The Discovery of Ash Tree Pool

with No Comments

In 2020, Anna Brook, co-owner of Iapetus Gallery in Great Malvern, contacted MSA. She had found what was later confirmed to be a previously-unidentified water feature on the Malvern Hills, below the Worcestershire Beacon, and just above (and in full-sight of) the West Malvern Road.

We asked her to write down the story of its discovery – see below. We’ll keep you posted about any future plans for its conservation / possible renovation.

We all agreed that ‘Ash Tree Pool’ was the most fitting name, as Anna explains.

Why are those cows fascinated by that little group of trees?

“Is it a pond? Is it a spring? Is it a tank? How long has this tree been here? What came first, the pond or the tree? What did it look like originally? Can it be preserved? Can it be restored? Should we let nature take it?”

These questions followed my initial “Why are those cows fascinated by that little group of trees?” question that drew me to Ash Tree Pool in the summer of 2019. When they had moved on to pastures new I thought, I need to see what that was about.

Line of ashes on the Malvern Hills - west of Worcestershire Beacon

So I wandered up one soggy day after heavy rain, directly up from the road through a boggy area with water flowing through it in all directions, seeing nothing but hillside as I approached the big old ash tree. A sweet little stream emerged from the hillside. Above, I realised there was a structure under the roots of the tree.

Approaching the ash tree with its jumble of rocks and bricks around the base

Rectangular feature full of spring water

Taking a couple more steps up, I was amazed to see a strange rectangular feature in the hillside, full of bricks and mud and huge branches, but very definitely also full of spring water, pouring from a pipe at the back.

Looking down on the spring

Looking closer you can see pipes coming into and out of this feature, and the remains of what I assume is a domed roof. There’s a tank of some sort behind it, and water gurgles up from underneath as well as from the back pipe.

View towards the spout of Ash Tree Pool

There’s a lot of damage to the sides, from heavy cattle taking a drink and heavy rain carving the sides out, but it’s a significant feature. So I thought, “Well this must be in the books, or on someone’s website.” So, I started asking what it was called, what it was… but despite looking in the right books and talking to the right people, and scratching the village brains, no one knew! The feature is big, 2m x 1.5m, how did no-one know what I was talking about? I expected someone to tell me, but everyone told me about everything else around it instead. One by one I realised it was none of the listed springs at all!

To call it a discovery isn’t really right – if it is then credit goes to the cows frankly… but Ash Tree Pool appears to be a previously-unlisted site with some unanswered questions around it. I have my own theories that it served the old school and chapel, and possibly the spring fed swimming pool that used to stand near to it but is now houses.
The feature is interesting, but the tree that stands beside it really is what makes it a charming spot. The tree and the front wall of the feature are one and the same, with the tree wrapping itself around the feature and even displacing parts of it.

Western end of the pool, by the tree

Around the site, little streams come and go with the rains, and water surfaces in shallow pools here and there.

Another small temporary pool near Ash Tree Pool

It’s a lovely spot to sit with a flask of tea and watch the sunset through the old ash. Hopefully, steps will be taken to either restore it or perhaps encourage more wildlife to this lovely little pool, that attracts little terracotta-coloured frogs, dragonflies, and lots of birdlife.

May 2021

Photographs above taken by Carly Tinkler
Photographs below taken by Jan Sedlacek @digitlight

Ash Tree Pool in winter - photograph by Jan Sedlacek @digitlight
Ash Tree Pool in winter - looking up the hill. Photograph by Jan Sedlacek @digitlight