Malvern Museum of Local History is often likened to the Tardis ~ a lot of fascinating information is packed into a small space. Yet there is so much to do, see and hear that many visitors regret not making more time for their visit.
Children can dress up as Benedictine monks, pretend to be poor medieval peasant boys and girls or take on the role of a soldier or nurse from the Great War. Whole families are challenged to build a castle, guess what the scientist might be doing, or take part in our QR code trail. Dinosaurs, Victorian scenes, a Water Cure patient and an observation bee hive are just some of the experiences our visitors enjoy. Audio guides offer gentle, often amusing glimpses into our rich past.
Malvern Museum really is worth a visit!
Malvern Museum in the Priory Gatehouse
The Priory Gatehouse was once the only entrance to the Benedictine monastery of Great Malvern. The present building dates from c1480 and was home to the porter who monitored the movement of people and goods in and out of the Priory estate. A small rectangular window called the Porter’s Squint can still be seen in the archway, in front of the huge hinged wooden gateposts.
After Henry VIII closed all the monasteries, only Malvern’s Priory Church and Gatehouse survived. Today the gatehouse is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and Grade II* Listed. It was given to Malvern Museum Society in 1980 and is undoubtedly the museum’s finest exhibit.
Five Exhibition Rooms
Malvern Museum tells a vast story, starting with its rocks and fossils in the Malvern Hills Room downstairs. Celtic tribes somehow found refuge on the bare and windy hills before the Romans took control of the area. Visitors who find the twisty stairs too challenging can watch a PowerPoint which gives a peep into the upstairs rooms.
Four rooms upstairs reveal the later events that shaped Malvern, first as a tiny hamlet and then as a popular holiday resort.
The Medieval Room recounts the arrival of the Benedictine monks and the creation of Malvern Forest by William the Conqueror.
Malvern gained national fame when two doctors chose the location to promote hydropathy, which is the story of the Water Cure Room. Discover the water treatments that were used and consider how effective they really were!
As Malvern attracted more visitors so it had to expand, and this is the story of the Victorian Room. Hotels, shops, schools, farmhouse and boarding house kitchens are recreated in this room to give a tantalising glimpse into another way of life.
Apart from the majestic Malvern Hills, Malvern is probably best known today for the Morgan car and its Science Park, where ground breaking technology has an international reputation. But the Twentieth Century Room boasts yet more amazing achievements, such as the development of radar or Malvern Festival and George Bernard Shaw. The room also offers visitors some fascinating insights how the Great War 1914-18 impacted on the local population.
And if all this is not enough, there are still more stories to be told along the Upstairs Corridor. This is where Edward Elgar is commemorated (he often used to visit the Priory Gatehouse to meet his friend Troyte Griffith who worked here), and where the hard working scientist invites you into his laboratory.
Medieval timbers from the old Guesten Hall remind the visitor of Malvern’s medieval origins, and the Conservators, whose work continues to preserve our wonderful landscape, are applauded here too.
Malvern Museum is run entirely by volunteers and we are very proud of our helpful, cheerful stewards.
The museum is housed in the ancient Gatehouse and the only way to explore upstairs is via a twisty staircase. Visitors who have restricted mobility are still able to experience the displays on the first floor however. A Power Point slideshow downstairs offers insights to the main exhibitions and historical ‘eye witnesses’ on our audio guides give the low-down on Malvern’s history too. These are available free of charge. A ramp into the building is also available. Visitors with visual impairments can make use of large print room guides with colour overlays if necessary.