St Ann’s WellGreat Malvern
Worcestershire WR14 4RF

 

In olden days, miraculous cures were often associated with freshwater springs or ‘wells’. The healing powers of the water were attributed to a divine being rather than to the sheer purity of the water. Most wells or springs were given saints' names to validate this belief.

The probable truth is that most ancient diseases were caused by dirty and unhealthy living conditions and the bathing in, and drinking of pure spring water cleared up many of these ailments.

St Ann’s Well, Malvern is on the slopes of the Worcestershire Beacon just above the little town of Great Malvern. The spring was named after Saint Anne, the maternal grandmother of Christ, and the patron saint of many wells.

It is thought that St Ann’s Well was used by the monks from Worcester living in a hermitage on the Hills when they were building Great Malvern Priory in 1085. There are references to St Ann’s Well in the 13th century, and from the 17th century.

Malvern Wells was a village spa frequented by patients who drank and bathed in the waters of The Holy Well, Malvern and the Eye Well.

St Ann’s is marked on maps of the Foley Estates from 1744; however, the Well did not become significant until the 19th century when two doctors brought the European ‘water cure’ to Malvern.

St Ann’s spring was reputed to be the purest of all Malvern springs and was the focus of the ‘cure’. The reputation of St Ann's Well water was promoted by Dr John Wall, a Worcestershire physician, who analysed the water in 1745 and found that “the efficacy of this water seems chiefly to arise from its great purity”.

In 1757 Dr Wall published the results along with accounts of miracle cures. The chief aim of the publication was to raise money to make improvements to the primitive building at St Ann's Well. It is noted that his research demonstrated that it was necessary for the waters to be drunk on the spot and taken regularly to be successful.

Lady Emily Foley was not so mercenary. As the Well was on her Great Malvern Manor Estate, she built a new Well House in 1813 and granted the public free access to the spring water. Here the spring flows freely from an elaborately carved water spout.

In the days of the ‘Malvern Water Cure’ (1842) St Ann's Well was one of the most popular watering places for wealthy invalids. The unusual octagonal extension (that now houses the cafe) was erected in 1841.

Malvern spring water has always been bottled by various companies but in 1850 the water from St Ann’s was piped to J & W Burrow’s bottling works on Belle Vue Terrace. Bottling continued there until the 1950s.

In 1892, Lady Foley installed a new ornamental spout and basin in the Well Room. Made from Sicilian marble, the spout is in the form of a dolphin's head positioned above a shell-shaped basin.

Eventually the craze for the ‘water cure’ diminished and Malvern’s days as a thriving Health Spa finished. Fortunately, the residents of Malvern have not allowed St Ann’s Well to disappear. It is a popular site on a path leading up to the Worcestershire Beacon and lies on the final descent of the Worcestershire Way.

The buildings have been restored, the octagonal room hosts cultural events and the cafe with its fabulous views, is a fine spot to have a rest.

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Getting There
- By Car:  
Leave M5 at junction 7, follow A449 to Great Malvern, park behind the Unicorn Inn on St Ann’s Road (Pay and Display) and follow the road up the hill to St Ann’s Well.
 
- On Foot: 
From Great Malvern Train Station, turn right and then left onto Avenue Road. At the T junction turn left onto Church Street and follow the road uphill until the T junction with Belle Vue Island. Cross the road then turn left and then right into Rosebank Gardens. Climb the ‘Ninety Nine Steps’ at the back of the garden and, at the top of the steps, cross the road to take the lane (Victoria Walk) leading uphill to St Ann’s Well.
 
- Walks: 
The Malvern Hills Conservators website has an excellent leaflet in .pdf format.
 
 
- By Rail: 
From Great Malvern station, walk ½ mile to town.
 
- By Bus: 
Bus services to Great Malvern: 44 / 44A / 44B.
 
Google Map - St Anne's Well, Great Malvern