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Great Malvern, Worcestershire

Historical Description

Malvern, Great, a town, the head of a petty sessional division and county court district, and a parish in Worcestershire. The town stands on an eastern slope of the Malvern Hills, at the junction of the Worcester and Hereford section of the G.W.R. with the Ashchurch, Tewkesbury, and Malvern section of the M.R., 1½ mile NNE of the boundary with Herefordshire, 8½ miles SW by W of Worcester, and 129½ distant by rail from London. It was till recently a mere village, yet it dates from ancient times. A hermitage was founded here in the time of Edward the Confessor, and was converted by Aldwin-with the aid of Bishop Wulstan of Worcester-into a Benedictine priory. The priory was subject to the jurisdiction of Westminster; enjoyed for a long period much ecclesiastical influence; and at the dissolution of monasteries the church was purchased by the inhabitants to be used as a parish church. A song composed in the time of James I. says- " Great Malvern, on a rock thou dwellest surely, Do not thyself forget, living securely; Thou hast a famous church, and rarely builded; No country town hath such, most men have yielded, For pillars stout and strong, and windows large and long; Eemember, in thy song, to praise the Lord."

The town is well built; contains numerous terrace lines of good houses; makes an imposing display of hotels, boarding houses, and public buildings; and has in its centre promenade gardens. Its environs are highly picturesque; its climate is highly salubrious; and its bathing and medicinal waters, aided by hydropathic establishments, have eminent repute. The town owes its modern growth mainly to the resort of invalids. The assembly rooms and pleasure gardens, erected in 1884, cover an area of 6 acres, and comprise concert hall, promenade, arcade with shops, &c., and well laid-out grounds. The Lyttelton Booms, rebuilt in 1887, contain class and lecture rooms, &c., the church institute, and the grammar school, and have a clock tower. The hydropathic establishment is a handsome buildiug 500 feet above sea-level, and provides accommodation for patients and visitors. A handsome drinking-fountain was erected in the town in 1877 as a memorial to Dr James Wilson, who introduced the hydropathic treatment into England. A very large hotel stands adjacent to the railway station, erected in 1862 by a public company; it presents a highly ornate appearance, and has a conspicuous tower. Other hotels and boarding houses are numerous. The Malvern Club is a handsome building in the Palladian style. Malvern College stands on a beautiful spot commanding an extensive view of the valley of the Severn, and was built in 1865. It is in the Decorated style, on a ground plan in the form of an E; measures 210 feet along the W front; has there a central turreted tower 100 feet high, a two-storeyed centre extending from the tower, the ends of two wings in the form of two church-like gables with seven-light windows, and a detached ornate chapel with slender spire; comprises a classical school and a modern school in two large wing-buildings whose W ends form the gables of the W front; includes an open quadrangle in the rear, between these two buildings; has two principal schoolrooms, each 97 feet long, 35 wide, and 57 high; affords accommodation for 600 boys; and conducts its course of instruction on the system of the great public schools. An excellent museum is connected with the college, and contains a valuable collection of fossils found in the district There are a working men's institute, a rural hospital, and a dispensary. The parish church, the church of the quondam priory, is partly Early Norman but chiefly Perpendicular. It is a large and handsome cruciform structure, with a fine central tower 124 feet high, resembling that of Gloucester Cathedral. It comprises presbytery with an ambulatory of three bays and aisles, N transept, Jesus chapel, nave of six bays with aisles, and N porch with parvise. Of the original Norman church only the arcades of the nave remain; they are low and very plain, and are surmounted by a lofty Perpendicular clerestory. There was formerly a Decorated Lady chapel, which has disappeared. The church was carefully restored in 1860-64 by Sir Gilbert Scott. It contains a quantity of ancient beautiful glass, quaintly carved tiles (encaustic), which were manufactured by the monks in a kiln near the church. The monuments include an effigy of a knight (a Corbet) in chain armour, an alabaster tomb with recumbent figures of John Knottesford (1589) and his wife, a beautiful modern monument by Hollings, and a memorial of Sir H. Lambert, Bart., by Scott. The gateway of the ancient priory still stands, and is a beautiful specimen of Perpendicular architecture. Christ Church is a modern edifice in the Decorated style, and was erected in 1875 as a memorial to the late Rev. G. Fisk, rector of Malvern. The Chance Memorial Chapel, on Malvern Common, is a licensed building. There is also a school chapel at the Wyche. There are Roman Catholic, Congregational, Wesleyan, Primitive Methodist, and Reformed Episcopal chapels, and a Friends' meeting-house. The Wesleyan chapel was built in 1866; is in the Early English style; comprises nave, transept, and apse, with a pinnacled tower 104 feet high. The Roman Catholic chapel was built in 1863. The public cemetery occupies a space of about 5A acres, and was opened in 1861 and enlarged in 1871. A suite of almshouses, in result of a munificent bequest of £60,000 by the Earl of Beanchamp, was founded in 1862. The town has a head post office and two banks, and publishes two weekly newspapers.

The waters of Malvern, which greatly attract invalids, are remarkably limpid, and owe their reputed virtues probably quite as much to extreme purity as to any positive medicinal qualities; they are used for bathing as well as for drinking, and prove eminently suitable to the hydropathic establishments. Two springs are mainly in request, the one, called St Anne's, in the E part of the town, near the parish church, the other called Holywell at Malvern Wells. The water of St Anne's contains, per gallon, 3'45 grains of carbonate of soda, 1'48 of sulphate of soda, '955 of muriate of soda, '352 of carbonate of lime, "328 of carbonate of iron, and "47 of residuum; and that of the Holywell contains 5'33 of carbonate of soda, 2'896 of sulphate of soda, 1'553 of muriate of soda, 1'6 of carbonate of lime, "625 of carbonate of iron, and 1'687 of residuum. St Anne's Well is very picturesquely situated, and every desirable accommodation exists for drinking the waters and for hot and cold bathing.

The civil parish contains also the ecclesiastical parishes of North Malvern, Christchurch, and Guarlford. Acreage, 4560; population, 8450. Malvern Chase, once a forest, originally contained over 8000 acres; a portion of it was alienated in the time of Charles I., and numerous enclosures and encroachments having been made an Act of Parliament, known as the Malvern Hills Act, was passed in 1884 placing the hills and commons under the protection of the Board of Conservators. The Worcestershire and Herefordshire Beacons are the highest summits of the Malvern Hills. (See following article.) Population of the ecclesiastical parish of Great Malvern, 3228; of Christchurch (constituted in 1872), 2571. The livings of St Mary's and Christchurch are vicarages in the diocese of Worcester; gross value of St Mary's, £300 with residence; net value of Christchurch, £300 with residence.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyWorcestershire 
Ecclesiastical parishMalvern St. Mary 
Poor Law unionUpton-upon-Severn 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Great Malvern from the following:

Land and Property

The full transcript of the Worcestershire section of the Return of Owners of Land, 1873.


Online maps of Great Malvern are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Worcestershire papers online:

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitation of Worcestershire 1569 is available on the Heraldry page.

DistrictMalvern Hills
RegionWest Midlands
Postal districtWR14
Post TownMalvern