Icons of England
  • Introduction
  • The Icons
  • Nominations
  • News
  • Learn & Play
  • Your Comments

The Malvern Hills

779 of 1157 nominations


The Malvern Hills

Is this an icon?


The Malvern Hills

“My idea is that there is music in the air, music all around us, the world is full of it and you simply take as much as your require.” Sir Edward Elgar

Elgar certainly found music in the air of the Malvern Hills, where he was frequently to be seen cycling, walking and flying his kite. His cantata Caractacus is named after the ancient British chief who, legend has it, made his last stand against the invading Roman armies here. The Malvern Hills are breathtakingly beautiful, giving views over the Worcestershire and Herefordshire countryside. William of Malmesbury described the area as a “vast wilderness” and indeed, the name “malvern” seems to come from Gaelic “moel bryn” meaning "bare hill”, but these descriptions do not do the landscape justice. The names of the individual hills are more evocative: Perseverance, Pinnacle, Sugar Loaf and Midsummer. And it is not only Elgar but painters and poets who have been inspired here: Benjamin Leader and Paul Nash, William Langland, John Masefield, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and WH Auden.

Photo: Copyright Malvern Hills District Council


Your comments

The Malvern Hills epitomise England's 'green and pleasant land'. They are not an icon solely devoted to London but represent all England, especially when associated with the quintessentially English music of Sir Edward Elgar.

Brian Micklethwaite

Moel-bryn from which Malvern is thought to derive is actually Welsh not Gaelic. Welsh is simply of course the English name for the Ancient Britons and their language. This to me reflects the primeval nature of the landscape and continuity of history around this area.

The Malvern Hills provide an image that is uniquely English, both in their physical manifestation and with their connection to Edward Elgar and Malvern Water. The Elgar link is particularly poignant and perhaps the icon should be the Hills with the first movement of his Cello Concerto playing in the background.
Roger Britton

View All Comments (3)



My nomination is the garden shed.