Hanley's Historic Houses
The rural parish of Hanley Castle includes more than sixty listed buildings and about the same number again of historic houses that have been altered too much to qualify for listing but are still of interest. Now that deeds are no longer necessary, it is often difficult to trace the history of old houses, but I have researched as many as I can and the people who have lived in them. The properties range from a working man’s institute to a brewery and from a home for orphaned boys to a country house hospital for soldiers wounded in the Great War. Among the many and varied people who lived in these buildings were an eighteenth-century inventor of a universal sundial; a nineteenth-century fish breeder who also invented an alarm gun for catching poachers; a naval surgeon who served during the First Opium War; a breeder of prize cattle and sheep who also designed an agricultural society silver medal; a civil engineer who introduced the Bessemer steel process to India; a matriarch who, by the time she died at the age of ninety-one, had forty-three grandchildren; hop and cider merchants; market gardeners; countless farmworkers and domestic servants; and the king of Greece.
Many of the older houses were constructed in two periods during which there was a mini building boom in the parish: firstly, the second half of the seventeenth century when about forty farms and cottages were built following the sale by Charles I of one-third of Malvern Chase; secondly, the thirty years from 1810 to 1840, when the growing attraction of Malvern’s spring water led to an influx of people seeking cures for various ailments and wanting to live nearby. The 1821 census notes that “the resort of invalids and others to Malvern Wells has greatly increased the population of the parish of Hanley Castle in which these wells are situated.” Before 1894 the parish included Malvern Wells and extended from the River Severn to the Malvern Hills. Around one hundred houses were built or enlarged in the thirty years to 1840.
The houses are numbered on the enclosed parish map and six enlarged sections, arranged as far as possible in the form of a continuous walk done in stages along roads and footpaths with a few unavoidable detours along the way. Please note that any building not visible from the road or footpath is only accessible by prior arrangement with the owner.