welcome to attend the ceremony to remember this remarkable former citizen of Worcester.

Hannah Snell was born in Worcester on 23rd April 1723, the daughter of Samuel and Mary Snell.  Her parents died when she was 17 and at the age of 20 she married James Summs, a Dutch seaman.  Unfortunately he mistreated her, later abandoning her when she became pregnant.  After their daughter died in infancy, Hannah determined to track her husband down.  Believing that he had been pressed into military service she borrowed a suit of clothes from her brother-in-law, James Gray, assumed his identity and according to her own account, became a soldier in the 6th Regiment of Foot.  With advent of the Jacobite Rising in 1746, the regiment marched to Carlisle where Hannah continued her military training.  She was often at the centre of fighting and is reported to have received a number of wounds of varying degrees.  Incurring the wrath of a Sergeant on one occasion, she was sentenced to 600 lashes of the whip, a harsh punishment for a mere boy but after enduring 500 lashes in silence her commanding officer ordered the end of the punishment.

Believing her husband had gone South, Hannah with her male disguise still intact, deserted and joined Fraser’s Regiment of Marines at Portsmouth.  Assigned to the Swallow as Assistant Steward and Cook to the Officers’ mess, she sailed to the East Indies and India and took part in several battles.  Suffering a musket shot to the groin, she operated on herself to remove the musket ball so her identity as a woman would not be discovered.  Now physically unfit to serve as a marine, she continued her military career as a deck hand.  Still seeking her errant husband, Hannah learnt that he had been executed for murder in Genoa, Italy so when the ship returned to England she revealed her true identity.  Honourably discharged from the army, she was granted a military pension and her exploits became public knowledge.  Selling her story to a London Publisher and appearing on stage to earn an income, she eventually retired to Wapping and opened a public house she named The Female Warrior.

Hannah married twice more, giving birth to two sons by her second husband and marrying again in 1772 after he died.  In 1789 she began to show signs of insanity and was admitted to Bedlam Hospital where she died on 8th February 1792 aged 69.  She was buried at Chelsea Hospital among other old soldiers.

Scroll to Top