Take a walk
A Walk around Elgar’s Malvern
Malvern is by its nature hilly and a walk around the town inevitably involves some ups and downs. But many of the Elgarian sights in Malvern cannot easily be seen from the road and a gentle stroll from the long-stay car park in Priory Road to the Elgar statue just below the A449 takes in most of the more important locations. There are also a number of places for refreshment.
1. Priory Park: The park contains a plinth which once supported a bust of Elgar, unveiled in 1960 and sculpted by Hilary Carruthers, at the time a student at the Malvern School of Art. The bust has since been moved to the Malvern Theatres where it can now be seen by concert-goers.
2. Malvern Theatres: Opened in 1885 as the Malvern Assembly Rooms, Elgar regularly attended concerts here and the Malvern Concert Club, which he founded, still meets here regularly. The venue was modernised in 1928 in preparation for the first Malvern Festival, founded by theatre impresario Barry Jackson, and again during the late 1990s, re-opening in 1998.
3. Priory Gatehouse: Elgar’s close friend, architect Troyte Griffith, immortalised in the seventh ‘Enigma’ Variation, had his offices in the gatehouse for many years. The gatehouse is now home to the Malvern Local History Museum which celebrates Malvern’s Victorian heritage, including Elgar’s place in its history.
4. The Elgar Statue: The statue on Belle Vue Terrace, by sculptor Rose Garrard, was erected in 2000. Round the base of the accompanying fountain are inscribed the names of the ‘Enigma’ Variations, together with the first four lines of The Music Makers. There are other Elgar statues in Worcester and Hereford.
5. The Gentlemen’s Club: The sturdy brick-and-stone building on the lower corner of Church Street and Grange Road housed a gentleman’s club during Elgar’s time. Here, among the well-appointed surroundings including a large, first-floor billiard room, men could relax, away from the attentions of their women folk!
6. The Mount*: Until he became famous, Elgar supplemented his meagre income from composing by teaching the violin to the girls at a private school at The Mount run by a Miss Rosa Burley.
Rosa became an Elgar family friend and she would often go cycling with Elgar around the lanes of Worcestershire. She later wrote at length about her friendship with the Elgar family.
7. Lawnside*: Almost facing The Mount across the road junction, Lawnside was also a girls’ school during the 1920s. Barry Jackson, organiser of the Malvern Festival, would hire Lawnside during the Festival, using the facilities to entertain guests and participants. Elgar was a frequent visitor, and there are photos of him at Lawnside, chatting with George Bernard Shaw and other notable visitors.
* denotes properties in private ownership.