Worcestershire (Woo'stershir), an inland English county of very irregular outline, bounded by the counties of Salop, Stafford, Warwick, Oxford, Gloucester, and Hereford. Its extreme length N. to S. is 50 miles, its greatest breadth 26 miles, and its area 738 sq. m., or 472,453 acres. Pop. (1S01) 146,445; (1851) 276,926; (1881) 380,283; (1901) 488,401. The Severn is the chief river, and is navigable throughout the county from Bewdley to Tewkesbury, passing by the city of Worcester. The Avon, which enters Worcestershire near Cleeve, and passes by Evesham and Pershore, falling into the Severn at Tewkesbury, is also navigable. The other rivers are mostly feeders of these two - the Stour, Salwarp, and Teme of the Severn, and the Arrow of the Avon. A small portion of the north-east corner of the shire lies in the basin of the Trent. The canals were of great importance before the development of the railway system. The surface of the shire is diversified and picturesque. The chief hill range is that of the Malverns (1440 feet), on the border next Hereford; the Coteswolds stretch between Worcester and Gloucester; the Clents command part of the Warwick and Stafford frontier, chiefly of the ' Black Country;' the Lickey range is more central. The Clee Hills lie well to the north-west in Shropshire, but high broken ground stretches thence to the verge of Worcestershire in the romantic forest of Wyre. As a whole Worcestershire is a highly fertile agricultural region, with upland sheep-walks, productive tillage ground, and a very extensive fruit-growing area. Plums, pears, and apples are grown in enormous quantities, the neighbourhood of Pershore being the chief plum-growing centre in the kingdom. The more northern districts are, however, chiefly engaged in manufacture. Salt has been raised from the brine-springs at Droitwich (fed by immense beds of rock-salt) certainly for more than 1000 years. The manufacture of iron, carried on by the Romans, has developed into the busy industries of the unlovely ' Black Country,' of which Dudley is the chief centre. Other industries are the fireclay goods of Stourbridge, the glass wares produced there and at Stourport, the famous porcelain-works and the gloving of Worcester, and the carpet-weaving of Kidderminster.
Worcestershire contains the battlefields of Evesham, Tewkesbury, and Worcester; some of the most active participators in the Gunpowder Plot were associated with it. Before 1832 the shire had nine members; Dudley and Kidderminster were then enfranchised, and the total increased to twelve; at present there are eight, one each for five county divisions, and for Worcester, Dudley, and Kidderminster. Worcester and Dudley are county boroughs, and the other municipalities are Bewdley, Droitwich, Evesham, and Kidderminster. Of Worcestershire worthies may be mentioned Sir Thomas Littleton, Bishop Bonner, Samuel Butler, Thomas Blount, Archbishop Sheldon, Baskerville, Lord Lyttelton, Foote, Warren Hastings, Huskisson, and Sir Row-laud Hill. See works by Nash (2 vols. 1781-99), J. Chambers (worthies, 1820), Sir C. Hastings (nat. hist. 1834), Roberts (geology, 1860), Lees (botany, 1867), Noake (1868 and 1877), Niven (old houses, 1873), and Worth (1889).