COUNTY chiefs have reacted with disappointment after the Worcester group dedicated to preserving the legacy of Sir Edward Elgar agreed to move the composer’s archive from Lower Broadheath to London.
Coun Lucy Hodgson spoke out after trustees of the Elgar Foundation approved the decision to send the treasure trove of documents from the composer to the British Library in the capital.
The move will mean Worcestershire will not hold the archive of one of the county’s most famous sons for the first time in more than half a century.
The archives were first deposited with the county’s record office in 1966 by his daughter Carice Irena and were then transferred to the newly-refurbished Elgar Birthplace Museum in 2002.
Coun Hodgson said: “It is extremely frustrating the Foundation has not taken more time to consider their options and look for a local solution for the concerns they have expressed, regarding the collection being based in Worcestershire.
“The Birthplace Museum has proved to be a great facility for both local residents and visitors to the county to visit; allowing to learn about Elgar and his extremely vast contribution to music for many years, and I have no doubt, The Hive would have continued the precedence set by the museum in homing the archives.
“This decision could prove extremely alarming for other collections which are rooted in Worcestershire, on both a local and national level.”
“Our county archives are recognised by the National Archives for their excellence and our Archive Service was extremely honoured to receive Archive Service Accreditation in 2013. The recognition of the excellence of the archive has continued with the award of ARA Keeper of the Year earlier this year.
An example of the hundreds of thousands of documents in their care is William Shakespeare’s marriage bond.
An Elgar Foundation spokesperson said: “While we are not unsympathetic to the feelings of Worcestershire residents who wish to retain their association to a ‘local hero’, Elgar’s reputation is now universal.
“The Elgar Foundation’s memorandum of association, like that of the Elgar Society, requires it to promote Elgar in every part of the world and our two excercises made clear that our legal obligations were best met by offering our research material to the British Library.”
The trustee added the library would digitise the archive to ensure it was available online to anyone in the world.
A National Trust spokesman said: “The National Trust is responsible for the day to day operation of The Firs – birthplace of Sir Edward Elgar, formely the Elgar Birthplace Museum.
“We are not responsible for where the Elgar archives are stored.