Mop fair

The October Fair has a long history in Ledbury. Originally a mop fair was for hiring workers. Mop fairs date from when Edward III wanted to regulate the labour market in 1351 at a time of shortage after the Black Death. Farm workers, labourers, servants and craftsmen would work for their employer from October to October. At the end of employment they would attend the mop fair dressed in their best clothes and carrying an item signifying their trade. A tassel worn on the lapel, the emblem of the employee’s trade, was known as a ‘mop’. The employer would give the employee a small token of money and the employee would remove the emblem and wear bright ribbons to indicate they had been hired.

Cattle Market

Ledbury Cattle Market postcard LHS Cattle Market
Market Street was opened in 1887 by the Ledbury Markets and Fairs Company. It served the new, purpose-built cattle market and was accessed from both New Street and Bye Street, Market Street s still a private, unadopted road.

The Cattle Market closed in 1999, the market site was sold and later redeveloped for a new health centre and doctor's surgery.

During the redevelopment, evaluation trenches were dug to investigate the possible presence of medieval deposits in the area currently occupied by the Cattle Market. Medieval features were seen in both the backland trenches and on the Bye Street frontage.

The central area of the site produced what appeared to be a medieval agricultural soil layer. Only the trench on the New Street frontage failed to produce medieval finds but the area here had been cleaned down for the construction of Market Street.

Another report from Marches Archaeology in 2002 recorded archaeological features were almost exclusively found on the Bye Street frontage and the associated backlands.
Pottery from the site suggests that late prehistoric and Roman activity took place somewhere within the vicinity of the site, but no prehistoric or Roman features were found, the earliest dating to the 12th and 13th centuries.

In the 14th and 15th centuries both sides of Bye Street were built up; the backlands on the S. side of Bye Street being used for domestic or commercial use.

In the 17th century the backlands were no longer being used for the same purpose; by this time the land was being used for horticulture, possibly as orchards as the land was later used in the 18th and 19th centuries.

A brook recorded on a map of 1788 shown running along the middle of Bye Street was culverted in the early 19th century.

Booth Hall

The "Booth Hall" according to Ledbury Parish Church Archives, we learn from 'The Parish of Ledbury in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth l' by the late Miss S.F Robinson, there may have been built here a Booth Hall to replace the original early 15th century one sited where the Feathers Hotel now is.

Such a use for this building - with its concern for the proper conduct of Ledbury's markets and fairs; market toll gathering; the Court of Piepowder*; control of vagrants and the distribution of poor law monies - might well account for the very particular choice of texts used in the Painted Room, with their emphasis on the good citizen, duty and love.

* The Court of Piepowder - The ancient court of rough and ready justice for all-comers to fairs and markets, particularly vagrants, wayfarers and itinerants - those with 'dusty feet' (from the Old French, 'Pied poudre.')' (Chambers 20th Century Dictionary, New Ed. 1988)