Great Malvern
Elgar Birthplace Museum
Crown East Lane
Lower Broadheath
Worcestershire WR2 6RH
 

 

The Elgar Birthplace Museum and Visitor Centre is an absolute ‘must visit’ site for any lover of this great composer’s music. The added plus is that he was born and lived a lot of his life in The Malverns, an area of outstanding natural beauty.

On 2 June 1857, Edward Elgar was born in a small 19th century cottage in Lower Broadheath, a village 3 miles west of the Cathedral City of Worcester, deep in the countryside. He was the fourth of seven children and the only one to be born in Broadheath.

The cottage overlooks Broad Heath, a favourite playing area of the Elgar children. Elgar’s eldest sister, Lucy recalled the event:

"How well I remember the day he was born! The air was sweet with the perfume of flowers, bees were humming, and all the earth was lovely. There seemed to be, to we little ones, a lot of unnecessary running about in the house, and Father came tearing up the drive with a strange man in the carriage. And before that, an old lady whom we had never seen before arrived with a large bag, and we were told by the younger maid there was a baby in that bag! That was good enough for our weak comprehension, and so we were taken a scamper across the heath to be out of the way."

This idyllic atmosphere is still evident. The cottage stands in a delightful Cottage Garden, a faithful recreation of the original. Shortly after the Museum opened, the garden was redesigned using an original painting of 1856 which showed the Elgar family in residence.

Today the standard roses and rose arch can still be seen, as can the two central paths which Elgar’s father kept rolled for the girls to bowl their hoops down. Starting with spring bulbs, the garden really comes into its own in late spring when many old-fashioned cottage favourites start to appear. During the summer the garden is a riot of colour and autumn brings a lovely display of Michaelmas daisies.

When Elgar was only two the family moved back into Worcester but the Elgar children often returned to Broadheath for holidays, staying on a local farm. It is known that Elgar visited the cottage many times throughout the rest of his life. Prior to his death in 1934, Elgar expressed a wish to his daughter that if anything should be done in his memory it should be at the small cottage in Broadheath where he was born.

The Museum
This wish has been fulfilled and the complex now comprises the Cottage and grounds, gardens and a modern Visitor Centre designed in complete harmony with its surroundings.
 
The Museum has a unique and nationally important collection of 200 manuscripts, more than 10,500 letters, press cuttings, concert programmes, diaries, recordings, books, personal possessions and memorabilia associated with the life, work and influences of Sir Edward Elgar. It is the largest and most wide-ranging collection of material associated with the composer and a wonderful resource for scholars, performers and anyone interested in Elgar's life and times.
 
Elgar Birthplace Cottage
There are six rooms in the modest little cottage, each giving a fascinating insight into this great man’s childhood and family life, his marriage to Caroline Alice Roberts, his extensive travels and his many hobbies.
 
- The Front Room
This room immediately conveys the modest nature of the building which is testimony to Elgar’s humble beginnings. Here display panels reveal what family life was like in 1850s rural Worcestershire and the wealth of music that came into the small cottage. Musical evenings with friends were a regular feature of Elgar family life.
 
- The Atkins Room
One of Elgar’s local friends was Sir Ivor Atkins, Organist and Master of Choristers at Worcester Cathedral. The Atkins Room, the second room in the cottage, is named after the Atkins family. Rare items from the Museum’s internationally renowned collection are displayed within this room.
 
- The Study
The final room on the ground floor is Elgar’s “Study”. The room was originally set up by Elgar’s daughter, Carice Elgar Blake. It captures the atmosphere of her father’s study and contains objects that he would have used daily throughout his composing life.
 
In a 1904 interview in Strand Magazine, Elgar described his daily routine:
 
“How and when do I do my music? I can tell you very easily. I come into my study at nine o’clock in the morning and I work till a quarter to one. I don’t do any inventing then, for that comes anywhere and everywhere. It may be when I am walking, golfing, or cycling, or the ideas may come in the evening, and then I sit up until any hour in order to get them down. The morning is devoted to revising and orchestration, of which I have as much to do as I can manage. As soon as lunch is over I go out for exercise and return about four or later, after which I sometimes do two hours’ work before dinner.”
 
Elgar was slightly ahead of his time period in embracing the new technologies of the early 20th century that made it possible to record music for the very first time. As well as conducting the recording of his own works at London's famous Abbey Road Studios, Elgar was an enthusiast of the gramophone, which made it possible for people to listen to recorded music in their own homes.
 
Elgar owned a number of gramophones, sent to him by HMV, and one - a HMV 511 gramophone - remains in the Museum's collection on show to the public in the cottage. Recently repaired to working order, it is still possible to play records on Elgar's gramophone for visitors to hear.
 
