The Hanleys make a great base for visitors, whether going to one of the Three Counties shows, taking a tour of the Morgan factory in Great Malvern, or walking the Malvern Hills.
The villages themselves offer plenty to do, whether walking footpaths, admiring the pond, visiting the fencing museum or supping a beer at one of the pubs.
Hanley Swan Oaks
The large oak on the village green was planted in 1863 to commemorate the marriage of the Prince of Wales, the future Edward VII, to Princess Alexandra of Denmark. According to village legend, it made little progress in its early years until one day a circus was held on the green and an elephant bit the top off the tree. After that it flourished. Over the years it has grown into a majestic oak, with a branch occasionally dropping from the exposed western side. In July 2005 a major branch fell off, followed shortly by second from a spot almost immediately above the first (see photo), almost completely destroying the bench sited beneath it.
A second oak tree was planted on the green in 1981 to commemorate the marriage of the then Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, now King Charles III, to Lady Diana Spencer.
Hanley Swan Village Pond
A focal point of Hanley Swan is the village pond and green. Before the Hanley Castle Enclosure Act of 1797, there used to be a pound behind the pond where stray cows and sheep would be held. Over the years the state of the pond has been a regular cause of concern. In 1900 it was in such a polluted state that the parish council wrote to the owners of St Gabriel’s Terrace (a row of cottages across the road from the pond) asking them “to disconnect the overflow from their cesspits from running into the Swan Pool”. Thereafter it was cleaned out every decade or so. In the very cold winters of 1940 and 1947, the pond froze completely and people skated on it. Summer droughts have often caused it to dry up, and in 1990 a major restoration took place when local builder Brian Robinson introduced a water feed pipe running from nearby Coverdale Farm. He also added the willow tree with duck landing stage and nesting box in the middle of the pond and installed memorial benches around it. But by 2009 the duck platform had disintegrated, so the village café & market provided funds for three new floating duck houses, which were designed and installed by Russell Farraday. For a short period the pond supported a pair of swans, but it is more suitable for smaller waterfowl. Numbers have fluctuated over the years, reaching a peak in the summer of 2006, when over 100 ducks and half a dozen geese were using the pond. This caused serious problems of pollution and erosion, since vegetation had little chance to get established before being eaten. To make matters worse, many visitors cannot resist feeding the ducks, mainly with bread much of which falls to the bottom of the pond and rots, making the water slimy and unable to sustain plants, such as water lilies which used to cover the surface. To help the pond recover its picturesque appearance, the geese were removed, the number of ducks reduced and volunteers made willow revetments to stabilise the banks. But the pond really needed someone to look after it on a regular basis and in September 2009 a volunteer stepped forward – pond warden Neil Verlander. He and his partner Gigi Field organised ‘pond posses’, helped by farmer Francis Harcombe and his heavy equipment, to clear the wood behind the pond. Through the Malvern Gazette, Neil made an appeal for Malvern stone to build a permanent bank around the pond and within a week he had 30 tons of stone ready for collection. The Community Pay back Scheme provided the necessary labour and a programme of planting was introduced for the woodland area. With the help of donations, picnic tables and litter bins have been installed and Neil is now dredging to help oxygenate the water. Thanks to his efforts, the pond is now looking better than it ever has. In 2019 Nick Harper took over as warden and in 2022 oversaw another major pond project after the water levels dropped so much following a prolonged drought, that it was possible to access the pond bed and clear it of metres of silt. For more information go to: https://hanleyswanpond.co.uk/
National Fencing Museum
Hanley Swan is home to Britain’s National Fencing Museum, which traces the history of the sport of fencing over 450 years. The museum houses a library of over 300 books, 250 paintings and prints, 200 weapons, numerous masks, kit, trophies, posters, programmes, medals, stamps, postcards, and other ephemera. It provides a glimpse into the past: to a time when the art of fencing was an elegant accomplishment, an essential part of a gentleman’s education, and beyond to the days when a knowledge of the science of defence could mean the difference between life and death.
Brian Skey's Garden
A website dedicated to the garden stories and photography of Brian Skeys. Brian and willing family helpers have been transforming his garden since 2004 from a boring plot into a wonderful plant-packed garden showcasing different garden styles. The garden opens for charity each year.
Sue and Bill's Garden at the Rhydd
Two walled gardens and a 60 foot greenhouse from the early 1800s set in 6 acres with wonderful views of the entire length of the Malvern ridge. One walled garden is set out with formal paths and borders bounded by box hedging, planted with fruit trees in espaliers and cordons as they would have been when the garden was first set out. There is a nature area with walks and some woodland.
Open through the National Garden Scheme: https://findagarden.ngs.org.uk/garden/42201/rhydd-gardens