1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ledbury

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LEDBURY, a market town in the Ross parliamentary division of Herefordshire, England, 14½ m. E. of Hereford by the Great Western railway, pleasantly situated on the south-western slope of the Malvern Hills. Pop. of urban district (1901) 3259. Cider and agricultural produce are the chief articles of trade, and there are limestone quarries in the neighbouring hills. The town contains many picturesque examples of timbered houses, characteristic of the district, the principal being the Market House (1633) elevated on massive pillars of oak. The fine church of St Michael exhibits all the Gothic styles, the most noteworthy features being the Norman chancel and west door, and the remarkable series of ornate Decorated windows on the north side. Among several charities is the hospital of St Catherine, founded by Foliot, bishop of Hereford, in 1232. Hope End, 2 m. N.E. of Ledbury, was the residence of Elizabeth Barrett Browning during her early life. A clock-tower in the town commemorates her.

Wall Hills Camp, supposed to be of British origin, is the earliest evidence of a settlement near Ledbury (Liedeburge, Lidebury). The manor was given to the see of Hereford in the 11th century; but in 1561-1562 became crown property. As early as 1170-1171 an episcopal castle existed in Ledbury. The town was not incorporated, but was early called a borough; and in 1295 and 1304-1305 returned two members to parliament. A fair on the day of the decollation of John the Baptist was granted to the bishop in 1249. Of fairs which survived in 1792 those of the days of St Philip and St James and St Barnabas were granted in 1584-1585; those held on the Monday before Easter and St Thomas's day were reputed ancient, but not those of the 12th of May, the 22nd of June, the 2nd of October and the 21st of December. Existing fairs are on the second Tuesday in every month and in October. A weekly market, granted to the bishop by Stephen, John and Henry III., was obsolete in 1584-1585, when the present market of Tuesday was authorized. The wool trade was considerable in the 14th century; later Ledbury was inhabited by glovers and clothiers. The town was deeply involved in the operations of the Civil Wars, being occupied both by the royalist leader Prince Rupert and by the Parliamentarian Colonel Birch.