That's a Wrap


For the last 18 months Perfect Circle has been working with various local community groups to produce a theatrical production which portrays some of Malvern's unique stories. In July the show went live, with over 162 people seeing the show at Great Malvern Priory, and many more watching the smaller performances in the weeks leading up to the play. Reviewer Nigel Turner writes about his experiences of the production. 

The “Route to the Hills” initiative is designed to celebrate the richness and diversity of Great Malvern’s heritage and culture, from earliest times right up to the present day.    Malvern’s Perfect Circle Theatre Company, which has established itself as a leading Youth Theatre company in the region, joined forces with this initiative, researching, devising and finally presenting an original piece of community theatre, based upon the memories and aspirations of a wide range of folk who live on Malvern’s slopes. It was thus entitled “The Folks from the Slopes” and was performed aptly in Malvern Priory, the very centre of the town,  on the 14th and 15th July.

From the first, it was made clear to us that we were being welcomed into the Priory, not to be lectured at, but to be invited to share in different people’s experiences of life in their communities, on these slopes.  We were to expect a variety of styles of presentation — film, dance, song, poetry, sketches, interviews.  Furthermore, we should be prepared to move to different parts of the building.  An appreciation of this ancient interior was thus to be a vital aspect of the whole experience.


The residents from Clarence Park opened the proceedings, sharing their memories on film. Nevertheless we felt that they were speaking directly to us, without exception revealing a quiet pride in their achievements in many diverse fields. A picture emerged of individual lives making up the complex patterns within a community, seeking fulfillment at work, at play, in friendship, in helping others as well as themselves, in growing older.


Pride of a more directly infectious quality was very evident in the next item, as pupils from Northleigh Primary School revealed its extraordinary history,from total destruction by fire to its rebirth with another school in a brand-new building. The pupils involved us in the story, first through a very clearly delivered shared narration and then through a sequence of vigorous dance and mime , which culminated in a moment of extraordinary emotional power, as we witnessed the two schools being united together into a circle before us.  There could have been few dry eyes in the house.

 A sudden shift in location signaled a complete change in style and focus.  Behind the high altar, a small group of local poets and singers waited for us to arrive, to commemorate with us the lives of famous [or notorious] Malvern women.  This item was boldly delivered, with sudden shifts in style and intonation.  We veered sharply from Dame Laura Knight, through Lady Emily Foley, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and on to the morally ambiguous, possibly victimised Florence Bravo — all women who courted controversy, asserted their individuality and refused to be categorized.  We were left with a feeling   that much has yet to be resolved.  


 But little time to reflect—  we’re on the move again, to the other side of the altar and squeezing into St Ann’s Chapel, to be entertained by an experienced group of Malvern amateur actors, performing a devised piece celebrating the arrival of the Radar ‘boffins’ in WW2, and the subsequent growth of Malvern’s scientific community.  Each player demonstrated versatility by playing multiple roles, thus also celebrating the well-established interest in theatre and drama within the life of the town; possibly also nudging us to reflect upon Malvern as a vital centre both for scientific research and for the performing arts.

 A final move into the Chancel, to sit in the choir stalls. It was fitting that the concluding item should be presented by some young people from Malvern whose experiences and skills have been enhanced by their membership of the Perfect Circle Theatre Company.  Ostensibly a ‘Malvern journey based on interviews’ to find out what the folk of Malvern liked about the place, its focus rapidly started to shift in multiple directions: how can we make something out of nothing— is Shakespeare useful as a fall-back — how about escaping to the secret park of the imagination — let’s bring on a couple of dogs —-  are famous people to be revered or laughed at, or both —  how to work the audience— how to learn lists of names—- why bother—how and when to stop ———.In short, a celebration of Theatre, full of the irreverent creativity of youth, brought our journey round this ancient Priory to a thought-provoking yet highly satisfying conclusion.

Take a seat on a piece of the past

Have you spotted anything new around town recently? Next time you you pop over to Church Street, or take a stroll in Rose Bank Gardens, we challenge you to spot our five new benches that have recently been installed.

