Ledbury Overview

Welcome to Ledbury History Society

In a beautiful part of England, in the ceremonial county of Herefordshire, amidst tranquil countryside, with gorgeous sunsets, surrounded by hill-fort-camps and at the cross-roads of ancient trackways for Hereford, Gloucester and Worcester, created in the 7th century, developed by the Christian church as an ecclesiastical centre and after the Reformation controlled by a group of families whose philanthropy contributed to community life, Ledbury is a small mediaeval market town with a long and distinguished heritage. 

With many buildings of national importance, including 173 Listed buildings, including three Grade I and eighteen Grade II*, many of which are within the town centre, Ledbury is like a journey into the past. Dominating west side of High Street is the St Katherine's Hospital site, with the
Master’s House, hall and chapel: a rare surviving example of a 13th century hospital complex; opposite is the outstanding Market House, built in 1617, and still in regular use. The narrow cobbled Church Lane, one of the most photographed streets in the UK, includes 16th century frescoes in the "Painted Room" inside Ledbury Town Council offices; and reigning supreme is the church of St Michael and All Angels, the "premier parish church of Herefordshire”, and thought to date from the 11th century. Ledbury has many people of national importance, including poet William Langland, poet laureate John Masefield, and Elizabeth Barrett-Browning lived on the outskirts; other poetic visitors included William Wordsworth, and the 'Dymock Poets': Lascelles Abercrombie, Rupert Brooke, John Drinkwater, Robert Frost, Wilfrid Gibson, and Edward Thomas. Joseph Guy, author of school text books was born in Ledbury. Eleanor Farjeon, the English author of children's stories and the hymn 'Morning has Broken' has, along with WH Auden and Robert Browning, been immortalised in local street names.

I was inspired to set up Ledbury Picture Library after reading about Sir John Benjamin Stone, a Birmingham industrialist, Member of Parliament, and amateur documentary photographer, who in July 1897 announced the formation of the National Photographic Record Association ("NPRA"). The primary objective of the NPRA " was 'to record for the future the antiquities, ancient buildings, folk customs, and other 'survivals' of historical interest, forming a national memory bank in order to foster "a national pride in the historical associations of the country, or neighbourhood, in family traditions, or in personal associations" '. By 1910 the NPRA had disbanded, but not before what is informally referred to as 'the Sir Benjamin Stone collection' amounted to over 5,000 prints showing architecture and social events across Britain at the turn of 19th century. The collection is now with the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Ledbury History Society, incorporating Ledbury Picture Library, is an extension of the popular book,
Ledbury through Time, the photographic tour with snippets of local history.

Michael Lever

NB - Much content to be added. I hope to finish by the end of August 2016