With the largest and most wide ranging collection of material associated with the life and work of Edward Elgar there is a lot to see on a visit to The Elgar Birthplace Museum.
All of our displays are well labelled, each room has a seperate printed guide and our excellent AUDIO GUIDE is available free of charge to guide you around both the Birthplace Cottage and the Elgar Centre.
To help you get the most out of your visit we have provided the following brief guides.
The Birthplace Cottage - The Front Room
The Front Room of the Birthplace Cottage immediately conveys the modest nature of the building which is testimony to Elgar’s humble beginnings. Here display panels reveal what family life was like in 1850s rural Worcestershire and the wealth of music that came into the small cottage.
“Father very frequently brought their friends from Worcester for an evening or for a week-end. And well I remember a dear man, we all loved, who was a constant visitor named Allen, a solicitor – and another named Leicester, John Leicester, a tall man, who sang in the choir at Church – well, they were thoroughly happy in our cottage home, and sang and sang, for the very joy of singing...and we three little ones sat on a sofa to listen, and of course thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, but dare scarcely move, or blink our eyes, for fear of attracting attention and being sent to bed!”
(Lucy Elgar, Reflections 1912)
The Birthplace Cottage - The Atkins Room
One of Elgar’s local friends was Sir Ivor Atkins, Organist and Master of Choristers at Worcester Cathedral. The Atkins Room, the second room in the Birthplace Cottage, is named after the Atkins family. Rare items from the Museum’s internationally renowned collection are displayed within this room.
The Birthplace Cottage - The Study
The final room on the ground floor of the Birthplace Cottage is Elgar’s “Study”. The room was originally set up by Elgar’s daughter, Carice Elgar Blake. It captures the atmosphere of her father’s study and contains objects that he would have used daily throughout his composing life.
“How and when do I do my music? I can tell you very easily. I come into my study at nine o’clock in the morning and I work till a quarter to one. I don’t do any inventing then, for that comes anywhere and everywhere. It may be when I am walking, golfing, or cycling, or the ideas may come in the evening, and then I sit up until any hour in order to get them down. The morning is devoted to revising and orchestration, of which I have as much to do as I can manage. As soon as lunch is over I go out for exercise and return about four or later, after which I sometimes do two hours’ work before dinner.”
(Edward Elgar, Strand Magazine, May 1904)
The Birthplace Cottage - The Birthroom
At the top of the stairs is the room where Edward Elgar was born on 2nd June 1857. The Birthroom displays a selection of family mementoes, including furniture, old family papers, personal trinkets and unique early photographs. Of particular interest are the birth and marriage certificates and the tiny toys that belonged to his younger brother Joe (the ‘Beethoven’ of the family) who sadly died when only seven years old.
"How well I remember the day he was born! The air was sweet with the perfume of flowers, bees were humming, and all the earth was lovely. There seemed to be, to we little ones, a lot of unnecessary running about in the house, and Father came tearing up the drive with a strange man in the carriage. And before that, an old lady whom we had never seen before arrived with a large bag, and we were told by the younger maid there was a baby in that bag! That was good enough for our weak comprehension, and so we were taken a scamper across the heath to be out of the way."
(Lucy Elgar, Reflections 1912)
The Birthplace Cottage - The Hobbies Room
It has been said that Elgar liked to give the impression of a country gentleman who, after a round of golf, would come home and just happen to write some of England’s greatest music. Whilst these accounts should not be taken too literally, Elgar lived a very full life outside music, as the displays in the Hobbies Room illustrate; hobbies including science, fishing, woodwork and cycling.
"Our cycling trips began in earnest after 'Gerontius'...There cannot have been a lane within twenty miles of Malvern that we did not ultimately find...to Upton, to Tewkesbury or Hereford, to the Vale of Evesham...to the lovely villages on the west side of the hills...as we rode, he would often become silent and I knew that some new melody or, more probably, some new piece of orchestral texture, had occurred to him".
(Rosa Burley, friend)
The Birthplace Cottage - The Travel Room
The last of the upstairs rooms in the Birthplace Cottage is the Travel Room. This room explores a theme that recurs throughout Elgar’s life: the need for change and the new creative stimulation it could bring. This is revealed in the displays which chart Elgar’s frequent changes of home, his explorations of the countryside and his travels both in this country and abroad.
“I wish I could share a good rough sea with you – this I love. My own great-uncle was one of that superhuman breed – a Dover pilot – and I have the sea very much in my viens.”
(Elgar in a letter to Yehudi Menuhin, 1933)
The Elgar Centre
The Elgar Centre permanent exhibition traces Elgar's musical development from his early days in Broadheath through his many changes of homes and locations to his eventual return to Worcestershire, the county he loved so deeply. Panels describing the more important aspects of each of these periods of Elgar's life are set beside display cases containing items relevant to the period - photographs, concert programmes, letters and original manuscripts - even a rare piece of cine film showing an ageing Elgar with his dogs and close friends.
The periods explored are:
A Time For Learning
The Malvern Years
The Hereford Years
London and the War Years
A Country Retreat
Our series of temporary exhibitions are also displayed in the Elgar Centre and give you the opportunity to explore an aspect of Elgar, the collection or general muscial themes in more detail. Please ring the Museum for further details of our current temporary exhibition.