Malvern, Worcestershire


View over the town from Worcestershire Beacon
 Malvern shown within Worcestershire
Population 29,626 (2011 census)
OS grid referenceSO786459
    London  121 miles (195 km) 
Civil parishMalvern
DistrictMalvern Hills
Shire countyWorcestershire
RegionWest Midlands
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post town MALVERN
Postcode district WR14
Dialling code 01684
Police West Mercia
Fire Hereford and Worcester
Ambulance West Midlands
EU Parliament West Midlands
UK ParliamentWest Worcestershire
List of places

Coordinates: 52°07′05″N 2°19′30″W / 52.118°N 2.325°W / 52.118; -2.325

Welcome to Malvern, on an approach road to the town centre.

Malvern is a spa town and civil parish in Worcestershire, England.[1] At the 2011 census it had a population of 29,626.[2] It includes the historic settlement and commercial centre of Great Malvern on the steep eastern flank of the Malvern Hills, as well as the former independent urban district of Malvern Link. Many of the major suburbs and settlements that comprise the town are separated by large tracts of open common land and fields, and together with smaller civil parishes[3] adjoining the town's boundaries and the hills, the built up area is often referred to collectively as The Malverns.[4]

Archaeological evidence suggests that Bronze Age people had settled in the area around 1000 BC, although it is not known whether these settlements were permanent or temporary.[5] The town itself was founded in the 11th century when Benedictine monks established a priory at the foot of the highest peak of Malvern Hills.[6]:17–24[7] During the 19th century Malvern developed rapidly from a village to a sprawling conurbation owing to its popularity as a hydrotherapy spa based on its spring waters.[8]:197–198 Immediately following the decline of spa tourism towards the end of the 19th century, the town's focus shifted to education with the establishment of several private boarding schools in former hotels and large villas. A further major expansion was the result of the relocation of the Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE) to Malvern in 1942. QinetiQ, TRE's successor company, remains the town's largest local employer.[9]

Malvern is the largest place in the parliamentary constituency of West Worcestershire and the district of Malvern Hills, being also the district's administrative seat. It lies adjacent to the Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The populous civil parish has a town council, Malvern Town Council, based in Great Malvern.[10]


The name Malvern is derived from the ancient British or old Welsh moel-bryn, meaning "Bare or Bald Hill",[11] the modern equivalent being the Welsh moelfryn (bald hill).[12] It has been known as Malferna (11th century), Malverne (12th century), and Much Malvern (16–17th century).[13]


Bronze Age to monastic times

Iron Age earthworks, British Camp

Flint axes, arrowheads, and flakes found in the area are attributed to early Bronze Age settlers,[14]:2 and the "Shire Ditch", a late Bronze Age boundary earthwork possibly dating from around 1000 BC, was constructed along part of the crest of the hills near the site of later settlements.[5] The Wyche Cutting, a pass through the hills, was in use in prehistoric times as part of the salt route from Droitwich to South Wales.[14]:3 A 19th-century discovery of over two hundred metal money bars suggests that the area had been inhabited by the La Tène people around 250 BC.[14]:5 Ancient folklore has it that the British chieftain Caractacus made his last stand against the Romans at the British Camp,[15] a site of extensive Iron Age earthworks on a summit of the Malvern Hills close to where Malvern was to be later established. The story remains disputed, however, as Roman historian Tacitus implies a site closer to the river Severn.[16] There is therefore no evidence that Roman presence ended the prehistoric settlement at British Camp. However, excavations at nearby Midsummer Hill fort, Bredon Hill, and Croft Ambrey all show evidence of violent destruction around the year 48 AD. This may suggest that the British Camp was abandoned or destroyed around the same time.[17]

A study made by Royal Commission in 2005 that includes aerial photographs of the Hills "amply demonstrates the archaeological potential of this largely neglected landscape, and provides food for thought for a number of research projects".[18] A pottery industry based on the Malverns left remains dating from the Late Bronze Age to the Norman Conquest, shown by methods of archaeological petrology.[19] Products were traded as far as South Wales, via the River Severn. The Longdon and other marshes at the foot of Malvern Chase were grazed by cattle. "Woodland management was considerable", providing fuel for the kilns.[19]

Monastic Malvern

Little is known about Malvern over the next thousand years until it is described as "an hermitage, or some kind of religious house, for seculars, before the conquest, endowed by the gift of Edward the Confessor".[6]:14 The additions to William Dugdale's Monasticon include an extract from the Pleas taken before the King at York in 1387, stating that there was a congregation of hermits at Malvern "some time before the conquest".[7] Although a Malvern priory existed before the Norman Conquest, it is the settlement of nearby Little Malvern, the site of another, smaller priory, that is mentioned in the Domesday Book.[20] A motte-and-bailey castle built on the top tier of the earthworks of the British Camp just before the Norman Conquest was probably founded by the Saxon Earl Harold Godwinson of Hereford.[21] It was destroyed by King Henry II in 1155.[22]

The town developed around its 11th-century priory, a Benedictine monastery, the remains of which make up some of the early parts of Great Malvern Priory, now a large parish church.[13] Several slightly different histories explain the actual founding of the religious community. Legend tells that the settlement began following the murder of St. Werstan, a monk of Deerhurst, who fled from the Danes and took refuge in the woods of Malvern, where the above-mentioned hermitage had been established.[6]:11[23][24] St Werstan's oratory is thought to have been located on the site of St Michael's Chapel which is believed to have stood on the site of Bello Sguardo, a Victorian Villa. Bello Sguardo was built on the site of Hermitage Cottage. The cottage was demolished in 1825 and ecclesiastical carvings were found within it. A Mediaeval undercroft, human bones and parts of a coffin were also uncovered.[25] Although the legend may be monastic mythology, historians have however concluded that St. Werstan was the original martyr.[26]

The Abbey Gateway in the town centre is now the home of the Malvern Museum.

