Charles Darwin first visited Malvern in 1849, at the age of 39, to undergo hydrotherapy at Dr James Gully's "hydropathy clinic". This was in an attempt to improve his ill health that was probably brought on by stress and overworking. Although it was ten years before he published his famous book 'On the Origin of Species', he was already established as a naturalist and geologist by this time, having sailed on the HMS Beagle from 1831 to 1836 and been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1839.
He wrote to a friend explaining his ill health “Indeed all this winter, I have been bad enough, with dreadful vomiting every week… I was not able to do anything one day out of three… I thought I was rapidly going the way of all flesh.” He would also write to his sister explaining the varied treatments he received including being scrubbed with a towel, going for walks, lying wrapped in wet sheets, to list a few.
Ironically for someone who formulated the theory of evolution and natural selection, Darwin married his cousin Emma Wedgwood, and worried whenever his children were ill that this might be as a result of inbreeding or them having inherited his poor health. Sadly, one of his children Annie died at the age of ten due to ill health and complications, and she is buried in the churchyard of the Great Malvern Priory; having also been visiting the town to seek a cure from the healing powers of Malvern's natural spring water.
The apartment where Darwin and his daughter were staying when she sadly died is still a private apartment in the original building, now Montreal House, located two doors down from Sydney House on Worcester Road.