Guarlford History Group

John Archer (hotel keeper)

This story deals with a family which did not live in Guarlford but had strong links with the parish church, as benefactors and church wardens. It is assumed that the John Archer, one of the first church wardens mentioned on the inscription in St Mary, is John Archer 'gentleman'  born about 1791, died 1877, who was a hotel keeper of Great Malvern.  A window at the east end of the church is dedicated in memory of his youngest son Edward Archer, who took over running the Foley Arms Hotel when his father retired. 

Here is the story of the Archer family of Great Malvern.

We don't know who John's parents were, but between 1819 and 1827, on the baptism records of his children, he is described as a baker living in Great Malvern. This suggests that possibly he expanded his business ventures through opportunity and hard work rather than through inheritance.

Between 1841 and 1871 John was recorded living at the Foley Arms Hotel which was built by Joseph Downs about 1810 when it was then known as the Downs' Hotel and later the Royal Kent and Coburg Arms (see modern photo of the Foley Arms below, which in 2013 was owned by JD Wetherspoon).

Foley Arms Hotel

In 1841 John's eldest daughter Emma and eldest son William were also hotel keepers, but at the Crown Hotel on Belle Vue Terrace, now the site of Lloyds Bank.

The Water Cure was already established in Malvern but not on a large scale. Then, in 1842 Doctors James Wilson and James Manby Gully took a 21 year lease on the Crown Hotel, which became a small hydropathic establishment. A rapid expansion of the Water Cure business followed, changing Malvern from a small village into a town.

This was accentuated about 1860 with the extension of the railway to Malvern.

John Archer must have taken advantage of the increased trade and business that the Water Cure and railway brought.

John and Edward Archer are buried in the churchyard of Great Malvern Priory where a large monument, on the northern boundary of the churchyard with Church Street, records the deaths of John, his wife Lucy and their six youngest children. (see photo below).


Archer family memorial in The Priory churchyard


John's wife, Lucy Archer, died 19th June 1846 aged 56 years. John Archer died thirty one years later on 20th September 1877 aged 86 years.

Children named on monument

The children of John and Lucy Archer named on the monument are,

  • Mary Ann Archer, died 20th November 1908, aged 88 years
  • William Archer, died  5th June 1885, aged 52 years
  • John Archer, died 28th July 1852, aged 28 years
  • Edward Archer, died 18th March 1892, aged 65 years
  • Elizabeth Lucy Archer, died 6th June 1848, aged 16 years
  • Louisa Archer, died 19th April 1915, aged 84.

Emma Archer (eldest daughter)

John's eldest daughter Emma is not buried in The Priory churchyard, and appears to have been the only one of John's seven children to have married. (Perhaps they were too well off to want the hassle!)

In 1843 at Great Malvern Emma Archer married Frederick George. In 1851 Frederick, born Herefordshire about 1820, was a hotel keeper at the Imperial Hotel, Promenade, Cheltenham Spa. Later in life the family changed their surname to St George.

Emma and Frederick had three children,

  • Alice St George, born Herefordshire about 1845
  • Marianne Agnes, St George born about 1847
  • William Herbert, St George born about 1848

Nothing is known about Alice, except that in 1861 she was staying with her grandfather John Archer at the Foley Arms Hotel, Great Malvern.

Marianne married John Hart in 1876 and possibly died in 1899. We have not found them in the census so perhaps they lived abroad.

Herbert St George (grandson)

Herbert was a wine merchant's assistant. In 1871 he was living with his mother, by then a widow, in London. There is no record of a marriage in the UK, but by 1877 he was married to Augusta, who was born in Belfast, Ireland, about 1855. Their eldest daughter Alice Marion St George was born in Tokyo, Japan. Coincidentally the first Japanese wine was produced in Yamanashi Prefecture 200 Km west of Tokyo in 1877. Herbert St George must have been brave and adventurous to travel to Japan, following big changes in political and social systems in 1868 and at a time when relations with the British were fragile.

In 1881 Herbert was living in Bath with his wife Augusta, daughter Alice Marion, and son Edward William Archer St George, who was born in Bath about 1879. Sadly Edward died at Bath 21st April 1903 aged only 23, two years after his father.

