National Recording Project


Detail from: Memorial to 158 Squadron by Peter W. Naylor, 2009

Enigma Fountain


Type Shaft , Statue , Fountain

     A lifesize statue of Elgar stands with one hand on the railing looking across Church Street past the fountain. Four irregular stone slabs, almost twice Elgar's height, stand beside a slate horizontal cross with a water spring at its centre. Arching over this, within the four stones, is a tall arch only slightly lower than the stones. Water trickles over this into a gulley running downhill towards the road below.
          The Enigma Fountain celebrates three themes: Sir Edward Elgar, the world famous composer, his music The Enigma Variations, and Malvern's pure spring water. A local resident, Elgar was inspired by the Malvern Hills and countryside and loved walking beside nearby rivers and streams. The Enigma Variations were written here in 1898 when he was forty, and brought him international recognition. A life size bronze figure of Elgar at that age looks across the water feature towards the Blue Bird Tea Rooms where he regularly had tea. The fountain rim has fourteen sides each bearing the initials of a local friend, his wife or himself. They are all 'pictured within' the fourteen parts of his composition 'Variations on an Original Theme'. SITTING BY DESOLATE SPRINGS The quotation from 'The Music Makers' by Arthur O'Shaughnessy was a favourite of Elgar which he began to set to music in 1893. In the prelude and other parts of the score Elgar quoted the Enigma theme once again. The Enigma Fountain has no pump but is fed by natural pressure from 3 pure springs on the Malvern Hills above the town. The water rises to a height of 3 metres before trickling over a slate arch which symbolises the Priory. This arch spans the centre of a horizontal cross paved in slate, celebrating the Millennium and ecclesiastical origins of the town whih grew up around its pure springs. Beneath the archway a central spring waterjet is flanked by four standing stones which help shelter the jet from prevailing winds and suggest the source of these springs beneath the ancient Malvern Hills. The sculptor Rose Garrard developed these themes from suggestions made to Malvern residents while she was Artist in Residence. She conceived the Enigma Fountain, created working designs for it, directing the project and modelled the lifesize figure of Sir Edward Elgar. The Enigma Fountain, unveiled by Prince Andrew in May 2000, is part of the Malvern Spring Water Arts Project established to bring back spring water to Great Malvern. Supported by the public, Severn Trent Water, Waitrose, BOSS, Malvern Hills District Council. (This is a transcription of the plate fixed to the wall near the Enigma Fountain.)


On the top surfaces of the fourteen sides of the base of the fountain are the initials of the 12 friends portrayed in the Enigma variations and the initials of Mrs Elgar and Edward Elgar. At base level, near the statue of Elgar: Enigma Fountain/Unveiled by Prince Andrew/Sculpted by Rose Garrard 2000 On the stones of the shafts: SITTING BY DESOLATE SPRINGS There is a long explanation relating to the fountain on a metal plate fixed to the wall below Belle Vue Terrace.

Contributor details

Contributor Role
Garrard, Rose Sculptor

Element details

Part of work Material Dimensions
Base stone 3m diamter, 10cm deep
Spring base Slate 40cm x 40cm
Shafts Stone 3m high x 40cm x 40cm
Arch Slate 2.75m high
Statue Bronze 1.75m high

PMSA recording information

Reference Region
WOmhGMxx019 BM
General condition Good
Surface condition
  • No damage
Structural condition
  • None
  • None
Road Belle Vue Terrace
Precise location at the north end of the gardens below the road
A-Z ref None
OS ref SO775459
Date of design 2000
Year of unveiling 2000
Unveiling details May 2000
Commissioned by Malvern Hills District Council
Duty of care Malvern Hills District Council
Listing status Not listed
At risk? No known risk

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