The first prior was Aldwyn,[23] who founded the monastery on his bishop's advice, and by 1135 the monastery included thirty monks. Aldwyn was succeeded by Walcher of Malvern, an astronomer and philosopher from Lorraine,[23] whose gravestone inside the priory church records details that the priory arose in 1085 from a hermitage endowed by Edward the Confessor. An ancient stained glass window[27] in the Priory church depicts the legend of St. Werstan, with details of his vision, the consecration of his chapel, Edward the Confessor granting the charter for the site, and Werstan's martyrdom.[28]

An 18th-century document states that in the 18th year of William's kingship (probably 1083), a priory was dedicated to St Mary the Virgin.[29] Victoria County History describes how a hermit Aldwyn, who lived in the reign of Edward the Confessor, had petitioned the Earl of Gloucester for the original site (of the Priory) in the wood, and cites his source as "Gervase of Canterbury, Mappa Mundi (Rolls ser.)".[30]

Large estates in Malvern were part of crown lands given to Gilbert "the Red", the seventh Earl of Gloucester and sixth Earl of Hertford, on his marriage to Joan of Acre the daughter of Edward I, in 1290. Disputed hunting rights on these led to several armed conflicts with Humphrey de Bohun, 3rd Earl of Hereford that Edward resolved.[31] Nott states that Gilbert made gifts to the Priory, and describes his "great conflict" with Thomas de Cantilupe, Bishop of Hereford, also about hunting rights and a ditch that Gilbert dug, that was settled by costly litigation. Gilbert had a similar conflict with Godfrey Giffard, Bishop and Administrator of Worcester Cathedral (and formerly Chancellor of England). Godfrey, who had granted land to the Priory,[6]:52 had jurisdictional disputes about Malvern Priory, resolved by Robert Burnell, the current Chancellor.[32]

A discussion in 2005 about the stained glass windows of the Priory Church in terms of the relationship between Church and Laity stresses the importance of Malvern in the development of stained glass. It refers to "the vast and strategically important estates of which Malvern was a part" in the 15th and 16th centuries, to a widespread awareness of Malvern Priory, to the likelihood of a pilgrimage route through the town. The discussion also mentions Thomas Walsingham's view that Malvern was a hiding place of the Lollard knight Sir John Oldcastle in 1414.[33] Chambers wrote, in relation to the stained glass, "the situation of Malvern was so much admired by Henry VII, his Queen (Elizabeth of York) and their two Sons, Prince Arthur, and Prince Henry" that they made substantial endowments.[34]

The area and the surrounding chase were subject to forest law, as a Royal forest. In the early period, this would have meant harsh punishments for residents that poached livestock or encroached on other Royal entitlements. By Tudor times, royal lands had become used as commons and forest law had fallen into disuse.[35]

Post dissolution

During the Dissolution of the Monasteries the local commissioners were instructed to ensure that, where abbey churches were also used for parish worship, they should continue or could be purchased by parishioners. Accordingly, Malvern Priory survived by being acquired by a William Pinnocke and with it, much of the 15th century stained glass windows.[34] The monastic buildings were taken apart and anything usable was sold off. With the exception of the church building (of which the south transept adjoining the monastery's cloisters was destroyed), all that remains of Malvern's monastery is the Abbey Gateway (also known as the Priory Gatehouse) that houses today's Malvern Museum.

An Elizabethan land grant of 1558 mentions Holy Well.[36] A Crown grant of tithes in 1589 mentions lambs, pigs, calves, eggs, hemp and flax. Elizabeth made her Chancellor, Sir Thomas Bromley, the Lord of the Manor. The contemporary antiquary John Leland described the Malvern Hills and Hanley Castle.[34]

King Charles I attempted to enclose and sell two thirds of the Chase, as part of a wider attempt to raise revenue for the Crown from the sale of Royal forests. The attempts to enclose the lands, used as commons, resulted in riots, part of a pattern of disturbances that ran across the disafforested royal lands.[35] In 1633, the Court of Exchequer Chamber of Charles I decreed the rights of the public to two thirds of the lands on the Malvern Hills, and rights of Sir Cornelius Vermuyden and his descendants, and the Crown, to one third (quoted in the preamble to the Malvern Hills Act of 1884).[37] By that time, Malvern had become an established community and the major settlement in the Malvern Chase.[34]

Development as a spa (17th–19th centuries)

The spa town of Great Malvern was laid out and developed largely during the 19th century.

The purported health-giving properties of Malvern water and the natural beauty of the surroundings led to the development of Malvern as a spa, with resources for invalids and for tourists, seeking cures, rest and entertainment.[8]:197 Local legend has it that the curative benefit of the spring water was known in mediaeval times.[36] The medicinal value and the bottling of Malvern water are mentioned "in a poem attributed to the Reverend Edmund Rea, who became Vicar of Great Malvern in 1612".[36] Richard Banister, the pioneering oculist,[38] wrote about the Eye Well, close to the Holy Well, in a short poem in his Breviary of the Eyes (see Malvern water), in 1622.[39][40] In 1756, Dr. John Wall published a 14-page pamphlet on the benefits of Malvern water, that reached a 158-page 3rd edition in 1763.[41] Further praise came from the botanist Benjamin Stillingfleet in 1757, the poet Thomas Warton in 1790, and William Addison, the physician of the Duchess of Kent (mother of Queen Victoria) in 1828, all quoted in a review[42] by the medical historian W.H. McMenemy.[43] In his lecture about Malvern at the Royal Institution, Addison spoke of "its pure and invigorating air, the excellence of its water, and the romantic beauty of its scenery".[44] Similar views appeared in the press,[45] Nicholas Vansittart brought his wife Catherine to Malvern for a rest cure in 1809.[46] Chambers, in his book about Malvern, praised Elizabeth, Countess Harcourt (daughter-in-law of the 1st Earl Harcourt), whose patronage contributed to the development of hillside walks.[34]

Bottling and shipping of the Malvern water grew in volume. In 1842, Dr. James Wilson and Dr. James Manby Gully, leading exponents of hydrotherapy, set up clinics in Malvern[47] (Holyrood House for women and Tudor House for men).[48] Malvern expanded rapidly as a residential spa.[8]:127 Several large hotels and many of the large villas in Malvern date from its heyday. Many smaller hotels and guest houses were built between about 1842 and 1875. By 1855 there were already 95 hotels and boarding houses and by 1865 over a quarter of the town's 800 houses were boarding and lodging houses. Most were in Great Malvern, the town centre, while others were in the surrounding settlements of Malvern Wells, Malvern Link, North Malvern and West Malvern.[8]:190[49]