Alice Marion St George (great granddaughter of John Archer)

Abbeyfold in 2013 c. 123-mcc.comIn the 1891 census Alice, born Tokyo, Japan, was a pupil at Clifton near Bristol, but in 1901 she was living with her great Aunts, Mary Ann and Louisa Archer, at Abbeyfold, next door to the Abbey Hotel. There is no house named Abbeyfold now, but we think the house may form the northern end of the present Abbey Hotel next to the Abbey Gateway (see photo opposite).

In 1904 Alice married Francis William Romney (1873 - 1963, a local solicitor who had his business next door to the Abbey Hotel.

He was a partner in Romney, Fraser and Oddly of the Gate House, Great Malvern.

Francis William Romney educated at Malvern College and St Mary Hall Oxford played cricket for Worcestershire in 1900. He lived for a time at The Lynches in Albert Road South.


Alice and Francis had a son, Paul Edward Churchill Romney (1909-1978) who was the great great grandson of John Archer and served in the RAF in WWII.

In the 1911 census Paul aged 2 was staying with his great great Aunt Louisa Archer at Abbeyfold, next door to the Abbey Hotel. Paul's brother Lancelot Francis Romney was born in 1914.

Abbey Hotel

Francis William Romney was the son of solicitor Churchill Romney (1838 - 1879) who died at the early age of 40 years. Francis was the grandson of Reverend Francis Henry Romney (1805 - 1871), MA Oxford, who was a curate at Great Malvern Priory, and in charge from 1844 to 1846 of Guarlford St Mary; he had married in 1831 Rebecca Harriette West and following her death aged only 21 in 1833, he married 12th July 1834, at St Nicholas Church Worcester, Jane Lessingham (1809 - 1877) daughter of Thomas Lessingham, late of Worcester.

Ancestors of the Romney family owned the Walton Estate at Ashchurch (near Tewkesbury) and ownership of Rectory Farm at Fiddington passed to Rev Frederick Henry Romney. His wife's sister Mary (1811 - 1893) married James Church Bailey (1804 - 1874), a wine merchant.

William Archer (eldest son)

William Archer, born Great Malvern about 1823, died Worcester 1885, was a hotel keeper and wine merchant, who was also prominent in town affairs.

In 1871 he was a hotel keeper at the Abbey Family Hotel with his sister, while his father John was retired and living at the Foley Arms.

The 1872 Post Office directory listed William as a member of the Local Board of Health. Other members included Water Cure doctor James Loftus Marsden and Albert Hudson Royds, a magistrate and freemason who lived at Ellerslie in Abbey Road.

Following his father John's death in 1877, the 1881 census records William, occupation wine merchant, living at 1 York Place Bath with his sister Louisa, while their sister Mary Ann (an annuitant) was living at Abbeyfold in Abbey Road. Perhaps there was a connection with William's nephew Herbert St George who was a wine merchant's assistant in Bath.

Edward Archer (youngest son)

The 1871 census records Edward Archer (1827-1892) as a hotel keeper and wine merchant at the Foley Arms Hotel, and his father John as a retired hotel keeper.  Edward's wine merchant business premises occupied the site of the former Coburg Baths on the Worcester Road next to the Foley Arms Hotel.

In 1881 Edward was living at Beresford House on the Worcester Road, and in 1891, shortly before his death, at Littleford Lodge in Graham Road.

According to local historian Cora Weaver, Edward Archer died aboard the P&O ship SS Oriental, off Brindisi. He was suffering from bad health and had gone overland to Egypt with a friend, but the journey was such a strain that it did more harm than good. Edward stayed a few days recuperating in Egypt and died on the return trip home.

Edward is remembered as a great benefactor to the Priory Church in Great Malvern as well as to Guarlford, and the link between our parish church and the Archer family may have been made when St Mary's was built as a 'chapel of ease' for the Priory in 1844.

Based on research by Angus and Rosemary McCulloch

last updated 26th February 2014

Return to church interior and benefactors

Back to top