A Great Time in Malvern : Books, Tea and a Theatre Visit

Last Saturday I arranged to meet up with a couple of members of my online book discussion group for our annual ‘Summer Meeting’ away from London (last year we were at Chatsworth).  This year’s venue was Great Malvern in Worcestershire. I had never been there before, nor I believe had Carol, but Simon (Stuck-in-a-Book) used to live not so far away in Eckington so he was pretty familiar with the town and its book shops, of course.

Malvern Map

These meetings generally follow a similar pattern. Meet for tea and cake, head off to a book shop or two, decide to have a light lunch, followed by more book shopping and ending with more tea (and often, cake). Anyway the theme is always of tea, cake and books in some kind of order.


Picture Source

As I was dropping off another friend at Great Malvern Station I arranged to meet Simon there. The station is probably one of the prettiest I have ever been to – there is a tea shop (Lady Foley’s Tea Shop) with tables and chairs outside on Platform One and as it is a listed building you can imagine it still has the signs and furniture of a bygone age. The station is slightly out of the town centre though so we drove, uphill, to a more convenient car park.

Priory Church Malvern

Great Malvern Priory Church

Malvern Hills

Malvern Hills

There are two very prominent features  that dominate the town: the Malvern Hills that rise straight up vertically behind the town to the west and Great Malvern Priory right in the town centre and which is also the parish church.

After our first tea and cake at Mac and Jac’s near the Priory and a visit to the friendly, helpful and well-stocked Malvern Bookshop :

The Malvern Bookshop
7 Abbey Road
MALVERN Worcestershire WR14 3ES
tel: 01684 575915 fax: 01684 575915
Open: Monday – Saturday 10.00 – 5.00, closed Thursday and best to ring first in the winter.
Several rooms carrying large diverse stock. Quality books bought and sold. Music a speciality. By the Priory steps near the Post Office.

we decided to head up, straight up, vertically up to St Ann’s Well for lunch.

St Ann's Well Cafe sign

St Ann's Well

For me it was well worth the climb to see the original well/spring and enjoy lunch on the terrace. The trees are very tall and block the view from the cafe itself but we had fantastic views each time we stopped for breath and looked back across what must be The Vale of Evesham.

View as we start our ascent to SAW

The View as begin our ascent to St Ann’s Well

View from our descent into Malvern

View as we return down to Malvern

In bygone days Malvern water was remarkable for its healing virtue, an efficacy that was held to be supernatural. How early the waters gained local repute it is impossible to say; but the fact that the old spring at Great Malvern is dedicated to St Ann, and that the well at Malvern Wells is the Holy Well, carries their reputation far back into the Middle Ages at least; while documentary evidence exists that they were in exceptional request early in the seventeenth century, especially for skin diseases, as public open baths.” So says my rather old copy of Ward Lock & Co’s “Malvern” illustrated guide book.

Ward Lock Malvern

Surely everyone has heard of Malvern Natural Spring Water – the only bottled water used by our Queen Elizabeth II, which she takes on her travels around the world. Or does she still? There are still many natural springs around the town – some with warning signs.

Safe Malvern water

‘Safe’ Malvern Spring in the Town

Natural spring water but beware

Natural Spring Water – but beware!

Spring Water

St Ann’s Well

Simon suggested a slightly less steep descent into town and a visit to Books for Amnesty :

Books For Amnesty
3 Edith Walk
MALVERN Worcestershire WR14 4QH
tel: 01684 563507
Open: Monday – Saturday 10.00 – 5.00.
Large general stock of donated books in all categories and at reasonable prices. Malvern has two other secondhand bookshops.

As we arrived he pointed out to me the world’s smallest theatre building in a converted Gents public convenience. I was intrigued and left the hard core book buyers in order to investigate. I bought a ticket for the five minute show and was entertained by The Deep Sea Diva and Stradi and his Various Voyages amongst others. After the show there is a photo opportunity which I couldn’t resist! [Pictures below]

Eventually we bought ices from the shop next door and headed to a park to eat them in the sunshine and for a final ‘show-and-tell’ of the books we’d bought before going our separate ways at around 5.30pm. We all agreed that it had been a most perfect day. We’ll soon be planning the next one …

Theatre of Convenience

The Theatre of small Convenience

Theatre sign

About the Theatre

The Theatre

The Theatre

Photo Opportunity

Photo Opportunity!


8 comments on “A Great Time in Malvern : Books, Tea and a Theatre Visit

  1. Simon T says:

    Lovely recap of the day, Barbara, and generous of you to say that I knew my way around!
    Also pleased to see the photo of the theatre – you certainly look like you had fun there 😉

  2. Julie Stivers says:

    I want to go there! This looks like a perfect day.

  3. ms6282 says:

    I’ve only been to Malvern once and that was with work as the company I worked for at the time had a factory there. I always fancied going back and walking the ridge, but have only ever seen them in the distance as I travel down the M5.
    One thing I especially associate with the Malverns is the Morgan car factory. A really eccentric little company who sell their new sporty little runaround cars for less than they go for second hand!

  4. Nilly says:

    I agree – a perfect day. We must visit Malvern soon, especially for the tiny theatre – after all it does have a regular fleamarket, I believe.

  5. […] and I (left and right) at Great Malvern, summer […]

  6. […] day outside London? At least, it was in 2013 that I last posted about one. That was in Malvern and before that, in 2012, Chatsworth. This year it was the turn of […]

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