Nothing beats a trip to the Malverns, a beautiful village built on a few hills that are over 600 million years old.
The Malvern Hills themselves are made up of the hardest granite rock formed over 600 million years ago. That was a time before animals with bones evolved which, sadly, means no fossils can be found.
Interestingly though, some years ago, there was talk of gold embedded in the rock but that amounted to false hopes and disappointed diggers. Of course, the Malvern Hills are a combination of sand, limestone, shale and mud too. Apart from its beautiful undulating hills, the Malvern Hills are also famous for their healing waters.
There are no less than 60 springs, sprouts, fountains and wells dotted in and around the Malvern Hills
Hill of Fountains
In fact, it’s not called the ‘Hill of Fountains’ for nothing! Every May there is a Well Dressing Festival especially dedicated to blessing the fountains and springs at Malvern.
The origins of the Well Dressing Festival can be dated way back to before the birth of Christ. It was a form of worship by the Celtic Druids who honoured Beltane, the first day of summer. At that time in our history, people believed water was a symbol of fertility and the springs that sprouted from the earth brought life back to animals, plants and people.
- St Ann, the easiest to access
- St Agnes
- St Thomas
Some wells, sadly, are hidden and, though slowly they are being unearthed, most have been lost over the years.
While the magical element afforded Malvern dates back to medieval times, the easily recognised floods of today were prevalent back then. As a result of the stench of pollution arising from the flooding of the Severn Valley, people came from all over England and Wales, grateful for the fresh clean water that flowed from the Malvern Hills.
In the late 1800s early 1900s, Malvern grew in popularity and became known for its ‘water cure’ and delightfully clean air. The most famous person to pay a visit to the Malvern Hills was Queen Victoria who rode a donkey up them. Many authors, actors and musicians visited it over the years too. For instance, the poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the Crimean war nurse, Florence Nightingale as well as Jenny Lind, the Swedish Nightingale (mentioned in the film: “The Greatest Showman”)
“The oldest rocks this earth can boast are in my little garden,” said Jenny Lind
Other notable celebrities were Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Sir Edward Elgar, and the playwrights J.B. Priestly and George Bernard Shaw visited Malvern. In the summer of 1929 the first Malvern Festival was dedicated to Shaw, for which he wrote the play ‘The Apple Cart’ in honour of the dedication that was afforded him.
Shaw quoted on Movietone News, “Malvern is quite the best bit of England.”
Today, Malvern is as busy as a tourist desination for many other reasons as well. For one, it’s a refreshingly beautiful spot to have some lunch with dear old mum. For another, it’s a wonderful place to walk with your pooch. In fact, my wee pal managed to pad his paws along those paths even in his last year on this earth.
Sadly, as she nears her 80th decade, my mother is unable to walk the hills with me. So we settle for a delicious cream tea in one of Malvern’s numerous cafes. The Bluebird Tea Rooms is a favourite among many.