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Enigma Fountain

NGR 77513 45961
Site Number: C120
By Bruce Osborne and Cora Weaver (C) 2012
Area 1. Malvern Town Centre Springs and Wells
Malvern Hills, England

Location: Belle Vue Island, Great Malvern.
Description: four 3.5 metre standing stones appearing to comprise a solid monument containing a waterfall and yet enigmatically, when viewed from a different direction, it contains nothing at all.

The imposing fountain is the work of local sculptor Rose Garrard and celebrates the life and work of Edward Elgar, who lived in Malvern from 1891-1904. The fountain has 14 sides, each bearing the initials of one of his friends pictured within the Enigma Variations. Around the base is carved words from The Music Makers (1912) - "We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams, Wandering by lone sea- breakers, And sitting by desolate streams". The fountain is fed by natural pressure from the same source as the Malvhina Spout. Nearby is a life-sized statue of Edward Elgar by the same sculptor. The statue and fountain were unveiled by HRH the Duke of York in May 2000.

In June 1891 Mr Edward Elgar, his wife Alice and baby daughter Carice, had moved to Forli, a house in Alexandra Road, Malvern Link. His Caractacus, first performed in 1898, and the Enigma Variations of the following year, put Elgar on the musical map and in 1899 he moved to a bigger house, Craeglea, in Malvern Wells. His continued musical successes earned him an honorary doctorate from Cambridge University in 1901, and by the time he left Malvern in 1904 the king had already decided to award Dr Elgar a knighthood.

The enigma of the fountain is that when viewed from one side the space between the columns is empty; view it through 90 degrees and there is a waterfall. The fountain has lost some of its former attraction however. When it was still only a gleam in the mind, it was said, 'We want something that really shows the water off'. Today the 'enigma' is how to spot any water at all as this fountain is often dry.

1. The Duke meets Elgar during the unveiling 2000.
The map alongside is a small section of our more comprehensive map of the area. For the complete map together with a description and history of this site see "Celebrated Springs of the Malvern Hills" (2012).
Click on Website below or the top banner to go to the DISCOVERY TRAIL INDEX of springs and wells.

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Celebrated Springs of 


A definitive work that is the culmination of 20 years researching the springs and wells of the Malvern Hills, published by Phillimore. This is the ideal explorers guide enabling the reader to discover the location and often the astounding and long forgotten history of over 130 celebrated springs and wells sites around the Malvern Hills. The book is hard back with dust cover, large quarto size with lavish illustrations and extended text. Celebrated Springs contains about 200 illustrations and well researched text over a similar number of pages, together with seven area maps to guide the explorer to the locations around the Malvern Hills. It also includes details on the long history of bottling water in the Malvern Hills.

Written by Bruce Osborne and Cora Weaver, this book is available on-line for £15.00 (delivered UK) - click Malvern Bookshop on the green panel top left. Alternatively send a cheque payable to Cora Weaver with your name and address to 4 Hall Green, Malvern, Worcs. WR14 3QX.

Malvern Hills - arguably Britain's original National Park
Built Up Location
A Spring, Spout, Fountain or Holy Well Site
Site with Malvern Water
5 SPLASHES - Prime 'Must See' Site
Access By Road
Access On Foot
Accessible All Year

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