The parishes of Malvern town, Malvern Wells and West Malvern have between them 109 gas-fuelled lamps that provide an antiquated glow of nostalgia along the roads and footpaths of the Malverns.  Originally installed in 1856 in Victorian England, they are now over 150 year old.

Malvern gas lamp in the snow

Unfortunately the lamps are rather expensive to run and maintain, and so their days are thought to be numbered.  In 2010, the funding for their maintenance fell again, but a high tech solution showed promising signs save them, and the news looked positive. After a volunteering effort from The Gasketeers saw the final gas lamp installed at the end of 2012, the process was completed.  There is more information about them from the Malvern Wells Parish Council, and the Tourist Information Centre in Malvern has a leaflet about a walking tour of the gas lamps.

CS Lewis is said to have been inspired by these gas lamps for his opening description of Narnia in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.  Apparently he was walking home from a Malvern pub one snowy night with friends JRR Tolkien and George Sayer when he remarked how such imagery would be well suited in a future book. They were both also part of "The Inklings", an informal literary discussion group based at Oxford University. Their meetings would follow no set agenda, but instead would contain readings of unfinished work by the members and discussions about their readings.

Lewis actually attended school in Malvern for a few years (both the Cherbourg House preparatory school, and later Malvern College), and Sayer was a student and friend of Lewis' from Oxford that went on to teach at Malvern College.  Consequently, Lewis and Tolkien regularly visited Malvern from Oxford (where they were both professors at the University) and walked on the Malvern Hills.  The views across Herefordshire from the Malvern Hills are thought to have helped shape the land of Narnia, and possibly even aspects of Middle Earth or other lands in the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.


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