Queen Adelaide visited St. Ann's Well in September 1842.[8]:183 "Throughout the 1840s and 1850s Malvern attracted a stream of celebrated visitors, including royalty."[47] Patients included Charles Darwin,[50] Catherine, wife of Charles Dickens, [51][52] Thomas Carlyle, Florence Nightingale,[47] Lord Lytton, who was an outspoken advocate of the waters,[53][54] Lord Tennyson and Samuel Wilberforce.[47]

The extension of the railway from Worcester to Malvern Link was completed on 25 May 1859.[55] The following year, "Besides middle class visitors ... the railway also brought working class excursionists from the Black Country with dramatic effect ... At Whitsuntide ... 10,000 came from the Black Country to the newly opened stations at Great Malvern and Malvern Wells.[8]:191 Throughout June to September, day trips were frequent, causing the "town to be crowded with 'the most curious specimens of the British shopkeeper and artisan on an outing' ".[8]:191 Following Malvern's new-found fame as a spa and area of natural beauty, and fully exploiting its new rail connections, factories from as far as Manchester were organising day trips for their employees, often attracting as many as 5,000 visitors a day. In 1865, a public meeting of residents denounced the rising rail fares – by then twice that of other lines – that were exploiting the tourism industry, and demanded a limitation to the number of excursion trains. The arrival of the railway also enabled the delivery of coal in large quantities, which accelerated the area's popularity as a winter resort.[8]:126

The 1887 Baedeker's includes Malvern in a London–Worcester–Hereford itinerary and described as "an inland health resort, famous for its bracing air and pleasant situation" and "a great educational centre", with five hotels that are "well spoken of", a commercial hotel, the Assembly Rooms and Gardens, and many excursions on foot, pony and by carriage.[56] Other descriptions of the diversions mention bands, quadrilles, cricket (residents vs visitors) and billiard rooms.[8]:197[24] The Duchess of Teck stayed, with her daughter Mary (later queen consort of George V), in Malvern in the Autumn of 1891, joined by Lady Eva Greville.[57] and the Duke of Teck.[58] The Duchess was "perfectly enchanted with Malvern and its surroundings" and, with the Duke, visited Malvern College.[59] The Duchess returned to open the new waterworks at Camp Hill in 1895.[24] In 1897, the painter Edward Burne-Jones came to Malvern for the "bracing air", on the recommendation of his doctor, but stayed in his hotel for a week.[60] The 7-year old Franklin D. Roosevelt visited in 1889, during a trip to Europe with his parents.[61]

By 1875 encroachment on Malvern's wastelands by landowners had reached new heights and action was taken by the people of Malvern and the Commons Society to preserve the hills and common land and to prevent encroachment. Local lords of the manor indicated that they would like to give their rights to the wastes to the public. After preventing the enclosure of a common in 1882, negotiations were initiated with the owners of the northern hills and the first Malvern Hills Act was secured in parliament in 1884. Later Acts empowered the Malvern Hills Conservators to acquire land to prevent further encroachment on common land and by 1925 they had bought much of the manorial wastelands.[8]:193[14]:247,248

Towards the end of the 19th century, the popularity of the hydrotherapy had declined to the extent that many hotels were already being converted into private boarding schools and rest homes, and education became the basis of Malvern's economy.[8]:195 By 1865, the town already had 17 single-gender private schools, increasing to 25 by 1885. The area was well suited for schools due to its established attractive environment and access by rail. Children could travel unaccompanied with their trunks by rail to their boarding schools near the stations in Great Malvern, Malvern Wells, and Malvern Link. The Girls College, in a former hotel directly opposite Great Malvern railway station, has a dedicated (now derelict) tunnel to the basement of the building, which is clearly visible from both platforms of the station.[62]

20th century

Malvern began to develop into a modern town in the early 1900s, with a continuing strong agricultural presence. Modernisation continued, and the World War II years transformed the population and its activities, establishing the town as a centre of scientific research.[14]:230


Council House (built 1874), viewed from Priory Park, is the headquarters of the District Council.[63]

Malvern is a town and civil parish governed at the lowest tier of local government by Malvern Town Council, part of the Malvern Hills District of the County of Worcestershire (a district comprising 68 civil parishes and 22 electoral wards).[64][65] The ward boundaries were redefined from the wards of the former Malvern Urban District Council (1900–1974). Through the many changes in local government infrastructure since the beginning of the 20th century, the importance and distinction by local boundaries of the historical areas of Great Malvern, Malvern Link, North Malvern, Cowleigh, and other neighbourhoods, have been lost.

The original parish of Great Malvern included the hamlet of Guarlford and the chapelry of Newland, and stretched from the River Severn on the east to the Malvern Hills on the west. Guarlford became a separate civil parish in 1894 when, under the Local Government Act of 1894, urban district councils were created for Malvern and Malvern Link. The Guarlford parish covered much of eastern Malvern, including parts of Great Malvern, Pickersleigh, Poolbrook, Barnards Green, Hall Green and Sherrard's Green. By 1900 however, the urban districts of Malvern and Malvern Link amalgamated, absorbing parts of neighbouring parishes to create a town of six wards under the Malvern Urban District Council.[8]:197 In 1934 the boundaries changed again, and those areas came under the control of the Malvern council.[66]

Residents of Malvern Town in the six Malvern Town Council electoral wards are represented by 20 elected members. The council is supported by a team of senior executives that includes a Town Clerk, a Deputy Town Clerk, a PA to the Town Clerk and Chairman, an Operations and Events Officer, a Finance Officer, two Operations Managers, an Operations Supervisor, and eight Grounds Maintenance Operatives.[10] The wards are based on the distribution of the population and generally ignore the names of the neighbourhoods and suburbs they contain, and use loaned names:


Town centre

Main article: Great Malvern
Malvern post office, town centre

The town centre comprises two main streets at right angles to each other: the steep Church Street and Bellevue Terrace, a relatively flat north–south extension of the A449 which forms Malvern's western extremity along the flank of the hills. In the heart of the town is a statue of the composer Edward Elgar, while other statuary is dedicated to Malvern water. Among the many shops are two large modern supermarkets, both in Edith Walk, formerly a steep and unmade lane that served the rear entrances of the shops in Church Street. Most of the traditional high street shops such as butchers, bakers, grocers etc., are now health food shops, art and craft shops, charity shops, law firms, and estate agents. On the Worcester to Hereford railway line is the Victorian Great Malvern station, a listed example of classical Victorian railway architecture close to the nearby former Imperial Hotel by the same architect, E. W. Elmslie.[62]

