Belle Vue IslandGreat Malvern
Worcs WR14 3HJ

 

Belle Vue Island marks the centre of Great Malvern and used to be the village green. It is a narrow strip of terraced land between the main A449 road, at the top of the town, and Abbey Road.

The Island is where you will find memorials to everything Malvern holds dear – the springs, Sir Edward Elgar and those who have given their lives in war.

On the top level of the Island is a superb life-sized statue of Sir Edward Elgar gazing down on his beloved town. He is shaded by two lovely plane trees planted in memory of those who lost their lives in the Falklands War. At night he is kept company by the light of elegant Victorian gas lamps. Gaslights still illuminate much of old Malvern.

Beside Elgar is the Enigma Fountain, a tribute to one of Elgar’s best known compositions (the “Enigma Variations”). The real name of the piece is Variations on an Original Theme for Orchestra ("Enigma"), Op. 36, and the interesting thing is that the audience never hears the ‘Theme’. The music is unique and so is the fountain.

Enigma Fountain
Elgar wrote fourteen variations on a hidden theme and said that each variation represented a person from his close circle of friends, including his wife Alice and himself. The fountain beautifully illustrates this story.
 
At first sight the fountain appears to be a solid block of rock with a waterfall but when viewed from a different direction it is in fact four 3.5 metre standing stones. The enigma of the fountain is that when viewed from one side the space between the columns is empty; view it through 90 degrees and there is a waterfall.
 
The fountain has 14 sides, each bearing the initials of one of the friends portrayed within the ‘Enigma Variations’. Around the base is carved words from “The Music Makers (1912)": "We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams, Wandering by lone sea-breakers, And sitting by desolate streams."
 
The waterfall is fed by water from three natural springs on the hills and delivered by pipe to the fountain and the Malvhina Spout.
 
Accommodation - Search & Book through Expedia here: 
 
Malvhina Spout
Built into the stone wall on the lower level of Belle Vue Island is another work by local sculptor Rose Garrard. Malvhina is a female figure sculpted in stone and bronze, based on a triple theme.
 
The Island is at the intersection of three streets. Three different springs from Happy Valley, Rushey Valley and Ivy Scar Rock feed the spout. The sculpture commemorates the three most important times in Malvern’s history - ancient Celtic origins, the coming of Christianity and the growth of the Victorian spa town.
 
Malvern is supposed to have got its name from a local Celtic Princess called "Malvhina". The spout’s name pays tribute to this legend. Despite the spring water’s purity, it is now filtered to comply with EU regulations.
 
This writer notices that the Council recommends boiling spring water obtained from local spouts but perhaps that is more to do with the quality of the man-made delivery systems rather than the quality of the spring itself.
 
Belle Vue Terrace which runs along the back of the Island has a number of historic buildings - the Unicorn Inn was a 16th century coaching inn; Dr Wilson practised his famous water cure at the Crown Inn which is now Lloyds Bank; and the first Malvern Water bottling plant was run by the Burrows Company in what is now The Courtyard. Lea and Perrins, creators of the famous Worcester Sauce worked on Belle Vue Terrace.
 
The Terrace is a relatively flat north–south extension of the A449 which forms Malvern's western extremity along the flank of the hills. It follows the line of the ancient ‘Salt Route’. This was the track along which donkeys carried salt from Droitwich to South Wales for export to Ireland.
 
The large building below, which is now the Post Office, was originally a piano shop where Edward Elgar used to give piano and violin lessons. It was here that he met his wife, while teaching her the piano.
 
The other main street making up the Island is Church Street. This steep road leading downhill was originally called Spital Way because it led down to the "hospital" run by the monks of the Priory. Here you could find hospitality which included refreshments, rest and healing. From the Island you get a superb view of the Priory Gatehouse, Great Malvern.
 
Getting There
Belle Vue Island can be reached from Great Malvern Railway Station.
 
The route up through the woods onto the hills can be found on this excellent local website:
 
 
Google Map - Belle Vue Island, Great Malvern