Places of Interest
The Drive takes you past a number of the houses in which Elgar lived and other places with particular Elgarian associations, although it will be necessary to stop and get out of the car to appreciate many of them, particularly in the centre of Malvern. Please remember, however, that houses indicated with an asterisk (*) are still private homes, so please respect the privacy of their current residents.
Although you can join and leave The Drive at any point, it is constructed to begin and end at the Birthplace Museum where you can gain an appreciation of Elgar’s life and of the significance of
the various locations you will visit on the route. The Museum is open from 11am until 5pm seven days a week from February to December. There is a small admission charge.
Elgar’s Birthplace (formerly the Firs), Lower Broadheath – 3 miles west of the Cathedral City of Worcester is the birthplace of Edward Elgar on 2 June 1857. After Elgar’s death in accordance with his wishes, the cottage was set up as a museum by the Elgar Birthplace Trust which had been established by Elgar’s daughter Mrs Carice Elgar Blake and friends of the composer.
- Elgar lived here until the age of two.
- He loved his Birthplace and surroundings more than any of his later homes and expressed the hope that it would be preserved as a museum to his memory. “It’s the only wish I’ve got,” he is reputed to have said. After his death, his daughter achieved this dream.
- The adjacent visitor centre was opened in 2000.
Birchwood Lodge – It was here that he learnt to ride a bicycle, allowing him to explore more of the surrounding countryside which became the inspiration for much of his music.
- Rented by the Elgars from 1898 to 1903 to escape the bustle of Malvern;
- Elgar completed much of Caractacus, Sea Pictures and The Dream of Gerontius here, in a room with a view of the Malverns.
- From here he wrote to Jaeger: “The trees are singing my music, or have I sung theirs.”
St Wulstan’s Church – Built in 1862, it lies just below the Worcester-Ledbury Road at Little Malvern and it was here that Lady Elgar was buried in 1920, Elgar in 1934 and their daughter Carice Elgar blake in 1970.
- Elgar’s daughter Carice arranged for him to be buried beside his wife Alice in the graveyard of St Wulstan’s Catholic Church on the slopes of the Malverns. It was a private funeral with no music.
- In contrast, the slow movement of Elgar’s String Quartet was played here at Alice’s funeral in 1920.
- Carice herself is buried nearby
Craeg Lea – 86 Wells Road snuggles into the Malvern hillside. The study on the first floor afforded magnificent views across the Severn Valley.
- Elgar lived here from 1899 to 1904.
- Elgar named the house Craeg Lea, an anagram of ‘Elgar’ and his, Alice’s and Carice’s initials.
- He composed the first two ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ marches, the overtures Cockaigne and In the South, and The Apostles here.
- Elgar particularly liked the wonderful view from Craeg Lea across the Severn valley to Bredon Hill.
Herefordshire Beacon (British Camp) – has three nearly complete rows of entrenchments and is reputedly one of the largest ancient British camps in this country. This was the inspiration for Elgar’s Cantata of 1898 ‘Caractacus’.
- In 1896 Elgar received a commission to write a large scale work for the 1898 Leeds Festival.
- At the suggestion of his mother, Elgar wrote a cantata on the life of Caractacus, who fought against the Roman invasion and whose base was reputedly the hillfort called British Camp on the Malvern Hills.
- When Elgar was seriously ill in later life, it was the “Woodland Interlude” from Caractacus that he wished to hear.
Forli, Alexandra Road – The Elgars rented this house in Alexandra Rd, which they named Forli.
- Following their marriage in 1889, and after failing to establish a career in London, the Elgars returned to Malvern.
- They remained here for 8 years, during which period Elgar composed works such as The Black Knight, King Olaf, From the Bavarian Highlands and, most importantly, the ‘Enigma’ Variations.