Great Malvern Priory

When the priory was founded in the 11th century, this part of Worcestershire was a densely wooded forest, probably as remote as anywhere in England.

About this church

The natural landscape of the Malvern Hills is still important in the look and feel of the priory town, with the slopes of the hills a prominent visual backdrop. The remoteness helped to preserve the priory's treasures in the years after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century.

The core of today's priory church, all that is left of what had been a monastic foundation, is the Norman architecture which can be seen in the nave and in the blocked south doorway. But much of the building we see now dates from a major rebuilding that happened in the last half of the 15th century. From this time date the chancel and its enormous east window, probably of about 1440. The tower was complete by 1460.

Work went on to transform the priory church into a building on a par in some ways with Gloucester Cathedral until 1500 and later. Barely forty years later Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries brought a complete change. The townspeople bought the church for £20, while the rest of the priory buildings were either leased or sold off, often to be demolished.

Between 1540 and the 19th century very little work was done either to maintain or repair the church, which meant that much that might otherwise have been 'modernised' or removed was left in place. Between 1860 and 1915 an enormous amount of repair and restoration work took place, including repairs to the stained glass.

It is the stained glass that is the finest treasure at Great Malvern: it is among the finest collections of medieval glass in England. It can be seen in many of the windows, particularly the east window, the chancel clerestory, St Anne's Chapel, north transept and west window. It was installed between 1450 and 1501. Scenes include several with Mary at their centre, the Passion and Crucifixion of Jesus, and Old Testament stories. Renowned figures of the time are shown, some dead, some living. These include Prince Arthur and Henry VII. Many other wonderful things can be seen in the church, including medieval stalls and misericords, a remarkable collection of medieval wall and floor tiles (made in kilns near the priory), and many monuments.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Magnificent memorials
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Fascinating churchyard
  • Social heritage stories
  • National heritage here

Visitors information

  • Level access to the main areas
  • On street parking at church
  • Parking within 250m
  • Accessible toilets nearby
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome
  • Space to secure your bike

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Situated in the Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this Grade II* listed church dates back to at least the 12th century.

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The church is in Old Colwall, at the time of the Doomsday Book it consisted of 23 households including an episcopal manor of the Bishop of Hereford.

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Built in 1862, our church is located on the eastern slopes of the Malvern Hill, many visitors come to our cemetery to pay their respects to Sir Edward Elgar who is buried there with other members of his family.

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