Suburbs and neighbourhoods

Detail of buildings and shops in Church Street, Great Malvern

Malvern's rapid urbanisation during the latter half of the 19th century spread eastwards and northwards from Great Malvern, the traditional town centre on the steep flank of the Worcestershire Beacon, and engulfed the manors and farms in the immediate area. It was often the farms, such as Pickersleigh (now known as Pickersleigh Court and previously known as Pickersleigh House), near Great Malvern, and the Howsells in Malvern Link which merged with Great Malvern in 1900 that gave their names to many of the new neighbourhoods. The urban agglomeration continued to spread, and by the middle of the 20th century had reached the suburban parishes of West Malvern, Malvern Wells, Newland, Madresfield, and Guarlford.


Malvern lies in the Lower Severn/Avon plain affording it a degree of shelter caused by virtue of its nestling in between the Cotswold hills to the east, the Welsh Hills and Mountains to the west, and Birmingham plateau to the north. Although as with all the British Isles it has a maritime climate, the local topography means summer warmth can become emphasised by a slight foehn effect off the surrounding hills. The record maximum stands at 35.8c(96.4f) set in August 1990.[68] Typically 17.3 days[69] of the year will reach 25.1c(77.2f) or higher and the annual warmest day should reach 29.8c(85.6f)[70] according to the 1971–00 observing period.

Winter temperature inversions can also occur given the correct conditions allowing very low minima to occur. Nonetheless, on average the region is one of the warmest non-coastal areas in the UK, with overall night time minima in particular rivalling more urban areas. Indeed, despite the notable low absolute minima (several weather-observing sites nearby having fallen below −20 °C in the past) the annual average frost ratio is a mere 33 days per year (1971–00), actually lower than more urbanised weather station locations such as London's Heathrow Airport. A new absolute minimum of −19.5 °C (−3.1 °F) was recently set[71] during the record cold month December 2010. Prior to this the coldest nights were recorded in the winter of 1981/82; -18.1 °C (−0.6 °F)[72] in December 1981, −18.0 °C (−0.4 °F)[73] in January 1982.

The sunniest year was 2003, when 1776 hours[74] of sunshine were recorded. Rainfall averages around 740mm per year[75] with over 1mm being recorded on 123 days of the year.[76] Snowfall is highly variable. When winter low pressure systems move from south west to north east the Malvern area is often on the northern flank, meaning heavy snowfall while areas further south and east receive rain or no precipitation at all. However, when snowfall arrives by means of convective showers driven by northerly, north westerly or north easterly winds the area tends to be one of the least snowy parts of the UK, owing to its sheltered positioning.

Climate data for Malvern, elevation 62m, 1971–2000, Sunshine 1961–90
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 7.3
Average low °C (°F) 1.9
Average precipitation mm (inches) 74.95
Mean monthly sunshine hours 50 61 107 139 178 185 191 173 134 91 62 45 1,416
Source: Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (RNMI)[77]


At the 2011 UK census, the civil parish of Malvern had a population of 29,626.[2] Together with the neighbouring parishes of West Malvern, Malvern Wells, Little Malvern and Newland (the settlements of which largely unite with that of Malvern) the population of the wider "Malverns" urban area is 34,517 (as of 2011).

For the purposes of statistical reporting the Office for National Statistics groups the population of the North Malvern ward of the Malvern civil parish with that of the West Malvern civil parish.[78][79] For every 100 females, there were 91.7 males. The average household size was 2.4.[80] Of those aged 16–74 in Malvern, 48.1% had no academic qualifications or one General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE),[81] above the figures for all of the Malvern Hills local government district (39.7%) and England (45.5%).[82] According to the census, 2.3% were unemployed and 35.0% were economically inactive.[81] 19.7% of the population were under the age of 16 and 11.5% were aged 75 and over; the mean age of the people of the civil parish was 41.5. 66.8% of residents described their health as "good", similar to the average of 69.1% for the wider district.[82][83]


The 2011 census found the White British ethnic group to be by far the largest in Malvern with 93.2% identifying as such. The next largest ethnic group was White Other, which accounted for 3.2% of the population, followed by the Asian and Mixed Race categories, which made up 1.9% and 1.2% respectively. Black ethnic groups made up 0.3% and the Other group constituted 0.2% of the population.

Population development

Victorian pillar box on the corner of Priory Road and Orchard Road

The area remained a village and cluster of manors and farms until "taking of the water" in Malvern became popularised by Dr. Wall in 1756. By the 1820s the Baths and the Pump Room were opened; in 1842 Drs. James Wilson and James Manby Gully opened up water cure establishments in the town centre.[84] By the middle of the 19th century, with the arrival of the railway, bath houses and other establishments catering for the health tourists flourished. By the early 20th century Malvern had developed from a small village centred on its priory to a town with many large hotels and Victorian and Edwardian country villas.

Malvern experienced a further population boost in 1942 when the Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE) relocated to Malvern bringing 2,500 employees to Malvern, increasing to around 3,500 by 1945. [14]:259, 260[85] In the early 1950s, several large housing estates were built in Malvern to provide accommodation for the staff and their families. A significant proportion of the current population of Malvern are present and former employees of the facility (now called QinetiQ), and its previously attached military contingent from REME and other units of all three British armed forces.[86]

Malvern had already become an overspill for the nearby city of Worcester, and the new motorways constructed in the early 1960s brought the industrial Midlands within commuting distance by car. With this development came the construction of large private housing developments. The town continues to swell as increasingly more farmland, especially in the Malvern Link area between the villages of Guarlford and Newland, is turned over to housing projects creating new communities and suburbs.

Due to frequent merging of parishes and changes in boundaries, accurate figures based on specific areas are not available.

