Exhibitions at The Firs
What can you expect to see at The Firs: Elgar's birthplace.
‘All you need to write a symphony’ in the Visitor Centre
This striking exhibit is designed to immerse the visitors in Eglar’s creative inner sanctum. Housing some very precious original manuscripts, including ‘Salut d’Amore’ and ‘Land of Hope and Glory’, we see the humble pre-requisites Elgar required to create his music. The sources of this genius may surprise you.
We have converted a room in the visitor centre, previously used as office space, into a new exhibition space. Central to the exhibition is Elgar’s desk and chair which were previously in Craeg Lea in Malvern together with all the tools he would require to compose and publish a symphony.
Elgar bought this desk in a second-hand shop in London in 1889, the same year that he married Alice Roberts.
Also exhibited will be examples of Elgar’s manuscripts and his writing implements.
The rotunda in the visitor centre encapsulates the story of Elgar’s life from his birth in June 1857 to his death in February 1934. Creative interpretation helps to place the events of his life in the wider context of popular history. When you realise that Elgar was born just one year after the Crimean war was concluded, or that he was in school when the first shots of the American Civil War rang out, the timing of his life takes on new meaning.
Artefacts, photographs, videos and interactive displays combine to offer a more familiar vision of the Elgar that most of us won’t have heard about.
The Birthplace Cottage
We might think of the Birthplace as a museum – in fact since Elgar’s Birth in 1857 it has taken on many different forms. Even when Elgar’s daughter Carice had the cottage purchased in 1935, it could not be described as a museum (Elgar had passed away only a year before) – more of a shrine to a contemporary celebrity. In the near century that has passed since, the cottage has been altered time and time again to accommodate the growing collection and has been curated differently to bring the many stories it can tell to life.
The latest incarnation of the cottage seeks to return a sense of the ages. The entrance hall takes us back to June 1857 – set out as when the family would have lived there. Will you be able to identify the themes of Elgar’s family life set out in this imagined Victorian living space? Other rooms on the ground floor introduce us to the Elgar family and reveal the very roots of the genius Elgar was to exhibit later in life, as well as an introduction to the creation of the space in 1935 by his daughter Carice.
The first floor takes us back to that time just after Elgar’s death, when the cottage was first laid out with his personal affects and belongings. It carries a message of great emotive significance: the idea that Carice, in creating this space, was grieving for the loss of her father as much as enshrining him for posterity’s sake. It is this very relatable, very human connection which must be maintained.