A Guide to Ledbury, Herefordshire

by E. Freeman (1892)

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2003


In the year 1817 an attempt was made to establish a magazine, called “The Ledbury Diary”, but after the publication of a few numbers it failed for want of support. In one of the numbers a correspondent complained of “Badger baiting being allowed in the streets of Ledbury”.

In the year 1796 Mr John Bowler, a shoemaker of Ledbury, published at Worcester in 12mo [Ed: sic], “The Monopolist exemplified in the Memoirs of Mr. Tiptop, with an humble address to the People of England, and an humble petition to landowners”. Mr. Bowler mentions in his interesting little book, that the price of wheat in Ledbury market in February, 1795, was 23/- per bushel.

Joseph Guy, a celebrated author of school books, was born in this town.

There is a Ledbury newspaper, “The Free Press”, established in 1869, and published on Tuesdays by Mr. Luke Tilley, High Street.

A parish magazine has been recently started, and is a useful and popular periodical.

The following letter from the Hereford Journal, about the

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year 1824, describes the condition of Ledbury previous to that date:-

“Sir,-You as well as many of your readers may recollect that only a few years ago, on entering the town of Ledbury, by the Hereford Road, the whole of the long street, called the Homend, from one end to the other, was on each side studded with dung-heaps, perhaps not less at any time than from twenty to thirty; and the whole road covered with filth and black dirt; the drains running on the surface; that at the Lower Cross, between the houses it was so narrow that two carriages could not pass: the spouts on each side left no escape for the passengers in wet weather; and that a foot passenger passing at the same time with a waggon was in danger of his life; indeed several persons have lost their lives at that place : that at the Upper Cross the road was so narrow, that two carriages could not meet without danger : add to which the street which in summer was covered with slop and filth, in winter was one sheet of ice : that from the month of October to January, the noise occasioned by the killing of pigs, and the danger to passengers from the fires for singeing them deterred travellers from passing through the town. Now sir, this scene is quite changed; there is no dung-heap to be seen in the streets, nor filthy drains running on the surface : at the Lower Cross the street has been widened by the removal of several houses in the 'Butcher Row', and more will still come down when funds can be obtained for that purpose. The Upper Market House has been removed and a Market provided in a much more convenient situation; the noisy and nasty pump and all necessity for resorting to it, done away by laying down pipes, and carrying the water to every house. The pigs are no longer slaughtered in the streets, or singed there; the streets are now kept clean, and in many places a foot pavement has been laid

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down of flag stones and is likely to be extended: many houses have been rebuilt or repaired : elegant shops opened; and an appearance of comfort exhibited, which shows as great an improvement in the opinions and sentiments of the inhabitants themselves. Added to all this, I have to remark the erection of the new Hospital built of the beautitul Marble from the neighbouring quarries : but it is not in outward show only that Ledbury is improved; the inhabitants have established National Schools for the religious and moral education of poor children; great habits of industry have been introduced among the labouring poor; and the rates are considerably reduced; a Dispensary has been established, instead of employing a parish doctor as heretofore. I shall finish this letter with a short account of the improvements in the Church. The Church, which is large and ancient, had been suffered to get into a dilapidated state, and was the coldest and most comfortless looking fabric perhaps in the diocese. The nave had been ceiled in 1772, and ornamented in yellow and white, in striking contrast : the same bad taste had also washed with bright yellow the beautiful Saxon? doorway, and in order to save the windows from being broken, the careful Churchwardens had stopped up every window they thought could be dispensed with, whilst the Chancel was left still unceiled. Now sir, what is the contrast? The Chancel has been ceiled and the windows have been opened, and newly glazed : the Church has been new pewed with beautiful oak, in a neat, plain, and substantial manner: the whole inside washed of the same colour, the ancient monuments cleaned, and some beautiful ones have been added from the masterly hands of Flaxman and Westmacott : a fine organ built by Elliot has been erected; and 'How you would ask have all these wonders been performed? By heavy rates and taxes?” By no such thing; but by voluntary con-

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tributions and the spirit of the inhabitants; whilst the improvement made in the habits and manners of the people have diminished their rates very considerably.


OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in September 2003.

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