Year Population Notes
1563 105 families Probably what is now the town centre area with nearby farms and manors.[13]
1741 had sixty houses Probably what is now the town centre area.[13]
1801 819 Taken from British spas from 1815 to the present[8]:198
1819 2,768 1819 census – probably what is now the town centre area (Great Malvern).[13]
1851 3,771 Probably including the former ecclesiastical parishes of Guarlford and Newland, and the settlement of Poolbrook.[13]
1861 6,049 Taken from A History of Malvern[14]:230
1881 13,216 Taken from A History of Malvern[14]:230
1911 16,514 Reflects the 1900 merging of the Malvern and Malvern Link urban district councils.[8]:197
1951 21,681 Taken from A History of Malvern[14]:260
1961 24,373 Taken from A History of Malvern[14]:260
2001 28,749 Includes the six wards covered by the current Town Council civil parish.[87]
2011 29,626 Same area as in 2001.


Research and development

View of the QinetiQ facility from the Malvern Hills. Malvern College campus in the foreground, and the village of Poolbrook to the rear.

Since 1942 research and development into physics and electronics has been the major source of employment in Malvern when during World War II the Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE) moved from Worth Matravers on the south coast for safety from enemy action.[9][88] Its staff worked on airborne radar and other electronic warfare resources for the RAF.[89] The Radar Research and Development Establishment (RRDE), which worked on anti-aircraft radar and searchlights for the Army, was moved to Malvern at the same time. Initially, TRE was housed at Malvern College.[85][90] TRE and RRDE merged in 1953 to form the Radar Research Establishment (RRE) to be further renamed Royal Radar Establishment (also RRE) in 1955.[14]:258 Further name changes took place according to shifts in operational focus until 2001 when the facility was partly transferred from public to private ownership and became QinetiQ. A small part was retained by the Ministry of Defence to become Dstl, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory. Malvern's Dstl contingent has since closed down with the remaining staff moving to other Dstl sites.[91]

With the recognised science and technology developments in the Malvern area, Malvern Hills Science Park was built in 1999,[92] and is now home to over 30 science and technological businesses, including, UTC Aerospace Systems (formerly Goodrich Corporation), and Textlocal.[93]


The majority of Malvern's manufacturing and service industries are grouped in the adjoining commercial areas of the Spring Lane Industrial Estate that was developed in the 1960s and the Enigma Business Park that was begun in the 1990s.[94] Cars have been constructed in Malvern since 1910 by the Morgan Motor Company, one of the world's longest-existing private constructors of automobiles produced in series.[95] The Morgan Motor Car is a traditional sports roadster and over the years has become a 'cult' vehicle, exported all over the world from the factory in Malvern Link.[96] Specialist glass tubing and microscope slides are produced by Chance Brothers in their factory in Malvern next door to the Morgan Motor works.[97] Pipe organs have been built in Malvern since Nicholson Organs was founded by John Nicholson in 1841. Nicholson organs can be found in Gloucester and Portsmouth Cathedrals, and Great Malvern Priory.[98]

Agriculture and horticulture

Malvern is a centre for agricultural industry. The 70-acre (280,000 m2) Three Counties Showground, operated by the Three Counties Agricultural Society,[99] is a few miles to the south of Malvern on the road to Upton upon Severn. It has been the venue for the Three Counties Show, held each year in June, for over fifty years. Representing the counties of Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, it is among the country's most important agricultural shows,[100] and can be traced back to 1797.[100] It attracts an average of 93,000 visitors from all parts of the country over its three-day event, and with around 600 trade stands and exhibitions it almost doubles the town's local population.[100] The showground also opens the horticultural season each year by hosting the Royal Horticultural Society's Spring Gardening Show,[101] followed by many other events throughout the year including other regular gardening shows. The Lobelia pioneers William Crump and Dr. Brent Elliott[102] worked in Malvern and were awarded the Victoria Medal of Honour of the Royal Horticultural Society.[102] A tea rose was named for the Malvern rose grower Mrs. Foley Hobbs in 1910 (see page 119 of cited work[103]).



Prior's Croft, Grange Road (Victorian Gothic architecture)

The town centre and its environs contain many examples of Regency, Victorian and Edwardian villas and hotels. Many of the houses were built during the Industrial Revolution, and Malvern's boom years as a spa town, by wealthy families from the nearby Birmingham area. Following the collapse of the spa industry, many of the hotels and villas became schools, and some have since been further converted to apartments, while some of the smaller hotels are now retirement homes. The Imperial Hotel in red brick with stone dressings, which later became a school, is one of the largest buildings in Malvern. It was built in 1860 by the architect E. W. Elmslie who also designed the Great Malvern railway station, and the Council House on the plot where Dr. Gully's original house stood. The Grove in Avenue Road in 1867, originally to be his private residence in 1927 became part of the Lawnside School for girls,[104] and in 1860 Whitbourne Hall, a Grade II* listed building, in Herefordshire.[105] The Imperial was the first hotel to be lit by incandescent gas. It was equipped with all types of baths and brine was brought specially by rail from Droitwich.[106]

Much architecture and statuary in the town centre is dedicated to Malvern water, including the St Ann's Well, which is housed in a building dating from 1813.[8]:124


Sir Edward Elgar, British composer and Master of the King's Musick, lived much of his life around Malvern and is buried in Little Malvern cemetery.[107] His Pomp and Circumstance, March No. 1, composed in 1901 and to which the words of Land of Hope and Glory were later set, was first performed in the Wyche School next to the church in the presence of Elgar.[108] A sculpture group by artist Rose Garrard comprising the Enigma fountain together with a statue of Elgar gazing over Great Malvern stands on Belle Vue Terrace in the town centre. The Elgar Route, a 40-mile (64 km) drive passing some key landmarks from Elgar's life, passes through Malvern.[109] Malvern Concert Club, founded in 1903 by Elgar, holds concerts held in the Forum Theatre, Malvern Theatres. Its programmes focus on renaissance, baroque, classical, romantic and contemporary music.[110]

The Chandos Symphony Orchestra, under the professional direction of Michael Lloyd, has over 100 players. It specialises in performances of major works of the 19th and 20th Centuries.[111] The Autumn in Malvern Festival is an annual event featuring performances of artists of music, poetry, writers and film makers held during October every year.[112] The Colwell and other brass bands of the early century were part of the music of the town.[103] The opera singer Jenny Lind lived and died in Malvern, and is buried in Great Malvern cemetery. The British violinist Nigel Kennedy had a home in Malvern.[113] Julius Harrison (1885–1963), who was a contemporary of Elgar and Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music, lived in Pickersleigh Road for most of the 1940s.[114] He was music director at Malvern College and director of the early Elgar Festivals in Malvern.

