Did you know that Great Malvern inspired C.S Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien? Or that the painter Dame Laura Knight took such loved holidays to the Malverns she moved here? Or that one of Britain’s most famous composers, Edward Elgar, wrote many of his pieces in the shade of the Malvern Hills? The Malverns has a long history of attracting musicians, authors, artists and creatives of all types to its slopes, so why not come and drink in the creative juices for yourself with a cultured holiday in The Malverns.
Visit Elgar’s Birthplace and St Wulstan’s Church
Preserved by his daughter Carice, Edward Elgar’s birthplace The Firs now stands as a museum dedicated to the famous composer. A visit to the pretty cottage creates a sense of closeness to the great musician and gives an insight into the surroundings and environment that inspired his work.
Also worth a visit is St Wulstan’s Church where Elgar is buried. The Elgar family, Alice Elgar, her husband Edward and daughter Carice, walked the mile from their home in Malvern Wells to attend the church on Sundays during the late 1800’s. The whole family is buried here. Its a lovely spot, especially in Spring – it’s not hard to see why this creative family was so enamoured with The Malverns. See our page on The Elgar Route below for the best walks, cycles and drives to take in all the Elgar-related sights:
Take a Narnia Inspired Gas Lamp Walk and Call into The Unicorn Pub
A well-told local tale around The Malverns is that, when walking back from the pub (possibly The Unicorn on Bellevue Terrace which the pair were known to frequent) one winter evening C.S Lewis remarked to his friend J.R.R. Tolkien that the image of Malvern’s ornate gas lamp’s glowing against the snow would make an excellent opening to a book. You can pick up a map of the numerous Victorian gas lamps still installed today from Great Malvern Tourist Information Office and take yourself on a walk through the landscape that Lewis and Tolkien’s enjoyed. It has also been suggested that the wardrobe like entrance to Great Malvern Priory, through which you can see a gas lamp, could have inspired the famous wardrobe.
A great many writers have been inspired by the landscapes of The Malverns, take this Literary Trail to see for yourself:
Stay at Dame Laura Knights Favourite Countryside Getaway
The Colwall Park hotel was a favourite of Dame Laura Knight, one of Britain’s most celebrated artists, and the first woman to have a dedicated large scale retrospective exhibition of work at the Royal Academy. Knight painted The Malverns numerous times on her visits – her famous wartime painting “Betty and William Jacklin” of a mother, baby and pet rabbit shows the Malvern countryside in the background. Knight split her time between London and Malvern and moved to the countryside hotel for a period later in her life. Read the story of one lucky visitors experience meeting her as a child staying at the hotel: Local Malvern Hotel Celebrates Longest Returning Guest of 80 Years – Visit The Malverns
The hotel today still provides the perfect environment for an artists retreat and is aptly located for those creatives wishing emulate Laura and work “en plein air” on the Malvern Hills.
Experience Creative Workshops at The Fold
The Fold was established as a community facility where individuals can come together and work towards sustainability, creativity and wellbeing. As well as being a working organic farm with farm shop and café it houses community of studio shops, local businesses and artisans. Many of these artists and makers run workshops to share their craft including jewellers, painters, illustrators and textile artists. Keep an eye on their events page to see what you could learn.
See World Class Performances at the Malvern Theatres
The Malvern Theatres has been providing entertainment to the people of Malvern and visitors from further afield since it was built in 1885. During the 1960’s and 70’s the theatres hosted many well known bands such as The Who, Pink Floyd, AC/DC and Black Sabbath. Today the theatre displays a diverse range of theatre, film, comedy, music and hosts workshops and community groups.
Take a Creative Writing Class at The Cube
Local community centre The Cube runs a regular creative writing workshop. Suitable for any level of writer the group provides an opportunity for friendly feedback on your prose and weekly exercises designed to level up your skills.
Learn a New Craft Elmslie House
Set in a beautifully restored Victorian house on one of Great Malverns leafy streets Elmslie House is a hub for all things creative. Throughout the year their calendar is packed with exhibitions, craft fairs, creative workshops, music and more. Among other things, coming up this summer is “Printing with Leaves with Clare Walsh” a class where dyes and heat are used to print fabric with real leaves and a class on enamelling copper to make jewellery.
