Holywell history starts in Malvern Wells, which takes its name from being the site of two of the ancient healing springs. These are known locally known as ‘wells’ of the Malverns – the Holy Well and the Eye Well. These ancient wells lie on the steeply wooded hillside just above Wells House. Wells House has a history that can be traced back to the eighteenth century.
It was originally designed as a small hotel built for visitors to Malvern for the ‘Water Cure’ and its exact location was probably chosen for the fine views. The famous Sir Edward Elgar taught music here at Wells House for many years when it became a boarding school around 1899. Elgar composed many of his greatest works in Malvern and the wide vista must have been a source of inspiration for him.
The Water Cure
Dr John Wall , the famous 18th Century physician, co- founder of Royal Worcester Porcelain and founder of the “water cures” in Malvern, analysed the water from the Holy Well, proving its purity. “Malvern Water, says Dr John Wall, is famous for containing just nothing at all”. Dr Wall successfully used the water to treat ulcers and other skin conditions – using much the same technique as the old monks - and set up the first water treatment centre in the Malverns here at Wells House.
Wells House became a boarding school around 1899. The famous Sir Edward Elgar taught music here at Wells House for many years. Elgar composed many of his greatest works in Malvern and the wide vista must have been a source of inspiration for him.
Elgar and his wife leased a house at nearby 86 Wells Road. They named the house Craeg Lea, an anagram of C(arice), A(lice) and E(dward) Elgar. Elgar composed Dream of Gerontius, Pomp & Circumstance Marches 1 & 2, Cockaine, The Apostles, Coronation Ode & In the South whilst living at Craeg Lea. In 1903 the Elgars heard of a proposed property development across the road which Edward feared would ruin his views from the study window. Anyone visiting Craeg Lea today will see that Edward's fears were totally unfounded - the views remain spectacular.
A well-signposted Elgar Trail has been constructed linking most of the surviving properties and other locations associated with Elgar in the Malvern, Hereford & Worcester, area - more information about this and the history of Malvern, and other things to do around the area, can be obtained from the Tourist Information Office.