- The Birth Room
At the top of the stairs is the room where Edward Elgar was born on 2nd June 1857. This room displays a selection of family mementoes, including furniture, old family papers, personal trinkets and unique early photographs. Of particular interest are the birth and marriage certificates and the tiny toys that belonged to his younger brother Joe (the ‘Beethoven’ of the family) who sadly died when only seven years old.
 
- The Hobbies Room
It has been said that Elgar liked to give the impression of a country gentleman who, after a round of golf, would come home and just happen to write some of England’s greatest music. Whilst these accounts should not be taken too literally, Elgar lived a very full life outside music, as the displays in this room illustrate; hobbies included science, fishing, woodwork and cycling.
 
While living in the district, Elgar and friends would often be seen cycling down the lanes to Upton, Tewkesbury or Hereford. In the grounds of Hereford Cathedral is a charming sculpture of him about to mount his bicycle. For him, roaming around the countryside often inspired a new melody or orchestral form.
 
- The Travel Room
This is the last of the upstairs rooms. The displays explore a theme that recurs throughout Elgar’s life: the need for change and the new creative stimulation it could bring. This is revealed in the exhibits which chart Elgar’s frequent changes of home, his explorations of the countryside and his travels both in Britain and abroad.
 
In a 1933 letter to a young Yehudi Menhuin, Elgar wrote:
 
“I wish I could share a good rough sea with you – this I love. My own great-uncle was one of that superhuman breed – a Dover pilot – and I have the sea very much in my veins.”
 
The Visitor Centre
The Elgar Centre was opened in August 2000 and provides an air conditioned home for a vast collection of internationally acclaimed Elgar artefacts. A permanent exhibition traces Elgar's musical development from his early days in Broadheath through his many changes of homes and locations to his eventual return to Worcestershire, the county he loved so deeply.
 
Panels describing the more important aspects of each of these periods of Elgar's life are set beside display cases containing items relevant to the period - photographs, concert programmes, letters and original manuscripts - even a rare piece of ciné film showing an ageing Elgar with his dogs and close friends.
 
The periods explored are Boyhood Years; A Time For Learning; The Malvern Years; The Hereford Years; London and the War Years; A Country Retreat; and Finale.
 
After purchasing your tickets at the Reception Counter, start your visit by viewing the free 20 minute introductory video in the Carice Elgar Room. This room is also the venue for special exhibitions and the Museums annual Events programme of public concerts, talks, art exhibitions and festivals.
 
Jubilee Family Garden
To celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year in 2012, a new family garden was established in an area of previously unused land in the Museum grounds. The garden has a paved pergola, new planting and wooden seating and a number of outdoor musical instruments made from recycled materials that are fun for all ages.
 
After your visit to the Cottage and gardens you may welcome a cup of tea or coffee in the Centre’s Cafe Bar.
 
Plan Your Visit 
Accommodation - Search & Book through Agoda.com here:
 
Opening Days & Times
Every day until 23 December.
11:00 – 17:00. Last admission 16:15 hours
 
Admission Cost
The admission price includes entry to the Museum, the Visitor Centre, the Introductory Video and a free Audio Guide.
 
Currently admission is - Adult: £7.50; Child: £3.50. Concessions & family rates available.
 
For up to date information of costs, go to:
 
Disabled Access
There are designated disabled parking spaces close to reception, and a wheelchair is available for use on site.
 
The Visitor Centre is wheelchair accessible throughout including toilets.
 
- The Birthplace Cottage: The upper rooms are not accessible. There is wheelchair access to the study and ground floor, and into the garden (gravel paths).
 
- Hearing & Sight Impaired: Displays are labelled with printed captions and there are larger panels of information or room guides in most areas. Large print room guides are available on request. Telephone-type handsets play musical extracts.
 
The audio guide is available with RNID approved headphones. A text version of the guide is also available. The audio guide describes many exhibits, with Elgar's words and music.
 
Hearing and Blind Guide dogs are welcome.
 
Disabled Access further information:
 
Facilities
Cafe Bar serving teas, coffees, hot chocolate, cold drinks, and cakes
Shop selling CDs, DVDs, books, and souvenirs
Toilets
 
Contact & Further Information
Telephone   +44 (0)1905 333 224
 
Getting There
- By Car:  The Museum is located 3 miles (4.8 km) west of Worcester, just off the A44, a few minutes from Junction 7 of the M5 motorway.
 
- Sat Nav setting: WR2 6RH
 
- Parking: Large car park is available.
 
Google Map - Elgar Birthplace Museum