Great Malvern, Worcestershire

Malvern Priory, Great Malvern, Worcestershire

Benedictine Monks

The Monastery here was founded around 1085 by a hermit called Aldwyn who was encouraged to build here by St. Wulfstan, Bishop of Worcester. The initial Priory was built to accommodate 30 monks from Westminster Abbey. In 1128 a charter refers to the Priory of St. Mary here at Malvern by which time it was already of some size.

The Priory was Benedictine and thrived in the ensuing centuries. The basic structure of the church dates to its original inception, but it was extended in the 1440s. The central tower was built by the same architects and masons as that on Gloucester Cathedral and there is some similarity. Work continued through to 1502, by which time it was the second largest church in Worcestershire and one of the pinnacles of Perpendicular style.

Great Malvern was one of the last Priories to be dissolved by Henry VIII, in 1541. The local people raised the sum of £20 to buy the Priory Church to replace their own parish church which was in a poor state of repair. One of the participants in the Dissolution of the Monasteries, John Knotsford, is buried in the Priory chancel – it is largely through his patronage that the church survived in as good a condition as it did.

Amongst the stained glass there are examples as early as the 15th Century; one is a gift from Richard III (whilst still Duke of Gloucester) and another from Henry VII in 1501 (rarely spending some money). Sir George Gilbert Scott, inevitably, had a hand in a great restoration project in 1860 and turned out one of his most sensitive and authentic restorations here.

Today Great Malvern Priory dominates the little town nestled in the foothills of the Malvern Hills and is without a doubt one of the most attractive places in the county of Worcestershire.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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