A Visit to Great Malvern Priory

 Earlier this year I went on a trip to Hereford, Ledbury and Worcester. I was telling a friend about my trip when they took a sip of their tea and said 'ooh, you should get over to Great Malvern while you're there'. So I did. I had no idea what would be there when I arrived, but I did find a beautiful old Medieval Priory. 

The priory dates from the eleventh century when it was founded for just thirty monks. The building was  enlarged in the early fifteenth century, when a lot of this gorgeous Medieval glass was put in to fill the windows. 

It is said that the remote location of the priory was part of the reason it survived Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries. And when Henry did swoop in, the parishioners clubbed together and purchased it for £20, paid to the Crown. 

When I visited, the priory was holding a special event and so the section where the misericords are were cordoned off, but I was just in awe of that glass. The website says that the glass was saved from the dreaded 'renovation' by later centuries because of money troubles in the 1600s-1800s. Some of the damaged glass over the years was also saved and has been relaid into windows but in doing so we've also lost some of the context over who these people are.

There's also an image of Prince Arthur, Henry VII's son, in one of the windows (that's him, on the bottom right)... 

... and they have a lot of original floor tiles from the Medieval era, too. 

Here's the gatehouse - if you follow the road around the priory uphill it will sweep to the right and you'll find it. It's the original entrance to the priory and is now a museum (but was closed when I visited). 

And here's the view from the other side... 

Beautiful, right? 

What I loved about Great Malvern was that it has escaped the work of later builders whose actions would have been valid in keeping things modernised, but also would have destroyed so much of the original work. So it seems, as you're walking around, a little but like a time capsule. If you're studying Medieval religious life or art it's definitely worth the visit. And if you do visit, look up. That fifteenth century stained glass is so clean and clear that it almost could have been laid the day before. The priory gateway is just beautifully preserved - just look at all that stonework. 

I travelled to Great Malvern by train, on a GWR service - the priory is about a 15-20 minute walk (some of it uphill) from the station. 

Enjoyed this? You might also like: 6 Natural Phenomena That Freaked Out Our Medieval Ancestors, A Day and Night at Warwick Castle and Medieval Wall Paintings in Checkendon

During the mid-fifteenth century while the monks were serving their community, the battle for the crown erupted into the Wars of the Roses. I explore the stories of some of the women who impacted the conflict in my book Forgotten Women of the Wars of the Roses, published by Pen and Sword. Order your copy here. 

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  1. I was just there at the Malvern Priory in July,in fact I had a self catering flat just across from it.A beautiful view every time I walked out the door.


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