Of all the towns in the Malverns, it’s GREAT MALVERN that grabs the attention, its pocket-sized centre clambering up the hillside with the crags of North Hill beckoning beyond. The grand but often rather faded old houses, which congregate on and around the top of the main drag, Church Street, mostly date from Great Malvern’s nineteenth-century heyday as a spa town when the local spring waters drew the Victorians here by the train load. You can still sample the waters today, but the town’s principal sight is its splendid Priory Church, close to the top of Church Street. The Benedictines built one of their abbeys here at Great Malvern and, although Henry VIII closed the place down in 1538, the elaborate decoration witnesses the priory’s former wealth. Inside, the Norman nave sweeps down to the chancel, which came later, a fine example of Perpendicular Gothic, its sinuous tracery serving to frame a simply fabulous set of late medieval stained-glass windows.

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