Malvern Museum of Local History
March 25th to October 31st, 10.30am - 5.00pm every day
Adult £2, Child 50p - includes information leaflet. Sundays free (donations welcome).
The 'All About Malvern' magazine published an article on the Museum:
Have you ever visited this corner of Malvern? Tucked into one of our most historic buildings, the Priory Gatehouse in Abbey Road, is a small museum crammed with artefacts from the town’s past.
Not many local people visit the Malvern Museum. They do see tourists from all over the place; Australia, Germany, America, Japan and France as well as many other countries. They’re usually interested to find out more about Malvern during their visit. They seem particularly interested in the history of the water cure.
Malvern town made its name in Victorian times through the use of its water for healing properties, but of course out history stretches back much, much further in time. The museum starts about 1,000 million years ago when the hills were formed, moving forward to medieval times when there were two local priories and thriving industries.
Later on, the opening of The Telecommunications Research Establishment during World War Two set the town’s course as a centre of scientific and engineering excellence. This is reflected in the displays which chart our role in both world wars, which display medals of those who served, letters from their loved ones, and armbands from the Home Guard who stood ready to protect Malvern if an invasion were to come. The museum regularly sees visits from people stationed here in the 1940s, as well as those researching their family history.
On the subject of engineering, not many of us realise Malvern was a centre for the early car industry. We’re familiar with the Morgan Motor Company, but one of the world’s earliest cars with an internal combustion engine was built in Malvern – The Santler. Sadly the name didn’t survive to the modern age, but its history is remembered here.
The museum first opened in the town in 1978, and moved to the Abbey Gatehouse in 1980. The Grade II listed medieval building is described by some as a ‘tardis’, with much more room on the inside than you might realise! As well as ground floor displays there are another four rooms on the first floor. The Charity that runs it makes a modest charge for entry, and is staffed by volunteers.
Sometimes members of the public bring in objects to be identified. Occasionally a Victorian photograph of the town turns up which is almost always surprising, either because so much has changed, or that nothing has changed at all!. Others bring in fragments of pottery or old Malvern souvenirs.
Malvern drew a lot of famous people here. The Poet Alfred Tennyson, Charles Darwin and Florence Nightingale all came for treatment.’ The lady with the lamp has become the subject of some intense research by Cora Weaver, who spent a year looking into her time spent in Malvern. ‘Florence Nightingale first came to the town with her mother in 1848, before gaining fame for her work during the Crimean War.’ She came to Malvern a total of ten times for medical treatment, after catching what was known as ‘Crimean Fever’ (brucellosis). This caused recurrent bouts of ill health, and she came to a house called ‘Malvernbury’ on Abbey Road which has since been demolished. Cora believes Malvern gave her a place to escape her fame, a place to recover not only from the fever but also the stress of working in a war zone and the unrelenting pace of her work. ‘She was treated here by a doctor called Walter Johnson, a man who probably saved her life’. Perhaps thanks to that treatment, Florence Nightingale research and published works went on to revolutionise nursing and improve the health of populations worldwide. It seems fitting that Malvern became the place to nurture and care for the woman who formed the basis of modern nursing, and did so much to care for others.