Future repository of the Elgar Birthplace Archives

(This press release has been written and submitted by Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service)

Recent publicity has highlighted a story that has now been running for two years – that the Elgar Foundation is considering a new permanent home for the Elgar archives, currently stored and made available for research at the Elgar Birthplace in Broadheath, Worcestershire, now under the National Trust and called The Firs.

Archive Collections Manager and Diocesan Archivist at The Hive in Worcester, Dr. Adrian Gregson, recently submitted a report to the Foundation on the merits and advantages of the archives being retained in the county to aid their considerations. His report includes this comment:

For us, this will be one of our most high-profile collections.  Elgar spent a lot of time in Worcestershire, drawing inspiration from the people and the landscapes.  Users of the collections will be able to research his papers whilst looking out to the Malvern Hills as he did. Elgar and Worcestershire are inextricably linked, a fact recognised by the Local Enterprise Partnership in its consideration of themes for the county, by local businesses, retailers, developers, housebuilders, councils, charities, schools and colleges. Elgar is Worcestershire and the thought of the key elements of his personal archive leaving the county will be viewed with considerable dismay. In fact for those involved in the discussion about the future of the Birthplace and its contents this is already a concern, just as it was in years past when there were questions about the future location of the Diaries and the vicissitudes of the Museum itself.

Therefore our vision, with partners in the county and beyond, must be to resolve that disquiet and to provide a stable and safe, permanent environment where his papers can be properly consulted and made actively available locally in The Hive. We will do this in conjunction with exhibition and display work at The Firs, and also on a virtual basis to capture the wider national and international enthusiasm.

The proposal put forward by WAAS is simple: there is no serious question about the research facilities, the strongroom environment, the ability to secure funding, the online accessibility, the partnership working and opportunities for promotion and collaboration. The key issue is that the archive remains in Worcestershire.

 This vision will release the potential for the archive to reach its true cultural potential, working with the BL, Birmingham and other institutions, but rooted in the local environment, just as is his music.

County Council Cabinet Member, Cllr Lucy Hodgson, recently stated: “Worcestershire is the county where Elgar was born, lived, died and is buried. It is also the place where he gained so much of his musical inspiration. These archives were first deposited with the county record office in 1966 by his daughter. They were then transferred to the newly refurbished Birthplace Museum in 2002.

In my opinion Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service (WAAS), the county repository for historic archives and records since 1947, one of the first archives in the country to be accredited by the National Archives and the winners of the prestigious Record Keepers of the Year award in 2017, are the clear choice to house these archives.

“It would truly be a shame to see this piece of history that means so much to this county be taken away from Worcestershire, a place where Elgar is honoured and celebrated each year at the Elgar Festival and a place that obviously meant so much to Sir Edward Elgar and his family.”

If you require any further information at this stage please contact Dr. Gregson:

Agregson3@worcestershire.gov.uk  01905 844929