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Things to do in Ledbury, Herefordshire

Ledbury is a quaint little town. (c) Mike Reger via Flickr

The pretty market town of Ledbury is well-known for its distinctive black-and-white timber framed buildings. Located 14 miles east of Hereford, it is one of the most delightful English towns to visit.

Ledbury probably took its name from the River Leadon that runs through the town and the word "burg" which means "fortified site".

The borough dates back to 690AD and was well established by the time of the Domesday Book in 1086.

By the 12th century there was a Bishop's Palace, used by the Bishop of Hereford who was the Lord of the Manor of Ledbury.

This lovely area of East Herefordshire obviously inspired writers and poets. Elizabeth Barrett Browning grew up at Hope End and wrote many of her poems there.

Poet Laureate, John Masefield, was born in Ledbury and William Wordsworth wrote about Ledbury in his sonnet St. Catherine of Ledbury.

The town trades included cloth making, leather tanning and glove making. It also produced hops and orchards for beer and cider.

In 1798 the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal opened and served the wharves on Bye Street. By 1885 it had closed and part of the leveled land was used instead for the Ledbury and Gloucester Railway.

This railway closed in 1964 and it is now a footpath and cycle way known as the Town Trail, but Ledbury is still served by the Cotswold Line with trains to Hereford, Birminghamand London Paddington. The traditional station building and wooden ticket office are worth seeing.

Present Day Ledbury

The historic buildings of Ledbury can be found along the High Street and Church Lane. Look for the Market House on its raised oak pillars. Built around 1653, it has a meeting room on the first floor and space for the market beneath.

The Parish Church of St. Michael and All Angels dates back to 1140 on the site of an earlier Norman church. It has a Collegiate Cross in the North Porch with bullet marks from the English Civil War.

Ledbury Park is one of England's finest examples of timber-framed buildings and was constructed in 1590 for the Biddulph family. The Town Offices include 16th century frescoes in the lovely Painted Room. The Feathers Hotel was once a 16th century drovers' inn and sits on the narrow cobbled street of Church Lane.

However, Ledbury's oldest building is the St. Katharine's Hospital complex, founded around 1231. It has an almshouse, hall, barn, chapel and the Master's House.

Originally Robertson's jam factory employed locals but was taken over by Universal Beverages and now produces Bulmer's cider. The award-winning Amcor flexible packaging company is also based in Ledbury.

Things to Do in Ledbury

Eastnor Castle is a grand mediaeval castle at first glance, but it is actually a mock castle with watchtowers and a keep. It was built in 1812 on the Cocks estate as a stately home by 1st Earl Somers.

The grounds are used as a test track for Land Rover vehicles. They also host events including the Big Chill Music Festival, Mountain Mayhem Bike Festival and the Fireworks Championships.

Visit the Folk Museum in the Butcher Row House, which was once part of a row of houses, long-since demolished. The Butcher Row House was moved, first to the High Street and then by the Ledbury District Society to Church Lane in 1979.

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Images of Ledbury

Ledbury Cottage Hospital (c) Julie Gibson via Flickr
The Market House Ledbury (c) Oliver Mallich via Flickr
Eastnor Castle near Ledbury (c) Oliver Mallich via Flickr
The Prince Of Wales Ledbury (c) Jennicatpink via Flickr
Ledbury Hunt meet at the Hunters Inn, Buckbury, March 2012.  (c) Fieldsports Channel TV via Flickr
Ledbury Church - mainly early C12th Norman Church  (c) Hugh llewelyn via Flickr          Ledbury Church - mainly early C12th Norman Church (c) Hugh llewelyn via Flickr

Interactive Map of Ledbury

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