Here at The Cottage in the Wood we love local. Whether it’s fresh seafood and high-quality meat, local wine or even our water, we believe local sourcing provides the freshest ingredients that our regular diners keep coming back for. We work closely with local suppliers and producers to source the highest quality ingredients for your enjoyment.
In this series of blogs, we’ll be getting to know our suppliers a little bit better and finding out what makes them so special, starting with world-famous water suppliers Holywell.
A flavoursome bottle of water can be hard to come by, but thanks to our prestigious location we have some of the best-tasting water available right on our doorstep. The Holywell spring nearby is the original source of bottled water in the UK, and Holywell Malvern Spring Water can be found behind our bar today. Records show that the great taste of Malvern water has been bottled and distributed across the UK as far back as the 16th century, with the world-famous water a household favourite amongst the British Royal Family. So, what makes Malvern water fit for a queen?
Going back millions of years, the great taste of our water is thanks to the pre-Cambrian granite which formed the Malvern Hills. This is the oldest, and by definition the hardest, rock in the UK. Whereas the majority of mineral waters are derived from volcanic rock, leading to a high sodium content and bitterness, the sheer density of the Malvern Hills acts as nature’s great big purifier, stripping away any minerals and other impurities. It’s this clean taste that makes Malvern water famous for containing ‘just nothing at all’.
Not just highly acclaimed for its great taste, there’s also a lot of history famously attached to the Malvern springs. Records as far back as 1622 show the UK’s use of our town’s spring. It was during this time that the monks at Great Malvern Priory would capture the water for the elderly and infirm, with the water famous for holding supposed medicinal powers. In fact, Malvern would develop massively in the Victorian era with doctors James Wilson and James Gulley setting up ‘water cure’ establishments in Belle Vue, at the centre of town. This would attract Victorian celebrities, including the likes of Charles Darwin, Florence Nightingale and Charles Dickens, who believed the purity of Malvern water promoted future health.
Centuries after the water cure establishments came to Malvern, the water would continue to be bottled at the springs and distributed locally. It wasn’t until Schweppes came to town in 1843 that the water became commercialised and began to make sales overseas. It was also during this period that Queen Victoria happened upon Malvern Water at the Great Exhibition, with the water remaining a favourite within the British Royal Family today.
Following its association with royalty, Malvern water became a recognised water brand on a global scale until Schweppes ultimately closed down Malvern Water and the historic site in 2010. After backing from various locals, Rhys Humm and his father managed to reclaim the commercial rights of the Malvern Spring in 2012, with Holywell Malvern Spring Water now representing the water us locals know and love.
To find out more about Holywell and Malvern’s famous spring water, visit www.holywellmalvernspringwater.co.uk.
Stay tuned for our next blog, where we catch up with another of our favourite local suppliers.