In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, the Malvern Winter Gardens was a major regional venue for concerts by popular rock bands, including The Rolling Stones, Dave Berry, T-Rex, The Jam, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, The Undertones, and Joy Division.[115] Many of the 1960s concerts were staged by Bannister promotions while later events were promoted by Cherry Red, a London-based independent record label formed in 1978.[116]

Stephen Duffy and his folk pop group The Lilac Time were resident in the Malverns in the late 1980s, renting a house in West Malvern in which to write and rehearse the group's first albums. His songs of that era reference Madresfield Court, the lanes of West Malvern, the locality of Cowleigh Park and renowned Upper Colwall tea rooms The Kettle Sings (1928– ). Soon after this, Duffy collaborated on albums with - and toured with - Nigel Kennedy, also a one-time resident of Malvern.


Malvern Theatres, housed in the Winter Gardens complex in the town centre, is a provincial centre for the arts.[117] The first Malvern Drama Festival, which took place in 1929, was dedicated to Bernard Shaw and planned by Sir Barry Jackson.[118] A number of works have had their first performances at Malvern, six by Shaw including In Good King Charles's Golden Days, the 1929 English première of The Apple Cart,[14]:255 and the world première of Geneva in 1938.[119] In 1956 Malvern held a Shaw centenary week.[120] In February 1965 a Malvern Festival Theatre Trust was set up, and extensive refurbishment was undertaken. J B Priestley presided over the opening ceremony of the first summer season.[118] In 1998, a further £7.2 million major redesign and refurbishment took place with the help of contributions from the National Lottery Distribution Fund (NLDF), administered by the government Department for Culture, Media and Sport.[117]

The Theatre of Small Convenience entered the Guinness Book of World Records in 2002 as the smallest theatre in the world. Located in a former Victorian public convenience in the centre of the town in Edith Walk in, the theatre has a capacity of 12 people.[121] The theatre regularly hosts puppetry, professional and amateur actors, drama, poetry, storytelling and opera, and has become a regular venue of the Malvern Fringe Festival.

Malvern Fringe Festival, officially founded 1977, takes place over three days in June as a fringe to the Elgar Festival. The Fringe also organise an annual May Day celebration, and various musical and other live events throughout the year.[122] The Fringe aims to be inclusive; bridging the generation gap by providing a varied programme of events for the local people of Malvern aimed at all ages.


William Langland's famous 14th-century poem The Visions of Piers Plowman (1362) was inspired by the Malvern Hills and the earliest poetic allusion to them occurs in the poem And on a Maye mornynge on Malverne hylles. Langland, the reputed writer, was possibly educated at the priory of Great Malvern.[123] Several roads and buildings in Malvern are named after him.

Malvern entered the writings and lives of several 17th–19th century poets. These include

Michael Drayton: "While Malvern, king of hills, Severn overlooks", (Poly-Olbion, 1613, song 7),[124]
John Dyer: "By the blue steeps of distant Malvern wall'd" (The fleece, 1757, about sheep farming),[125]
Thomas Warton: "Health opes the healing power her chosen fount/ In ... Malvern's ample mount", (1790, Ode on his Majesty's birthday),[126]
Thomas Gray visited in 1770 during his final travels,[127]
Joseph Cottle: "As I climb ... One mass of glory ... A fairy vision!" (The Malvern Hills, 1798),[128]
William Wordsworth: church bells ring as "high as Malvern's cloudy crest" (1835, St. Catherine of Ledbury),[129]
Patrick Tytler died in Great Malvern, in 1849,[130]
Lord Macaulay: "Till twelve fair counties saw the blaze on Malvern's lonely height" (The Armada).[131]

C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien are among the authors that have frequented Malvern. Legend states that, after drinking in a Malvern pub one winter evening, they were walking home when it started to snow. They saw a lamp post shining out through the snow and Lewis turned to his friends and said "that would make a very nice opening line to a book". The novel The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by Lewis later used that image as the characters enter the realm of Narnia.[132][133] J.R.R. Tolkien found inspiration in the Malvern landscape[134] which he had viewed from his childhood home in Birmingham and his brother Hilary's home near Evesham.[135] He was introduced to the area by C. S. Lewis, who had brought him here to meet George Sayer, the Head of English at Malvern College. Sayer had been a student of Lewis, and became his biographer, and together with them Tolkien would walk the Malvern Hills. Recordings of Tolkien reading excerpts from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were made in Malvern in 1952, at the home of George Sayer. The recordings were later issued on long-playing gramophone records.[136] In the liner notes for J.R.R Tolkien Reads and Sings his The Hobbit & The Fellowship of the Rings, George Sayer wrote that Tolkien would relive the book as they walked and compared parts of the Malvern Hills to the White Mountains of Gondor.[135]

The poet W. H. Auden taught for three years in the 1930s at The Downs School, in the Malvern Hills. He wrote many poems there, including: This Lunar Beauty; Let Your Sleeping Head; My Love, Fish in the Unruffled Lakes; and Out on the Lawn I Lie in Bed. He also wrote the long poem about the hills and their views, called simply The Malverns.[137][138]

In his 1941 novel Mr Lucton's Freedom Halesowen-born novelist Francis Brett Young describes sleeping out on the Malvern Hills and seeing the sunrise over the town.[139][140]


The Enigma Fountain and statue of Edward Elgar, a group of sculptures by artist Rose Garrard located on Belle Vue Terrace

Works of art in Malvern include fountains, statues, and Malvern water spouts by the sculptor Rose Garrard. Among her sculptures are the statue of Sir Edward Elgar and the Enigma Fountain (Unveiled by Prince Andrew, Duke of York on Belle Vue Terrace, Malvern on 26 May 2000).[141] and the drinking spout, Malvhina, also on Belle Vue Terrace, which was unveiled on 4 September 1998.

The Malvinha Fountain in the town centre, a sculpture by artist Rose Garrard.

