Malvern, or Great Malvern (St. Mary)

MALVERN, or Great Malvern (St. Mary), a parish, in the union of Upton-upon-Severn, Lower division of the hundred of Pershore, Upton and W. divisions of the county of Worcester, 8 miles (W.) from Worcester; containing 2768 inhabitants. This place is situated on the eastern declivity of a range of hills separating the counties of Worcester and Hereford, and extending from north to south for nearly nine miles, the greatest elevation being 1440 feet; the heights vary from one to two miles in breadth from east to west, and the most important are the Worcestershire and Herefordshire beacons, the summits of which command highly interesting views extending over several counties. The intrenchments of the British camp, so often the subject of antiquarian research, occupy the greater portion of the Herefordshire Beacon, hence denominated the "Camp Hill;" and at its base is an intrenchment reputed to have been formed by Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, as a boundary between his portion of Malvern Chase and that then belonging to the Bishop of Hereford. Here was a hermitage endowed by Edward the Confessor, which, after the Conquest, was converted into a Benedictine priory, a church and conventual buildings being erected in 1083, by Aldewine, the hermit, and endowed by Gisleber, abbot of Westminster, with ample possessions. The priory was subordinate to the abbey of Westminster, and subsisted till the Dissolution, when the revenue was estimated at £375. 0. 6.

The parish comprises 4297a. 1r. 11p. of land, exclusive of common and waste. The village or town is situated in an elevated, dry, and sheltered situation fronting the vale of the Severn, and is one of the most ancient and celebrated inland watering-places in Great Britain, having frequently been honoured by royal visits, and being always the residence of many of the nobility and gentry: Her present Majesty, when Princess, resided here with her august mother, for some time. The society is of the first order; during the summer months the place is very full, and often crowded. There are several excellent hotels, the principal of which are the Foley Arms and the Belle Vue, with various boarding and lodging houses; many of the mansions are surrounded by extensive shrubberies and pleasure-grounds. The library is a handsome building in the Italian style, and is well supplied with books and newspapers; a part is appropriated to a bazaar, and adjoining are baths and billiard-rooms. The purity and invigorating quality of the waters here, for the use of which the most elegant accommodation is provided, and the salubrity of the air, have long given celebrity to Malvern, as a retreat for invalids. The water of St. Ann's Well, on the side of the Worcestershire Beacon, contains, on analysis, the following proportions: of sulphuric acid, ·660 gr.; muriatic acid, ·640; soda, ·300; lime, ·205; magnesia, ·528; silicious matter, ·500; precipitate, and loss, ·167; total 3·000. There is a similar spring, called the Holy Well, about two miles southward (see Malvern Wells); and a little below the church is a mild chalybeate. On the eastern side of North Hill are "The Tanks," built at the expense of Charles Morris, Esq., of Portmansquare, for the use of the neighbouring poor.

The living is a discharged rectory, valued in the king's books at £8. 3. 4., and in the patronage of Lady Emily Foley; net income, about £300; impropriator, Earl Beauchamp. The church, formerly that of the Benedictine priory, was purchased at the Dissolution by the inhabitants, and made parochial; it is a beautiful and venerable cruciform structure, with an embattled tower rising from the centre. Part of it was rebuilt under the direction of Sir Reginald Bray, in the reign of Henry VII., and the exterior is in the style of that period. The interior retains much of its original character: the nave is Norman, with low massive piers and circular arches; the chancel, aisles, and remaining transept are in the pointed style. The ancient windows are exceedingly magnificent. For the preservation of this noble building, the public are in a great degree indebted to the late vicar, the Rev. Henry Card, D.D., who during a period of thirty years was indefatigable in obtaining subscriptions for its repair. The south aisle of the chancel has recently been restored, and fitted up with a pulpit, lectern, benches, and a screen of richly carved oak, at the expense of the present vicar; it is used for week-day and occasional services. At Barnard's Green is a church dedicated to St. Mary, built in 1844, at a cost of £2000; it is in the early English style, with a campanile tower: the living is in the patronage of the Vicar. The Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion have a place of worship. Two national schools are supported by subscription, affording instruction to nearly 300 children. A dispensary was established in 1830, and a visiting society in 1840.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.