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Friends Newsletter No. 12

January 2006

  First St Werstan Plaque Awarded

Julie Wollaston and Roger Moss celebrated their magnificent conversion of the old toilets at Malvern Link on 13th January, when they received the St Werstan Award for the enhancement of our water heritage. Friends voted on the nomination and Penny Cottage and the adjacent Osbornes Fountain becomes the first site to enjoy the award. The hand cast brass plaque was presented by Mr Jim Fox of Malvern Natural Mineral Water and reflects their support for environmental issues. When Julie and Roger first purchased the old toilets, they were derelict with the ladies and gents separated on different floors. Other features apparently included someone living in the roof space and endless small windows to the cubicles. Many, but fortunately not all, of the original features have been retained. A new staircase extension was also provided, making the building a unique 'des res'. Had the building been demolished and the site redeveloped it is likely that Osbornes Fountain would have been under serious threat. Now it is reasonably secure in the boundary wall.


The Camber Well - Long lost Malvern spring added to database?

A possible clue to one of Malvern's long lost springs comes from an antique bottle of Malvern Mineral Waters that we discovered recently. All is revealed when you roll the bottle over and discover that it was bottled at the Camberwell rather than Colwall!  (see pictures) Have we discovered a long lost spring in the Malvern Hills? I suspect not, more likely a suburb of South London. Such misleading labelling would not be tolerated today fortunately.
There are now well in excess of 100 Malvern Springs and Wells on our celebrated sites database. Most of these have appeared in our various publications, which have been in distribution since the early 1990s. The largest volume is Aquae Malvernensis, published in 1994 and still widely used as the best comprehensive source of information. It continues to be available in local bookshops and through our web site. If you have not got a copy, why not treat yourself and enjoy the summer rediscovering not only the sites but also their history?  


In Memorium

We are sorry to learn that Howard Miller, the spa historian from Tenbury Wells passed away recently. He was a great friend as well as an expert of the historic spa and mineral springs of Tenbury Wells. His publications are a lasting testimony to his interests and his friendly enthusiasm and counsel will be missed.




A Friend has recently drawn our attention to club-mosses, which have become quite rare throughout the country. Ten years ago, on a guided walk with the Naturalists Club, the leader spoke of the existence of club-mosses on the Malvern Hills, but refused to identify their location to members because of their rarity. Club-mosses date from Devonian times, and were a more advanced vascular group of plants than those found in the Silurian. They are moss-like, creeping perennials with small, pointed leaves that overlap the stem like scales. The spore cases are at the base of the scales.


There are six British species of club-mosses, which grow in wild places such as rough pasture and heaths, mountains and hill slopes.  The illustration shows a Stag's Horn club-moss, which is found on northern and western moors in August and September. Some species can be found in the wilder places on the Malvern Hills, near springs and wells. If you see any - please do not disturb.


The Illumination of St Werstan - Occasional Paper to be published in 2006


In our previous newsletter we indicated that the history of St Werstan, who inspired the foundation of Malvern Priory and thus the development of the town, is now being researched by a group of scholars. We anticipate that there will be new revelations about his founding of Malvern and his relationship with what is now known as St Ann's Well. The results of this investigation into St Werstan will be presented in an occasional paper to be published in conjunction with Friends in 2006, as part of a programme of promoting scholarly work related to Malvern Springs and Wells.


Springs and Wells Everywhere


Our thanks to the Friend who sent us 'This England' a quarterly magazine full of beautiful pictures and text about what can be found in England's green and pleasant landscape. In the Autumn 2000 edition there is a two page feature full of village pumps and wells. This includes 8 full colour illustrations. The places featured include Leathley, Yorks. Monks Eleigh, Suffolk. Tollard Royal, Wilts. Arncliffe, Yorks. Faversham, Kent, the famous Maharajahs Well at Stoke Row in Oxfordshire and Barrington, Cambs. All have attractive and cared for water features. Many are in elaborate Victorian cast iron, painted in traditional style. If we can bring Malvern's water features to the same state of conservation we will have a pearl of great price that will enhance the Hills no end. When you are next travelling around why not discover some of these gems? If you would like a copy of the article send us an A4 stamped addressed envelope. No need for an accompanying note, just mark it 'Water, Water Everywhere', which is the title of the article.

St Werstan Award hanging panel and window update

Penny Cottage received their award in January 2006 following nomination and appraisal by Friends. Not only are Julia and Roger Moss eligible for the magnificent hand cast brass plaque; there is also the possibility of a coloured glass, hanging window panel featuring the St Werstan design. In the picture Colin from Woodfield Glass scrutinises the artwork for the window panel as he plans the preparation of this hand crafted item. Colin is an expert in stained glass work and is proposing that a further option could be a custom made, leaded, stained glass window for permanent installation in the award winning premises.

We now have several further nominations to consider and one will be featured in our next newsletter. Friends will then have an opportunity to express their views on the eligibility of the site for the award. The award is for the enhancement and preservation of Malvern's water heritage and already this new award is creating considerable interest. If you would like further details ask for our information sheet.


Programme for 2006

Springs and Wells Coach Tour - The annual springs and wells afternoon coach tour, run this year by the Civic Society, is to take place on Sunday 30th April 2006. Last year it was a total sell out so do book early. Cora and Bruce will be conducting the tour as usual. Tickets from Tourist Information Centre, Malvern nearer the date at 7 pounds 50 pence each. Coach departs 2pm from Belle Vue Terrace. Special for Friends and Civic Society Members - those joining the tour will receive a FREE copy of Kathy Denbigh's book Harrogate - The Yorkshire Spa, which retails at 9 pounds 99 pence. Harrogate claims almost as many springs and wells as Malvern and of course was one of England's premier 19th century spas, like Malvern.