Garrard's Hand of Peace war memorial, a sculpture in Portland stone is located in the Barnards Green suburb of Malvern.[28]

Paintings of Malvern include Little Malvern Church by Joseph Farington now held by the Royal Academy, and a squared drawing by the art historian Robert Witt in the collection of the Courtauld Institute,[142] Joseph Powell's Great Malvern Priory ... from the North East (1797), now in the British Watercolours collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum.[143]

David Prentice, artist and one of the founder members of Birmingham's Ikon Gallery, has lived and worked in Malvern since 1990. He started painting the Malvern Hills when he retired in 1983.[144]

A sculpture of two buzzards by Walenty Pytel was installed in Rosebank Gardens, Great Malvern to commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in November 2012.[145]


Elgar, a drama documentary made in 1962 by the British director Ken Russell, was filmed on location in Malvern and Worcester. Several scenes were filmed in Malvern at locations including 'Forli' in Alexandra Road, 'Craeg Lea' in Malvern Wells and St Ann's Well in Great Malvern.[146] Made for BBC Television's long-running Monitor programme, it dramatised the life of the composer Edward Elgar. The film significantly raised the public profile of the composer.[147]

The Malvern landscape forms the backdrop for Penda's Fen, a 1974 British television play written by David Rudkin and directed by Alan Clarke for the BBC's Play for Today series. It tells the story of Stephen, a vicar's son who has visions of angels, Edward Elgar, and King Penda, the last pagan ruler of England.[148][149] The final scene of the play, where the protagonist has an apparitional experience of King Penda and the "mother and father of England" and King Penda, is set on the Malvern Hills.[150]

The Tank Quarry on North Hill and West of England Quarry on the Worcestershire Beacon were used as locations in the Doctor Who serial The Krotons, starring Patrick Troughton. The serial was broadcast in four weekly parts from 28 December 1968 to 18 January 1969.[151][152][153]

Great Malvern railway station featured in 1975 as the commuter-belt railway station in the first episode of Survivors (1975 TV series), the post-apocalyptic fiction drama television series created by Terry Nation and produced by Terence Dudley at the BBC.

Malvern water

Main article: Malvern water
St Ann's Well spout

Malvern spring water flows freely from a number of fountains or spouts throughout the Malvern area. Upkeep of these historical springs is funded by several organisations, including the Town Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Malvern Spa Association, and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.[154] The water became famous for containing "nothing at all".[42] It was the reason for Malvern becoming a spa town and has formed a part of both local and national culture since Queen Elizabeth I made a point of drinking it in public in the 16th century, and Queen Victoria refused to travel without it.[155] It is also a bottled water used by Queen Elizabeth II[156] Until November 2010 when the plant was closed due to lack of profitability, millions of litres of Malvern water were bottled annually by Coca-Cola Enterprises under the Schweppes brand in a factory near Malvern and distributed worldwide. Malvern water is still being bottled from the original source by a family run business under the name Holywell Spring Water.[157]

Twin town

Malvern has since 2013 been twinned with Mariánské Lázně, a spa town in the Czech Republic,[158] and since 2016 also with Bagnères-de-Bigorre, a spa town in France.[159]

Malvern pudding

Main article: Malvern pudding

Places of worship

Landsdown Methodist Church, Great Malvern

In addition to the 12th century priory, during and shortly after Malvern's expansion throughout the second half of the 19th century over twenty Christian churches were built. Many of these are reproductions of 13th and 14th century architecture including Church of St Matthias, Malvern Link (C of E) begun in 1843, which has a full set of ten ringing bells on which the first full peal of Grandsire Triples was rung on 1 June 1901.[160] One of the most recent buildings is St Mary's Church (C of E), in Sherrards Green, a modern church built c1960.

Pevsner mentions the following 19th and early 20th century churches in Malvern in his book on Worcestershire:[28] All Saints, (The Wyche), 1903, by Nevinson and Newton (or possibly Troyte Griffith); St. Andrew in Poolbrook, 1885, contains a font inscribed 1724, by Blomfield; Ascension (Leigh Sinton Road) 1903, by Sir Walter Tapper, with a high metal screen by G. Bainbridge Reynolds; Christ Church (Avenue Road), 1875-6, by T.D.Barry & Sons, with unexpected cross gable; Chapel of the Convent of the Holy Name, (Ranelagh Road), 1893, by Comper, with wagon roof and stained glass; St. Joseph (Newtown Road), 1876, by T.R. Donnelly; St. Matthias (Church Road), original by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, 1844–46, enlarged and altered by F.W. Hunt, 1880–81, painted dado and stained glass; Our Lady and St. Edmund (College Road), 1905, by P. P. Pugin; St. Peter (St. Peter's Road), 1863-6, by G. E. Street, with crazy paving of Malvern granite; Holy Trinity, (Worcester Road), 1850-1, by S. Daukes, enlarged 1872 by Haddon brothers; with plate and stained glass; Congregational Church, (Queen's Drive), 1875, by J. Tait of Leicester; Emmanuel, (Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion), 1874, by Haddon brothers.

Health and emergency services

Malvern has a community hospital in Malvern Link. The hospital was constructed on the grounds of a former independent school, Seeford Court, and began operation in 2010. It was officially opened by The Princess Royal in March 2011.[161] Major health facilities are provided by hospitals in Worcester. The town has seven health centres,[162] including a health complex in Malvern Link[163] and a group practice on Pickersleigh Road.[164] Malvern also has several nursing and retirement homes for the care of senior citizens. The Malvern area is covered by the Midlands Air Ambulance service, which has operated from the site of Strensham motorway services since 1991.[165]

Malvern is served by the West Midlands Ambulance Service operated by the NHS Trust.[166] The ambulance station is located in Victoria Road, Great Malvern, near the town centre.

Other emergency services are provided by West Mercia Police from a station in Victoria Road, and the Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service that has a station in Worcester Road, Malvern Link.


Major road access to the area is provided by the A449 road that runs through the centre of Malvern, connecting it to Worcester and Ledbury. The M5 motorway (West Bromwich near Birmingham to Exeter in Devon) is accessible at junctions 7 and 8 to the east of Malvern. The M50 motorway (Tewkesbury to Ross-on-Wye), also known as the Ross Spur to the south is accessed at junction 1 on the A38 road between Tewkesbury and Malvern.

