Victorian Room

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This room focuses on Malvern’s growth during Queen Victoria’s reign.

Village Growth

Posters and signs advertising some Malvern shops

Victorian shop signs

Malvern was no more than a village of 3,000 inhabitants in 1831 when Princess Victoria visited the area. By the time Queen Victoria died, the population was nearer 16,000. Growth on this scale can be explained by the arrival of the two Water Cure doctors in 1842. Their reputation spread quickly and very soon Malvern became a health resort in the same league as Cheltenham, Tunbridge Wells and Leamington Spa.

The town had to expand as more and more visitors arrived. Within 15 years of the doctors arrival, Malvern could boast of 95 hotels. By 1865, there were over 200 boarding and lodging houses. Many large villas were constructed around the town centre and shops, schools and churches opened. Private education became very competitive. At the same time, elementary schools were founded in every parish to provide working class children with a basic instruction in the 3Rs and practical work.

Town Improvements

Malvern gained town status in 1851. With its new powers, public services and facilities were improved. Roads, sewers, drains, reservoirs, a town cemetery, electric and gas works all began to appear in the 1850s. In 1861 the railway from Worcester to Hereford was finally opened after a railway tunnel through the Malvern Hills was completed. This made travel to the resort much easier for Water Cure visitors and tourists.

Famous inhabitants

Photograph of Belle Vue Terrace from Priory Church tower

Belle Vue Terrace c 1880, showing some of the hotels and shops

Lady Foley was the Lord of the Manor of Malvern and took a keen interest in the town’s growth. It attracted numerous wealthy residents; Florence Nightingale, Charles Dickens, Lord Tennyson and Charles Darwin visited the town on many occasions to ‘take the waters’. Jenny Lind, the Swedish Nightingale, Mark Roget the famous mathematician, and other titled Victorians settled in Malvern in their last few years. Cemeteries around the town bear witness to their life and death here in Malvern.

The Victorian room looks at enterprise, local government, education and leisure. Some exhibitions are rotated regularly on themes such as domestic life, trades or famous people.