For all you fans of The Greatest Showman, we found a link between Selly Manor and The Greatest Showman this week!
Jenny Lind, played by Rebecca Ferguson, in the movie The Greatest Showman, once lived in a house owned by the Cadbury family! The house, in the Malvern Hills, was bought by George and Richard Cadbury as a family holiday home and country retreat in 1897.
Jenny Lind was a real life Swedish Opera singer; nicknamed the ‘Swedish Nightingale’, she was one of the most famous singers of 19th century. Jenny was born into a life of poverty but by nine years old she had already started her singing career and was accepted as a student at the Royal Theatre of Stockholm. By the time she was a teenager, she was a renowned opera singer. Jenny was connected to and touched lots of famous people with her music: Felix Mendelssohn, a great friend of Jenny’s, said she was the greatest artist he had ever known. Hans Christian Andersen, following some performances in Copenhagen, fell in love with her and it is thought that she inspired some of his stories, including The Ugly Duckling and The Emperor's Nightingale. The American showman P T Barnum (played by Hugh Jackman in The Greatest Showman) invited Jenny to be the star in his new show. They had an incredibly successful tour together that travelled around the USA, Canada and Cuba from 1850-1852; this made Jenny a very wealthy women and allowed her to further her reputation as a great philanthropist.
Jenny spent the last five years of her life with her husband Otto Goldschmidt in the Malvern Hills. Although when they moved Jenny was largely retired, they enlarged the cottage and made an octagonal ‘nook’ in their house where she practiced. Jenny’s final public performance was on 23rd July 1883 at the Royal Malvern Spa Hall to raise money for the Railway Servants’ Widows and Orphans’ Fund. Jenny lived out her last days in the Malvern Hills, dying of cancer in 1887. She was buried in the Great Malvern Cemetery. It was not too long after Jenny’s death that the Cadbury brothers acquired the house. The family made many memories in that house over the years and it remained a well-loved retreat.
We hope you have enjoyed the Cadbury family and The Greatest Showman link as much as we did and check back soon for more Cadbury family history and historical blog posts!