Two railway stations approximately one mile (1.6 km) apart at Great Malvern and Malvern Link, provide direct services to Worcester, Hereford, Birmingham, Oxford, Cheltenham, Gloucester, South West England and London Paddington.

Malvern bus services include several circular local routes connecting the main residential and commercial areas and out-of-town shopping malls.[167] Other routes serve the surrounding towns and villages,[168][169] Cheltenham,[170] and the cities of Gloucester, Hereford,[171] and Worcester,[172][173] while long-distance direct bus services connect Malvern with other cities in the country, including the National Express route 321 through eleven counties from Aberdare in South Wales via Birmingham and other major cities, to Bradford in West Yorkshire,[174] and route 444 from Worcester to London (Victoria).[174] Operators include Astons Coaches, Diamond Bus, DRM Coaches, and First Midland Red.[175]

Air services operate from Birmingham Airport approximately one hour by road via the M5 and M42 motorways. Gloucestershire Airport located at Staverton, in the borough of Tewkesbury is a busy general aviation airport used mainly for private charter and scheduled flights to destinations such as the islands of Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man, pilot training, and by the aircraft of emergency services.[176]

Taxi services are provided by numerous local firms.[177]


Primary schools

Elementary education is provided by thirteen primary schools in the town and its suburbs including eight Church of England, one Roman Catholic, and four non-denominational state schools.[178] With the exception of The Grove (1962), Poolbrook Primary School (1977), and Northleigh (1991) that replaced the Cowleigh C of E school destroyed by arson in 1989,[179] all the Malvern primary schools were established between 1836 and 1916, during and shortly after the town's rapid development as a spa.[178]

High schools

The Chase Technology College in Barnards Green is a secondary school with over 1700 pupils. It is a specialist Technology, Language and Science college under the specialist schools programme, and has been awarded Beacon School status. Its most recent OFSTED inspection, in February 2014, described the school as "Requiring improvement".[180]

Dyson Perrins Church of England Academy in Malvern Link, a Church of England school with almost 1000 pupils, is a specialist Sports College. An OFSTED inspection in January 2015 rated the school as "Good"[181]

Hanley Castle High School, with around 1000 pupils including its sixth form centre, is a specialist Language College and was founded in 1326 as a chantry school, making it one of the oldest schools in England. Although located in the village of Hanley Castle about 4 miles (6.4 km) from the town, a large number of its pupils are drawn from the Malvern area.[182]

Independent schools

Malvern St James girls school main building

Two large independent 'public' schools Malvern College for boys and girls and Malvern St James for girls – now remain following mergers of Malvern's many private primary and secondary schools.[183][184]

Malvern College is a coeducational public school, founded in 1865. Until 1992, it was a school for boys aged 13 to 18. Following a merger with Ellerslie School for Girls in 1992 it became coeducational. Further mergers with Hillstone and The Downs preparatory schools has created a coeducational school for pupils from 3 to 18 years old. Among its alumni are two Nobel Laureates (James Meade[185] and Francis William Aston[186]), an Olympic Gold medalist (Arnold Jackson),[187] and leading politicians.

Malvern St James was formed in 2006 by the merger of Malvern Girls' College and St. James's School, West Malvern (formerly St James's and The Abbey) and other mergers with local private schools over the last thirty years. It is now the last of the independent girls' schools in the Malvern area. The main building of Malvern St James on the campus of the former Malvern Girls' College is the former Imperial Hotel, built in the second half of the 19th century.[183]

The Abbey College is an international boarding school providing education mainly for students from countries outside the United Kingdom. Founded in 1974, it provides pre university preparation for mixed gender students aged 14 to 20.

Further education

The Malvern campus of South Worcestershire College is a centre for further education providing government certificate vocational courses for adults and post 14-year-old students.[188] Malvern also has an active University of the Third Age that was founded at Malvern Hills College in 1995. Its inaugural meeting was attended by around 150 members of the public, and by 2011 it had over 80 interest groups and 1,100 members.[189]


Priory Park with Malvern Theatres complex and Priory Church tower in the background

The Priory Park with its adjoining Malvern Splash pool and Winter Gardens complex occupies a large area in the centre of the town. The Winter Gardens complex is home to the Malvern Theatres, a cinema, a concert venue/banqueting room, bars and cafeterias.[118] For almost half a century, the Malvern Winter Gardens has also been a leisure centre and a major regional venue for classical music, and concerts by major rock bands of the 60s, 70s and 80s.[190] The Splash Leisure Complex flanks the eastern boundary of Priory Park and has an indoor swimming pool and gymnasium. In the town centre is also an extensive public Library that includes access to the Internet and many community services.

The Worcestershire Way, a waymarked long-distance trail located within the county of Worcestershire, runs 31 miles (50 km) from Bewdley to Great Malvern.[191]


The Manor Park Club multi-sports complex, close to the town centre, provides the area with indoor and outdoor sports facilities including tennis, squash, indoor bowls, racketball, archery and table tennis. It is assisted by grants from various bodies, including the Malvern Hills District Council, the Sport England Lottery, and the Lawn Tennis Association.[192] In 2010, a new indoor facility was unveiled at the club by tennis player Tim Henman.[193] Traditional outdoor bowls is played on a green in Priory Park. Other public areas such as Victoria Park in Malvern Link provide space for field sports and tennis. Malvern Town FC has a football first team that plays in the West Midlands Regional League and which has twice reached the third qualifying round of the FA Cup. The Malvern Hills are a popular launching site for hang gliding and paragliding and Malvern has a local hang gliding club.[194] Cricket is provided for at Barnards Green Cricket Club, a professional class ground.

Notable people

In addition to those born in Malvern, notable people came to the town to be cured (mentioned above), to be educated or teach at the many independent schools: see articles on Malvern College, Malvern St James, the merger of St. James School and Malvern College for Girls, and Malvern College Prep. (The Downs), or to work at TRE, RRDE, their merger RRE and its successor organisations leading (as of 2011) to QinetiQ,[195] The Hills have inspired poets and novelists.[133][137]



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Further reading

Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Malvern (England).
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Malvern, Worcestershire.

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