Each bench has a unique bench-end which depicts a story or legend linked to Malvern’s history. Designs includethe following;

  • The goat legs and cloven hooves of Mr Tumnus from the Chronicles of Narnia (a reference to Malvern providing the inspiration for CS Lewis’ much-loved children’s books)
  • Florence Nightingale’s beloved cat and writing implements (Florence took the waters several times in Malvern and owned over 60 cats throughout her life)
  •  The wheel of a Morgan car (The first Morgan Factory opened in 1905 on Chestnut Villa in Malvern Link)
  • The shield and axe of Caractacus  (An ancient British chieftain who according to folklore made his last stand at British Camp. The legend inspired Elgar to write his Caractacus Cantata)
  • The head of a donkey (donkeys use to carry patients up the hills)

The benches can be found in Priory Park, Lyttleton Well, Rose Bank Gardens, outside the Post Office and on Belle Vue Island. A small plaque will be fixed to each one at a later date to explain the story behind each design.

Midsummer Malvern Madness

Today marks the beginning of the Civic Society's Midsummer Malvern Week! Join Route to the Hills as we celebrate all thing historical in a week packed full of fun  activities for the whole family to enjoy!

Tuesday 20 June 4pm - 5pm

In this nature-inspired activity we explore the history behind Great Malvern's Priory Park. Solve puzzles, discover stories, and locate certain trees to become an accomplished historical nature explorer! Meet us at the Bandstand and join in this fun activity perfect for children aged 5+. (Please note all children must be accompanied by an adult). 






Wednesday 21 June 10am-11am

Meet one of our historical experts as we follow the new interpretation route that is currently being installed in the town centre. Learn about stories which have inspired the route, see some of its features and share your own stories on this guided walk from Great Malvern Railway Station up to Rose Bank Gardens. Meet at Great Malvern Railway station entrance. The walk will take 40 minutes to an hour, and is uphill. For more information or to book onto the walk please contact







Wednesday 21 June 6pm - 8:30pm

We would like to invite you and your family to join us in our Explorer Extravaganza, where we will be celebrating the release of our new book: An Unusually Excellent Guide for Curious Explorers. With fun activities, street theatre, photography and just a little bit of history thrown in, this FREE event will bring to life some of the puzzles, stories and characters found within our new Great Malvern Family Guidebook. All attending children will get a free copy of the book.  For more information, or to confirm your attendance, please contact Harry Robinson by emailing

For more information about Midsummer Malvern please visit here  . We hope to see you at one of our events!

A Creative Spring

To celebrate the ground studs which are to be installed over the next few months, Route to the Hills has been encouraging local children to get creative using the stud designs to create unique pieces of artwork.

In total 50 studs will be placed in various locations across Great Malvern, which will direct visitors around the route, and will each represent a story or moment from Malvern’s history. From the famous Morgan Car to the not so famous astrolabes that Prior Walcher used, all of the project’s five historical themes will be showcased in 20 beautiful images designed by illustrator Chichi Parish. We turned ten of these studs into  stamps, which we encouraged children to use in several activities around the Easter holidays.

Malvern Flowers: As part of the Town Council’s St George’s Heritage Festival we gave parents and children ten riddles and questions about Malvern’s history that they had to solve to make their very own ‘Malvern Rose’. The answer to each riddle was represented by one of the stamps, with participants getting to choose either the easy or difficult questions (most went for the more difficult set!). For each question they got right, they were to use the stamp on one of the ten petals of the Malvern Rose, encouraging it to bloom! The children could then take home their roses, with many saying they wished to take into to school for show and tell.

Easter Decorations: Another of our activities took place at Fortis Living’s annual Eggstravaganza. Using the stamps the children made their own Easter decorations, with ribbon, coloured paper and colouring pencils used in addition to liven them up! We had 20 children take part, with the owl stamp in particular being a favourite amongst the girls!

Keep an eye on our events page over the next few months to make sure you don’t miss any of the summer activities we are currently planning!