Malvern is a spa town in Worcestershire. It has been famous for its bottled water since 1622. The town was the chosen location for the British government in case of evacuation from London during World War II.
On their first visit to Malvern, visitors can easily find themselves getting lost due to the number of places bearing the name 'Malvern'. This stems from the fact that the town of 'Malvern' used to consist of several separate settlements, and that it is still surrounded by a collection of villages on the slopes of the Malvern Hills. These villages are known as 'The Malverns' (as are the hills) and consist of:
Great Malvern is the main town, with the historic Priory Church, a few shopping streets and most of the civic amenities. Malvern Link is a smaller settlement to the north, lying along the main road to Worcester, also featuring a nice common and old Victorian architecture. Malvern Wells is a small village south of the town, famed for its spring water. West Malvern is the only part of the town on the western face of the hills and overlooks Herefordshire. North Malvern is a small village to the north of the town. Little Malvern is a small village to the south featuring a lovely church.
The name Malvern probably comes from the ancient British language, with Mal-Bryn meaning 'Bare-Hill', the nearest modern equivalent being the Welsh moelfryn (bald hill). Iron Age tribes used the hills as a fortification, building a complex moat and trench network to guard their outposts, the remnants of which can still clearly be seen on British Camp. Little is known about the village until around 1075, when Benedictine monks began work on Malvern Priory. The village remained inconspicuous until the Victorian Age, when Malvern's famous waters, noted for centuries by locals by their purity, became of interest to experimenting doctors who began to advocate hydrotherapy in the waters as a cure for a wide variety of ailments. The resulting boom in medical tourism brought a great influx of wealth to the town, and the construction of a railway station in 1860 greatly increased the number of people visiting the area. Many of the prettiest and grandest buildings in the town date from this era, notably the former Great Western Railway Hotel, a grandiose building overlooking the railway station which now forms the main headquarters of the prestigious Malvern St James' College.
During the Second World War, Malvern was also important as it became the base for many government scientists working on radar (many of the huts and installations are still intact around the town) and the Defence Research Agency (DRA) continued to have a presence (and a large radar dish) in Malvern until 1995. The British government were also to be evacuated to nearby Madresfield Court in the event of the German capture of London. More recently, Malvern has established itself as a scientific centre with the old Ministry of Defence sites being bought by Qinetiq, one of the world's largest scientific technology firms.
Malvern is about 7 miles (11 km) south-west of Worcester on the A449 road. It is close to Junction 7 of the M5 motorway.
- Wikivoyage has a guide to Rail travel in the United Kingdom.
Malvern is well served by trains from London, Birmingham, and south-west England. Trains are operated by First Great-Western and London Midland. The town prospered during the Victorian Railway boom with four stations running simultaneously up to the early 1960s. Of these, two, 1 Great Malvern station (a Grade II listed building and worth a visit in itself) and 2 Malvern Link station remain open and very popular, serving the Cotswold line between Birmingham and Hereford.
Malvern is a great place to explore on foot, though the terrain is hilly, in particular in Great Malvern and West Malvern.
There are bus services in town, and country services provide a service on some roads.
It is also possible to travel between Link and Great Malvern by train.
- 1 The Malvern Hills. The area's most obvious asset with the 425 m (1,394 ft) Worcestershire Beacon rising directly above the town of Great Malvern. Further to the south, British Camp remains a brilliant example of an ancient Iron Age hilltop fortification with spectacular views across Herefordshire and the Vale of Evesham.
- The Blue Plaque Trail. A more recent addition and points out the residences of some of the town's more famous visitors and citizens. These include the scientists Charles Darwin and John Cockcroft, the writer C.S. Lewis, famous nurse Florence Nightingale, the house where Franklin D. Roosevelt convalesced with polio as a child and the hotel Haile Selassie (Emperor of Abyssinia) fled to after Mussolini's invasion in the late 1930s.
- 2 Great Malvern Priory. A former Benedictine monastery (built c. 1075) and is by far the oldest building in the mainly-Victorian town, providing a focal point in the town centre. The medieval architecture remains largely intact is one of the area's most beautiful buildings.
- 3 Priory Park (The Winter Gardens). A beautiful civic park in the town centre, featuring a band stand and ornamental lake.
- 4 Morgan Motor Factory, Pickersleigh Rd, WR14 2LL, ☏ . A famous British sports car manufacturer, resident in Malvern Link. Tours are available.
- Malvern Springs. Dotted all over the hills, providing clean water on tap for free.
Malvern is at the northern end of the Malvern Hills, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This is a 9-mile-long (13.5 km) range of hills, rising up to 425m above sea level at the summit of Worcestershire Beacon. With around 100 miles of footpaths and bridleways criss-crossing the hills, this is a very popular area for walking and cycling.
- 1 Malvern Theatres, Grange Road, WR14 3HB, ☏ . In the Winter Gardens, they play host to a wide variety of touring national theatre productions.
- 1 Mac & Jac's Cafe. Daily 9AM-6:30PM. Family-run cafe. Good for light lunch and cakes.
- 2 The Terrace on the Hill, 18 Worcester Rd, Malvern WR14 4QW, UK, ☏ . Daily 10AM-6:30PM. Cafe during the day. Hosts a tasting menu two evenings a week. Book ahead
- 3 The Wellington Inn, Chances Pitch, Colwall, Malvern. Daily noon-3PM and 6:30PM-11PM. Local, country pub. Fantastic food and excellent service. Seasonal menu with local game with brilliant wine.
Malvern features a number of excellent pubs serving a wide variety of local ales and ciders, many of which are prize-winning.
- 1 The Nags Head, 19-21 Bank Street, WR14 2JG, ☏ . Notable among the pubs in the town, was voted Britain's Pub of the Year in 2008 and features as many as 16 real ales on tap all year round.
However, the most obvious local beverage is the Malvern Water, which although no longer bottled commercially, can still be obtained from numerous springs around the town for free. The water is noted for its purity and was the source of the famous 'Malvern Water Cure' which contributed so much to the towns growth in the Victorian era.
- 2 St Ann's well cafe, St Ann’s Road, WR14 4RF (climb the steps at the north edge of the Rose Bank Gardens, then make a u-turn and take the footpath up the hillside), ☏ .
- 1 The Abbey Hotel, Abbey Rd, WR14 3ET, ☏ .
- 2 The Malvern Hills Hotel & Restaurants, Wynds Point, Jubilee Dr, Upper Colwall, WR13 6DW, ☏ .
To the west, arguably the prettiest direction to escape to, tourists will find the lovely little town of Ledbury and the impressive medieval county town of Hereford with its cathedral and situation on the River Wye. Further west lie the Marcher Castles built by the Anglo-Norman kings to guard the approaches to Wales.
To the south Upton-upon-Severn