Other Local Art Classes
If it’s honing your aristic talent you want then The Malverns is the place to do it, here is just a selection of the classes you can take:
Art Classes by ColourWheel : With something new to learn every week, novices to experienced artists are welcome at these relaxed classes. Learn to draw and paint with different mediums guided by experienced teachers.
Draw, Paint, Make, Create With Artistry Elf : Everyone has an artist inside them! Unlock yours with adult art classes, specialist workshops or craft and create afternoons. All taught by Elizabeth, an artist, designer and teacher with over 20 years of experience.
Eastnor Pottery & The Flying Potter: Learn the techniques of pottery in a beautiful rural location.
Browse Local Artisan and Craft Markets
The busy artists and makers of The Malverns support numerous long running craft markets in the area. Perfect for a mooch around, finding that unique gift or soaking up some ideas for your next project.
Malvern Art Market is one of the longest running markets of its kind in the area. It boasts lots of stalls selling beautiful, handmade items such as paintings, jewellery, bags, decorations and wooden toys. The market is held in the Great Malvern Priory grounds in the centre of Great Malvern.
Malvern Artisan Craft Market is a monthly craft market in the centre of Great Malvern based at Lyttelton Well Hall. Two floors of local crafters, makers and artists showcasing some of their favourite products. A great opportunity to find some unique gifts and treats. Entry is free and the market runs from 10am-3pm. Takes place on the last Saturday of each month (with an exception in December when it is the 2nd Sat).
Kyre Park Makers Market next taking place Sunday 3 July 2022 at Kyre Park Antiques Barn. Tickets include access to the lovely Kyre Park gardens and onsite also is the antiques barn offering antiques, furniture, decorative items and a café.
Discover Galleries around The Malverns
The Malverns are lucky to host a wide range of galleries and studios selling locally made arts and crafts. Talented makers have turned their hands to pretty much every medium and many of them create art that pays homage to the area that has inspired them. The Malvern Hills Gallery is a co-operative selling locally crafted paintings, woodturnings, greeting cards, textiles, lights, leaded glass, clocks and much more. Iapetus Gallery sells crafts created by over 100 artists, including handmade fine jewellery, glass, ceramics, homeware and more. Spotty Dog Gallery and Tearoom in Tenbury Wells sells original artwork alongside a mean slice of cake. Rankin and Rees is a contemporary artist based in Upton upon Severn who creates vibrant paintings and takes commissions and recently opened an art and gift shop in Great Malvern; Kate Modern. There is also a good selection of framers, art restorers and supply shops.
Experience Public Art in The Malverns
Despite its creative heart, Malvern unfortunately has no official art gallery. Happily there are some public art pieces you can enjoy as you wander around Great Malvern.
The Buzzards and Lark Ascending statues by world-renowned metal sculptor Walenty Pytel are a dynamic addition to the lovely Rosebank Gardens. The Buzzards were originally installed for the Queens Diamond Jubilee, and the Skylarks added later inspired by the poem “The Lark Ascending” by George Meredith.
If you take a right on Church Street in Great Malvern, at the Malvern Bakehouse, and carry on down Edith Walk there are public exhibitions displayed on the walls leading to Waitrose. To date there have been many fantastic, free art exhibitions including work from the talented GCSE and A-level students at The Chase Highschool and the intricate works of The Malvern Quilters.
During the Water and Well Dressing festival, which happens every spring, community groups from around The Malverns decorate the many wells and springs that bubble up around the district. This is one of the largest community art projects in the region and displays the artistry runs in the veins of The Malverns.
Some other pieces of public art in The Malverns include;
- Malvina Fountain on Bellevue Island created by local artist Rose Garrard
- Elgar Statue and Enigma Fountain on Bellevue Island also by Rose Garrard
- The Hand of Peace in Malvern Link also by Rose Garrard
- Malvern Library War Memorial – Statue of an Angel
- Woman and Seal wooden statue in Priory Park by Tom Harvey
- The Hobbit Door on Bellevue Island by Phil Ironside
- The Edward Elgar Murals at Wells Road bus shelter beneath Rosebank Gardens (pictured)