Llandrindod Wells Malvern Civic Society trip. On Thursday 17th or 24th August it is planned to have a full day coach trip to Llandrindod Wells. This is timed to coincide with their annual Victorian Week celebrations. Bruce, who has authored a book on Llandrindod, will be giving a lot of background information on the history of this interesting spa town, together with a guided walk. There will then be free time to explore the various celebration activities. Victorian costume is recommended but not compulsory.  The coach departs Avenue Road Malvern at 9am and should return between 6 and 7 pm. Tickets cost 17 pounds and are obtainable from Greville Megson, 16 College Grove, Malvern. WR14 3HP. Please make cheques payable to Malvern Civic Society. Please note that this date may be changed by one week because Llandrindod has not confirmed the dates of its Victorian Week yet.


Great Malvern Water Trail - Malvern Experience Week - this is a free conducted walk around Malvern town centre springs and wells guided by Bruce and Cora. The date set is 3rd week in August  more details in subsequent newsletters. 


Owls Hole Pump afternoon, 14th May 2006. We will be running the Owls Hole Pump and Engine at 4 Hall Green in the afternoon from about 3pm. Why not drop in and say hullo? Also on show will be the Charlie Chaplin Film 'The Water Cure', in which Charlie visits a spa with disastrous results, as you can imagine. In addition we have the story of the eccentric Dr Kellogg's spa in the USA and this again is a very entertaining film to view. Come and meet Friends and laugh your socks off. This event was postponed from last year and will now be an informal opportunity for Friends to call in to share a cup of tea or coffee and chat. No booking necessary and no fees involved.


All activities are subject to cancellation due to force majeure or low support.


HLF Funding for Springs and Wells Restorations

We are now able to update Friends on the progress of the deployment of HLF monies for Malvern Springs and Wells. This information has been supplied by David Armitage the AONB Officer responsible for overseeing the various projects.


Major Spouts:

Clock Tower - restoration of water to lower spout chamber and repairs to structure.

Lord Sandys Spout - repairs to back wall and landscaping.

Westminster Bank - refencing and tidying up.

Lower Wyche - restoration of existing structure plus possible attention to horse trough and an investigation into improving water supply.

St Ann's Well - landscaping now almost completed.

Jubilee Fountain - reinstatement of water and repair structure.


Minor Spouts:

Hayslad - tidy up and improve spout arrangement.

Spout behind Clock Tower - repointing, re-incision of the plaque and tidying.

Wynds Point - renovation of damaged railings etc. and repair of stone work.

Willow Spring - tidy up and clean out water supply system.

Barnards Green Fountain - new plaques etc.

Ellerslie Fountain - re-inscribe stones and tidy up.

Weavers Well - renovate drain and tidy up.


In addition there will be various supporting interpretation panels and guides. The process of deploying this money has been slow but is now progressing.  We look forward to seeing the end results and all due credit to David and the MSA.


Donkeys Celebrated at St Ann's Well


We were delighted to meet so many colleagues at the recent ceremony at St Ann's Well, when the new water feature and surrounds were inaugurated. Minstrels accompanied the lively proceedings and there was a good turn out of spectators who had come to see the recent landscaping. The newly named Old Moses Spout is the renovated water cascade at the side of the entrance to the building at St Ann's Well. Until recently it was a water spout that ran dry for a large part of the year. Although its name suggests that it is old this is not so. The cascade has been totally reconstructed in the Autumn of 2005 as part of a scheme of re-landscaping the area using Heritage Lottery Fund monies. It was formally named as part of a well blessing ceremony on 9th December 2005. Once again we saw a donkey at St Ann's Well sampling the water of the new cascade. Other landscaping included the pond outside the well. St Ann's Well is the flagship project of a number of renovations to springs and wells planned. (see above)


Culture 2000 funding - Further good news is that in 2006 additional significant new funding may become available for developing our water heritage. Watch this space as they say!

Shock Horror Mystery at West Malvern Spa Well


We can now give details of just some of the adventures that come about when exploring Springs and Wells.


Carol - 'We have this strange hole in our lounge floor - do you think it is haunted?'


Cora - 'What an extraordinary thing, it looks dark, mysterious and bottomless, perhaps inhabited by a strange presence. When did you first notice it and do you cover it with the carpet? I see it has water at the bottom, have you ever fallen in?'



Shortly afterwards a strange apparition emerged from the labyrinthine complex under Carol's house, asking if it was time to put the kettle on for a cup of tea.


What is that nugget in the ladel?



Newsletter stuff

Next time - do send us your topical editorial about your springs and wells, we love to hear from you and publish if appropriate in the newsletter.


Welcome to the Friends who have joined us since the last newsletter. We welcome your involvement. If you would like any back numbers of our newsletters send a large SAE to Bruce with details of which ones you require. There is no charge and they may be collectors items one day!  The reason why we are able to distribute newsletters to Friends without charge is because of the generosity of the Spas Research Fellowship, which handles our mail.


A sincere thanks to the two Friends who kindly sent us a donation cheque - it was much appreciated. We do not charge for being a Friend. This is in spite of incurring quite substantial costs to run Friends and the donation was an encouraging gesture of appreciation.

Email: springs@thespas.co.uk (click here to send an email)

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Friendship - There is no charge made for joining Friends of Malvern Springs and Wells. Just let us have your email address and we will send our newsletters, which are usually two monthly. Please be aware that some email addresses block large circulation emails. Do feel free to participate in our activities by contacting us below.
Best wishes, Cora & Bruce
Bruce Osborne, Tower House, Tadworth, Surrey. KT20 5QY
Tel. 01737 213169   email
Cora Weaver, 4 Hall Green, Malvern, Worcs. WR14 3QX            
Tel. 01684 561215   email

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