St Ann’s Well Café to close

St Ann's Well, Malvern Hills - Steve Luttrell

St Ann's Well, Malvern Hills - Steve Luttrell

After 20 years, St Ann’s Well Café in the Malvern Hills is due to close.

After 20 years, John Redman, who owns the now expired lease and runs the quirky vegetarian café, is to be evicted by an unaccountable quango and the café turned into a tourist information centre.

St Ann’s Well is set on the slopes of the Malvern Hills above Great Malvern, with commanding views over the Severn flood plain. The building dates back to 1815 and houses an elaborately carved water spout from which Malvern Water flows. It also houses the St Ann’s Well Café. The well is conveniently sited on a path leading up to the Worcestershire Beacon.

St Ann is the maternal mother of Jesus and the patron saint of many wells.

The water from the well is believed to have healing powers.

Out of thy famous Hille
There daily springeth
A water passing still
That always bringeth
Great comfort to alle them
That are diseased men
And makes them well again
So Prayse the Lord!

A plaque above the water spout celebrates the water.

Drink of this crystal fountain
And praise the loving Lord
Who from the rocky mountain
This living stream out-poured
Fit emblem of Holy Fount
That flows from God’s eternal mount

The café provides a fare of vegan and vegetarian meals, teas, snacks, a selection of scrumptious cakes and you can also fill your glass with water fresh from the spring.

This is not the first time the unaccountable quango otherwise known as the Malvern Hills Conservators has found itself embroiled in controversy. In 1963 they made the decision to demolish the “lump of Victoriana” known as St Ann’s Well. John Betjeman, poet and founding member of the The Victorian Society expressed concern about the plans for the building and his support and strong public feeling for St Ann’s Well convinced the Conservators to change their minds.

The café has acquired something of a New Age cum hippy reputation, which may be why the Conservators are determined to close it down.

Two ley lines pass through the café. Nigel Kennedy has used the octagonal room for a recording.

In a world of corporate conformity, we need quirky little places like St Ann’s Well Café.

The supporters of the café do not intend to give up without a fight. A support group has been formed on facebook and an on-line petition launched which all are encouraged to sign.

websites

St Ann’s Well Café
Save St Ann’s Well…!!!

also see

The Alchemist

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One Response to “St Ann’s Well Café to close”

  1. SSAW Says:

    UPDATE and background to to dispute (August 2010):

    St Ann’s Well Cafe is owned by the Malvern Hills Conservators who have leased it to John Redman for the last 20 years. John Redman runs the cafe and lives in the small flat above it.

    The lease is a business tenancy protected by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. This means that when the lease term comes to an end, John, as tenant, is entitled to be granted a new lease unless the Conservators, as landlord, can prove one of several reasons to require him to leave.

    In September 2009 the Conservators gave John a Notice asking him to leave at the end of his current lease (March 2010) and indicating that they would oppose the renewal of his lease on two grounds: –

    (a) they said he had been seriously in breach of the lease
    (b) they said they wanted the building to occupy for the purposes of their own business as they wanted to take over the cafe and have an information centre in the upstairs room.

    There has been a huge amount of support for John to retain the cafe and many members of the public have gone to meetings of the Conservators to try to change their minds and persuade them to take some notice of the public opinion. Despite that, and the two petitions and a Facebook Support Group of nearly 7,000, the Conservators have proved reluctant to engage with their electorate. They have also been surprisingly coy about revealing their plans for the building and they have not yet sought any consultation with the public about their plans for the building, despite repeated assurances that they would. They have consistently refused to answer any questions from the public relating to the Cafe and have kept the whole project as secret as possible, despite being a public body funded by local ratepayers.

    The Conservators have recently dropped the part of their case that related to breaches of the lease. They did that just at the point in the litigation when they would otherwise have had to provide evidence of them. John had all along maintained that he was not aware of having committed any breaches. This happened to coincide with the petitions (signed by thousands including some very high profile supporters such as Benjamin Zephaniah, Martin Shaw and Mary McCartney) being handed in.

    The second part of their case now seems to be in severe doubt due to their apparent lack of any statutory power to run a cafe or to have a visitor centre in this location.

    Accordingly it is not clear what they could actually do with the building if they were to evict John. From their latest response to some public questions it seems that their “plans” are in some disarray and are at a very preliminary stage (if that). Their lack of any plan as to what they intend to do with the building may call into question their original motives for evicting John in the first place.

    The current position is that the litigation is ongoing. However the parties are engaging in mediation talks to try to negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement. If no agreement is reached at mediation then the litigation will continue.

    In the meantime John is perfectly entitled to remain in occupation of the Cafe, running his business there until the matter is resolved. This is in accordance with the Landlord and Tenant Act which is intended to provide business tenants with continuity and to protect them and their businesses from unscrupulous landlords.

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