The Abbey Hotel has a long tradition of welcoming visitors and caring for their welfare, although in it’s origins the Abbey’s tenants were primarily concerned with their visitor’s spiritual welfare. Indeed, the current Abbey Hotel and its gardens are located on the site of the former Benedictine monastery of which only the Priory Church and the Abbey Gatehouse (now Malvern Museum) survive.
This monastic activity started in 1085 shortly after the Battle of Hastings when Normans built a small priory on land known as Malvern Chase and belonging to Westminster Abbey. Over the past centuries the Priory has evolved from a small community for 30 monks to one of a more prominent status – and has played a significant part in the decoration of Gloucester Cathedral, particularly in decorative floor tiles, some of which still survive.
Having allegiance to Westminster Abbey and the crown, there were frequent altercations between the Priory and the Bishops of Worcester, culminating in 1286 when the Archbishop, the King and even the Pope got involved. The Priory continued to be extended and the current building was completed in 1470. It was around this time that Henry VII; the Duke of Gloucester as well as Richard III donated several of the great windows.
Under Henry VII, the Priory’s fortunes changed dramatically when the monarch, short of cash, decided to plunder the funds of the Pope’s Catholic monasteries. Opposition was quickly suppressed by Thomas Cromwell and in 1539 the monks surrendered their land and buildings to the King, which were subsequently sold and demolished, except for the church.
In the 1600s, the English Civil War raged across the country including nearby Worcester. Malvern however remained mostly untouched being surrounded by the dense forest of Malvern Chase. In this period the Prior’s residence was replaced by a large three storey stone house and by the mid 1700s Abbey House had become a lodging house, and in 1757 full board cost 15s a week.
During the Victorian era, Malvern prospered significantly. After the Water Cure was brought to Malvern by Dr. Wilson in 1842, the increasing number of visitors put pressure on many hotels and lodging houses and so in 1848, after failing to sell the old Abbey House to the Parish for £3,000, William Archer had it demolished and built in its place the present Abbey Hotel.
In this century, the Abbey Hotel had lent its facilities for all manner of occasions. During WW II it was first commandeered by the Ministry of Information, then it acted as the Headquarters of the Belgian Refugees, and lastly it was taken over by the RAF. Since WW II, the Abbey Hotel has seen more visitors coming to walk on the scenic Malvern Hills, relaxing in the former Spa town or simply visiting friends and family. One such illustrious visitor was Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethopia, who enjoyed a stay The Abbey whist visitng his daugthers.
More recently, The Abbey has seen a £1 million upgrade care of the new owners Sarova Hotels. This involved restoring the hotel to its former glory by making it warm and welcoming whatever the purpose of your stay, and keeping in a tradition of hospitality and customer service that is over a thousand year’s old.
Written by Gennaro de Borbon, Revenue manager at The Abbey Hotel
My blog is listed in the Big Blog Collection