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Malvern Priory

Great Malvern, Worcestershire

Location Guide

Great Malvern priory was built initially by 30 monks, work began in 1085 as the Priory of St Mary. It was connected with Westminster abbey. It was connected with the Benedictine order. Later expanded and rebuilt.

The present building dates from 1085, with mainly 15th century structure, floor, and wall tiles. The original Norman architecture church was extended in the years between 1450 and 1500. The great square central tower is very similar to that of Gloucester Cathedral, it was built by the same masons. It was redesigned in Perpendicular style by Sir Reginald Bray) and has a very plain interior. The chancel is also Perpendicular in style, and contains the monument of John Knotsford (died 1589), a participant in the dissolution of the former monastic foundation. It is largely thanks to his patronage that the church, and particularly its medieval glass, survived so well.

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The fine collection of stained glass ranges from medieval to modern, and includes 15th century and 19th century windows. The north transept window, depicting the Coronation of St. Mary, was a gift from Henry VII in 1501, and another from the Duke of Gloucester, later Richard III. A careful restoration was carried out in 1860 under the direction of Sir George Gilbert Scott, the famous architect, who also designed the roof of the nave in imitation of the medieval original.

History

During the reign of Edward the Confessor, Saint Wulfstan, the Bishop of Worcester, encouraged a hermit named Aldwyn to found a monastery in what was then the wilderness of Malvern Chase. According to the Worcester Monastic Annals this work began in 1085. The Priory was built for thirty monks on land belonging to Westminster Abbey. A charter from Henry I in 1128 AD refers to Great Malvern Priory as 'the Priory of St. Mary'. In 11541156, Westminster Abbey obtained a Papal bull from Pope Adrian IV which confirms a strong dependency of the priory of St Mary, Malvern, on the Abbey of Westminster.

Having allegiance to Westminster Abbey, there were altercations between the Priory and the Bishop of Worcester over the years. It is reported that in 1286 the Archbishop, the King and even the Pope were involved in these disagreements.

The Norman church was extended in the years between 1440 and 1500. The tower is very similar to that of Gloucester Cathedral and was built by the same masons.

Bishop John Carpenter, Bishop of Worcester,  on July 30th 1460  dedicated the rebuilt priory church and some 12 altars, he referred, at the High Altar, to the patrons as "the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Michael the Archangel", together with St John the Evangelist, St Peter, St Paul, and also St Benedict, founder of the Order. Today the priory is known as the Parish Church of St Mary and St Michael.

At the dissolution of the monasteries in the time of Henry VIII, the Priory church was saved by the parishioners of Malvern. Their own tiny parish church was derelict. It stood where the main Malvern post office is now. The parishioners petitioned the King and succeeded in buying the Priory for 20. It took them two years to raise the money. The parish consisted of only 105 families and after they had bought the church they had no money left to carry out repairs.

The Civil War largely passed it by.  It wasn't until the mid 1800's that repair work was seriously undertaken, with some additions and other refurbishment. During World War II the stained glass was removed and stored in zinc lined boxes which aided their preservation. After the war Dr L.A. Hamand, the organist, painstakingly replaced the stained glass windows in their original positions as far as was possible.

Their own website gives a fuller history see link below.


Location: Malvern Priory, Great Malvern, Worcestershire

Grid Reference: SO775457 Ceremonial County: Worcestershire

Map Link: StreetMap 

Aerial photo: Google Aerial 

Getting there: in Malvern, see map

Access: May be off another road at the north side of the priory.
Website: Own   detailed history  
Other Useful Websites: Wiki 
Email: office@greatmalvernpriory.org.uk
Address: Malvern Priory, Parish Office, Church Street, MALVERN
Postcode: WR14 2AY Telephone: 01684 561020
Parish Office is open Weekdays 9am to 12 noon
Opening Times: Not specified on their website, call them if travelling from very far.

Charges: None specified, I don't expect there are any

Nearby Locations: Malvern Hills

Other Location Pages:

List of all Anglican cathedrals and other major Anglican churches in the UK

Abbey section, including all major Christian buildings, regions orders, normal layouts and history.

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By: Keith Park Section: Abbey and Religious Buildings Key:  
Page Ref: Malvern_Priory Topic: Abbeys Last Updated: 02/2011
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