Unlike the castle, which is only visible from certain vantage points and is otherwise romantically concealed by trees and natural landscape features, our obelisk can be seen for miles around. It stands on a hill lying just west of the main Malvern Hills range and it was put up when building work started on the castle in 1812. It is listed Grade II*
The obelisk is a monument to various distinguished members of the Somers Cocks family, my maternal ancestors, the greatest of whom was John Somers, Lord Chancellor in 1700 and adviser to William III, William of Orange who arrived from the Netherlands with the Glorious Revolution in 1688. Another is Philip James Cocks, an intelligence officer on Wellington’s staff, who died at the siege of Burgos in the Peninsular War on 8th October 1812, six months after work had started on the castle. His father, later 1st Earl Somers, commissioned Robert Smirke, the architect of the castle, to build the obelisk at the same time and also found a space to add his own name to it.
After the last two hard winters and some repairs in the 1970s, when some defective material were used, the facing stone in areas of the obelisk started to fall off. We fenced it off to keep visitors at a safe distance, and earlier this year were lucky enough to be awarded grants from English Heritage and the Country Houses Foundation to help cover the costs of repair. The contract was awarded to Nimbus Conservation of Frome, aptly named for a project that will take the stonemasons close to the clouds. Next year, we hope to finish the project with restoration of the lettering, without which the monument loses most of its point.
James Hervey-Bathurst 21st Sept 2011